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D/S Isbjørn
Updated Nov. 11-2011

To Isbjørn on the "Ships starting with I" page.

Crew List

A picture is available on this external page (click in it to make it larger).

Owner: Dampsk.-A/S Isbjørn
Manager: Peder Smedvig, Stavanger
579 gt, 295 net, 780 tdwt
Signal Letters: LEEK

Built in Fevig in 1907.
According to the external page above, she was delivered from Fevigs Jernskibsbyggeri, Grimstad in July-1907 as Isbjørn to A/S Isbjørn (Nicolay Wiborg), Kragerø. From 1915, D/S A/S Isbjørn (Joh. Th. Østbø), Stavanger, same name. From 1926, D/S A/S Isbjørn (P. Pedersen), Stavanger, no name change. From June-1934, D/S A/S Isbjørn (Peder Smedvig), Stavanger.

Captain: Axel Wadel (Wadal?)

Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 8 | Page 9 | Page 10 | Page 11

Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.

Voyage Record
From Febr.-1940 to Aug.-1944:

(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).

Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.

Please note that errors may exist. This could also mean that she may not have sailed in all the convoys mentioned here (even though she's listed in them). Also, as can be seen, the record is incomplete.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1940 Febr. 28 Methil Norwegian Waters March 2 ON 16 Missing voyages, Page 1
July 8 Southend Yarmouth Roads July 9 CW 2 Convoy available at CW convoys
(external link)
July 9 Yarmouth Roads Teignmouth July 10 Independent
July 19 Southend Blyth July 21 FN 226 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
Left Blyth Aug. 2
(Page 1).
Aug. 9 Methil Waterford OA 196 For Waterford.
Page 1 gives arrival Aug. 13.
Convoy available at OA 196
(external link)
Missing voyages, Page 1.
Oct. 7 Clyde Methil Oct. 10 WN 21S Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
Oct. 13 Methil Southend Oct. 17 FS 308 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
See also Page 1
Oct. 26 Southend Methil Oct. 28 FN 320 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
Nov. 2 Methil Oban Nov. 7 EN 17/1 Compare w/Page 1.
Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
Missing 1940 voyages, Page 2.
1941 Sept. 8 Oban Methil Sept. 11 WN 178 Earlier 1941 voyages:
Page 2 above & Page 3
Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
Missing voyages, Page 3
Sept. 24 Methil Londonderry Sept. 27 EC 76 Convoy available at EC convoys
(external link)
Missing voyages, Page 4
? Oct. 7 Oban Methil Oct. 10 WN 190 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
Oct. 9 Oban Methil Oct. 12 WN 191 Convoy available at link above
Missing voyages, Page 4.
* Dec. 14 Methil Oban Dec. 17 EN 19 *Compare w/Page 4
(also, missing 1941 movements)
Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
1942 Jan. 19 Oban Methil Jan. 22 WN 233 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
Missing voyages:
Page 4 & Page 5
Apr. 27 Methil Oban* Apr. 29 EN 77 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
*Compare w/Page 5 above.
Also, missing voyages
June 27 Methil Douglas June 29* EN 103 Convoy available at link above
*Page 5 gives arrival July 1.
Missing 1942 voyages:
Page 5, Page 6 & Page 7
1943 Apr. 18 Loch Ewe Methil Apr. 20 WN 417 Earlier 1943 voyages, Page 7 above.
Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
Missing voyages:
Page 7 & Page 8
June 14 Loch Ewe Methil(*) June 16 WN 441 *Arrived Burntisland
(Page 8 - Also, missing voyages).
Convoy available at link above
Aug. 29 Methil Loch Ewe* Aug. 31 EN 274 *Arrived Belfast, Sept. 1
(Page 8).
Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
Missing voyages:
Page 8 & Page 9
Nov. 18 Methil Newport Nov. 20* EN 308 *Page 9 gives arrival Nov. 23
(also, missing 1943 voyages).
Convoy available at link above
1944 March 20 Solent Swansea March 22 PW 494 Earlier 1944 voyages:
Page 9 & Page 10
Convoy available at PW 494
(external link)
Missing voyages, Page 10.
Most of these 1944 voyages are not detailed on the archive document and, therefore, comparison cannot be made and accuracy confirmed.
June 8 Barry Spithead June 11 EBC 5 Convoy available at EBC convoys
(external link)
June 12 Solent Seine Bay June 13 EBC 7 Convoy available at link above
June 18 Seine Bay Southampton June 20 FBC 7 Convoy available at FBC convoys
(external link)
June 23 Newhaven Seine Bay June 24 ETC 16 Convoy available at ETC convoys
(external link)
June 27 Seine Bay Southampton June 27 FTC 19 Convoy available at FTC convoys
(external link)
? June 28 Seine Bay Newhaven June 29 FTC 20 Convoy available at link above
July 1 Southend Seine Bay July 2 ETC 24 Convoy available at ETC convoys
(external link)
July 5 Seine Bay Newhaven July 6 FTC 27 Convoy available at FTC convoys
(external link)
July 10 Newhaven Seine Bay July 11 ETC 33 Convoy available at ETC convoys
(external link)
July 14 Seine Bay Newhaven July 14 FTC 36 Convoy available at FTC convoys
(external link)
July 24 Seine Bay Southampton July 24* FTC 46 *Compare w/Page 10
Convoy available at link above
Aug. 7 Solent Seine Bay Aug. 7 EBC 63 Convoy available at EBC convoys
(external link)
Aug. 15 Seine Bay Southampton Aug. 16 FBC 55 Convoy available at FBC convoys
(external link)
Aug. 24 Solent Seine Bay Aug. 24 EBC 78 Convoy available at EBC convoys
(external link)
Aug. 28 Seine Bay Southampton Aug. 29* FBC 66 *Compare w/Page 11
(also, missing movements).
Convoy available at FBC convoys
(external link)
See also "Final Fate" below


A. Hague has included Isbjørn in the U.K.-Norway Convoy ON 16 at the end of Febr.-1940, together with several other Norwegian ships - follow the link for more info. As will be seen when going to Page 1 of the archive documents, she arrived Blyth from Sandnes, Norway on Apr. 3, so she got out of Norway shortly before the German invasion (Apr. 9).

She was later mostly in service around the U.K. - the archive documents have information on her various voyages. Convoy info for some of them can be found in the Voyage Record above.

Isbjørn lost 2 crew members in 1941. Mate Ole Andersen died in an accident on Apr. 24, and Chief Engineer Karl T. Karlsen drowned on Dec. 20; please see the text at the link to Stavern Memorial at the end of this page for more details.

She was later used as supply ship for the Normandie invasion in June-1944 (Operation Neptune), arriving Omaha on June 12, departing again on June 18, according to "Nortraships flåte".

 Final Fate -1944: 

In Dec.-1944, Isbjørn was at the Prince of Wales Dock, Swansea, undergoing extensive repairs and overhaul. According to Page 11, she had arrived Swansea on Sept. 11. At 18:00 on Dec. 14 she departed Swansea with a cargo of about 650 tons Anthracite coal for Poole (Goole?) and joined a convoy the following morning. The next day a storm was encountered and at 00:30 on Dec. 17, a heavy sea swept over her, causing her cargo to shift to port, and she immediately developed a list. The captain gave orders to heave to and to start filling the starboard No. 2 ballast tank, which seemed to stabilize the ship and decrease the list somewhat. However, the winds increased to hurricane force, and at about 04:30 the electricity to the navigation lights and compass broke down. The paraffin oil lamps were lit, the compass being lit up by an electric torch.

It now became more and more difficult to keep her under control, and she suddenly started to move off course, with the wind and sea coming in from aft while she listed more and more to port (every effort had been made to keep the wind and sea on the port bow prior to this). They attempted to get the ship up against the wind again, but to no avail. With the situation now being critical, orders were given to stand by the lifeboat; the motorboat had already been lost when the forward davit gave way. An SOS signal was sent to a nearby ship by Aldis lamp, and a number of rockets were also sent up, but in the poor visibility it was believed their signals were not seen.

Two heavy seas now washed over the after deck, and in a matter of seconds Isbjørn capsized and sank by the stern (the hatches were believed to have been broken in). Because of the list they had not been able to launch the lifeboat, but as the ship went down, the boat unhooked itself with 1 man in it who picked up another man from the water. Later, another 6 were picked up by this boat, including the captain, who had gotten his foot jammed and was pulled down with the suction, but had managed to get himself free and to the surface. The lifeboat was badly damaged and was full of water.

6 hours later, they were spotted by the Dutch M/S Osterhaven (position 50 27N 03 00W). In spite of the bad weather Captain H. A. A. Breent managed to maneuver his ship close to the lifeboat and take the men on board. However, during this transfer, the steward fell overboard and disappeared. Upon being told there might be more survivors the Dutch vessel went to the place where Isbjørn had gone down and found 4 men on 2 rafts, but no more survivors could be found, so they left the scene.

Great admiration was expressed for the way the Dutch captain handled his ship; with a less able and determined man in command it was considered doubtful that any of Isbjørn's crew would have been saved. The survivors were landed in Darthmouth on Dec. 18, where they were taken care of by the Norwegian Consulate. The captain and the 1st Mate were admitted to the Royal Navy Sick Quarters, Townstal House with minor injuries.

I've been told by a visitor to my site that "Shipwreck Guide to Lyme Bay" states that Isbjørn is in 50 22 70N 03 04 06W today and is upright and intact.

Crew List:

Axel Wadel
1st Mate
Lars Knutsvik
2nd Mate
Olaf A. Karlsen
Able Seaman
Olav Eikrem
Able Seaman
Sverre J. Melnes
Able Seaman
Hugo Odvar Prytz
Arvid Martinussen
Anders Olaf Nordin
Michael Spearing
Cyril Bacon
Alfred W. Bailey
* There's a question re. Cyril Bacon in my Guestbook.

Able Seaman
Harry Hansen

1st Engineer
Karlberg Andersen

2nd Engineer
Herman Alrik Lossius

Henry Olsen

Einar Enoksen

Ludvig K. Kinn

Berner Sæløen

Mess Boy
Leon Phillips*

* Billy McGee, England has told me that Leon Phillips was from Cardiff and was only 18 years old. His death was recorded in the Deaths at Sea Register for January 1945 (page 409), but he does not appear to be commemorated anywhere.

Related external links:
Stavern Memorial commemorations - 10 are commemorated at this memorial. Trimmer Ludvig K. Kinn is listed as Ludvik Kristoffer Ludviksen from Kinn. In addition to the 7 Norwegians named above there's a Mate Ole Andersen, a Chief Engineer Karl Trygve Karlsen, and a Steward Johannes Rønnestad. Note that Steward Rønnestad was a casualty of the ice breaker Isbjørn in May-1942. According to "Våre falne", a series of 4 books listing Norwegians who died during WW II, Chief Engineer Karlsen had drowned on Dec. 20-1941, and is buried at Belfast City Cemetery. From Page 4, we learn that Isbjørn was indeed in Belfast on this date. I also found Mate Ole Andersen, who's said to have died in an accident when on guard duty in Manchester Ship Canal on Apr. 24-1941 - buried in Salford, England (see also Page 2).

Omaha Beachhead

Omaha Beach - includes several Maps

Smedvig ASA today

Back to Isbjørn on the "Ships starting with I" page.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. (ref. My sources).


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