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Manager: Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab, Bergen
Delivered in Apr.-1927 from Ateliers & Chantiers de la Seine Maritime, Worms & Cie., Le Trait, France (41) as cargo vessel Keret to Det Norsk-Russiske Sampskibsselskab A/S (Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab), Bergen. Steel hull, 251.8’ x 39.2’ x 16.1’, 1718 gt, 2425 tdwt, Tripple Expansion (Worms & Cie.) 172nhp, 9.5 knots. The owning company, a 50/50 Norwegian/Russian project, had 8 ships in service to Russia, mostly carrying lumber from The White Sea to European ports, but also servicing the Baltic and the Black Sea. On May 1-1928 Keret was transferred to Det Bergenske Russiske Dampskibsselskab=The Bergen/Russian Steamship Company (a sub company of Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab, managed by BDS. As a result of the changing political climate in Russia in 1927 the original company had been dissolved and its vessels distributed between the partners, with BDS getting Keret, Vaga, Severoles and Kem, while Russian authorities got the remaining 4, namely Soroka, Onega, Kovda and Dvina). Keret continued in the same service, but increasing problems within the owning company caused BDS to pull out, and in Febr.-1933 Keret was transferred to Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab, Bergen. In general tramping.
Captain: Knut Knutsen Jøsok
Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.
Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.
(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).
Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each (please be aware that some of the external listings are incomplete).
With a general cargo for London, Keret is listed in the Norway-U.K. Convoy HN 10 in Febr.-1940. According to A. Hague, she returned to Norway at the end of that month with Convoy ON 16, and in March we find her in the original Advance Sailing Telegram for Convoy HN 20, again bound for London with general cargo. Follow the links for more details; several Norwegian ships took part in all these convoys.
From London, Keret proceeded to Rotterdam on Apr. 3, and in May she made a couple of voyages to France, followed by some voyages around the U.K. - see the archive document and A. Hague's record above.
Keret was on a voyage from North Shields / Methil in ballast for Sydney, C.B. (Cape Breton), having left North Shields on Aug. 15-1940 and Methil on the 16th, joining Convoy OA 200 - ref. external link provided in the table above (the archive document gives departure Shields as Aug. 14 - according to "Nortraships flåte", she departed Methil Roads on Aug. 18). The convoy was dispersed as planned in the afternoon of Aug. 20 and Keret continued alone.
At 23:10 on Aug. 22, when in approximate position 54 16N 23 08W, she was hit between hold No. 3 and 4 by a torpedo from U 37 (Oehrn), blowing the whole after deck on the starboard side away. When the explosion occurred the captain, 2nd Mate Torp and Jr. Ordinary Seaman Vedvik were on the bridge, the latter at the wheel, while Ordinary Seaman Dahl was on lookout on the roof of the wheel house. These 4 immediately ran to the port lifeboat and started to launch it; by this time the after part of the ship was under water and she was listing to port. The 1st mate also came to and they all went in the boat, but before they could get away the after davit got caught in the boat, with the result that it capsized. 2 men jumped overboard, 2 others got on the raft from the engine room skylight, while the captain held on to the lifeboat and went under with the suction, though the boat soon came free and floated up. At this time the ship was standing vertically in the water with the bow up, and the bridge structure as well as the funnel fell down, hitting the 1st mate, who was on a raft, in the shoulder. 4 of the men, including the captain, managed to get up on the bottom of the capsized boat; the cook had no clothes on and was injured, but not seriously. At this time the U-boat came over to the people on the capsized boat to ask the usual questions about the ship and cargo, before taking off in a south/southeasterly direction.
After 2 hours, the 3 who were on 2 rafts (the 1st mate, Able Seaman Jamtø and Ordinary Seaman Dahl) had managed to paddle over to the boat, which was righted and after a leak had been repaired they were able to bail it, whereupon supplies were transferred from the rafts and a mast and sail were rigged up. They towed one of the rafts until daylight, to make sure the boat was no longer leaking, then let the raft go and set off in an easterly direction. The 7 survivors were picked up shortly before noon that day (Aug. 23) by the British S/S Trident and landed in Sydney C. B. on Aug. 30. Checking further, we find that Trident had come from Convoy OB 200 (external link), which had left Liverpool on Aug. 18-1940 and was dispersed on the 22nd - her destination is given as Sydney, C.B.
The British Severn Leigh and Brookwood from Convoy OA 200 were also sunk. Uboat.net states that Keret had been sighted during the chase for Severn Leigh and had previously been missed by a torpedo (ref. external links at the end of this page)
From Lance Ball Jr., the son of Captain Lancelot Balls of S/S Trident, I've received the following 3 pictures. The captain is pictured second from left in the middle row. The chief mate, Walter Sinclair of the Trident is behind him.
This cocktail set was presented to Trident's captain by the survivors from Keret.
Johan Flem, who had been 1st mate on Keret since June 17-1940 was lying in his bunk in his cabin amidships on the starboard side deck when the torpedo struck. He grabbed his life jacket and his papers before running out on deck towards the port side across the engine top in order to get to his designated lifeboat (port boat). In the passage across the engine top he met the 2nd engineer who was coming out of his cabin in his underclothes to get his lifejacket which was hanging there. He saw him put his jacket on, but did not see him again after he himself had run to the boat deck. As mentioned, he and the 4 who had been on the bridge proceeded to launch the port lifeboat which capsized in towards the ship. By then Keret had sunk to amidships, and the 1st mate fell in the water. He swam towards a raft which had floated up from the engine room skylight; Ordinary Seaman Dahl was on this raft with him. Only a few seconds later the ship was seen going straight down with the stem almost perpendicular, the raft being 6-10 meters from the stem when it disappeared. No one else was seen or heard in the water and no one answered their calls. The lifeboat was not in sight at this time as it was quite dark.
Less than a minute after the 1st mate had come up on the raft the U-boat, with some men on the foredeck and in the tower, passed at good speed between the raft and another raft holding 1 man. Upon being asked in German "what ship" the 1st mate replied "Keret - Norwegisch" and shouted "Bitte, wollen Sie uns nicht helfen" (Won't you help us please), but the boat kept going. The 2 rafts were subsequently tied together and about 15 minutes later Captain Knudsen was heard calling out, so they started to paddle towards the sound of his voice, while at the same time the capsized lifeboat rowed to meet them (the latter at first used pieces of wreckage to paddle towards the raft, then found some oars floating nearby), until they finally came together about 2 hours later.
Nicolay Torp, who had been 2nd mate and radio operator on Keret since Sept. 27-1939 was on watch on the bridge at the time of attack. A mass of flames soon rose from the after deck between hatches No. 3 and 4. The 2nd mate says that by the time the 4 on the bridge came to the port lifeboat the after deck was already under water and there was nothing they could do for the men aft. While they were attempting to get the boat on the water Jr. Ordinary Seaman Vedvik (since March 16-1940) got his foot jambed up under the davit as the ship was quite deep in the water, and needed help to get loose before he and the 2nd mate jumped overboard and swam away. Hearing the captain shout they swam across to the lifeboat, and when doing so the 2nd mate encountered a lifeless person in the water. He had foam around the mouth and appeared to be dead so the 2nd mate left him. A little further along he came across the cook lying on 2 hatches, and the 2nd mate also found a hatch to hold on to then continued swimming towards the lifeboat where he got up on the keel. At that time he saw the U-boat pass, then the cook shouted that he was going to let go of the hatches as there was something holding his legs. The 2nd mate borrowed Jr. Ordinary Seaman Vedvik's lifejacket (he had also reached the lifeboat) and swam over to the cook in order to assist him. It turned out he had gotten some jute sacking around his legs, and after he had been freed he too was helped onto the keel of the capsized boat. With a rudder that the 2nd mate had picked up the 4 men started paddling towards the rafts which had sent up rockets to attract their attention.
Einar Jamtø, who had been able seaman on Keret for 16 months had just been relieved as lookout about 10 minutes before the torpedo struck and had gone aft to his cabin. Just 5 minutes after he had gotten there he heard a terrific noise and at the same time the light went out. He was flung over the door coaming, but was able to catch hold of the bunks. He states there was so much shaking that he thought the cabin was going to shake to pieces, and everything loose was thrown out. He got his eyes full of soot, probably from the stove pipes. Feeling the ship sinking, he went up on deck; by that time the water had reached it. He proceeded to the gun deck where he placed himself on a raft which floated free as the ship sank shortly afterwards. He too saw the U-boat passing by. He then met up with the other raft holding the 1st mate and Ordinary Seaman Dahl. Before this he had not seen nor heard anybody else.
Gudmund K. Kristiansen, who had been the cook on Keret for 2 1/2 years had gone to bed, but was awake reading when the explosion occurred. Running out he saw steam coming up from the engine. The 1st engineer, whose cabin was closer to the outer door was in front of him in the passage as he came out, and he saw him catch hold of the railings outside, but as the deck was slanting heavily the 1st engineer fell down against the railings, back first. Masses of smoke were coming up from the holds, the hatches had been burst open, and the cook felt the 1st engineer had fallen down into No. 3 hatch as he could not see him anymore. The cook then ran over to the starboard side and climbed from the rail up to the boat deck where he grabbed a lifebelt from the chest. At this time the 2nd engineer and the donkeyman also came over, the latter getting a lifebelt but not the 2nd engineer (as mentioned above, the 1st mate had seen the 2nd engineer putting a lifejacket on). He (the 2nd engineer) shouted that they must try to get the boat out, but there was no time for this so the other 2 ran around under the bridge to the port side. The cook never saw any of them again. Keret was now lying so heavily down by the stern that the cook had to hold on tight; a heavy sea then threw him in under the navigation bridge and onto the foredeck. He was under water until he came to the rigging of the foremast and sustained some cuts on his right thigh. He kicked clear of the rigging and kept swimming under water until he was clear of the ship and as he came to the surface he saw the stem and the top of the foremast disappearing. He placed himself on a hatch and swam for a while, and as mentioned was later helped onto the capsized lifeboat.
Svend Dahl had been ordinary seaman on Keret since Aug. 9-1940. As stated he was on lookout duty on the roof of the wheel house. Following the explosion he jumped down on the boat deck and went into the lifeboat. When it capsized he ended up in the water, but was able to get into the raft with the 1st mate, whose statements above tell the rest.
Related external links:
Back to Keret on the "Ships starting with K" 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. for cross checking info (ref. My sources). Pre war history was received from T. Eriksen, Norway (his sources: Articles about BDS in "Skipet" 1-2.88 by Dag Bakka Jr., and "Norges eldste Linjerederi, BDS 1851-1951" by Wilhelm Keilhau),