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M/T Leiv Eiriksson
To Leiv Eiriksson on the "Ships starting with L" page.
Owner: A/S Laboremus
Delivered on Oct. 22-1936 from Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack, Germany as Leiv Eiriksson to A/S Laboremus (T. Dannevig & Co.), Oslo. 492.9' x 66.1' x 36.4', 2T doubl. acting 6 cyl. 600/1100, 4100 bhp MAN DM. Built as German payment for whaleoil delivered by Unilever, which in turn sold the building contract to T. Dannevig. In service with oil California-Japan 1937-1938. (Info: Dag Midbøe).
In Admiralty service (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) 1940.
Captain: Alf A. Amundsen.
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.
Errors may exist, and some voyages are missing.
Judging from the information found on Page 1 of the archive documents, Leiv Eiriksson was on her way from Port Arthur to Trieste when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. It'll also be noticed that she appears to have spent a long time in Trinidad later that year. She had arrived there from Santos on Aug. 19 and departure is given as Oct. 11, when she proceeded to Mobile. She later returned to Trinidad, from there to Bermuda and on to Halifax in order to join Convoy HX 95 on Dec. 10, bound for Clyde, station 22. Escort's report is also available for this convoy. She arrived Clyde on Dec. 26.
Early in 1941 she's listed in Convoy OB 274, which originated in Liverpool on Jan. 14 and dispersed on the 19th. Ferncourt, Harpefjell, Sommerstad, Stigstad and Torfinn Jarl are also listed - ref. external link in Voyage Record. No destination is given for Leiv Eiriksson, but from the archive document we learn that she arrived Trinidad on Jan. 31, having started out from Clyde on the 14th. According to Arnold Hague, she headed back to the U.K. with Convoy HX 110 from Halifax on Febr. 19. As will be seen, she's not mentioned on my page for this convoy, but my information is incomplete (only the Bermuda portion is currently available - page will be updated; see ships in all HX convoys). We later find her, together with Granfoss, Mosli and Skiensfjord, in Convoy OB 305, originating in Liverpool on Apr. 2, dispersed on the 6th. She was bound for Curacao, where she arrived on Apr. 21, having started out from Clyde on Apr. 3. Again, ref. external link provided in the Voyage Record for more info. She was scheduled for Convoy HX 125 on May 6 but did not sail. She later joined HX 127, but returned to Halifax for repairs of steering gear, subsequently leaving Halifax on May 20 in Convoy HX 128, Admiralty fuel for Clyde, station 32. In June she can be found in Convoy OB 335, originating in Liverpool on June 16, arriving Halifax July 2, however, Leiv Eiriksson was again bound for Curacao, where she arrived on July 7, having been detached from the convoy on June 24 (she had joined from Clyde - Page 1). Abraham Lincoln, Boreas, Charles Racine, Hada County, Ranja, Skaraas (returned following collision), Skiensfjord and Thorshavet are also included (link in table above).
She headed back to the U.K. on July 27 in Convoy HX 141 from Halifax, and arrived Bowling, via Clyde, on Aug. 14. About a week later we find her in the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 9; her destination was New York, where she arrived on Sept. 4, the convoy having been dispersed Aug. 25 (Inger was sunk - follow the link for details). She returned across the Atlantic with Convoy HX 151, which left Halifax on Sept. 22 and arrived Liverpool on Oct. 7; Leiv Eiriksson stopped at Clyde on the 5th. From there, she subsequently joined the westbound Convoy ON 26, sailing in station 63. She was bound for Curacao, but left the convoy for Iceland in the morning of Oct. 20 - see Notes on my page about this convoy, as well as Page 2 of the archive documents. From Iceland, she later joined Convoy HX 156 according to A. Hague (convoy had originated in Halifax on Oct. 22, Leiv Eiriksson sailed from Reykjavik on Nov. 1 and arrived Clyde Nov. 5). Eglantine and Montbretia are named among the escorts. She now joined the westbound Convoy ON 36 in order to go back to Curacao, where she arrived on Dec. 5, the convoy having been dispersed on Nov. 26 (25th?); the Commodore's narrative of voyage is also available (Eglantine and Montbretia are again named among the escorts).
From Curacao, she had proceeded to Gibraltar, then returned to Curacao in Jan.-1942 and from there to Halifax to join Convoy HX 175 to the U.K. on Febr. 13. In March, she made a voyage to New York, having joined Convoy ON 73*, arriving her destination on March 18, the convoy having been dispersed 2 days earlier. This convoy will be added to an individual page in my Convoys section, in the meantime, the ships sailing in it are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys. (Acanthus, Eglantine, Potentilla and Rose are named among the escorts - see ON convoy escorts). Leiv Eiriksson remained in New York until Apr. 18, when she proceeded to Halifax, arriving on the 20th, joining Convoy HX 187 on Apr. 26. Again, see also Page 2.
At the external website that I've linked to below, she's listed in station 94 of Convoy OS 28 on May 12-1942, voyaging from Oban to Trinidad in ballast. However, she's also listed, together with Orwell, San Andres and Tankexpress, in Convoy OS 30 in June (see link in Voyage Record), so it looks like she was cancelled from OS 28. According to A. Hague, Leiv Eiriksson was detached from OS 30 on June 9 (having sailed from Oban June 2 - see Page 3). She arrived Trinidad on June 21, then embarked on what was to be her last voyage on June 26.
Related external link:
She was on her way from Port of Spain to Gibraltar with 14 366 tons of fuel oil on June 27-1942 when she was torpedoed by U-126 (Bauer). She was on charter to Tankers Corp. of New York at the time.
Jürgen Rohwer's "Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two" gives the position for Leiv Eiriksson's sinking as 13 18N 59 57W. This position is a little different from what is found in reports presented at the maritime hearings in New York. I've received a copy of these reports from Ken Dunn, who in turn received them from the Maritime Museum in Oslo. Included was also a crew list. It appears the hearings were not held until Aug. 11-1948 in New York. Questioned at the hearings were 1st Mate Johannes Hansteen, who had come on duty at 04:00, 2nd Engineer John Haldorsen, who was in the engine room, Able Seaman Borge Astrup Andersen, who was at the helm when the 1st torpedo hit (he had later seen the U-boat from the lifeboat), Able Seaman Bjarne Monsen, who had been on lookout duty from 04:00 and was thrown down to the deck when the explosion occurred (he had not seen the U-boat until after the 2nd explosion) and Able Seaman Sverre Egge, on gun duty (saw the U-boat just before the 2nd torpedo hit). What follows is a summary of 3 reports presented at the hearings and various statements made by these 5 men on Aug. 11 (names in bold green text are mentioned for the first time in the text, names in pale green have been mentioned before).
One of the reports is signed by the 1st and 3rd mates, who state that the ship had arrived Port of Spain Road at 18:20 on June 20-1942. She headed for Point Fortin with a pilot on board at 10:50 on the 23rd, arriving around 12:20. Loading of cargo started at 07:30 on the 24th and was completed at 08:40 on the 25th, with the cargo distributed between the center tanks No. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 and side tanks No. 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19. At the maritime hearings the 1st mate stated that the fuel oil had a higher temperature than usual, 125°F compared to the usual 80-90°. He said that he thought the oil had not been cooled after having been refined. They departed Point Fortin with a pilot on board at 11:15 on the 25th, arriving Port of Spain Roads at 13:40 the same day.
According to a report signed Barbados, July 4-1942 by Chief Engineer Bjarne Selfoss, 2nd Engineeer J. Haldorsen, 1st Mate Johs. Hansteen, Gunners/Able Seamen S. Egge and Arve Olafsen, Able Seaman Leif A. Gård and 3rd Mate Halftan Pettersen, the ship departed Port of Spain at 06:40 on June 26 in convoy(?), then after they had cleared land the convoy split and the ship continued on a course north of Barbados as per instructions, zig-zagging from 15:30 hrs., diagram No. 11. Still zig-zagging until June 27 at 01:25 when 3rd Engineer Mads Mathisen reported to the chief engineer to inform him of some abnormal noises coming from the engine. The latter came down to investigate and the engine was subsequently stopped at 01:35. After some adjustments had been made the problem was believed to have been fixed and engine was restarted at 01:50. However, at 03:10 oiler Armond O'Connor reported to the chief engineer asking him to come down again, whereupon the engine was again stopped at 03:17. Position is given as approximately 13 23N 59 53W. Later, at the maritime hearings, 2nd Engineer Haldorsen stated that the engine had been in tip-top shape before the voyage started, so the complications were quite unexpected.
The problem was found and the 2nd engineer, along with Mechanic Dag Midbøe and oiler Fred McDaid were woken up to come down and help with the repairs, while the captain was notified that they would need 2 to 3 hours. He did not seem overly concerned about this, feeling they were safe enough in that area since they were able to see land. However, at 04:55, as it was starting to get light, a torpedo detonated in the foreward cargo hold, resulting in a large hole in her starboard bow which caused her to sink down by the bow until the water started to wash across the foredeck, while some oil was leaking out. She stayed like that without sinking any further. Fearing another torpedo, the engine crew came up at that time.
Immediately following the explosion the crew started to launch all the aft boats, and the majority went in them, with the exception of 9 men, namely Captain Amundsen, who had arrived on the bridge right after the explosion, 1st mate Hansteen, 2nd Mate Arne Hansen, Radio Operator Monrad Smith, Steward Halftan Hansen, 2nd Engineer Haldorsen, Gunner/Able Seamen S. Egge and Arve Olafsen and Able Seaman Olaf Knutsen. SOS was continually sent out, flares and snowflakes sent up, the whistle was sounded and their guns fired in an effort to get assistance from land, which could clearly be seen - the U-boat had not been seen at this time.
A 2nd torpedo hit on the port side at 05:40, a little foreward of the bridge and out from No. 3 center tank, which resulted in a terrific explosion and a tall column of burning oil shooting up from the tank and landing across the upper bridge, so that the entire area and the port lower bridge were immediately an "ocean of flames". The captain and 2nd mate, who were on the bridge managed to jump overboard and were pulled into one of the lifeboats, very seriously burnt, but the radio operator and the steward died in the flames. The 1st mate, who had been in his cabin when this explosion occurred managed to get out through the passageway and to the lower bridge on the starboard side, then jumped overboard and was taken into the same lifeboat; injured but not seriously. The remaining men who had been aft near the guns also jumped overboard and were all taken on board the same boat. Meanwhile, the ship was sinking quickly by the bow until only the after part of the poop was visbile above water. Shortly afterwards the engine room filled with water and the ship sank.
This report states that from the time the 2nd torpedo hit and until the ship was gone about 4-5 minutes had passed. Just before the 2nd torpedo hit the gunners had spotted a periscope on the port side across from the middle part of the ship, but it was too close for the aft gun to be put into effective use. After the ship had gone down the U-boat surfaced and came over to the lifeboat to ask for the captain's name etc. before it took off in a northwesterly direction, still on the surface. About 5-10 minutes later a British "speed boat" arrived which landed the shipwrecked men that same day in Bridgetown, Barbados where the captain, 2nd mate and 1st mate were admitted to a hospital, but the former 2 died later that day. They were buried there the following day with the entire crew present, as well as a large amount of people from the local population.
4 armed guard and 40 crew had been on board (Swedish, English, Scottish, Estonian, Irish as well as Norwegians). Counting the 2 who died in hospital 4 died - named further down on this page. The ship's journals and confidential papers, which were kept in an iron box went down with the ship.
A memorandum dated Aug. 20-1942, signed USNR Lt. A. J. Powers, based on survivors' statements, says that she was on a northeast course, and was drifting in a northwesterly current (due to being stopped to repair engine problems), completely blacked out, radio silent. Weather was clear, sea moderate, wind SE force 3 to 4, good visibility, no moonlight, no other ships in sight. There were 4 lookouts, 1 on bridge top, 1 on bridge and 2 gunners aft. Time of the 1st attack is given as 04:45 EWT, when "a terrific explosion occurred underwater near the starboard bow, which immediately flooded the cargo hold. All hatches and water-tight doors were made secure, the empty tanks closed and the tanker continued to drift with its bow awash". The memorandum agrees with the time given above for the 2nd attack (05:40), the torpedo striking "portside under the bridge at #3 center tank with a terrific explosion which started a fire with high flames enveloping the bridge superstructure of the tanker and opened a hole on the portside under the bridge. The attacks were made by a submerged submarine, but the periscope was seen 50 yards off portside after 1st attack. Distress call was sent after 1st hit, followed by rockets and snowflake flares, but no answer received. No distress message sent after 2nd hit as the fire burned the bridge. Ship was armed but no counter offencive offered. Ship was abandoned by most of crew after 1st hit in a motorboat and 2 lifeboats".
The survivors described the U-boat as medium size, about 150' long, newly painted light gray, with a picture of a woman and heart painted on the conning tower. It had a 4" gun foreward and a smaller gun aft of conning tower, no wire cutter, no radio aerials, gear, masts or king posts seen. The commander was believed to have been Italian from his broken English accent when he spoke to the survivors. The answers to his questions were given by the 1st mate. The U-boat stayed on the surface until the British "sub-chaser" came on the scene, then cruised on the surface in a northwesterly direction at a speed of 8 to 10 knos. The sub-chaser fired its machine guns at it as no depth charges were carried. It was suggested that air and surface protection could have been supplied the ship as she was only about 6 miles from Barbdos Island, and 50 minutes elapsed between 1st and 2nd attacks. "Sub surfaced without fear, and cruised about until sub-chaser appeared".
I've found an interesting personal story related to the sinking of Leiv Eiriksson in the book "Sjøfolk i krig" by Leif M. Bjørkelund (largely based on interviews with seamen 50 years after the war). The story is an excerpt from the war diary of the Mechanic (Motorman) Dag Midbøe. He starts off by saying they had two dogs, Topsy and Bamse, which ran freely around the ship during the day, but always slept below deck. As the ship departed Port of Spain on June 26-1942 Topsy found her a spot on the boatdeck, right next to one of the lifeboats, and no coaxing could get her to budge. Still, when the ship sank, Topsy went down with her, but Bamse survived. Midbøe says the 2nd torpedo hit about 45 minutes after the first one, adding that there were 5 men amidships, one of whom, the 1st mate, somehow managed to get through the flames and into the motor lifeboat, which had been lowered by then, without serious injuries. The remaining 4 were not so lucky; 2 went down with the ship, the other 2 were found in the water and picked up by the boat, but their burns were so serious they died in the hospital, as mentioned.
According to this account there were 3 lifeboats on the water, and while the crew were busy distributing themselves in them the U-boat came up asking the usual questions about ship and cargo etc. Bauer also said he regretted the loss of lives and asked if they needed first aid articles, but the 2 injured officers were beyond such aid, so the offer was turned down. Bauer then pointed in the direction of Bridgetown, Barbados, which they could see in the distance, wished them a "good journey, and I hope that I will never see you again", then took off. The 3 boats headed for land, but 45 minutes later a British MTB arrived and took them all on board, then proceeded at full speed towards Bridgetown, a trip which took less than half an hour. A large crowd welcomed them as they arrived. The two injured men were taken to hospital, but as their lives could not be saved they were buried at Bridgetown the next day. The officers were given lodgings at one of the tourist hotels, while the crew were placed in what Midbøe calls a typical English "Sailor Rest" by the name of Flying Angel.
Midbøe's shipmate, an Estonian fellow by the name of Johannes (this must be Johannes Kaarme - see list below) told him that when he discovered that a countryman was missing he had gone in search of him and had found him in shock on his bed, unable to move, and it had taken 2 men to get him up on deck and into one of the boats. Johannes had earlier served as a steward on an Estonian steamer and was en route from the U.S. in 1939 when the news reached him that Russia had invaded Estonia. They received orders to go to a Russian port, but Johannes and some of his shipmates had other plans. They armed themselves and took control of the ship, then proceeded to Scotland. I believe Dag Midbøe and this Johannes had also served together on the Norwegian M/T Sandar, which was torpedoed and sunk just a couple of months after they had payed off in Febr.-1942 (follow the link for more info).
Before he served on Sandar, Dag Midbøe was on M/T Vivi. He had joined Leiv Eiriksson at the beginning of March-1942 (his first voyage being in Convoy ON 73 to New York, March 6), so had only been on board for a little over 3 months when she was sunk. He subsequently joined M/S Bañaderos in Sept.-1942, where he stayed until Apr.-1943, at which time he signed on M/T Kaldfonn, then Washington Express (May-1944), M/T Skotaas (June-1945), and Panamanian Alfred Clegg (July-1946) until he could finally go home in Aug.-1946.
Through the wonders of the Internet I am now in touch with a fellow (Neil Carlsen) in Haugesund, who knows Dag Midbøe. He has very kindly sent me some pictures and documents, among which there was a picture of some of the survivors after landing in Barbados.
This list was sent to me by Ken Dunn, who in turn received it from the Maritime Museum in Oslo, along with the Maritime Declaration.
Borge A. Andersen's other ships are listed on this external page.
Related external links:
Back to Leiv Eiriksson on the "Ships starting with L" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Copy of report from the Maritime Declaration (received from Ken Dunn), "Sjøfolk i krig", Leif. M. Bjørkelund, and misc. The memorandum mention in the above narrative was received from T. Cooper, England.