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Manager: Martin Mosvold, Farsund
Built by Bartram & Sons Ltd., Sunderland (238) in 1917 as Oleary, then named Dockleaf for Royal Navy until 1919. From 1919 till 1920, The Shipping Controller (Lane & Macondrew Ltd.), London - same name. Owned by Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co. Ltd., London from 1920 till 1922, no name change. Renamed Litiopa in 1922, same owners. Sold in 1929 to A/S Mosvolds Rederi, Kristiansand, no name change. From 1931, A/S Mosvolds Rederi II (Martin Mosvold), Kristiansand, same name. From 1933, A/S Mosvolds Rederi II (Martin Mosvold), Farsund. Purchased by Hamburger Mineralöl - Import Ernst Jung in May-1939, intended delivered in Houston on Sept. 3 that year, but because of the outbreak of war this did not come to pass. (See also the external website that I've linked to above, which shows slightly different details).
Captain: Trygve Olsen.
In Admiralty service from 1940 (Royal Fleet Auxiliary). One of the oldest tankers in Nortraship's Fleet, and in such a condition that she under normal circumstances probably would have been taken out of the fleet.
(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).
Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.
When war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, Litiopa was on her way from the U.K. to Corpus Christi, where she arrived Apr. 27 - see Page 1 of the archive documents. On May 9, she proceeded to Bermuda, joining the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 45 on May 23, having been cancelled from the earlier convoys, HX 42, HX 43 and HX 44. She arrived Liverpool on June 7, later proceeding to Stanlow and Manchester. According to A. Hague, she subsequently joined Convoy OB 174, which left Liverpool on June 25 and dispersed on the 30th (the archive document gives her departure date from River Mersey as June 28). She was bound for New York, where she arrived on July 12. The Norwegian Ferncastle, Helgøy, Hird, Notos and Tautra are also listed in OB 174 - ref. external link provided in the Voyage Record. Litiopa now appears to have spent a long time in New York, and also had a long stay in Halifax later that year, having arrived there from Aruba and Bermuda on Oct. 25. She was scheduled for Convoy HX 93 to the U.K. on Dec. 3, but did not leave Halifax until Dec. 14, when she joined Convoy HX 96, arriving Liverpool on the 30th.
In Jan.-1941 she's listed, with Anna Knudsen, Augvald, Finnanger (returned) and Thorshavn, in Convoy OB 273, departing Liverpool on Jan. 12, dispersed on the 16th, also available via link in the table above. Litiopa's destination is not given, but from Page 1, we learn that she arrived Aruba on Febr. 5, later proceeding to Freetown and Curacao.
Her 1942 voyages start on Page 2 (it'll be noticed, that she appears to have spent a long time in New Orleans that spring and summer), which also shows some early 1943 voyages. These continue on Page 3. Convoy information to match some of them is available within Hague's Voyage Record.
More information on the other Norwegian ships mentioned here is available via the alphabet index at the end of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index.
Litiopa (on charter to Anglo-Saxon Co.) had departed Lagos, Nigeria on Oct. 16-1943, bound for Freetown in ballast escorted by the armed trawler HMS Orfasy. On Oct. 21 the sound of depth charges from Orfasy was heard twice, before Litiopa was shaken by a heavy explosion nearby. Suddenly, at around 03:30 on Oct. 22, in 06 18N 11 55W, she found herself the victim of intense shelling from the port side, and at about the same time she was also attacked from the starboard side.
At the time of attack she was sailing at a speed of 7.5 knots on course 307° true, not zig-zagging, radio silent, completely blacked out, in rainy weather with a calm sea, wind southwest force 2, no other ships in sight. The visibility was poor as it was very dark with no moon or stars. There were 3 lookouts; 1 on the starboard bridge and 1 by the gun aft, while the 2nd mate was on the port side of the bridge.
The first shell had struck the aft gun platform, damaging the gun. One of her machine guns and a lifeboat were also damaged in the attack, with the shelling from both sides continuing for a considerable time. Her engine was stopped and her crew ordered to be ready by the lifeboats. About 15 minutes later she was again fired upon from the starboard side and this time 4 lifeboats were launched, as the ship was on fire and listing to starboard. All 35 survived these attacks, though from the lifeboats they thought they saw 3* U-boats taking part in the shelling, which lasted until 05:00 that morning.
The lifeboats were separated in the dark, but at daylight the motorboat with 12 men and the starboard midships boat with 9 men met up again. After having plugged up the bullet holes in the motorboat, the other boat was taken in tow and they returned to their ship which was still afloat, but badly damaged and on fire, listing heavily to starboard with her stern deep in the water. Ammunition started to explode and she eventually capsized and sank at 12:45.
The lifeboats then headed for land, 1 of them arriving Robertsport, Liberia that same day, 2 boats arrived on the 23rd while the 4th was towed in by a corvette later that day. Stoker Smith, the 1st mate and the saloon boy were injured, but not seriously. On the 24th they were all taken to Freetown by the corvette, with arrival the following day.
They later got passage (via Gibraltar to where?) on the British passenger ship Orbita (used as troopship - Captain E. H. Large). 2 of Litiopa's crew members died on board this ship, both of heart failure. They had been treated in the ship's hospital, but 1st Engineer Stausland died on Nov 10*, and Cook Haagensen died on Nov. 15; both were buried at sea.
The inquiry was held in Liverpool on Nov. 29-1943 with the captain, the 2nd mate, the 3rd engineer (since Jan.-1943), Able Seaman Backman, Able Seaman/Gunner Homanberg, Able Seaman/Gunner Hansen, and the boatswain appearing. The 2nd mate, who was the officer on watch when the attack took place, stated that the cook had stopped eating after departure Freetown.
The majority of the info in my account above was taken from misc. Norwegian records. A memorandum based on survivors' statements, dated Nov. 22-1943 and signed USNR Lieut. Robert G. Fulton, gives slightly different details, saying for instance that the "captain had ordered engines to be stopped, but apparently engine room did not receive order for during the attack and after the launching of boats tanker continued to cruise in a circle at a slow speed. At dawn when survivors were in the boats, the ship could be seen to be slightly down by the stern with a 15° list to starboard; smoke and flames were issuing from the engine room. When boats met about 3 miles on port quarter of ship, a discussion went on about going back on board but nothing resulted. No distress signal sent, captain apparently believed that escort would send one." This memoranudm says the ship had been abandoned at 03:10 GMT, the captain's boat being the last to leave at 04:00, then adds, "The HMS Snowdrop, dispatched from Freetown to rescue survivors, succeeded in saving the entire crew of 35, either by picking them up at sea or at Robertsport, where some survivors had landed, either directly from their boats or by rescue plane (Pan-American amphibious plane took 8[?] survivors from one boat while at sea and landed them at Robertsport). All survivors, except one, were landed at Freetown at 12:00 GMT, 25 October. Attack was made by possibly two but probably 3 subs, which were probably of the German 740 ton class, armed with guns about 4" calibre located both fore and aft of conning tower. Because of poor visibility, details of the appearances of the sub would not be ascertained. When last seen, 3 subs were surfaced, proceeding in line in an unknown direction."
Her position when first attacked on the 22nd is given as 05 58N 11 30W, at 03:00 GMT. The date of her eventual sinking is given as Oct. 23 at 12:50 GMT, and the memorandum also gives some details on the explosions heard prior to the attack on Litiopa, as follows (dates seem off):
"At 23:00 GMT, 22 October, an explosion was heard by the crew described as sounding like a depth charge which seemed to be very close. Nothing more was heard until 00:30 GMT, 23 October, when 3 explosions in quick succession were heard. These explosions were not so loud as the first one, but also were similar to depth charge explosions. At about 01:00 GMT one extremely heavy explosion was heard which caused the Litiopa to vibrate and shake considerably. None of the explosions were visible. Inasmuch as the escorting vessel, HMS Orfasy, has never been heard from since the date of sinking, nor have any survivors or wreckage therefrom been found, it is possible that the last explosion may have been the one that disintegrated the escorting vessel."
Related external links:
HMT Orfasy - Includes casualty list - click on "crew" (I notice that the text about her loss has been taken directly from my site).
Trawlers lost during WW II - List of British trawlers lost in WW II - from Forbes Wilson's website about his grandfather, "The Royal Naval Reserve Record of John Wilson".
Back to Litiopa on the "Ships starting with L" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: A document received from Theodor Dorgeist, Germany, "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. (ref. My sources). Some details have also been added from a summary of survivors' statements found in a memorandum dated Nov. 22-1943, received from Tony Cooper, England.