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Manager: Den Norske Amerikalinje A/S, Oslo
Launched Dec. 9-1936 by Eriksbergs Mekaniska Verkstads A/B, Gothenburg (Yard No. 269) for NAL, delivered in April-1937.
Captain: Halvor Pedersen
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Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.
As will be seen when going to the archive document above, Randsfjord left New York for Norway on Apr. 5-1940, but put back to New York on the 14th (Norway was invaded on Apr. 9). It now looks like she remained there for several weeks before proceeding to Halifax on May 28 in order to join a convoy for Liverpool. She arrived Halifax on May 30, subsequently joining Convoy HX 47 on June 2 (in which the Norwegian Italia was sunk; follow the link for more details). However, she returned to port that same day; according to A. Hague she had been involved in a collision with another ship in the convoy, the Greek Georgios Potamianos. (This seems a bit odd, because as can be seen when following the link to my page about HX 47, these 2 ships had stations far away from each other, though the collision could have happened while the convoy was forming up).
Randsfjord left Halifax again on June 9 in Convoy HX 49, bound for Liverpool with 6740 tons general cargo, incl. 77 tons ammunition and 6 aircraft ("Nortraships flåte" says 33 aircraft).
According to the 1st mate's report presented at the subsequent inquiry in London on Sept. 25 the convoy was escorted by a British aux. cruiser until the afternoon of June 20, at which time it returned, and in the morning of the 21st, 2 British destroyers and an aircraft arrived. That same evening the British San Fernando was torpedoed in the middle of the convoy, and the Commodore ordered the convoy to disperse. The 1st mate says that the Commodore Ship (the British Eurybates) and Randsfjord soon ended up ahead of all the other ships, and the captain gave orders for Randsfjord to reduce her speed so that she could stay behind the Commodore Vessel and follow the same maneuvers. However, when the Commodore became aware of this he signalled orders for them to proceed at full speed. Around midnight they had to steer clear of a burning tanker, and not long afterwards, at 24:11, June 22, when approx. 70 miles south of Fastnet(?) Randsfjord was hit by a torpedo on the port side (U-30 - Lemp), forward of amidships, probably in No. 3 hold, causing her to start sinking by the bow, and within about 3 minutes she was gone.
The port lifeboat was destroyed, the starboard boat was launched with great difficulty due to the ship's speed; her engine had not been stopped, though even if it had been, it may not have made much difference, because her propeller was out of the water almost immediately. Some had to jump overboard, the 2nd mate (officer on watch) and the 1st engineer were believed to have been crushed between the lifeboat and the side of the ship when they lost their grip while trying to lower themselves down to the boat. The captain, who had been in his cabin when the attack took place was last seen on his way to the bridge, not wearing a lifevest at the time (according to a report of an interview with the steward, the lifeboat fished the captain's body out of the water - see page 2). The 1st mate attempted to jump overboard but was taken by the rush of water as the ship sank and was lifted up underneath one of the aircraft in such a way that he was trapped there until the lashings broke. There had been 3 aircraft in crates on deck, another 3, from which the wings had been removed were uncrated.
The lifeboat picked up those who were in the water, then remained on the scene until it was almost daylight in order to search for the 3 missing men, but found nothing but debris. Lemp came up to ask the usual questions about the ship and cargo etc., handed them a bottle of brandy and some water, then disappeared (the survivors thought the boat was Italian*). They set sail for land, but were picked up on June 24 by the British Port Hobart (from Convoy OA 172) and landed in Glasgow on the 26th, where the 1st mate, the 3rd mate and Jr. Ordinary Seaman Halvorsen were admitted to hospital.
The Norwegian Eli Knudsen from the same convoy was torpedoed by U-32 that same day. According to J. Rohwer's listing she was hit at 03:36 on June 22, 19 hours before Randsfjord was torpedoed (giving position 70 n. miles south/southeast of Queenstown and time as 22:40, June 22 for Randsfjord), while "Nortraships flåte" states she was hit about 2 1/2 hours after Randsfjord. "The Allied Convoy System" by Arnold Hague gives the date for San Fernando's sinking as June 22, while Rohwer agrees with my Norwegian source, June 21. Neither Rohwer nor Hague give any indication that the convoy had been dispersed. "Nortraships flåte" says the order to disperse was given when the convoy was about 100 n. miles southwest of Cape Clear, after San Fernando had been torpedoed at 19:00 on June 21 (Rohwer gives German time 20:07).
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Den norske Amerikalinje previously had another ship by the name Randsfjord (ex Kongsfos), from 1921 till 1934, 3222gt, sold to Finland 1934 and renamed Gertrud, later Wilja. Torpedoed and sunk 1940. The following website has some technical information on this first Randsfjord and other NAL ships: Norway Heritage Project (see this page).
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: NAL fleet list, "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume II, and misc. others as named within above text - (ref. My sources).