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To Snefjeld on the "Ships starting with S" page.
Owner: A/S D/S Storfjeld
Built by NV Sheepswerf Voorheen Jan Smit Czn., Alblasserdam, Holland in 1901. Previous names: Maasstad until 1909, Ottoland until 1915. According to Uboat. net (external link), she was completed in May-1901 as Dutch Maasstad for NV Stoomvaart Mij Maasstad (Driebeek & Sons), Rotterdam. Renamed Ottoland for Stoomvaart Mij Nederlandsche Lloyd, Rotterdam in 1909. Sold to Norway in 1915 and renamed Snefjeld for A/S D/S Storfjeld (Harald Grieg Martens), Bergen. On the Dutch website Maritiem Digitaal there's a picture of this ship when named Ottoland (both links are external - the picture is dated 1912). According to this external page, she was shelled and damaged by a German U-boat on Nov. 6-1916, when on a voyage from Rouen to Tyne (Captain Karl Monsen) - the site adds that her owners at that time were A/S D/S Snefjeld, D/S A/S Storfjeld taking over in June-1937.
Captain: Finn Skage
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.
Some voyages are missing from this record.
Arnold Hague has included Snefjeld in the U.K.-Norway Convoy ON 14 in Febr.-1940. In March she's listed in the original Advance Sailing Telegram for Convoy HN 18 from Norway to the U.K., bound for Preston with a cargo of pulp. Several Norwegian ships took part. As can be seen on the archive document, the intention was to return to Norway on Apr. 6, but she put into Kirkwall on the 10th (the Germans invaded Norway on Apr. 9-1940). She's not mentioned, but it's possible the plan was to join Convoy ON 25(?), which originated at Methil Roads on Apr. 5; several ships returned to a British port due to the invasion being underway - again, follow the link for much more information.
From Kirkwall, she later proceeded to Leith, Methil, Sunderland and Aberdeen, then made a voyage to Reykjavik, with arrival there on July 4. She now made a voyage from Reykjavik to Sydney, C.B. I have no convoy information for this voyage; perhaps she had sailed independently? She arrived Sydney on July 19 and, having made a voyage to Caraquet and on to Halifax, she headed back to the U.K. again on July 27 with Convoy HX 61, bound for Mersey with pit props - follow the link for more convoy information. Together with the Norwegian Danio, Hild, Samnanger and Thyra, she subsequently joined Convoy OB 207, which left Liverpool on Sept. 1 and dispersed on the 6th - her destination is not given (ref. external link provided in the Voyage Record), but according to the archive document, she arrived Bathurst, N.B. on Sept. 17.
Snefjeld left Sydney, C.B. for Preston with a cargo of 719 standards of timber on Oct. 5-1940 in Convoy SC 7, which lost several ships between Oct. 16 and Oct. 19-1940 - follow the link to my page about this convoy for more information; local escort HMS Leith's report is also available.
At 01:15 on the 19th she had stopped, having heard shouts from people in the water. 3 boats were launched to look for survivors, finding 4 from the torpedoed Greek ship Thalia, and they were just about to raise 2 of the boats back on board at about 02:00 when Snefjeld was hit by a torpedo from U-99* (Kretschmer), near Hatch No. 2, starboard side (according to Uboat.net, a torpedo had missed about 20 minutes earlier, and another about 5 minutes earlier). The 2nd mate, the steward and the mess boy were injured in the explosion. The 1st mate, who had been in one of the boats, was flung towards aft and came to the surface again abreast of No. 4 hatch, then managed to reboard. He attempted to open the door to the chart room, but it was completely ablaze. The ship listed to starboard causing the deck cargo on the foredeck to go overboard. Both starboard lifeboats (used in the rescue) were destroyed, but the motorboat, which had also been taking part in the search for the Greek seamen was still on the water about 2 ship's lengths away and was able to pick up some of the crew, while the rest left the ship in a dinghy.
After an hour Snefjeld broke in two, then eventually sank, still on fire, at about 08:00 according to a report presented at the subsequent maritime hearings (57 28N 11 10W). The 21 survivors (no casualties) remained in the area until around noon in the hope of being rescued, or possibly being spotted by aircraft, but when this did not happen they started to row towards land, having found the motor inoperable. When the weather worsened that afternoon they had to use a sea anchor, and that evening the line between the 2 boats broke so that they got separated, but they stayed in touch through the night with the help of light signals and at dawn the following morning they got together again. That afternoon they found an empty raft from Thalia and helped themselves to some supplies. Shortly thereafter they found an empty, fully equipped lifeboat from S/S Empire Brigade (also from Convoy SC 7), and some of the men in the dinghy transferred to it. An hour later a lone man was seen standing on some debris and they took him on board; he had belonged to the British S/S Fiscus from the same convoy (see report below). On Oct. 21 they met a lifeboat with 29 from S/S Port Gisborne, but lost contact overnight (these men had spent over a week in the boat - torpedoed Oct. 11, Convoy HX 77 - will be added, see Ships in all HX convoys).
They all transferred to the lifeboat the following day as the motorboat kept taking in water, then continued rowing east for one more day and night, until they on the 23rd were picked up by HMS Clematis which landed them all in Methil on Oct. 26 (including the 5 who had been picked up from the other ships), where the 2nd mate, the steward and the messboy were admitted to a hospital, while the rest of them were sent to Newcastle that same day. The inquiry was held there on Nov. 1-1940 with Captain Finn Skage, 1st Mate Hjalmar Kornelius Hægland, 1st Engineer Nils Særvold, Boatswain John Theodor Berget and Radio Operator Johan Arne Rørvik appearing. The latter had taken part in the rescue of the Greek survivors, but had reboarded and was on the boat deck when the explosion occurred. I get the impression he subsequently sent out an SOS about Snefjeld's situation. One of the survivors, Able Seaman Peder Jorang Aga, later died when Nortind was lost in Jan.-1943.
Survivor Report - Fiscus
"This vessel had reached a point about 350 miles West of Eire. Position in Convoy, third ship in column three from port. Other columns having from three to six ships in each. Deponent was lying dozing in his bunk when a violent explosion occurred and ship took a heavy list to starboard. One packing case was lying alongside No. 2 hatch. It was not lashed to the deck. Deponent got on to the packing case, when the sea washed him into No. 2 hold, the hatches of which had been blown off by the explosion. Evidently, the torpedo had struck No. 2 hold, starboard side, blowing off beams and hatch covers. The hold was full of water. Deponent sank and rose to the surface when he grabbed the rope lashing around the packing case. The case floated away, the fore deck of the ship being by this time under water. The packing case swept clear of the ship and when deponent looked around the ship had disappeared, and the sea was a mass of wreckage. In deponent's opinion vessel sank within a minute of the explosion.
After about two hours on the packing case deponent sighted three Indian firemen clinging to the ice box about 20 yards away. He called to them and helped them on to the packing case. They died from exposure the next morning. Deponent did not see any other members of the crew. He remained on the packing case until picked up on 21/10/40 by a lifeboat full of survivors from Norwegian ship Thalia (incorrect - he may have thought the lifeboat was from the Greek Thalia, as there were 4 survivors from that ship on board). This vessel had been in deponent's convoy and had been sunk about an hour and a half after the Fiscus. The lifeboat was sighted by a flying boat on 24/10/40 and the occupants picked up on the same day by one of H.M.S. (this was HMS Clematis, as mentioned. Date discrepancies here are probably simply due to different time zones used in reports). The boats of the Fiscus were swung out ready for launching. One raft was in the starboard fore rigging and two others aft in main rigging, one on each side. Master had given strict orders on 17/10/40 that every man was to wear his life-saving waistcoat continuously and deponent knows that all deck personnel wore them accordingly."
Mike Holdoway, England (the webmaster of this external website, which includes SL convoys, as well as OA and OB convoys, among several other series), has sent me the following related information, part of a narrative by HMS Clematis, which had been escorting the combined convoys OA 230 / OB 230 until dispersed and then met the homeward bound Convoy SL 50 (all these links are external):
Narrative by Captain Finn Skage of Snefjeld:
(Captain Skage "appeared to be a fine type of Sailor").
According to Arnold Hague's "The Allied Convoy System", Convoy SC 7 had 34 ships. He gives the following details on the ships that were lost (stragglers are not included in this source - again, please see my page about Convoy SC 7 as well as the external link below for a complete list of ships attacked):
Related external links:
Back to Snefjeld on the "Ships starting with S" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Vol. II (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. as named within text above (ref. My sources).