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Manager: S. Ugelstad, Oslo
Built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend, Sunderland in 1931.
Captain: Hans N. Thormodsen
In Admiralty service from 1940 (Royal Fleet Auxiliary).
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.
Judging from the information found on the archive document, Svenør was on her way from Abadan to Aden when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. The document also shows a long stay in Bombay later that year. There's also a long gap in her voyages in the beginning of 1941.
Skipping now to July-1941, when she took part in "Operation Substance" - going back to the archive document, we see that she had been at Malta for close to 3 months; please continue to Høegh Hood and/or my page about Thermopylæ for further details (also, see links to Convoy MW 7B and MG 1A in the Voyage Record above, and the external link provided further down on this page). The operation was a great success, and in reality, the 4 Norwegian ships Høegh Hood, Svenør, Thermopylæ and Talabot, and the Danish/British Amerika and the British Settler were the only merchant ships to travel across the entire Mediterranean from Alexandria to Gibraltar at a time when such a voyage was considered sheer suicide.
From Gibraltar, Svenør subsequently headed to New York, where she remained for about a month before proceeding to Curacao (again, see the archive document and Hague's Voyage Record), then continued to Halifax in order to join Convoy HX 154 on Oct. 10. This convoy arrived Liverpool on Oct. 23; Svenør stopped at Loch Ewe. The following month, we find her in station 46 of the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 34 which originated in Liverpool on Nov. 7 and dispersed on the 21st, Svenør arriving New York Nov. 27 (she had started out from Loch Ewe on Nov. 8). Acanthus is named among the escorts. Christmas that year was celebrated while in Convoy HX 166, departing Halifax on Dec. 21, arriving Liverpool on Jan. 5-1942. Svenør, however, stopped at Reykjavik on Jan. 2, and from there, she later joined the westbound Convoy ON 59, which had sailed from Liverpool on Jan. 23-1942. Svenør arrived Curacao independently on Febr. 12, the convoy having been dispersed Febr. 6. 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. Braganza, Hardanger (returned), Herbrand, Hilda Knudsen, Kongsgaard, Norsktank (returned), O. A. Knudsen, Pan Aruba, Salamis, Sommerstad (returned), Sydhav and Thorshavet are also listed.
From Curacao, she headed to New Orleans 2 days later, then returned to Curacao in March.
For more information on the Norwegian ships mentioned here, see the alphabet index at the bottom of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index.
Related external link:
Svenør had departed Curacao again on March 17-1942 with a cargo of 11 400 tons fuel oil, and was en route to join a convoy in Halifax (she was scheduled for Convoy HX 183 on Apr. 2) when she at 02:30 EST on March 27 was hit on the port side by 2 torpedoes from U-105 (Schuch), 35 55N (35 35N? 35 05N?) 69 20W - about 300 miles east of Cape Hatteras according to the 1st engineer's statements at the subsequent inquiry. The weather was dark and overcast at the time, wind light force 3-4, sea choppy; she was sailing at a speed of 10 knots, compass course 064, not zig-zagging. Two lookouts were on watch, one on each side of the bridge. The first torpedo struck high, forward of amidships, about at the bridge, with the resultant fire instantly enveloping the bridge and the surrounding area and engulfing all the deck officers, including the British radio operator and 2 able seamen (8 in all). The 2nd torpedo hit a minute or two later aft of midships, causing considerable damage below the water line. Orders to abandon ship were given and engines stopped. Svenør was armed, but no opportunity was afforded to counter-attack.
The survivors managed to launch 2 aft lifeboats which they got into; the starboard boat with 15 men (commanded by the boatswain), and the port boat with 11. One of the boats subsequently picked up 3 men who had jumped overboard, among whom was the carpenter who had been asleep when the attack occurred. All 3 were wearing their Vaco suit, which to a great extent was credited with saving their lives. After the ship had been abandoned, the U-boat was seen fully surfaced, and the glare of a fire, believed to be from another torpedoed ship, was seen about 2000 feet astern of Svenør.
When Schuch saw that Svenør didn't sink he sent a 3rd torpedo into her about an hour later (10 minutes later?), but she still remained afloat. The U-boat cruised in the vicinity without contacting the lifeboats, then as day dawned at about 04:30 the survivors watched their ship being shelled from a range of about 2000 yards to 900 feet. About 47 rounds were fired, the first 2 missing, but the remainder being hits, and she finally sank between 07:00 and 08:00. Schuch then approached another ship in the distance, and upon registering that it was a neutral one, the Portugese D/S Cunene, he surfaced nearby and advised them of the location of the shipwrecked crew. Cunene changed her course, picked them all up and landed them in Philadelphia on March 31.
The U-boat, which was last seen surfaced, heading due east between 07:30 and 08:00, was described as very large, about 300 feet long, conning tower 12 to 15 feet high forward and lower aft, two guns, one forward and one aft, the largest forward about 4", painted grey. One of the survivors reported that a Swastika was painted on the side of the conning tower. The survivos in the 2 lifeboats were picked up by Cunene at 08:45 GMT and 09:25 GMT respectively. The master of the rescue vessel, who appeared evasive in replying to questioning, stated that the U-boat had a light blue star on the conning tower. He was of the opinion that it was Italian while his crew believed it was German.
The inquiry was held in New York on Apr. 4-1942 with the 1st engineer, the boatswain, the carpenter and Able Seaman Florent attending. The latter had been at the helm but had been relieved about 5 minutes before the torpedo struck. All the other witnesses had been asleep in their cabins at the time.
For info, in Issue No. 4/1975 of "Krigsseileren" there's a picture of 18 men from Svenør with a caption saying it was taken after they had arrived New York. One of the survivors, Motorman Oskar Johansen is pictured; the other 17 in the photo are not named.
Related external links:
Back to Svenør on the "Ships starting with S" page.
I believe S. Ugelstad had another tanker named Svenør built in Sweden towards the end of the war, launched 1947.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, Summary of Statements by Survivors in a memorandum dated Apr. 9-1942, signed Ensign A. J. Powers, U.S.N.R., received from Tony Cooper, England, "Krigsseileren", Issue No. 4 - 1975, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II, Norwegian Maritime Museum, and misc. (ref. My sources).