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Owner: Bryde & Dahls Hvalfangerselskap A/S
Built by Deutsche Werft AG, Betrieb Finkenwärder, Hamburg in 1938.
Captains: Atle Tange and Arne Harbo Hansen.
In Admiralty service from 1940 (Royal Fleet Auxiliary).
From Sept.-1939 until Sept.-1942, Ole Mauritz Thorsen from Sandefjord served on this ship (ordinary seaman, able seaman and carpenter). He paid off shortly before she was sunk, in order to go to Mate's school in England (died 1995). If anybody knew him and would like to get in touch with his wife, I can provide her address - my contact address is included at the bottom of this page.
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.
As will be seen when going to Page 1 of the archive documents, Thorshavet was on her way from Port Said to Aden when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940.
In Oct.-1940 she's listed, along with Grena, Primero and South Africa, in Convoy SL 51, which departed Freetown on Oct. 12 and arrived Oban on the 31st; Thorshavet arrived Swansea Nov. 5, remaining there for over a month. We subsequently find her in Convoy OB 259, which originated in Liverpool on Dec. 14 and dispersed on the 17th, Thorshavet arriving Curacao on Jan. 3/4-1941; she had started out from Milford Haven on Dec. 13. Both these convoys are available via the external links provided within the Voyage Record above. A. Hague has also included Belinda, Dalfonn, Erviken (returned), Helgøy, Hørda, Idefjord, Leiesten and Taranger in the OB convoy, while another section of the same site has added Høyanger as well (A. Hague instead has this ship in the next convoy, OB 260).
From Curacao, she later headed to Gibraltar, then back to Curacao and on to Bermuda, and on March 9-1941, we find her in the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 114, bound for Clyde with fuel oil (Hidlefjord was sunk, and Kaia Knudsen damaged - follow the links for more info). Thorshavet became a straggler from this convoy and is reported to have seen a submarine (see my page about HX 114), but reached her destination safely on March 29, according to Page 1. The following month, she's listed as bound for New York in Convoy OB 307, originating in Liverpool on Apr. 7, dispersed on the 13th, Thorshavet arriving New York on Apr. 25 (she had joined from Clyde). Brønnøy, Chr. Th. Boe, Dagrun, Drammensfjord and Petter are also named (link in table above). There's a little snippet related to Thorshavet in this report saying she was westbound when met by the Ocean Escort for Convoy SC 28 on Apr. 17, in 49 36N 41 31W. (Please note that Thorshavet was not herself in SC 28, which was an eastbound convoy).
Having spent 3 weeks in New York (Page 1), she proceeded to Halifax in order to join Convoy HX 128 on May 20, cargo of fuel oil, station 24. She lost touch with the convoy on May 25, but arrived Clyde safely on June 5. Towards the end of this voyage she's said to have rescued 11 survivors from the Belgian trawler John. Jan-Olof, Sweden has told me that "Lloyd's War Losses, Vol I British, Allied and Neutral Merchant Vessels Sunk or Destroyed by War Causes", 1989 reprint says the following about this trawler: "Attacked by aircraft on June 2, 1941. Again attacked June 3 about 300 miles S. by E. of Inglos Hofdi, 93 miles N.W. of St. Kilda. Abandoned by crew. Presumed sunk. Sighted on June 3 by Thorshavet in 58 13N 11 16W. Crew 11, no casualties". Thorshavet's captain at that time was Atle Tange.
With Abraham Lincoln, Boreas, Charles Racine, Hada County, Leiv Eiriksson, Ranja, Skaraas (collided - returned, follow link for details) and Skiensfjord, she subsequently joined Convoy OB 335, which originated in Liverpool on June 16-1941 and arrived Halifax on July 2 (link in the table above); Thorshavet, however, was bound for Curacao, arriving there on July 9, having been detached from the convoy on June 22, according to A. Hague (she had joined from Clyde - Page 1). On July 22, she can be found in station 43 of Convoy HX 140 from Halifax, voyage from Curacao to Clyde with fuel oil, together with the Norwegian Ferncastle (113), Madrono (112), Boreas (16), Velox (56), Velma (96), Alaska (106), Stiklestad (95), Vardefjell (84), Evita (114), Olaf Bergh (124), Skiensfjord (97), Thorshov (83), Bonneville (82), and Helgøy (77). Beth and Petter were also initially in this convoy but left due to engine problems - others joined from Iceland, as will be seen when following the link.
Thorshavet returned the following month with the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 6 (departure Liverpool on Aug. 11-1941, dispersed Aug. 24). Her destination is given as Trinidad - she arrived Curacao on Sept. 1, having started out from Clyde on Aug. 12 (Page 1). On Sept. 16, she's listed in the Halifax-U.K. Convoy HX 150, together with the Norwegian Fenris, Solfonn, Havkong, Garonne, Heina, Topdalsfjord, Varanger and Braganza. A. Hague has also included Boreas in this convoy. Thorshavet, bound for Curacao, subsequently joined the westbound Convoy ON 24*, which originated in Liverpool on Oct. 8 and dispersed on the 15th, Thorshavet arriving Curacao Oct. 29 (she had again joined from Clyde - see Page 2). Abraham Lincoln, Aristophanes, Brasil, Glittre, Grey County, Herbrand, Idefjord, Innerøy, Petter, Solfonn, Thorshov, Topdalsfjord and the Panamanian Norvik (Norwegian managers) are also listed. From Curacao, she headed to Gibraltar, then back to New York and on to Halifax, where she joined Convoy HX 167 on Dec. 27, bound for Hvalfjord, Iceland. She arrived Reykjavik on Jan. 9-1942.
She left Reykjavik again on Jan. 24-1942, joining the westbound Convoy ON 59*, which had started out from Liverpool on Jan. 23, dispersed on Febr. 6 and also included Braganza, Hardanger (returned), Herbrand, Hilda Knudsen, Kongsgaard, Norsktank (returned), O. A. Knudsen, Pan Aruba, Salamis, Sommerstad (returned), Svenør and Sydhav. Her destination is not given, but going back to Page 2, we learn that she arrived Curacao on Febr. 11, proceeding to Halifax the next day in order to join Convoy HX 177 back to the U.K. on Febr. 25. In March that year she shows up, with Marit II, Norsktank and San Andres, in Convoy OS 23, voyaging from Oban to Curacao in ballast in station 85 of the convoy, which left Liverpool on March 24 (this was a Freetown bound convoy - see link in the table above). Thorshavet arrived Curacao on Apr. 13, having sailed from Oban on March 25 - according to A. Hague she had been detached on Apr. 1. From Curacao, she continued to Freetown the next day, and she's now mentioned in Convoy SL 109, which departed Freetown for the U.K. on May 4 and also included Brasil, Ingria and Jenny. Thorshavet, however, did not go to the U.K. She detached from the convoy on May 6 to proceed independently - her destination is not given, but going back to the archive document, we see that she arrived Trinidad on May 16, proceeding to Curacao a week later, then back to Freetown.
There's an interesting personal account about Thorshavet in the book "Sjøfolk i krig" (seamen at war) by Leif M. Bjørkelund. The story is told by one of her crew members, Able Seaman Johan Byrkja and the incident took place at the beginning of June-1942 when she was on her way from Curacao to Freetown, about a week after departure Curacao on May 29 (see Voyage Record above and Page 2). It appears they were followed for a long time by what was believed to be a German raider, looking very much like the Norwegian M/S Venus, which was rumoured to have been converted to a raider. Thorshavet changed course, but to no avail. The enemy ship came extremely close at one point, before suddenly turning around and withdrawing at full speed. I've never seen this episode discussed anywhere else, and it would be interesting to know if anyone with access to German records could identify this vessel for me (could it have been Stier perhaps? Or Thor, or Michel?).
After the mysterious vessel had disappeared, Thorshavet changed course and headed south for a while before turning towards the coast of Africa. En route they encountered a British cruiser and signalled a message about the "enemy" ship operating in the South Atlantic. The cruiser escorted them part of the way, but the next morning it took off to search for the raider. According to Page 2, Thorshavet reached Freetown on June 13-1942. From there (Byrkja says), she travelled in convoy via Gibraltar to Loch Ewe, and arrived Scapa Flow on July 4. This must have been Convoy SL 113, in which she's listed (see link in Voyage Record). This convoy left Freetown on June 15 and arrived Liverpool on July 5; Thorshavet stopped at Loch Ewe July 3, continuing to Scapa the next day. She had a cargo of 15 158 tons of Admiralty fuel, station 54. The Norwegian Thorhild, Fagerfjell and Vanja are also named (Vanja did not sail). It'll also be noticed, when going back to the archive document, that she later spent a month at Tyne - reason not known.
In Aug.-1942, she can be found in Convoy OS 38, voyaging from Oban to Gibraltar in station 44. Anna Knudsen and Petter II are also listed. Thorshavet arrived Gibraltar on Sept. 1, having sailed from Oban Aug. 21. Again, see the external link within the Voyage Record for more information (convoy departed Liverpool on Aug. 20, arrived Freetown Sept. 7). She headed back to the U.K. again on Sept. 12, arriving Clyde on the 21st, and from there, she joined the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 133*, originating in Liverpool on Sept. 25, arriving New York, her destination at the time, on Oct. 11. She had again been in the company of other Norwegian ships, namely Anna Knudsen, Athos, Bello, Brimanger, Emma Bakke, Garonne, Grey County, Kosmos II, Minerva, Molda, Noreg, Nueva Granada, Petter II (returned), Polarsol, Polartank, Sandanger, Skandinavia, Thorshov and the Panamanian Norbris (Norwegian managers). A few days later, we find her Convoy NG 314, departing New York on Oct. 15, arriving Guantanamo on Oct. 22 (the Norwegian Anna Knudsen, Britamsea, Sandanger, Skandinavia and Thorshov are also listed). Rick Pitz, a visitor to my website, has informed me via this message in my Guestbook that Thorshavet subsequently joined Convoy GAT 16, which left Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for Trinidad that same day (Oct. 22) and arrived Trinidad on Oct. 28. Alar, Anna Knudsen, Britamsea, Sandanger, Skandinavia, Thorshov and Norbris are also included. Both these convoys are available via the external links provided within the Voyage Record. Again, see also Page 2 for comparison.
As will be seen in the next paragraph, her return voyage was to be her last. See also Page 3.
Captain Arne Harbo Hansen.
As mentioned above, Thorshavet had arrived Trinidad on Oct. 28-1942. With a cargo of 15 000 tons fuel oil for the U.K. via New York, she left Trinidad again on Nov. 2 in Convoy TAG 18 (external page - Acasta, Anna Knudsen, Astrell [sunk - follow link for details], Kaldfonn and Karmt are also listed). She's listed as cancelled from Convoy HX 216, which left New York on Nov. 19-1942, so this appears to be the convoy she was meant to join for her voyage to the U.K. However, she never made it to New York. On Nov. 3 she was torpedoed by U-160 (Lassen), 12 16N 64 06W (north of Margarita Island, Caribbean according to Charles Hocking). An excerpt from her deck journal states she was hit immediately afterwards by a 2nd torpedo, both exploding in the engine room on the starboard side, time is given as 00:14 ("Nortraships flåte" gives the time 01:00, while J. Rohwer gives 06:30, German time - Page 3 of the archive docs gives 15:00).
4 lifeboats were launched, and as the ship stayed afloat, some of the men reboarded at dawn in order to search for 3 missing men, 1 of whom, the 3rd engineer, was found floating in the engine room, but the other 2 were not found. The survivors were picked up by a destroyer that afternoon and landed in Curacao the following evening.
On Nov. 6, a salvage vessel was sent out to the wreck, but on the 7th she was reported to have sunk.
An inquiry was held in New York on Nov. 30-1942 with the captain, the 2nd mate, and the Norwegian radio operator attending (the others had not yet arrived New York). The 2nd mate stated that Thorshavet had been in the 5th column of the convoy, with 4 columns on each side of her, and was sailing right behind the Commodore Vessel, which means she may have been in station 52(?). The radio operator said he had sent out an SOS while the crew went to the boats, having found the radio equipment in full order.
For info, U-160 had also been responsible for the attack on Havsten earlier that year - follow the link for details. The U-boat was sunk with all hands the following year - ref. external link below.
Related external links:
Back to Thorshavet on the "Ships starting with T" page.
Other ships by this name: Thor Dahl later had another ship by this name (T/T), built 1970. Also, a whale factory named Thorshavet (M/S), built 1947 sold 1969 (Astra), run into by M/S Karonga Apr. 14-1974 and sank off the coast of Portugese Guinea. This is described in detail (in Norwegian) on the Østfold Hvalfangerklubb website on this page - external links.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøfolk i krig" Leif M. Bjørkelund, "Dictionary of Disasters at Sea during the Age of Steam", Charles Hocking, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II, Norwegian Maritime Museum, and misc. - (ref. My sources).