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M/S Washington Express
To Washington Express on the "Ships starting with W" page.
Owner: Skibs-A/S Seattle
Delivered in Sept.-1933 from A/B Götaverken, Gothenburg (476) as Washington Express to Skibs-A/S Seattle (Biørn Biørnstad & Co., Oslo) - 338.2' x 47.2' x 21', 2 x 4t single 8 cyl. 550/1000, 4200 bhp diesel engines (by builders) - 16 knots. See also this thread on my Ship Forum.
Fruit carrier, operating for Skibs-A/S Fruit Express Line.
Captain: Alf. M. Bie.
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 can be seen, her 1940, 1941 and early 1942 voyages are not included.
As can be seen when going to Page 1 of the archive document, Washington Express was on her way from Bellingham to Balboa when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. Her 1941 voyages start on Page 2 and continue on Page 3 and Page 4. It'll be noticed that she appears to have spent quite a long time in Los Angeles, where she had arrived from San Francisco on Dec. 22-1941. Departure is given as Febr. 28-1942, when she proceeded to Balboa and, after having spent a few weeks there, she continued to Quepos. In the summer of 1942, she started making voyages to the U.K.
She was on a voyage Liverpool-New York on Aug. 14-1942 when one of the gunners spotted the 9 survivors from M/S Moldanger who had been on a raft for 48 days (torpedoed June 27-1942). Follow the link for more details. Washington Express arrived New York on Aug. 17 (Page 4).
Later that month, on Aug. 25-1942, when returning to Liverpool, she was followed by what was believed to be an enemy raider. When this steamer, which carried no flag, signalled "what ship" it was not done according to allied rules, so Washington Express did not respond but instead altered course and sailed away at maximum speed (16 knots), while the 76 mm gun was made ready and manned. The mysterious vessel followed and opened fire, but the shots fell short and because of the distance between them Washington Express could not effectively return the fire. Hiding behind a smoke screen she attempted to get away, but the attacker continued to fire. However, due to the smoke screen and approaching darkness nothing further developed and she proceeded at full speed while zig-zagging for 3 hours. (This according to a report by Gunner Oddmund Jensen in "Tilbakeblikk"). She arrived Liverpool on Sept. 2, proceeding to Manchester that same day, heading back to New York on Sept. 15, then went back to the U.K. the following month; the rest of her 1942 voyages are shown on Page 4 and Page 5.
Early in the New Year of 1943 she was attacked by U-441 (Hartmann) when on an independent voyage from New York to the U.K. via Halifax, but escaped, possibly partly due to the fact that the torpedo may have detonated too early, but presumably also due to her ability for speed. With a general cargo and passengers on board, she had initially started out with Convoy HX 221 from New York on Dec. 29-1942, but had been ordered into Halifax for independent routing. The Commodore was in Abraham Lincoln; the Commodore's narrative is also available for this convoy and Washington Express is mentioned under Jan. 1-1943. She had left Halifax again on Jan. 2 (Page 5). The boatswain had seen a periscope on Jan. 7 and a radio message was sent out, but nothing further happened that day other than the fact that a bright light was seen behind them that afternoon, believed to have been some sort of an explosion.
The attack by U-441 took place in the afternoon of Jan. 9 in position 58 39N 22 46W, about 12 minutes after 1st Mate Birger Aanonsen had spotted a shadow passing in front of the ship and sounded the alarm, while at the same time altering course 90° at full speed. One of the gunners then saw the boat on the port quarters, at which time the gunners were ordered to fire. They claimed to have observed several hits with the Oerlikon and the boat was not seen again. When a powerful underwater explosion occurred shortly afterwards, making it feel as if Washington Express was lifted out of the water, they at first thought they had been hit by a torpedo, but when everything was found to be in order, they assumed the U-boat had been sunk instead (while Hartmann, in fact, thought he had sunk the Norwegian ship). On that particular voyage they had encountered a bad storm which had destroyed all the lifeboats and rafts, so they were undoubtedly relieved when they realized they had gotten away from the U-boat. They stopped Belfast Lough on Jan. 11/12, before proceeding to Cardiff, with arrival Jan. 14 (Page 5).
Gunners at that time were: Knud Knudsen, Ragnvald Helland, Rolf I. Hansen. Marius P. Hansen, Ragnvald Larsen, Thorleif Olsen and Oddmund Jensen.
Related external link:
Washington Express subsequently made an independet voyage to New York and back to the U.K. in Febr.-1943, and in March she's listed, together with Brand, Kaldfonn, Kong Sverre, Norelg and Petter, in the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 175*, which originated in Liverpool on March 24 and arrived New York on Apr. 16. Washington Express, however, is said to have detached from this convoy shortly after departure to proceed independently, and going back to Page 5 of the archive documents, we learn that she arrived Halifax on Apr. 3, having started out from Clyde on March 24/25. She headed back to the U.K. later that month in Convoy HX 234, joining with the Halifax section (convoy originated in New York on Apr. 12). She's named among 6 ships that were detached from the convoy to form a fast portion, escorted by HMS Vimy and HMS Asphodel. Date is not given, but this probably took place shortly before the convoy's arrival (the Commodore refers to the splitting position, Apr. 26). Laurits Swenson served as Commodore Vessel - the Commodore's report is also available for this convoy (Washignton Express is mentioned in the 2nd paragraph). According to the archive document, she arrived Liverpool on Apr. 28, proceeding to Eastham and Manchester that same day.
She returned to New York with Convoy ON 183*, which left Liverpool on May 10 and arrived New York on the 25th and also included Brimanger, Gefion, Laurits Swenson (Commodore Vessel), Noreg, Santos, Tungsha and Vinga. She was scheduled for Convoy HX 242 from New York at the end of that month, but instead joined the next convoy, HX 243, leaving New York on June 7, arriving Liverpool on the 21st. She was bound for Glasgow with general cargo in station 75 and arrived that destination on June 19/20. Having made an independent voyage to New York and back to the U.K. (again, see Page 5), she joined the westbound Convoy ON 195*, again bound for New York; departure Liverpool July 31-1943, arrival New York Aug. 13. Abraham Lincoln (Commodore Vessel), Bajamar, Bañaderos, Christian Michelsen, Duala, Egerø, Gallia, Vav and Velma are also listed. A week later, she was scheduled for Convoy HX 253, but did not sail. According to the archive document she instead left New York on Sept. 11, but put back that same day, leaving again on Sept. 15, arriving Liverpool Sept. 25, Manchester Sept. 27; A. Hague says this voyage was made independently.
Her next voyage to New York, also independent, took place from Oct. 3 to Oct. 14 (see Page 6), and Arnold Hague has now included her, together with Herbrand, Norholm, Villanger, Østhav and the Panamanian Norlys (Norwegian managers), in Convoy HX 263*, which left New York on Oct. 24 and arrived Liverpool on Nov. 8 (the archive document gives her arrival as Nov. 6). She subsequently made another independent voyage back across the Atlantic - she left Mersey on Nov. 13 and arrived New York on the 24th, and according to A. Hague she returned in Convoy HX 270*, which departed New York on Dec. 10 and arrived Liverpool on the 26th. Again, several other Norwegian ships were in company, namely Elisabeth Bakke (Commodore Vessel), Heranger, Herbrand, Høyanger, Martin Bakke and Norholm. Washington Express stopped at Barry Roads on Dec. 25, before continuing to Avonmouth and Sharpness.
In Jan.-1944 she's listed, along with Leiv Eiriksson, Marathon and Nyhorn, in the westbound Convoy ON 220*, originating in Liverpool on Jan. 15, arriving New York on Febr. 4. Later that month, we find her in the fast New York-U.K. Convoy CU 14, together with Elisabeth Bakke, and in March she's listed, along with Mosdale, in Convoy UC 15*, going in the other direction (departure Liverpool March 12, arrival New York March 22). Washington Express joined from Clyde and subsequently remained in New York for a long time. According to Arnold Hague, she joined Convoy CU 21 on Apr. 15, but returned to port following a collision with Flying Eagle, another ship in the convoy. Washington Express is not mentioned in the original Advance Sailing Telegram for this convoy, but A. Hague's details do fit with the info found on Page 6 of the archive documents. She subsequently joined CU 22 on Apr. 24. Mosdale was again in company, as was the Norwegian Hegra. Arnold Hague states she returned to port again but again, this is not mentioned in the Advance Sailing Telegram - she arrived Liverpool on May 6, continuing to Manchester that same day. Together with Elisabeth Bakke, she headed back to New York on May 18 with Convoy UC 23*, arriving New York on the 28th.
What follows is from crew member Dag Midbøe's personal documents (used here with permission), received from Neil Carlsen, Norway. D. Midbøe was on board from May-1944 until May-1945 - see also my page about Leiv Eiriksson. Compare this information with the listing on Page 6 and Page 7 of the archive documents; it'll be noticed that some of the dates are a little different.
She departed England again on Jan. 20-1945, Convoy UC 53A* (with Karsten Wang and Mosdale), arrived New York on Febr. 1, and Dag Midbøe says she joined convoy HX 337 in New York on Febr. 5 and arrived Avonmouth on the 23rd, but it'll be noticed, when following the link, that she's not listed in this convoy, and the dates are a little off. She is, however, listed in Convoy CU 58, which left New York on Febr. 11 and her destination is indeed given as Avonmouth, where she arrived on Febr. 23. On March 2, she headed to New York again in Convoy UC 58B*, arriving March 12, then joined CU 63 on the 23rd, arriving Liverpool on Apr. 2. On Apr. 11, she left Liverpool in Convoy UC 63B* for New York, arrival Apr. 22. Left in Convoy HX 354* on May 3 and arrived Salford on May 19; in other words, VE Day was celebrated at sea - Carl Oftedal, G. C. Brøvig, Noreg, Salamis and Strinda also took part. A few days later, on May 24, she joined Convoy UC 69* and arrived New York on June 3. Dag Midbøe says this convoy was escorted by Martin H. Ray, Dale W. Peterson, Roy O. Hale, Edsall, Daniel and Stewart. Commodore was John W. W. Cumming in the American Monticello. Again, compare these voyages with the info found on Page 7.
Renamed Augustenburg for H. Schuldt, Hamburg in 1956. Sank following a collision with the Danish M/S Colorado on Apr. 18-1962 (50 16N 00 54W) on a voyage Buenos Aires - Hamburg with a cargo of apples.
Back to Washington Express on the "Ships starting with W" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, an article in "Tilbakeblikk", "The Allied Convoy System", Arnold Hague and misc. - ref. My sources.