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M/T Astrell
Updated Dec. 15-2012

To Astrell on the "Ships starting with A" page.

Crew List

Picture received from Lillesand Sjømannsforening, Norway (original source: Risør Sjømannsforening).

Owner: Skibs A/S Preba
Manager: Prebensen & Blakstad, Risør
7595 gt, 4499 net., 11 730 tdwt
Call Sign: LJYC

Built by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd., Dundee, Scotland in 1925. Previous name: Athelchief until 1938.
According to the page that I've linked to above, she was delivered in Aug.-1925 as Athelchief to United Molasses Co. Ltd., Liverpool, then renamed Astrell for Skibs A/S Preba (Prebensen & Blakstad), Risør in 1938.

Captain: Nils C. Taraldsen.

Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
(unfortunately, a page is missing, possible 2 pages - 2 scans received from the archives were blank)
Page 1 | Page 2

Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.

Voyage Record
From Apr.-1940 to Nov.-1942:

(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).

Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1940 Apr. 30* Buenos Aires Trinidad May 9 Independent *Page 1 gives departure Apr. 20
May 13 Trinidad Curacao May 15 Independent
May 17 Curacao Buenos Aires June 13 Independent
June 16 Buenos Aires Curacao July 7 Independent
July 9 Curacao Buenos Aires Aug. 2 Independent A. Hague says:
Unusually long passage time
Aug. 20 Buenos Aires Curacao Sept. 10 Independent
Sept. 12 Curacao Buenos Aires Oct. 4 Independent
Oct. 9 Buenos Aires Aruba Oct. 29 Independent
Oct. 29 Aruba Las Piedras Oct. 29 Independent
Oct. 31 Las Piedras New York City Nov. 8 Independent Missing movements?
(Page 1).
Dec. 23 New York City Curacao Dec. 30 Independent
1941 Jan. 2 Curacao Buenos Aires Jan. 24 Independent
Jan. 28 Buenos Aires Talara Febr. 16 Independent Passed Punta Arenas Febr. 3
Febr. 19 Talara Montevideo March 11 Independent
March 14 Montevideo Puerto la Cruz March 31 Independent
Apr. 1 Puerto la Cruz Aruba Apr. 3 Independent
Apr. 7 Aruba Buenos Aires Apr. 29 Independent
May 4 Buenos Aires Curacao May 22 Independent
May 24 Curacao New York City June 1 Independent A. Hague says:
Sailed and reported returned June 7 to NYC
(see also Page 1).
Aug. 30 New York City Sydney, C.B. Sept. 3 Independent
Sept. 5 Sydney, C.B. Liverpool Sept. 21 SC 43 Convoy will be added
See ships in SC convoys
Missing movements, Page 1
Oct. 4 Liverpool ON 23 Detached approx. Oct. 12.
Convoy will be added
See ships in ON convoys
Oct. 12 Detached from ON 23 Corpus Christi Oct. 31 Independent Detachment date estimated
Oct. 31 Corpus Christi Houston Nov. 1 Independent
Nov. 4 Houston Hampton Roads Nov. 11 Independent
Nov. 14 Hampton Roads Halifax Nov. 18 Independent
Nov. 27 Halifax Belfast Lough Dec. 10 HX 162
Dec. 11 Belfast Lough Milford Haven Dec. 12 BB 110 Convoy available at BB 110
(external link)
Dec. 17 Milford Haven Southampton Dec. 19
1942 Jan. 3 Southampton Milford Haven Jan. 6 PW 91 Convoy available at PW 91
(external link)
Jan. 11 Milford Haven Belfast Lough Jan. 12 MH 61 Convoy available at MH 61
(external link)
Jan. 15 Belfast Lough ON 57 Grounded Barra Head, Jan. 15, returned Oban.
Arr. Jan. 17 - see Page 2
(& narrative below)
Convoy will be added
See ships in ON convoys
Jan. 18 Oban Oban Jan. 20 Independent Returned
(Page 2 says, "stress of weather")
Jan. 24 Oban Clyde Jan. 25 Independent A. Hague says:
Grounded off Toward Point on arrival
(missing movements, Page 2).
Febr. 1 Clyde ON 62 A. Hague says:
For Key West.
Dispersed in 45 29N 58 28W, Febr. 15.
Convoy will be added
See link above
Febr. 15 Dispersed From ON 62 New Orleans Febr. 28 Independent
March 20 New Orleans Galveston March 23 Independent
March 25 Galveston Houston March 25 Independent
March 26 Houston Galveston March 26 Independent
March 28 Galveston Halifax Apr. 8 Independent
Apr. 11 Halifax Loch Ewe Apr. 25 SC 79
Apr. 26 Loch Ewe Methil* Apr. 28 WN 275 *Arrived Grangemouth, left May 5
(Page 2).
Convoy available at WN 275
(external link)
May 6 Methil Loch Ewe May 8 EN 81 Convoy available at EN 81
(external link)
May 12 Loch Ewe Oban May 12 Independent
May 13 Oban OS 28 Detached May 20.
Convoy available at OS 28
(external link)
May 20 Detached from OS 28 Trinidad June 1 Independent
June 7 Trinidad Puerto la Cruz June 7 Independent
June 10 Puerto la Cruz Curacao June 11 Independent
June 17 Curacao Curacao June 19 A. Hague says:
Unknown passage
(Page 2 says Las Piedras).
June 21 Aruba* OT 10 *From Curacao.
For Freetown.
Dispersed June 24.
Convoy available at OT 10
(external link)
June 24 Detached from OT 10 Freetown July 8 Independent
July 15 Freetown Loch Ewe Aug. 4 SL 116 Convoy available at SL 116
(external link)
Aug. 4 Loch Ewe Methil Aug. 6 WN 318 Convoy available at WN 318
(external link)
Missing movements, Page 2
As can be seen on Page 2, she left Methil on Aug 6 and was at Southend on Aug. 8. I believe the very last entry in Hague's record at the end of this table belongs here, but with FS 874 as the convoy, rather than FN 874 (just guessing).
Aug. 12 Southend Methil Aug. 14 FN 785 Convoy available at FN 785
(external link)
Unfortunately, the archive document(s) showing her subsequent voyages is/are not available and, therefore, comparison with the rest of A. Hague's entries cannot be made and accuracy confirmed. The last entry on Page 2 shows her leaving Southend for New York on Aug. 12-1942.
Aug. 17 Methil Loch Ewe Aug. 19 EN 125 Convoy available at EN 125
(external link)
Aug. 22 Loch Ewe Boston Sept. 7 ON 124 For NYC
Convoy will be updated
See ships in ON convoys
Oct. 8 Boston New York City Oct. 10 Independent A. Hague says:
Probably via Cape Cod Canal
Oct. 11 New York City Gitmo Oct. 18 NG 313 For Puerto la Cruz.
Convoy available at NG 313
(external link)
Oct. 18 Gitmo Trinidad Oct. 23 GAT 15 Convoy available at GAT 15
(external link)
Oct. 25 Trinidad Puerto la Cruz Oct. 26 TAG 16 Convoy available at TAG 16
(external link)
Oct. 29 Puerto la Cruz Curacao Oct. 30 Independent
Nov. 4 Curacao TAG 18 Convoy available at TAG 18
(external link).
Sunk - See "Final Fate" below
The entry below should probably be deleted. She's indeed listed in Convoy FN 874 (external link), but this must be an error, since she had already been sunk. It's possible this is a simple typing error, and that the entry belongs further up in the record, with FS 874 as the convoy (rather than FN 874). FS 874 left Methil on Aug. 6-1942 and arrived Southend on Aug. 8, which would fit in beautifully after her Loch Ewe-Methil voyage with WN 318 on Aug. 4, and before her Southend-Methil voyage with FN 785 on Aug. 12. See also Page 2 for comparison.
Nov. 24 Southend Methil Nov. 26 FN 874 See note above

 Misc. Voyages: 
For information on voyages made in between those mentioned here, please see the documents received from the National Archives of Norway and A. Hague's Voyage Record above. Follow the convoy links provided for further details; several Norwegian ships took part.

Judging from the information found on Page 1 of the archive documents, Astrell was in Buenos Aires when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. It'll also be noticed that she spent quite a long time in New York at the end of that year. Her 1941 voyages also start on this document, showing another long stay in New York. She had arrived there from Curacao on June 7-1941 and departure is given as Aug. 30, when she proceeded to Sydney, C.B. in order to join Convoy SC 43 to the U.K. on Sept. 5 (according to A. Hague). This convoy is not yet available among the SC convoys included on my website, but will be added - see ships in all SC convoys. The Norwegian Atle Jarl, Bernhard, Bjørkhaug, Bonde (returned), Erica, Fjord, Fjordheim, Galatea, Ingerfem, Solstad, Torfinn Jarl and Vigsnes are also listed.

Early the following month, Astrell joined the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 23*, which left Liverpool on Oct. 4 and arrived Halifax on the 19th. Astrell, however, had detached from the convoy in order to proceed to her destination Corpus Christi, where she arrived independently on Oct. 31 (Page 1). The Norwegian Jan Mayen (for Iceland), Lancing, Nyholt and Suderholm are also named in this convoy. Astrell headed back to the U.K. on Nov. 27 with Convoy HX 162 from Halifax, together with the Norwegian Bello, Brant County, Katy, Sama, Skandinavia, Beth (returned) and Høegh Scout. The Panamanian Norvinn (Norwegian managers and, therefore, listed on this site) was also scheduled to be in this convoy but did not sail. Astrell's voyages in this period are shown on Page 2.

On Jan. 15-1942, she ran aground near Barra Head, while in the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 57* (originated in Liverpool Jan. 13), and sent out an SOS. The Norwegian corvette Eglantine went out from Liverpool to assist (later escorted ON 57 from Jan. 18) but 2 hours later, Astrell announced she was able to continue unaided. She did, however, return to port (Oban), later joining Convoy ON 62*, which originated in Liverpool on Febr. 1 and dispersed on the 15th; A. Hague gives her destination as Key West; according to Page 2, she arrived New Orleans on Febr. 28 (remaining there for 3 weeks), having sailed from Clyde Febr. 1. Other Norwegian ships in ON 57, other than the escorting Eglantine, were Boreas, Inger Elisabeth (returned), Ingerfem, Ingrid (wrecked - follow link for details), Ranja and Romulus, while Koll, Leikanger, Maud, Snar (returned) and Sommerstad are listed in ON 62.

In Apr.-1942, we find her in the slow Halifax-U.K. Convoy SC 79. Her destination is given as Grangemouth, and she arrived there on Apr. 28. In May, she's listed in station 95 of Convoy OS 28 (originated in Liverpool on May 12), voyaging from Oban to Las Piedras, Venezuela in ballast. Going back to Page 2, we see that she arrived Trinidad on June 1, proceeding to Puerto la Cruz about a week later, then on to Curacao and Las Piedras. Her arrival Las Piedras is not given. She's later mentioned in Convoy SL 115, which left Freetown for Liverpool on July 5-1942 (Astrell had not arrived Freetown until July 8 - convoy is available via the external link below), but she instead joined the next convoy, SL 116, leaving Freetown on July 15, arriving Liverpool on Aug. 4; Astrell, cargo of fuel oil and crude oil, stopped at Loch Ewe that day. The Norwegian G. C. Brøvig is also listed (Convoy OS 28 also had other Norwegian ships - see links in the table above).

Later that month (Aug. 22-1942), she's listed in station 42 of the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 124. She was bound for New York City; according to A. Hague, she joined from Loch Ewe and arrived Boston on Sept. 7, remaining there for a month, before proceeding to New York. Other Norwegian ships were Ada, Bonde and Solhavn.

Unfortunately, the archive document showing the rest of her voyages is blank, but see A. Hague's record above.

* The ON convoys will be added to individual pages in my Convoys section in due course, with more information on each. In the meantime, the ships sailing in them (and escorts) are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys.

More details on all the other Norwegian ships mentioned here can be found with the help of the alphabet index at the end of this page, or via the Master Ship Index.

Related external link:
SL / SL/MKS convoys - Astrell is mentioned in SL 115 (but sailed in the next convoy instead).

 Final Fate - 1942: 

Astrell was torpedoed by U-129 (Witt) on November 5-1942, position 12 21N 69 21W while in Convoy TAG 18 (external link). She had departed Curaçao the day before and was bound for the U.K. via New York with a cargo of 10 500 tons fuel oil. The torpedo hit on the starboard* side behind midships, causing her to break in 2 and she was immediately set on fire, so the captain gave orders to abandon ship, whereupon 3 lifeboats and 1 raft were launched. The ship in front of her had just been torpedoed**, so the 3rd mate had sounded the alarm and, therefore, all on board, except for those on duty in the engine room were on deck when Astrell was hit.

While the starboard boat was being launched the captain, who had picked up the ship's papers on his way out, fell overboard and all the papers were lost (confidential papers went down with the ship). Some of the survivors jumped overboard and were later picked up by the lifeboats. The British gunner John Showler, who had last been seen in the starboard pillbox on the bridge immediately before the explosion was never seen again, while the remaining 42 had survived (some sources say 44, another 45) and were picked up 3 hours later by C.G.C.-475 and a Dutch MTB and taken to Aruba and Curaçao the same day.

Astrell burned for 10-12 hours until she was eventually sunk by a Dutch vessel.

*A report presented at the subsequent maritime hearings states that the torpedo hit on the starboard side behind midships, about 15 n. miles off North Point, Curaçao, while a report based on the survivors' statements says she was hit amidships on the port side; position is given as 12 24N 69 32W and time as 08:40 in the latter report, which adds she was sailing in the outboard column on the starboard side, next to the lead ship. She was not zig-zagging at the time, had 5 lookouts; 4 on the bridge, 1 on the gun platform aft. The radio was not used. The survivors never saw a periscope, but this was later seen twice by the captain of another ship in the convoy, Esso Caracas, who believed the U-boat had been destroyed after a corvette had dropped 3-5 depth charges in two attacks. The U-boat's bow surfaced after the 2nd attack, submerged and was not seen again (the U-boat was not sunk).

** This must have been the American Meton, which according to J. Rohwer was hit about 4 minutes before Astrell. In a footnote he adds: "U-129 observed hits from bow shots, one after 1 min 27 sec and two after 1 min 29 sec. All the torpedoes hit the Meton. Two stern shots hit the Astrell after running times of 1 min 4 sec and 1 min 9 sec".

Jan Visser, a visitor to my website has told me the following:
"The Dutch sloop van Kinsbergen, although not part of the escort, arrived at the scene where U-129 had struck with deadly force. With her main armament, she sank a ship which is not identified in my sources, but which is described as an abandoned, burning tanker. The data on your site stating that she was sunk by an escort seems to confirm it was indeed Astrell (although with some reservation, I don't know the circumstances regarding the American tanker Meton, also sunk in TAG 18). In addition, the Dutch MTB TM-23 picked up a total of 69 men from the sea, apparently from both ships. Since the crew of Meton numbered 49 men, it would lead to the conclusion that the remainder were from the Astrell. My source doesn't make clear if the other MTB, TM-24, also picked up survivors, but since there were 42 survivors of Astrell, this is likely to be the case"

Another site visitor adds:
"The tanker sunk by the Dutch sloop was the Astrell, because the Meton was not burning and sank herself 10 hours after the attack. The crew of the Meton numbered 50, but one died in the attack. 49 survivors from Meton were picked up by TM-23 and it seems also 20 from Astrell".

The maritime hearings were held in New York on Dec. 4-1942 with Captain Taraldsen, 3rd Mate Johansen (on duty on the bridge), Radio Operator Samuelsen (asleep in his cabin when he heard the explosion from the ship in front of them, and immediately ran to the radio station, then to the bridge where he was when Astrell was hit), and 3rd Engineer Larsen (on duty in the engine room) appearing.

The Norwegian Thorshavet was also sunk in this convoy (follow the link for details - listed as British by J. Rohwer), as were the Canadian Chr. J. Kampmann, Panamanian Leda and the British Gypsum Empress, all by U-160 (Lassen), while the American Meton was sunk by U-129. See the links provided at the end of this page for more information on these attacks. Other Norwegian ships sailing in Convoy TAG 18 were Acasta, Anna Knudsen, Kaldfonn and Karmt.

For info, U-129 had also been responsible for the attacks on Nordvangen, L. A. Christensen, Cadmus, Gundersen, Port Antonio and Trafalgar that year - follow the links for details.

Crew List:
Norwegian, unless otherwise noted
*See also the crew list for Gyda. The 2nd mate had also served on Cate B when that ship was sunk. Additionally, he served on G.C. Brøvig, Nidarnes and Sverre Helmersen. Part of his diary (re. Cate B. etc.) is available on this external page (Norwegian text).
** Christian Michelsen also had a Fredrik Lundberg. (See this Guestbook message from a relative).
The boatswain later joined Baalbek, Ada and Fernglen.
Assistant T. Johnsen later joined
Samuel Bakke.
Stoker Skajå also served on

Nils Chr. Taraldsen
1st Mate
Arne K. Andreassen
2nd Mate*
Arne Langeland
3rd Mate
Karl Johansen
Radio Operator
Håkon Samuelsen
Olav Thoreson
Alf Karlsen
Able Seaman**
Fredrik Lundberg
Able Seaman
Bjarne Bekstrøm
Able Seaman
Alf Omholt
Able Seaman
Paul Feuer
Able Seaman
Knut Absalonsen
Able Seaman
Sverre Helgesen
Able Seaman
Arthur Sandnes
Able Seaman
Sverre Bakken
Able Seaman
Johan Vasli
Ordinary Seaman
Torleif Andersen
Ordinary Seaman
Einar Henriksen
Ordinary Seaman
Bjarne Kristoffersen
1st Engineer
Johan Mundal
2nd Engineer
Nils Madsen
3rd Engineer
Knut Larsen
Toralf Johnson
Torstein Eriksen
Hans Gran
Albert Risa
Eivind Simonsen
Pump Man
Otto Karlson
Rolf Olsen
Norman Skajå
Leif Horn Hansen
Harry Halvorsen
John Harkestad
Peter Myhre
Engine Boy
Norman Stephens
Aage Andreassen
Einar Hansen
Galley Boy
Cyril Salter
Francis Bridle
Saloon Boy
Dennis Hedges
Trygve Pedersen
Olaf Anderson

John Showler*

* I found a John Leslie Showler at the Commonwealth War Graves Comm. website, which says he's commemorated at Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 72, Column 1. More details on him can be found at this external link.

Back to Astrell on the "Ships starting with A" page.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. others for cross checking info - ref My sources.


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