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Owner: A/S Athene.
Built by Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. Ltd., Newcastle upon Tyne in 1928.
Captain: Johan Arnt Dahl (later died), then Tharald Tharaldsen.
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.
Errors may exist and some voyages are missing.
Captain Johan Arnt Dahl.
Athene arrived Ålesund, Norway from South America on Apr. 9-1940 (the day of the German invasion of Norway). She managed to get out of Norway on Apr. 14, arriving safely in Kirkwall on the 16th, thereby saving this valuable tanker for allied service. Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 1 of the archive documents (it'll be noticed that she spent a long time in Grangemouth that spring, and again in Leith). In July that year, she's listed in Convoy OA 188, which left Methil on July 22 and dispersed the next day, Athene arriving Capetown independently on Aug. 22. The Norwegian Cetus, Dux and Stirlingville are also listed in this convoy, ref. link provided within the Voyage Record.
According to "Nortraships flåte" by J. R. Hegland, Athene was in Clyde on March 13-1941, tied up alongside the British Trevarrack and is said to have been somewhat damaged, when that ship listed towards her and sank after having been hit by bombs from a German aircraft. Note however, that this does not fit with the information found on the archive document, which states that Athene was on a voyage from Durban (where she had spent a long time - see Page 1) to Abadan on this date. Has Hegland gotten the ship mixed up with HMS Athene? (Trevarrack must have been raised, or was only damaged in the attack, because Roger W. Jordan's "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939" and Jürgen Rohwer both have a Trevarrack as torpedoed and sunk in a convoy by U-46 on June 8-1941 [launched as War Laurel in 1919], unless there was another ship by that name afterwards? Note that Uboat.net gives the U-boat as U-101, and she was in the convoy from which Christian Krohg was sunk, OB 329).
At the end of that month (March-1941), we find Athene in Convoy BN 22, which had originated in Bombay on March 20 and arrived Suez on Apr. 7; Athene had started out from Aden on March 31, cargo of paraffin. The Norwegian Cypria, Ima and Noravind are also listed, all joining from Aden - again, see the external link in the table above. (Going back to Page 1, we see that she had a long stay in Aden in May that year and again that summer).
Athene was at Haifa on Christmas Eve 1941 when the French tanker Phenix blew up. More information on this is available on my page about M/T Vilja. Athene left Haifa that same day for Port Said, with arrival on the 26th.
On Febr. 1 and 2-1942 Athene was at Tobruk unloading cargo, enduring several air attacks on the city. According to A. Hague, she had arrived Tobruk from Alexandria on Jan. 30 in Convoy AT 21, having left Alexandria on Jan. 28. See also Page 2 (which shows occasional long stays in port).
Captain Johan Arnt Dahl died at a hospital in Haifa on May 6-1942 and is buried there, but I'm not sure exactly what had happened to him. One source says he was injured, while "Våre falne", a series of 4 books naming Norwegians who lost their lives during the war, states he died of exhaustion.
More information on the other Norwegian ships named here is available via the alphabet index at the end of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index.
Captain Tharald Tharaldsen.
Athene had left Haifa on June 7-1942 with 6000 tons benzine for Alexandria (*), but off Alexandria in the afternoon of June 9 she was stopped by a naval vessel and rerouted to Tobruk in convoy AT 49 with 4 other ships and 6 escorts - see the external link provided in the Voyage Record (only 2 other ships are named in this convoy, namely the British Brambleleaf and Havre, but the listing may be incomplete?). Athene took her place as the 2nd ship in the middle column. The convoy was located by U-81 which shadowed it and notified other U-boats further west.
According to a report presented at the subsequent hearings, Athene was ordered by the Commodore to take the place of the ship in front of her, when that ship** was torpedoed in the afternoon(?) of June 10. About 3 hours later, Athene was hit on the port side between the poop and midships area near tank No. 7 by a torpedo from U-559 (Heidtmann). At that time, she was between Alexandria and Mersa Matruh, 31 12N 28 10E. Most of her deck was destroyed, and at the same time benzine washed over the boatdeck and poop, covering the men who were in that location at the time.
The men amidships managed to lower the gig, and Captain Tharaldsen, 1st Mate Lars Larsen, 3rd Mate Ragnvald Hansen, Boatswain Anton Hansen (who had been at the helm), Able Seaman Rasmus Olsen (lookout), and a British signalman went in it, then as it drifted aft alongside the ship they also managed to pick up Galley Boy Asbjørn Bothner. However, when burning gasoline flowed down the side of the ship and into the gig they all had to jump overboard.
In the meantime, 1st Engineer Thallaug Eggen, 2nd Engineer Gotfred Pedersen, 3rd Engineer Arne Johannessen, 4th Engineer Ragnar Johansen, Steward John Karlsen, the Danish Cook Rikard Haug, Pump Man Jahn Hidle, Motorman Anton Bentsen, Able Seaman Ingvald Rødsjø, and the Palestinian Engine Boy A. Kurti were still struggling to launch the starboard boat, but while this was going on another explosion occurred (possibly from the engine room) and they had to jump overboard; some of them were never seen again.
Athene burned fiercly and sank in the course of the day. 17 had survived and were picked up from the water by the escort after about half an hour. Some of them had severe burns and were taken to a hospital in Alexandria. Captain Tharaldsen, the 3rd mate, the 2nd engineer, 4th engineer, Able Seaman Rødsjø, the Palestinian Able Seaman John Turtell, and the Palestinian A. Kurti were admitted to Anglo Swiss hospital, while the boatswain was taken to a hospital ship. The remaining survivors were taken care of by the consul.
The maritime hearings were later held in Kairo with Captain Tharaldsen (on the lower bridge when the explosion occurred) and 3rd Mate Ragnvald Hansen (on the bridge) appearing.
13 casualties are named below, 9 of whom were Norwegian. I'm wondering if the number 14 (10 Norwegians) which is given in various sources stems from the fact that Athene's Captain J. A. Dahl had died the previous month. Norwegian records state that 13 died, 17 survived in the sinking. Athene had no 2nd mate at the time.
For info, U-559 was sunk later that year - ref. link at the end of this page for more details.
Related external links:
Back to Athene on the "Ships starting with A" page.
Other ships by this name: The company had another tanker by this name after the war, built in Malmö, Sweden, 8654 gt, launched Aug.-1949. Also, Norway (K. Salvesen, Kragerø) had an Athene before the war. This ship sailed as Estrella during the war. Another Athene was delivered in 1974 to Bang Tank (Jørgen Bang), Kristiansand, also built in Malmö, 125 910 gt. When the managing company went bankrupt in 1978, the management was taken over by Anders Jahre, Sandefjord, later by A/S Havtor, Oslo (1981). Sold in 1985, renamed Al Oyoun the following year for new owners in Oslo. Sold again in 1986, renamed Knock Dolian, managed by Fred. Olsen & Co. A/S, Oslo, Liberian flag. Sold in 1987 and renamed Dorian, Liberian flag. Sold in 1989 and renamed Cottinga (Gotaas Larsen, London) - broken up in 1993.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939", R. W. Jordan, "Axis Submrine Successes of World War Two", Jürgen Rohwer, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc - ref My sources.