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M/S Høegh Merchant
These pictures were very kindly sent to me by Historical Department, MAN B&W Diesel, Copenhagen. Here is one more picture.
Owner: Skibsaktieselsk. Abaco, Aruba, Astrea & Noruega.
Completed by Burmeister & Wain, Copenhagen in Sept.-1934.
Captain: Einar Andersen.
As will be seen when going to Page 1 above, Høegh Merchant was on her way from San Francisco to Hong Kong when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. (Her 1941 voyages start on Page 2).
Høegh Merchant (in Silver Java Pacific Line) had arrived San Francisco from Manila on Nov. 9-1941, unloaded some cargo, then headed to San Pedro where the rest of her cargo was discharged before taking on a new cargo for Java there (for private consignees). With about 1350 tons in her holds she headed for San Francisco to be docked at Moore Dry Dock, Oakland on Nov. 22. 3 days later, on Nov. 25 she proceeded to Richmond to load lube oil in barrels as well as cement, then went to Pier 50 A in San Francisco on the 26th where she added some more general cargo (old newspapers, lumber etc - total cargo when done, 7500 tons) meant for Manila, Singapore, Batavia, Samarang, Sourabaya, Madras, Colombo and Bombay. She was at this pier until Dec. 3 at which time she headed further out in order to load TNT (80 tons) and dynamite (20 tons) in especially built rooms in the shelter deck, then departed for Manila the following afternoon, Dec. 4. (Before she left, Repair Man A. Furuhaug, Ordinary Seaman Eilif Henriksen, and Galley Boy Nils Olsen paid off).
On Dec. 7 (attack on Pearl Harbor) she was ordered to head for a British, Dutch or U.S. port, so course was altered back to San Francisco. However, on Dec. 8 a telegram was received via Vancouver Radio instructing them to go to Honolulu. In the afternoon of Dec. 13 they could see land straight ahead, but not knowing the conditions they stopped about 20 n. miles from Makapuu Point to await sailing directions and daylight, and was still lying still when she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-16 (Yamada) (or was it I-4? see * below) in the early morning hours of Dec. 14-1941 - time given in the captain's report is 03:55. The torpedo hit on the starboard side near No. 3 hatch. The captain asked the radio operator to contact the Navy Station in Honolulu, but no messages could be sent. Some sacks of potatoes in the hold caught on fire, but the flames died out by themselves. However, 10-15 minutes later another explosion occurred in the same hold, believed to have been caused because water had seeped into the carbide located there. Considering the explosives on board the captain now ordered the ship to be abandoned. All 40 had survived (incl. 5 passengers) and were rescued from the lifeboats soon afterwards by the American destroyer USS Trever (DMS 16) and taken to Honolulu. The commander later told them that he had seen the fire from Trever 7 miles away.
The maritime hearings were held on Jan 8-1942 with the 1st mate, both 2nd mates, the 3rd mate, the 1st engineer, the 3rd engineer, the radio operator, Ordinary Seaman Brandvik, and Ordinary Seaman Norin appearing. A group of Japanese submarines had been on patrol in this area ever since the attack on Pearl Harbor, but nothing suspicious had been seen from Høegh Merchant before the explosion occurred, in spite of extra lookouts, and they did not realize they had actually been torpedoed until much later, but instead thought they had perhaps struck a mine, or that the explosion could have had some other cause. This idea is also presented at the maritime hearings. Most of the witnesses who appeared stated that neither explosion was very powerful, but sounded more like dull "thumps". A couple of them did state they thought they had heard a noise outside the ship immediately before the first explosion.
The copy of the handwritten report was very hard to read, so some words and names may not be 100% correct. The report is dated Sunday Dec. 14-1941, and was very kindly sent to me by a visitor to my site. pgc is an abbreviation for "per gyro-compass".
0-4 Steaming on alternate courses 160 ° T and 340 ° T at 10 knots speed patrolling off Oahu and Molokai T. H. standing by to pick up convoy.
4-8 Steaming as before on course 340° T, 341° pgc at 10 knots.
8-12 Steaming as before on course 219° T 220° pgc at (illegible word, flank?) speed 25 knots.
Crew & Passenger List - All survived:
Trever's log continues:
0918 Coast Guard cutter C.G. 403 left from alongside.
The report from the next man on duty, 12-16, is illegible - looks like the USS Trever then "proceeded independently to Pearl Harbor", but left Pearl Harbor entrance at 1536 the same day (this would have been just a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor).
Related external links:
Back to Høegh Merchant on the "Ships starting with H" page.
Other ships by this name: Leif Høegh later had 3 more ships by this name:
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, Leif Høegh & Co. fleet list, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I, Norwegian Maritime Museum, and misc. others as named within the above text - ref. My sources.