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M/S Kong Haakon VII
To Kong Haakon VII on the "Ships starting with K" page.
Tramp ship, built (as Empire Penn) by Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd., Clydeholm Shipyard, Whiteinch, Glasgow, 446.4 ft (oa), 431.3 ft. x 56.4 ft. Engines: oil. Launched on Dec. 19-1941 as Kong Haakon VII, completed in Apr.-1942 for the Government of Norway.
Kong Haakon VII was the first merchant vessel to be handed over to an Allied Government from a British shipyard in replacement of ships lost in the Allied cause. At the time of her launch Norway had lost 173 ships of 750,000 gross tons.
The River Clyde pilot who was appointed to her launch received the order "Attend launch of Empire Penn 1200 19 December 1941. Barclay Curle's to Diesel", i.e., Builder's Diesel Wharf, for engines and fitting out. On arrival at the Whiteinch Yard the pilot found the name of the ship had been changed to Kong Haakon VII and King Haakon himself was present, along with many other Norwegian and British dignitaries. Unfortunately, no sooner had Kong Haakon VII cleared the ways than she collided with the Blue Funnel Line's Myrmidon which was proceeding, fully laden, up river to Princes Dock. Both ships were extensively damaged, Kong Haakon VII with stern damage and the Myrmidon with damage amidships. Kong Haakon VII 's maiden voyage did not take place until April 1942 (Myrmidon was torpedoed and sunk by U-506 off Freetown on Sept. 5-1942).
Most of the Empire-named ships that were transferred from the British to the Norwegian flag during the war years were given the prefix Nor, while some were named after members of the Norwegian Royal Family, as in the case of Kong Haakon VII. She was one of 19 ships transferred to Nortraship in 1942, and was taken over from builders at Clyde on April 2 that year. See my list of Empire Ships for names of the other 18.
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 do exist, and several voyages are missing.
As will be seen when going to Page 1, she sailed from Clyde to New York just 2 days after delivery, arriving New York on Apr. 20. This voyage had been made with Convoy ON 83*, which had originated in Liverpool on Apr. 4 with several Norwegian ships in company. On May 10, we find her among the ships leaving Halifax with Convoy HX 189 back to the U.K. As it happens, Myrmidon, mentioned further up on this page, also took part in both these convoys. Kong Haakon VII now served as Commodore Vessel for Convoy ON 103*, departing Liverpool on June 12. Her destination is given as Boston; going back to the archive document, we see that she arrived New York on June 27.
She subsequently made some voyages to Trinidad, Cape Town, Abadan and Paramaribo, among other ports. She was back in New York again on Febr. 21-1943, then in March, Arnold Hague has included her in Convoy HX 230, which departed New York on March 18 and arrived Liverpool on Apr. 2. According to Page 1, Kong Haakon VII arrived Cardiff, via Belfast Lough, on Apr. 3. This convoy is not yet available among the HX convoys included on my site, but will be added - see ships in all HX convoys.
Having loaded a cargo in Cardiff, she left again on May 2 in order to join a convoy for Gibraltar, namely Convoy OS 47/KMS 14*, which originated in Liverpool on May 5 and split up on the 16th and also included the Norwegian Nea and Topdalsfjord - see the external link provided within the Voyage Record for more convoy information. For this voyage the following gunners were on board: Arnulf H. Stensønes, Oscar Lian, Erling Anker Hansen (see also crew list for Gyda), Ørnulf Martinussen, Helge Nolum Hansen, Arne K. Thommessen (formerly of Bosphorus when interned in Africa), Bjarne Pedersen, Edvin A. Olsen Reistad, Sigurd K. Nesheim and Tørris J. Deksder Andersen - Gunnery officer was Torleiv Thorkildsen (see also crew list for Karmt). Her armament consisted of a 4" gun, a 37 mm American anti aircraft gun, four 20 mm Oerlikons, a 12 pounder and 2 Pillarbox 12 x 2", as well as 10 rifles and some depth charges (for use in harbour against frogmen). Enemy U-boats and aircraft were reported on the crossing, but they arrived Gibraltar safely on May 17 where some of her cargo was discharged to barges, before she left in convoy for Oran on June 1, arriving June 3. The rest of her cargo was unloaded there and she left Oran on June 20, arriving Gibraltar on June 21 with Convoy MKS 15 (originated in Alexandria June 11). The following day (June 22) she proceeded to Casablanca alone, arriving June 23, then loaded phosphates for the U.K. before leaving Casablanca on July 3, arriving Gibraltar the next day to wait for a convoy back to the UK.
She left Gibraltar again on July 9 in Convoy MKS 16, which joined up with the Freetown Convoy SL 132 on July 10, the combined convoy also including Audun, Gabon, Mammy, Arosa and Dux (link in the table above). Kong Haakon VII arrived Belfast Lough on July 20. Some ships in the convoy proceeded to Glasgow, others to Liverpool, while Kong Haakon VII headed for Avonmouth, where she arrived on July 22. Some of the gunners paid off there and joined Belnor. It'll be noticed, when going back to Page 1, that Kong Haakon VII later spent quite a long time at Barry, where she had arrived from Avonmouth on July 30; departure is given as Sept. 13, when she proceeded to Milford Haven, arriving that same day. From there, she subsequently joined Convoy OS 55/KMS 27*, bound for Alexandria with stores in station 21. This convoy, which also included Audun, Belinda and Mathilda, originated in Liverpool on Sept. 17 and split up on the 28th, the Gibraltar portion (in which Kong Haakon VII is listed) arriving there the next day, while the OS portion proceeded to Freetown, where it arrived Oct. 8. The KMS convoy, meanwhile, continued from Gibraltar to Port Said on Sept. 29, and according to A. Hague, Kong Haakon VII arrived Alexandria from this convoy on Oct. 10; Page 2 says she arrived Port Said on Oct. 11, later proceeding to Aden and Durban, then on to Buenos Aires.
Early the following year we find her in Convoy SL 149/MKS 40*, voyage Rosario/Buenos Aires for Loch Ewe with general cargo, which included wheat and food stuffs. SL 149, in which Kong Haakon VII sailed, left Freetown on Febr. 11-1944, joined up with the MKS convoy from Gibraltar on the 22nd, the combined convoy arriving Liverpool on March 7 (the Norwegian Drammensfjord, Marita and Bosphorus are also listed, in fact, Bosphorus served as Commodore Vessel for the SL portion) - again, follow the link provided in the table above for more convoy information. Kong Haakon VII stopped at Loch Ewe on March 6, having sailed from Rosario on Jan. 7, from Buenos Aires to Freetown Jan. 17.
In Apr.-1944, she joined the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 231* along with 14 other Norwegian ships, namely Bernhard, Ferncourt, Haakon Hauan, Spinanger, Østhav, Solstad, Idefjord, President de Vogue, Heranger, Vav, Thorsholm, Skaraas, Høyanger and Nordanger. The convoy originated in Liverpool on Apr. 7 and arrived New York on the 24th; Kong Haakon VII arrived Norfolk Apr. 25, having started out from Loch Ewe on Apr. 7. From the U.S., she subsequently headed to Oran again, then back to the U.S., making another voyage to North Africa in July that year (again, see Page 2 as well as the Voyage Record above). The following month, she's mentioned in connection with Convoy GUS 48, and arrived New York on Aug. 27. This convoy originated in Port Said on Aug. 3, but Kong Haakon VII joined from Algiers (left Aug. 11). As will be seen when following the link, several Norwegian ships took part.
J. R. Hegland ("Nortraships flåte") states that 2 Norwegian ships took part in the last convoy to Russia, Convoy JW 67, namely Kong Haakon VII and Kronprinsen, adding that they were both in Kirkenes when the war was finally over on May 8-1945. There's some confusion here in that Bob Ruegg/Arnold Hague list 3 other Norwegian ships in this convoy, which sailed from Clyde on May 12 with 26 ships, arriving the Kola Inlet on May 20. They were Roald Amundsen, Egerø and Ivaran (Ivaran and Roald Amundsen left Convoy JW 67 to proceed to Kirkenes and did not go all the way to Murmansk); there's no mention at all of Kong Haakon VII and Kronprinsen. However, they are both listed in the previous Convoy JW 66, which departed Clyde with 27 ships on Apr. 16-1945 and arrived the Kola Inlet without losses on Apr. 25. I can't find Kong Haakon VII mentioned in any of the subsequent homeward bound convoys, but Kronprinsen and Egerø show up in the last convoy out, Convoy RA 67 which departed the Kola Inlet with 25 ships on May 23. No Norwegian ships are mentioned among the post war sailings.
A personal account in the book "Sjøfolk i krig" states that Kong Haakon VII had been in Liverpool in Apr.-1945 (as mentioned above, she had arrived Liverpool from Casablanca on March 9), loading sacks of flour and also other supplies meant for the aid of Finnmark, before joining Kronprinsen in a convoy, which is again said to have been JW 67, but as indicated, this is the wrong designation and should be JW 66 (also evident from the mention of April). The book adds that as the convoy was off the east of Finnmark the 2 Norwegian ships were ordered to leave the convoy and proceed to Kirkenes (according to Page 3 of the archive docs, she arrived Kirkenes on Apr. 24), and were still there on VE Day, May 8. This explains why Kong Haakon VII does not show up in any homeward bound convoys (the fact that Kronprinsen can be found in Convoy RA 67 would indicate she had gone back to Murmansk at some point. See also this Guestbook message from the son of the radio operator on Kronprinsen - the message says that Kong Haakon VII's captain was Karl Jensen).
Returning to "Sjøfolk i krig"; a story told by one of the crew members on Kong Haakon VII states that Kronprinsen was later ordered to the U.S. while Kong Haakon VII, because she carried the name of the Norwegian King, went on a special "demonstration voyage" along the coast down to Trondheim. Presumably, this had something to do with the return of the King, who had escaped to England in 1940. Later that summer (still 1945) she was ordered to transport Russian POW's who were to be sent home. The ship made 2-3 trips to Murmansk, carrying about 3000 prisoners on each voyage (the story teller is not at all impressed with the way these prisoners were received on arrival Russia). After this duty was completed Kong Haakon VII was ordered to take German soldiers from the north of Norway to Bremerhaven, Germany, making 3 voyages for this purpose. Her last transport consisted of French men who had been taken prisoners on the Eastern Front and who had been transferred from Murmansk to Tromsø, before being taken to Cherbourg by Kong Haakon VII. Again, see Page 3, as well as Page 4, which also show some of her 1946 voyages.
Went to H. Staubo & Co., Norway in 1946, keeping the same name(?). Renamed Cavofirigelo for Cia. Naviera Arica S.A., Panama in 1951, then Emporios for Cia de Nav. Godio, Rzul S.A., Panama in 1953, Aguinaldo (7,068 gt) - Philippine President Lines Inc. in 1967. Renamed Liberty Three in 1969, President Magsaysay in 1972. Arrived Kaohsiung for breaking up on July 17-1972.
Related external link:
Back to Kong Haakon VII on the "Ships starting with K" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, info. on launching, and post war details were received from Barbara Mumford (her source: Mitchell & Sawyer's "Empire Ships"), the details on the Mediterranean voyage in the spring and summer of 1943 is from an article by Arne Thommessen in "Tilbakeblikk". Other sources used: "Sjøfolk i krig", Leif M. Bjørkelund, "Convoys to Russia", Bob Ruegg & Arnold Hague, and misc. others for cross checking facts.