Two lifeboats from the “Ida Knudsen” found by “Altair”


Type: Fishing steamer
Tonnage: 340
Owner: Companhia Portuguesa de Pesca

Homeport: Lisboa
Built: GB, 1920
Event: On 25 July 1941 it found 14 shipwreked from the Norvegian ship "Ida Knudsen", sunk by the italian submarine Torelli, on the 21th.

On July 27, 1941 the Portuguese trawler “Altair” entered the port of Las Palmas, in the Canarie islands, with 15 shipwrecked on board - including the captain - of the Norwegian tanker “Ida Knudsen” sunk on the 21st of the same month by an Italian submarine.

The shipwrecked, in two lifeboats, had been collected on the 25th of Casablanca.


The sinking of the “Ida Knudsen”

The “Ida Knudsen” had escaped from Norway shortly before the German invasion in 1940, sailing for the allies with a crew of Norwegian sailors.

The ship left Port of Spain, in Trinidad and Tobago, on the 5th of July 1941, bound for Gibraltar carrying 13,000 tonnes of fuel oil and instructions to meet with an escort on the 21st to carry out the last part of the way.

In Gibraltar there were only two escorts at the time and they were diverted to another operation, so when the “Ida Knudsen” arrived at the meeting point, on the 21st, there no support for the last leg of the voyage. The captain decided to continue his journey, but the same night he was hit by - at least - four torpedoes fired by the Italian submarine Luigi Torelli, seventy miles northeast of Madeira. A distress call was issued and orders were given to leave the ship.

The fact that the ship was still moving created several problems for the crew trying to launch the lifeboats, and one of them was dragged for a time carrying six men, four of them fell into the water and eventually drowned.

In total it was possible to evacuate 33 of the 38 crew members in four boats. Two could stay together and were collected by the Altair. Another, with 17 men, arrived on July 28 in Agadir, Morocco, having been hospitalized by the French. The last lifeboat, with only two castaways, arrived in Tenerife on 9 August.


Ida Knudsen

Captain: Kristoffer Sæbø
Type: Tancker Ship
Tonnage: 8913
Owner: Knut Knudsen O.A.S. 

Built: Denmark, 1925
Fate: Sunk by Italian submarine Luigi Torelli on 25 July 1941. Five dead 33 survivors.


  • Archives: Arquivo Histórico do MNE (PT); 
  • Sites: