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Orville Harden - (1935-1950)
COLLISION AND SALVAGE
MS Orville Harden
The Panama Transport Company tanker Orville Harden served with distinction throughout World War II and carried fuel to both European and Pacific combat areas. Her wartime career suffered its only interruption when she was forced to undergo a repair period of two months as a result of being in collision, on February 4, 1945, with the Netherlands flag tanker MS Ena.
The Orville Harden, manned by a Danish crew of 45 officers and men and a U. S. Navy armed guard of 12, was bound from Beaumont, Texas, to New York with 109,486 barrels of fuel oil when the accident occurred. At 12:19 a.m. February 4 the vessel, having cleared the swept channel outside New York harbor, hove to and awaited a pilot. At 1:03 a.m. the pilol came aboard and shortly thereafter the Orville Harden got under way toward the entrance to Ambrose Channel.
In the meantime the Ena (9,150 deadweight tons capacity, owned by "La Corona", Petroleum Maats.) was clearing the entrance to Ambrose Channel, outward bound in ballast. The collision occurred at 1:19 a.m. at a point slightly less than two miles south of the entrance to Ambrose Channel.
The bow of the Ena struck the Orville Harden on the starboard quarter in way of the boiler room, crew quarters, and after deck house, penetrating deeply and opening a large hole in the plates.

Forced to Abandon Ship
Captain Kaj Borgby, of the OnnUe Harden, described subsequent events:
"At the time of the collision the engines were stopped on orders from the bridge. I called the engineroom and asked what the situation was down there. Chief Engineer Carl M. Pedersen told me that the ship was taking water very fast and that nothing could be done about it. I gave orders for all hands to leave the engineroom. Shortly afterward the lights went out as the water reached the dynamos, and I ordered the boats made ready. Then, seeing that the Orville Harden was sinking rapidly and not being sure that any part of her would stay above water, I gave orders to abandon ship.
"All hands, including ihe U. S. Navy armed guard, succeeded in escaping from the vessel, with the exception of one armed guardsman Gunner's Mate 3/c William J. Fields. Jr. This man was killed instantly, in his quarters, when the collision occurred. The only survivor who sustained any injury was Didrik Breivik. A.B.
"At the time of the accident the pilot's cutter was nearby. She sent a motor boat to our assistance and it took off about half the crew who were amidships. The rest of the men got away in lifeboats Nos. 3 and 4. There was no time for anyone to think about his personal effects. The men grabbed what they could and hurriedly left the ship.

Stern on Bottom
"The Orville Harden, her boiler and enginerooms flooded, settled by the stern in ten minutes. The forward part of the vessel, being undamaged, stayed afloat, but the after end, as her stern came to rest on the bottom, was submerged up to the pumproom."
Captain Borgby and Chief Mate Leif Anderwn returned to the tanker about an hour after the misadventure to investigate the possibilities of salvage. The remaining survivors were brought to New York in tugs and other craft sent out to pick them up.
The Ena was able to return to New York under her own power for repairs.

Entire Cargo Saved, Ship Repaired
Salvage operations were begun on the Orville Harden at 9 a.m., February 4 by Merritt-Chapman & Scott. The second Esso Annapolis, commanded by Captain Arnulf Hartman, arrived on the scene and removed about 49,000 barrels of cargo from the damaged vessel in order to lighten her. The Orville Harden was brought afloat on the morning of February 6 and arrived in New York harbor under tow February 7, 1945. She was lied up at Constable Hook. As none of her tanks had been damaged, the vessel's entire cargo was salvaged.
Repairs to die On'ille Harden were effected in record time at the Staten Island yard of the Bethlehem Steel Company. Her reentry into service came when she sailed from New York for Curacao on April 4, 1945, exactly two months after the collision.

The MS Orville Harden was built in 1933 by Cantieri Riuniti Dell'Adriatico at Monfalcone, Italy. She is a sistership of the Splendor, ex R. L. Hague. The Marguerite Finaly, sunk June 26, 19-14, was also 2 sistership.
A twin-scrcw vessel of 17.990 deadweight tons capacity on international summer draft of 30 feet, 5 1/4 inches, the Orville Harden has an overall length of 542 feet, a length between perpendiculars of 520 feet, a moulded breadth of 70 feet, and a depth moulded of 38 feet, 9 inches. With a cargo carrying capacity of 140.740 barrels, she has an assigned pumping rate of 4,500 barrels an hour.
Her Diesel engines develop 4,.500 brake horsepower and give her a classification certified speed of 11.6 knots.

On September 3, 1939, first day of war in Europe, the Orville Harden was at Cartagena, Colombia, loading 117,971 barrels of crude oil. She sailed that day for Aruba. At this time she was in charge of an American crew which had replaced her German complement at Baltimore on August 22, 1939. Captain Herbert A. Nelson was her master and Chief Engineer Thomas J. Bov was in charge of her engineroom.
A Danish crew took charge of the Orville Harden at Halifax on November 6, 1939 and thereafter she was manned by Danish crews throughout the war. The tanker remained in Western Hemisphere waters until 1942. The intervening years found her carrying crude and fuel oils on foreign, coastwise, and Caribbean runs, with occasional trips to South America. She was time chartered to the War Shipping Administration at Canagena on April 25, 1942.

First Wartime Crossing in '42
The Orville Harden made her first wartime Atlantic crossing in 1942 when she sailed from Houston June 25 for Glasgow with 123,409 barrels of gas oil. In the same year she visited Freetown, Africa, and Belfast. During 1943 the tanker made four trips to the United Kingdom, loading each time at New York and discharging twice at Glasgow and twice at Swansea.

In South Pacific
The Orville Harden'! 1944 voyages included two long Pacific trips, the first from Texas City to Funafuti, Ellice Islands; the second from Curacao to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, and Tongaiabu, Friendly Islands. She returned briefly to coastwise service and was on her third consecutive trip to east coast ports when the collision with the Ena occurred, February 4, 1945.
Following her reentry into service the Orville Harden loaded at Curacao for Southampton, then at Beaumont for Pearl Harbor. Her last wartime cargo was taken aboard at Balboa, whence she sailed September 1. 1945, the day before V-J Day, again bound for Pearl Harbor.

The Orville Harden's transportation record during the war years was in summary as follows:

Year

Voyages (Cargoes)
Barrels

1939
5
574,681
1940
17
2.013.823
1941
18
2.154.601
1942
11
1,334.435
1943
5
565.611
1944
4
460,318
1945
5
551,838
TOTAL
65
7.655,307

The Danish wartime masters of the Orville Harden were Captains Kaj Borgby and Helge Quistgaard; in charge of her engineroom were Chief Engineers Johannes Moller. Aage Schmidi, Axcl Somod, and Carl M. Pedersen.