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H. M. Flagler - (1918-1949)
A Checkered Career
SS "H. M. Flagler".
Between October, 1939 and February, 1940, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey sold fifteen of its American vessels to the Panama Transport Company. One of these was the H. M. Flagler, the sale of which was completed at Montreal on October 27, 1939, when the flag of the Republic of Panama was raised aboard the tanker. Also at Montreal, where Canadians replaced the American crew. Captain J. White assumed the vessel's command from Captain August Bosch and another Canadian took over the engineroom from Chief Engineer Adolf Anderson.
Captain Bosch had been master of the H. M. Flagler for over two months when the ship arrived at Baytown, Texas, on September 3, 1939- the day the lights went out in Europe for the second time in a generation. Between then and his vessel's transfer to Panamanian ownership. Captain Bosch supervised the loading and discharge of three cargoes two of paraffin distillate, Baytown to New York, and one of Colombian crude oil, Cartagena to Montreal.

From Canada to France, to Italy.
At Montreal, the H.M. Flagler started a long period of service on charter to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, with Imperial Oil Shipping Co., Ltd., as operator. With one exception, in 1940, when she was voyage chartered to the owner's French affiliate, the H. M. Flagler remained on this basis until she was time chartered to the United States Maritime Commission on August 2, 1941.
The H. M. Flagler's first voyage with a Canadian crew was to Cartagena, where she arrived on November 27, 1939, following repairs at St. John, N. B. and loaded 83,477 barrels of Colombian crude oil. After discharging this cargo at Aruba, the tanker returned three times to Cartagena, delivering two more crude oil cargoes to Aruba and one, via Halifax, to Le Havre, France, arriving January 12, 1940.
After two intervening voyages in the Western Hemisphere the H. M. Flagler lifted another cargo of Colombian crude oil for France, put in at Halifax en route, March 3, and entered the port of Le Havre on March 20, 1940. The "sit down" war along the
Maginot Line was then in progress and the Russo-Finnish war had been concluded by the Moscow Treaty eight days before. The H. M. Flagler left Le Havre March 29 in the service of the Standard Francaise des Petroles, S. A., to effect necessary repairs at Palermo, Sicily, before continuing to Haifa, in Palestine, to load crude oil. Repairs were completed on April 27 and the tanker departed from Haifa on May 9 with 85,779 barrels of Iraq crude.
Hitler's invasion of Norway was completed while the H. M. Flagler lay at Palermo. On May 10 the Germans invaded the Low
Countries. When the vessel was at the French control port of Brest, May 28, the Belgian troops in France, under the personal command of King Leopold III, surrendered under heavy German pressure. By cable dated June 3 the Standard Francaise des Petroles informed the owners of the H. M. Flagler that the vessel had been diverted to Swansea, Wales, for discharge. Two days after the tanker left Swansea, June 15, Marshal Retain requested an armistice from the Germans, The H, M. Flagler's sailing instructions, delivered to the master through Anglo-American Oil Co., Ltd., had directed her to Aruba for orders, but her destination was altered to New York, which she reached on July 8 and left on the llth under instructions from her ow-ners to proceed to the Patuxent Riverin Maryland. There the tanker was tied up and on July 11 her Canadian crew, under Captain White, was relieved.
On October 28 the H. M. Flagler, in command of Captain Swen A. Malm and with Chief Engineer Myles M. Bylsma in charge of her engineroom, arrived at Newport News with an American crew for repairs, prior to re-entering active service on charter again to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. Between November 8, 1940 and the end of the year the H. M. Flagler delivered fuel oil once to Rio de Janeiro and once to Boston.

Eight Cargoes in Five Months.
In the first five months of 1941 the vessel carried eight cargoes and was nominated twice under her charterer's sales con-tract to load for account of the Cia. Espanola de Petroleos S.A., Teneriffe. The first of these two cargoes totaled 85,187 barrels of Jusepin crude oil and the second 77,430 barrels of fuel oil.
The H. M. Flagler put in at Mobile, Alabama, on June 9, 1941 for repairs and all but a standby engine-room crew were taken off.
Chief Engineer Bylsma was in charge from June 10 to August 6, except for a short period after July 29, when Captain Harold I. Cook was in command.
On August 6 a Danish crew under Captain Marius Pedersen took over. On August 10 repairs were completed and the H. M. Flagler left Mobile, on time charter to the United States Maritime Commission, for Beaumont, Texas, where she loaded 71,361 barrels of Pool marine fuel oil and started a career under control of the Anglo-American Oil Co., Ltd., acting on behalf of the British Ministry of War Transport.
In this United Kingdom service, on time charter to the Maritime Commission, the H. M. Flagler transported three cargoes and discharged at Glasgow, Liverpool, and the Firth of Clyde between August 2. 1941 and April 20, 1942, when, at Gourock, Scotland, her charter was transferred to the War Shipping Administration. Still in United Kingdom service, the H. M. Flagler carried ten more cargoes of fuel and crude oils from April 20, 1942 to November 18, 1943.
During this period German submarines were at a peak of activity in the Caribbean and off the east coast of the United States. The convoy system was just being organized when the H. M. Flagler left Las Piedras on June 9, 1942, after loading the rest of a cargothe first part of which had been lifted at Shell's Arend terminal, Oranjestad, Aruba. Her cargo was destined for the United Kingdom, but the tanker had to put in at the following ports en route to await convoys: Curacao, June 10; Trinidad, June 19; Key West, July 14; Chesapeake Bay, July 29;'Delaware Bay, August 1; Woods Hole Roads in Massachusetts, August 4; and Halifax, August 7.
The cargo was discharged at Clyde River terminals between August 26 and 29.
With a cargo of Venezuelan Tia Juana crude oil and heavy southern fuel oils for the United Kingdom, loaded at Las Piedras and Curacao in October of 1942, the H. M. Flagler was diverted to New York, where she discharged and returned to Curacao. Subsequently this cargo was loaded on another tanker at New York and delivered to the United Kingdom.

A Close Shave.
Captain Andrew W. Ray, who was in command of the Beacon at that time, described for this history an incident involving the
H. M. Flagler which occurred in May, 1943, while both vessels were returning to the United States in convoy: "In the convoy formation, the Beacon was astern of the H. M. Flagler. When we were north of Cape Farewell, Greenland, the ship ahead of the H. M. Flagler was torpedoed and blew up. It sank in about 45 seconds."

Allocated to S. A. Service.
Upon the arrival of the H. M. Flagler in New York on December 3, 1943, sailing orders dated December 2 informed the master that the War Shipping Administration had allocated his vessel to the Petroleum Supply Committee for Latin America, for continuous service in the South American area. The tanker remained in this trade for the rest of her wartime career.
In 1944 the H. M. Flagler transported six out of eight cargoes to Argentine and Brazilian east coast ports. On November 17, 1944, while she was en route from Las Piedras to Philadelphia with 75,349 barrels of Venezuelan crude, the U. S. Navy received a radio message from one of their patrol vessels out of Elizabeth City, N. C., that the tanker was in distress at Latitu-de 36° 10' North, Longitude 72°36' West. The patrol craft reported that the H. M. Flagler's fore part was filled with water due to the effect of heavy seas and that the ship was down by the head. In reply to this message the Navy dispatched the tug USS Sciota from Cape Henry to assist the H. M. Flagler, but the tanker was able to make the Delaware Capes under her own power and on November 22 reached New York for repairs.
Following completion of the repair job, the H. M. Flagler left New York on January 16, 1945 and from then till V-J Day, on September 2, loaded eight cargoes of fuel oil, the last of which was delivered at Santos, Brazil, where the vessel arrived September 19.

The World War II transportation record of the H. M. Flagler was in summary as follows:

Voyages (Cargoes)

The SS H. M. Flagler was built in 1918 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Va.
A single-screw vessel of 12,430 deadweight tons capacity on international summer draft of 27 feet, 21/9 inches, the H. M. Flagler has an overall length of 477 feet 10 inches, a length between perpendiculars of 463 feet, 3 inches, a moulded breadth of 60 feet, and a depth moulded of 37 feet, 2 inches. With a cargocarrying capacity of 92,180 barrels, she has an assigned pumping rate of 4,000 barrels an hour. Her quadruple expansion engine, supplied with steam by three Scotch boilers, gives the H. M. Flagler an indicated horsepower of 2,800 and a classification certified speed of 9.9 knots.

The American wartime masters of the H. M. Flagler were Captains August Bosch, Swen A. Malm, and Harold I. Cook. The American officers in charge of her engineroom during the war were Chief Engineers Earl Williams, Adolf Anderson, and Myles M. Bylsma.
The Danish masters of the vessel were Captains Marius Pedersen, Martinus A. Christensen, Helge Quistgaard, Magnus T. Andersen, and Kjeld Hansen.
The Danes in charge of her engineroom were Chief Engineers Soren Hoy, Peter C. Andersen, and Christian Hansen.