Northern Gem built 1936 in Bremmerhaven by Deutsche Schiffs und Maschinenbau AG Seebeck Wesermunde Germany
She had been ordered by Leverhulme Ltd to absorb frozen credits in Germany
After completion she went to Fleetwood for Mac Line Ltd of London and had Edward D W Lawford as manager
Her port of Registry was LO 109
10/1937 she was transferred to Grimsby for Northerns, William Bennett as manager
08/1939 she was sold to the Admiralty for £32,963 and at the outbreak of WWII, the Northern Gem sailed to Barrow-in Furness to be converted into an Anti-Submarine vessel.
On completion of this work, she sailed in a flotilla comprising of the Northern Dawn, Northern Spray & Northern Pride, for the port of Milford Haven.
For the next three months she served as an escort vessel for convoys in the Irish Sea area.
After the Irish Sea, she was sent to Scapa Flow and the Northern Patrol. 08/05/1940, under the control of Lieutenant Commander Scarlett, and in the company of the Northern Spray, in the Norwegian Fjord of Ae Fjord, her crew witnessed an enemy aircraft crash land. A shore party from the Gem was sent off to see what could be salvaged.
Unfortunately it was a troop carrier and they were quickly taken prisoner by the German soldiers. The machine gunner (Fred Powell) in the bows of their small boat, was killed in this incident.
The Germans and their POW’s were soon met and captured by marines put ashore from HMS RESOLUTION and the rescued crew returned to the Northern Gem.
1940 Based at Kirkwall on the Northern patrol
05/1940 she took part in the Norwegian Campaign
After many incidents in and around Norway, including being machine-gunned by aircraft and having a bomb hit her and fail to explode….she returned home to Aberdeen and was the last ship out of Narvik
More conversion work was carried out and a new skipper in charge, Chief Skipper Mullender. She was transferred to the Iceland Command.
The next convoy she was assigned to was the ill-fated PQ17 to Murmansk, Her crew managed to shoot down an enemy aircraft during the nightmare that this convoy had to endure.
12/1941 left Murmansk in convoy JW 51B and rescued 81 survivors from HMS ACHATES by going along side whilst the destroyers depth charges were exploding under her stern.
Eighty one officers and ratings were rescued, some with serious injuries and a surgeon was transferred from a destroyer to tend to their needs.
She arrived at the Kola Inlet without further incident and the survivors were put ashore.On the 13th September 1942 the return convoy of fifteen ships, QP14, set out for the passage home, but it only a few days later, on the 20th, torpedo’s struck the Fleet Sweeper HMS LEDA, the American ship BELLINGHAM, and the GRAY RANGER. In total, the NORTHERN GEM had over two hundred men crowded on board her, and with little food or water their situation was bleak indeed so they were instructed to go alongside HMS SOMALI for extra food and rations.
On the 26th September she dropped anchor in the glassy calm waters of Loch Ewe.
This wasn’t the end of her Russian convoys though, for on 18th December she left Belfast with another Grimsby trawler the VIZALMA, to join JW51B in Loch Ewe, under the command of Skipper Aisthorpe (GY)
1944 she took part in Operation Neptune the Normandy landings
23/05/1944 she was back on convoy escort duties in British waters and across the channel in support of the landings until 03/04/1944 when they ended.
In the last few months of the WW2 she was involved on convoy RU 161 on route from Iceland Acting as escort with Northern Reward, Northern Sky, Cape Mariato and Sapper also Norwegian ships Namsos and Svolvar
Whilst bringing up the rear was Northern Spray U 979 commanded by J Meermeier was on patrol in the area when she targeted the convoy
She was able to fire upon the Empire Unity 6386 Gross Tons
The Northern Spray closed in on the Vessel and spotted a periscope and prepared depth charges
The vessel hit something just before the charges were fired and had to withdraw and went to the aid of the Empire unity with the Cape Mariato taking over the search for the U Boat
The Northern Gem along with the Northern Reward stayed on convoy
It was later discovered that the trawler had hit the U Boat ripping off the ASDIC
The submarine was later run aground and scuttled by the captain who was later court marshaled for this act
1943 U 952 the sister boat to U 979 was involved in action against convoy ONS 5 in which Northern Gem and Northern Foam had been on escort duties and had rescued more than 200 merchant seamen
11/1945 Returned and under took a survey and restoration at Liverpool
02/1946 she was registered at Grimsby GY 204
03/1946 the London registry was closed
03/1946 She was owned by the Hull Ice Co
11/1946 Transferring to Northern Trawlers
1959 her manager was John Bennett
1963 John A Butt was manager
1966 she was sold for Scrap to Scrappingco Srl Antwerp arriving on 15/06/1966
The Times, Wednesday, May 13, 1953; GRIMSBY CATCH LANDED IN HOLLAND The Grimsby trawler Northern Gem, which landed 33,000 stones of fish at Ijmuiden, Holland, on Monday, was making an experiment, the owners said yesterday. “Rather than let our ships lay up I would prefer that they land their catches on the Continent,” said a spokesman of the firm. “It does seem fatuous that German ships should discharge at Grimsby while we send vessels to Holland, but it is preferable to laying up ships.”
06/1966 the Grimsby Registry was Closed
Here are the details
- Official No 164666
- Yard No 546
- Call Sign GYYD
- Pennant FY 194
- 620 GT 254 NT
- Dimensions 188.1 x 28.1 x 15.5
- Foc’sle 31′
- Engines Powered by a Triple Expansion 1000 HP engine built by Deutsche S & M, having a 15″, 24″ & 39 7/16″ x 26″ Stroke, the Boiler was 1 SB 227lb Spt, This giving her a top speed of 16 Knots
- Funnel Colours Grey with black top separated by white band.
- Armament Fitted with 1 x 4″, 2 x 0.303″ Guns along with LMG 2 x 1 and 2 0.5″ VMG 1 x 2.