Allied shipping pool 1939-45

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Hiryu-
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Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Hiryu- » 09 Aug 2017 17:49

I have several questions about the size of the merchant fleet (MF) available for the Allies during ww2, and to what extent the Axis powers succeeded in reducing it.

- Ellis in the WW2 databook (table 50 p. 249) gives the tonnage of the MF of several nations in 1939. Among them:
UK: 17,891,134
USA: 8,909,892
Are these numbers for january, september or december 1939?

- What % of the Norvegian/Belgian/Dutch/Danish/French/Greek MF succeeded in reaching an allied port after the german invasion in 40-41?

- To what extent the neutrals MF did participate to the Allies war effort?

- What was the MF's size of the allied countries from South America (Mexico, Brazil, etc) ?

Thanks for the answers.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Sep 2017 01:21

Interesting questions. Unfortunately my copy of Ellis was purloined, and its not a subject I've pursued much.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Sid Guttridge » 04 Sep 2017 12:56

For the Norwegians the answer can probably be found at the comprehensive https://www.warsailors.com/

The site also has a well informed forum on merchant shipping generally.

Cheers,

Sid

Rob Stuart
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Rob Stuart » 04 Sep 2017 13:52

- What % of the Norvegian/Belgian/Dutch/Danish/French/Greek MF succeeded in reaching an allied port after the german invasion in 40-41?
The following is from The Oxford Companion to World War II:

Belgium: Most of its 100 merchant ships came under British control.

Denmark: 230 of its merchant ships, amounting to 1.2 million tons, were outside of home waters when the country was occupied and most of them joined the Allied merchant navies.

France: 400,000 tons of French shipping lying in Commonwealth ports in June 1940 was requisitioned and by 1942 almost a quarter of French pre-war shipping, so probably about 600,000 tons, was serving the Allied cause.

Greece: The Greeks had 577 merchant ships of about 1.8 million tons. 32 were seized by the Axis powers, so presumably about 545, minus those sunk during the invasion of Greece, joined the Allied cause.

Netherlands: 640 ships joined the Allies.

Norway: In 1939 Norway had the world’s fourth largest merchant marine, with 4.8 million tons of mostly modern ships, including almost 20% of the world’s tankers. 85% percent of the fleet, amounting to about 1,000 ships, joined the Allies.

Hiryu-
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Hiryu- » 04 Sep 2017 14:03

Thanks for the answers!

The book "World War II in Europe: An Encyclopedia" gives the tonnage of several MF in 1945.
https://books.google.fr/books?id=Mq_lCA ... 00&f=false
Total allied tonnage at the end of the war was roughly 62,400,000 t.
According to Ellis the Axis powers sank ~21,900,000 t.
So the Axis sank about 1/4 of all merchant ships that sailed for the Western Allies during WWII (21,9m of 84,3m t).

Does that sound correct? Am I missing something?

Knouterer
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Knouterer » 05 Sep 2017 07:36

I have read that between 4,000 and 5,000 men of the Dutch merchant navy lost their lives during WWII. At ten lives (on average) lost per ship sunk, which seems on the high side, that would be 400-500 ships.

Regarding ship losses generally, apart from ships that strayed into minefields many were sunk when they hit floating mines which had broken free from their moorings, and which might have been laid by any nation of course.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Hiryu-
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Hiryu- » 03 Oct 2017 16:21

Hello,

Here is an attempt to assess the total shipping capacity avalaible to the Allies at the end of each year of WW2:

All numbers are in 1000s of tons (GRT), rounded
Year/Tonnage - The last number of each calculation is the balance between allied shipbuilding and shipping losses.

1939: 23,500 [21,000 British Empire + 2,900 France + 100 Egypt - 500]
1940: 27,800 [23,500 Allies - 2,500 France + 400 Belg. + 1,200 Dan. + 1,700 Gre. + 2,700 Nether. + 4,100 Norway - 3,300]
1941: 35,400 [27,800 Allies + 9,600 U.S.A. - 2,000]
1942: 36,600 [35,400 Allies + 1,000 Fr + 500 Brazil -300]
1943: 46,800 [36,600 Allies + 10,200]
1944: 56,700 [46,800 Allies + 9,900]
1945: 63,000 [56,700 Allies + 200 Chile + 200 Turkey + 5,900]

I ignored the Soviet & Italian MF, plus several minor countries (like Mexico, Panama, etc). Only the U.S. and Commonwealth shipbuilding is included. U.S. shipbuilding is not included in the allied balance for 1939 & 1940.

Main sources are Ellis and "World War II in Europe: An Encyclopedia"
The balance between shipbuilding and losses is based on Ellis, it includes all allied merchant shipping losses incl. ships destroyed by the Japanese. Here is a table that sums everything up:
http://www.noelshack.com/2017-40-2-1507 ... ng-ww2.png

Due to the lack of data, I made several approximations and assumptions:
- Ellis MF size numbers are for September 1939
- Ellis production numbers for 1939 are for the whole year, so I divided by 3 to have only the production of the last 4 months
- The Egyptian MF sailed for the Allies right from the beginning - Egypt formaly entered the war only in 1945 but many Egyptian ships were sunk before https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt_dur ... et_damages
- 370,000 tons (100 ships) of Belgian shipping joined the Allies in 1940, rounded up to 400,000 http://www.freebelgians.be/articles/print.php?id=52
- 1,2m tons of Danish shipping joined the Allies
- 1,7m tons of Greek shipping joined the Allies
- 2,7m tons of Dutch shipping joined the Allies
- 4,1m tons for Norway, 85% of pre-war merchant fleet
- U.S. merchant fleet size in January 1941 was 9,6m tons: 8,91m tons in Sept 1939 + 125,000 tons built in Sept-Oct-Nov-Dec 1939 + 529,000 in 1940
- Brazilian MF size was 488,000 tons in 1939 - estimated at 500,000 in 1942
- Numbers for Chile & Turkey are for 1939 because I don't have the data for 1945
- 400,000 tons of French ships joined the Allies in 1940, + 950,000 in 1942 after Torch (rounded up to 1 million).

The numbers for the French MF are rather shallow. A Vichy French report dated June 1st, 1944 gives the following data:
- under Vichy France control 300,000 t (most of them were destroyed by the Germans and the Allies after D-Day)
- lost under French flag (in 1939-40 + Vichy losses) 460,000 t
- under allied control 1,350,000 t (350,000 t lost by the Free French due to battle & requisitions by allied powers)
- under axis control 760,000 t (375,000 t destroyed by the Allies).
- various fates 30,000 t
French MF fleet "still afloat" in June 1944: 0,3m (Vichy) + 1m (Allies) + 0,4m (Axis) = 1,7m t.
https://books.google.fr/books?id=OJsVCw ... de&f=false

This is indeed a work in progress and any information is welcome :milwink:

HMan
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by HMan » 10 Nov 2017 04:31

Hiryu- wrote:Thanks for the answers!

The book "World War II in Europe: An Encyclopedia" gives the tonnage of several MF in 1945.
https://books.google.fr/books?id=Mq_lCA ... 00&f=false
Total allied tonnage at the end of the war was roughly 62,400,000 t.
According to Ellis the Axis powers sank ~21,900,000 t.
So the Axis sank about 1/4 of all merchant ships that sailed for the Western Allies during WWII (21,9m of 84,3m t).

Does that sound correct? Am I missing something?
Is there any breakdown of Axis nations contributions to that total - e.g. Japan total, Germany total, etc.?
What was the total captured by the Axis powers? Is there any estimate for non-enemy losses -
e.g. storms, run aground, etc.?

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Sid Guttridge » 10 Nov 2017 13:02

Hi HMan,

The most authoritative source on shipping losses is Lloyds of London.

After the war it published two volumes, one of Allied ships sunk form all war causes and the other of Allied ships damaged from war causes.

However, I do not think there is anything on losses to normal wastage such as accidents or weather.

If you want to check on any individual ship I would recommend googling: http://www.plimsollshipdata.org/

Cheers,

Sid.

Hiryu-
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Hiryu- » 11 Nov 2017 11:21

,
HMan wrote: Is there any breakdown of Axis nations contributions to that total - e.g. Japan total, Germany total, etc.?
What was the total captured by the Axis powers? Is there any estimate for non-enemy losses -
e.g. storms, run aground, etc.?
There is no detailed breakdown in Ellis book, he only makes a difference between allied shipping lost in the Atlantic (16,899,147 GRT) and elsewhere (5,029,957 GRT).

However a French source, "La bataille de l'Atlantique 1939-1945", a highly detailed book but without footnotes, gives this breakdown: (GRT)
Lost in North Atlantic: 11,899,732
Coast of Britain: 3,768,599
South Atlantic: 1,024,729
Med: 1,740,250
Indian ocean: 1,789,870
Pacific ocean: 1,347,510
Total allied shipping losses: 21,570,720 (I don't know why it's 400,000 less than Ellis)

For the captured allied ships during the German conquest, there is data on this topic.
I have no data about the ships captured at sea by German/Axis vessels.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Nov 2017 13:26

Hi Hiryu,

One explanation for the difference may be in what is defined as "neutral" shipping. Lloyds, for example, counts Icelandic shipping as "Allied" if it was engaged in working for the Allies when lost.

Another question is what Panamanian-registered shipping counts as at different stages of the war.

Cheers,

Sid.

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R Leonard
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by R Leonard » 11 Nov 2017 15:33

You might, perhaps, find this of some interest, annual listing of US merchant vessels

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AMH/USMM/Annual_List/

Hiryu-
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Hiryu- » 17 Nov 2017 19:46

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Hiryu,

One explanation for the difference may be in what is defined as "neutral" shipping. Lloyds, for example, counts Icelandic shipping as "Allied" if it was engaged in working for the Allies when lost.

Another question is what Panamanian-registered shipping counts as at different stages of the war.

Cheers,

Sid.
It's a very likely explanation, thank you.

Freebird
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Freebird » 23 Nov 2017 15:40

Hiryu- wrote:I have several questions about the size of the merchant fleet (MF) available for the Allies during ww2, and to what extent the Axis powers succeeded in reducing it.

- Ellis in the WW2 databook (table 50 p. 249) gives the tonnage of the MF of several nations in 1939. Among them:
UK: 17,891,134
USA: 8,909,892
Are these numbers for january, september or december 1939?

- .
Hiryu- wrote: This is indeed a work in progress and any information is welcome :milwink:
Hi Hiryu, there is a large discrepancy between what you asked: "MF available to the Allies" and what Ellis reports "size of the US merchant fleet", as the US "war available total" is much smaller, it's only about 6 - 7 million tons available in 1941 to support the Allied overseas war effort.
The difference is that the US (unlike UK, Dutch, Greek etc) has a huge domestic (internal) MF tonnage which Ellis includes, but isn't usable overseas for the war effort.
This MF tonnage represents the ships used on the Mississippi, Columbia and other rivers; Great Lakes fleet ; coastal ferries in San Fransisco bay, Puget Sound, Cape Cod, Long Island Sound etc; and ships used in the inland waterways of the US East coast.
Many of these ships would be too small or too old or unsuitable for trans-ocean passage, and in any event they are vital to the domestic economy, so most can't just be requisitioned for overseas use. As an example, the Great Lakes ships take iron ore from Duluth across the Great Lakes to steel plants in Pittsburg, Ohio or the midwest.

A WSA chart lists the Dec 1941 US dry goods fleet at 6.83 million deadweight tons, equivalent to about 4.7 million tons g.r.t

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... o_4235.jpg

This is close to the adjusted total from the US merchant marine website, a survey dated April 1939 found that there were 492 US registered ships engaged in overseas service (including Alaska & Hawaii), the remainder of the US fleet was engaged in lake, river or coastal traffic.
They give individual ship GRT but unfortunately they don't give a total, however I added it up and it comes to about 4.5 million tons.

http://www.usmm.org/ships1939.html

Hiryu-
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Re: Allied shipping pool 1939-45

Post by Hiryu- » 23 Nov 2017 17:14

Hello Freebird,
That's rather curious because Ellis makes it clear that he listed "sea-going" shipping only :?

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