Helgesen, Captain Henry N. USCG, 1945

Helgesen, Captain Henry N. USCG, 1945

My brother in law E.V. Friend did a great story of the sinking of the Coamo with the greatest of details. He researched the German Archives and the log book of the German U-604; and interviews of the surviving crew members of the sub. It is called: “SS Coamo Last Voyage”; Written in 1987. He had never met my father Captain Nels Helgesen. He read Capt. Moore’s “A Careless Word…A Needless Sinking”, which sparked his idea of finding out more about how and when.

My father commanded most or all of the NY and Porto Rico Line ships. His life was at sea. Of course much of this is background and found in Friend’s book. My father resides in the Maritime Hall of Fame at the Museum at Kings Point.

But Friend created the day of 2 December 1942 of the sinking and the sub tracking the Coamo until able to fire away a torpedo that evening and sinking when the sub got within range; the story was created from the U-604’s log book and Friend’s research. It was a stormy day and the Coamo was zig zaging. On a leg heading into heavier seas the Coamo was slowed down at times. This enabled the sub to close in for the kill. This was how the Cadet-Midshipmen Joseph Giovinco and Henry Levett perished with all hands.


1 thought on “Helgesen, Captain Henry N. USCG, 1945

  1. I will write a few comments. I entered KP in 1943. I was then assigned to the US Naval Transport Agwiprince, a civilian manned transport. The ships had just been converted to a transport. We left NY for Alabama where we took on 1500 SEABEES. Destination was the Pacific, via the canal. The ship went deep south in the Pacific Ocean to evade and avoid Japanese subs. This trip took 30 days to get to N. Guinea and then Guadalcanal and then the “string” of islands. Returned to San Francisco and did the same. Every crossing on the ocean unescorted and took a minimum of 30 days at great risk. Even when we had 1500 SEABEES on board, we were unescorted. My sea duty was 9 months and I returned to graduate from KP in 1945. Survived and lucky. My father wasn’t. I continued “at sea” as a career. A Master Mariner and then the Coast Guard.

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