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M/T Orion
S. H. Smith Sørensen, Arendal

(Norwegian Homefleet WW II)

Back to Orion on the "Homefleet Ships starting with O" page.

From a visitor to my website; his source: "Handelsschiffe im Kriegseinsatz", Herbert Baasch (b.1920-d.1997);
photo by Herbert Baasch. (Posted here with permission of the new owner of Baasch's photo collection).

Tonnage: 8064

Built in Malmö, Sweden in 1936.

Captain August Michelsen.

 WW II: 

Orion had taken on board a cargo in Abadan for Norway and arrived Bergen on Apr. 5-1940, where part of the cargo was unloaded before she continued to Oslo. En route they were instructed to go to Halvorstrand outside Drøbak, then Fagerstrand further into the Oslofjord. On the morning of Apr. 9 they heard the guns at Oscarsborg fortress firing and shortly thereafter saw a big cloud of smoke (this was from the German Blücher). Soon, they observed bombers coming into the fjord, followed by German ships. Orion's captain determined that to remain in their present location was too risky and moved to a safer spot. He was then informed by the shipping company that 12 new crew members were on their way on board D/S Kristiansand, estimated to arrive that day. From the pilot Captain Michelsen found out that Kristiansand had stopped and hid in a bay further out in the Oslofjord. Gerhard Andersen, who at that time was the 2nd mate volunteered to go out and get these men with the help of the motorboat. En route he passed the spot where Blücher had been sunk and saw "some things he'd rather forget". He did find Kristiansand at anchor at Hallangspollen, but only 2 men were left on board; the rest, including the men who were meant as crew for Orion were nowhere to be found so Gerhard Andersen returned to Orion. 3 days later she was seized by the Germans. She was ordered to return to Fagerstrand and reload part of the cargo she had just unloaded, whereupon she was sent back to Oslo to operate as supply ship for the Kriegsmarine. (See also a thread on this ship on my Ship Forum - some of the text is in German).

Orion's 3rd Engineer Georg Hartmann Henriksen died in an accident on Dec. 31-1940 while the ship was in Germany.

Orion was bombed and sunk by Allied aircraft on March 11-1945 at Hamburg.

In my Norwegian Guestbook there's a message regarding this ship from a visitor to my website, and here's a translated summary
(he has taken the text from "Arendals Sjømandsforenings 150 års Jubileumsbok", that is, "Arendal's Seamen's Association's 150th Anniversary Book" by Kristen Taraldsen - added here with the permission of the author - this book has since been sent to me by the poster of this message, and I've used it for some of the text above as well):
"To be forced to sail for the enemy was one of the most degrading things a Norwegian sailor could experience. 1st Mate Gerhard Andersen on M/T Orion was one of those who had to carry this burden. On Febr. 4-1942 Orion arrived Kristiansand, having travelled along the Norwegian coast with oil. The ship was then ordered to Germany and in spite of the crew's protests they were forced by the Germans to continue on board. On March 6 Orion arrived Hamburg and shortly thereafter they were told that she was to be taken over by the German Kriegsmarine and the Norwegian crew was to be sent home to Norway. However, Captain August Michelsen, 1st Mate Gerhard Andersen and Engineer Einar Moe had to remain. It was a sad moment when the Norwegian flag was replaced by the Swastika flag. The crew of 32 were subsequently allowed to leave the ship, to be sent home via Denmark and Sweden by train, but the German authorities categorically refused to let the 3 officers pay off. "All our movements were closely watched at all times, it felt creepy and ominous, and we were unsure of what would happen" Gerhard Andersen writes. After a few days they were relieved to find that they too could go home, but they were secretly watched from the time they left the ship. On arrival Oslo the officers found the rest of the crew, who were eventually paid off, with all of them getting what was due to them, including the extra pay they were entitled to in accordance with the rules of the seamen's law when a ship changes flags.

But the 3 officers were kept back in Oslo, the Germans refusing to pay them the extra salary, and besides they were to be 'further investigated'. They were accused of sabotage but were finally allowed to go home after strong pressure from the shipowner, though their freedom was short lived. After a few days Norwegian and German police came to Tromøy and arrested Captain Michelsen and 1st Mate Andersen. They were placed in Arendal jail, then transported to Kristiansand the next day where they endured intensive, individual questioning by 2 German naval officers with the help of a Norwegian interpreter, each session lasting for up to 2 hours. They were asked about their political opinions, their parents and siblings, how long they had sailed etc. and were given time to think before they answered, then everything was painstakenly recorded whereupon they had to sign their names to the document before being taken back to their cells. Gerhard Andersen states his belt and suspenders, which had been taken away from him on arrival at the prison were now returned to him. That afternoon they were free to go home, then after about a month they were notified by the shipping company that the case against them had been dropped and they were to be paid their salaries. "Later we heard nothing from the German Navy nor anything about Orion's fate" says Gerhard Andersen. Orion was found in Kiel in 1945, almost unrecognizable due to war damages. She was repaired at Eriksbergs Mek. Verksted. A little curiosity: In 2 of the tanks no less than 250 000 liters of pure alcohol were found, used by the Germans to clean their torpedoes. It was sent to Borregaard A/S to be purified".


Raised in 1945 and returned to Norway on Aug. 13. Sold in 1956 to Vista Rios Compania Naviera SA, Panama, and renamed Eleni. Sold to Japanese breakers and arrived at Osaka on April 9-1963 for breaking up.

Back to Orion on the "Homefleet Ships starting with O" page.

Other ships by this name:
Arendal had earlier had a steamship by the name Orion (wood fuelled), built in Arendal 1909 for O. B. Sørensen, Arendal, 850 gt. Registered for Rederi-A/S Orion Arendal in 1918. Purchased by Olav Østensjø, Haugesund in May-1935, renamed Isafold and used as "mothership" for the company's Iceland expedition and in the North Sea coal trade. Sprang a leak on Dec. 12-1935 near Mykines, Faroe Islands and beached there, then condemned. Sold to Thorshavn in 1936. Still had the name Isafold (of Copenhagen) when she caught on fire on Jan. 19-1940 at Methil, Scotland on a voyage Copenhagen-Immingham, later condemned. ("Våre gamle skip"). Haugesund also had an Orion in 1998, ex Hungarian Kapos from 1986, ex Keplion, ex Germa Lionel (Alf Mohn, Oslo), 3261 gt, built 1979.

Germany had a steamship by this name, built 1930 -bombed and sunk by Russian aircraft at Swinemunde on May 4-1945. There was also a Dutch steamer by this name, built 1914 (under German flag), bombed and sunk by Russian aircraft in the eastern Baltic on March 18-1945. A previously Norwegian whale factory was renamed Orion in 1914 (A. Andresen, Chile). This vessel was built in Sunderland as Sobraon in 1889, 2404 gt.

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