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To Balkis on the "Ships starting with B" page.
Manager: Fred. Olsen & Co., Oslo
Built in Oslo in 1939.
Captain: Jens Tønder.
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As will be seen when going to Page 1 above, Balkis was on her way from Santos to New York when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. This voyage had started out in Buenos Aires on March 21 (it'll also be noticed that she appears to have spent quite a long time at Para that summer). Her 1941 voyages also start on this document and continue on Page 2.
Balkis had arrived New York from Cardenas and Hampton Roads on Jan. 31-1942 and subsequently remained there for quite a while. She left New York again on Febr. 28 for St. John's N. F. with arrival March 3, cargo of 2500 tons paper and pulp. On March 25, she departed St. John's for Halifax where she arrived on the 28th; A. Hague has included her in Convoy CL 14 for this voyage (external link). 2 days later, she left Halifax for Buenos Aires - see also Page 2.
At 7:30 pm Brazilian time* on April 10-1942 , when off the coast of Brazil, 60 naut. miles north of Fortaleza, she was torpedoed (after end of No. 2 hold, port side), shelled and sunk by the Italian submarine Pietro Calvi (Olivieri). All the lights went out and the engine was stopped. A report written by 2nd Mate Wilhelm Schinrud says that Oiler Nils Iversen (he calls him Brazilian) was asleep down below and was never seen again, while the lookout, Able Seaman Erik Hansen, and 2nd Cook Norman Olsen drowned**. It was believed that either the explosion from the torpedo, or the gun fire had killed Captain Tønder, 1st Mate Georg Samuelsen, 3rd Mate Nils Henriksen (both on watch on the bridge) and the stewardess Marget (Mary?) Halten.
The port lifeboat could not be launched because the aft block had been broken. Seeing no one around from whom he could obtain further instructions, and observing that the bridge was under heavy fire, Able Seaman Harry Petttersen attempted to lower the starboard boat by himself, but the bow hit the water first and it filled with water due to the way of the ship. He went to his cabin to get a knife, then returned to the boat, got in it and cut it loose. The aft motorboat was also lowered, but when the forward rope was cut, it swung around and tossed several men into the water (the 2 who drowned were initially in this boat). The motorboat got away from the ship with 18 men about 20 minutes after the attack had started and the ship sank about 10 minutes later (02 30S 38W). 1 of the men who was in the water and 3 who were on a raft were subsequently picked up by the motorboat. The able seaman remained in the starboard boat, and one of the occupants of the motorboat went over to him with a flash light and a bucket, then later signalled that it had been bailed and was in good shape.
Able Seaman Knut Kristoffersen, who had been at the helm was severely injured, and was given first aid. They all stayed around until 02:30 while attempting to pick up survivors from the water and distribute themselves in the 2 boats. An emergency sail was then rigged on the lifeboat, which proceeded to tow the motorboat for several hours until the motor started.
The 24 survivors (and the boats) were picked up by the Swedish M/S Scania on Apr. 12 and taken to Fortaleza that same day, where the injured man was taken to a hospital. 7 had died. R. W. Jordan's "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939" says 27 survived, 8 died
The maritime hearings were held in Fortaleza on Apr. 21-1942 with the 2nd Mate, the chief engineer, the boatswain, and Able Seaman Pettersen appearing.
The sinking of Balkis and other torpedo attacks off Brazil in the months afterwards contributed to Brazil declaring war on the Axial forces.
Related external links:
Pietro Calvi - The attack on Balkis is mentioned.
Back to Balkis on the "Ships starting with B" page.
The company later had another ship by this name, built in Landskrona 1955, sold in 1975 to Tamaris Line, Bremen and renamed Telaura.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. others for cross checking info - ref My sources.