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Manager: Westfal-Larsen & Co., Bergen
Delivered in Aug.-1932 from Nederlandsche Scheepsbouw Mij., Amsterdam.
Captain: Anfin O. Bergkirk (until Oct.-1941), later Alm Normann Nymann.
As can be seen when going to Page 1 above, Berganger was on her way from New York to Buenos Aires when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. She had left New York on March 30 and stopped in Rio de Janeiro on Apr. 14/15, later arriving Buenos Aires (via Santos and Montevideo) on Apr. 26. Her 1941 voyages start on Page 2 (it'll be noticed that she spent quite a long time in Baltimore that year).
Berganger had left Santos on May 16-1942 bound for Boston and New York with a cargo of 48 000 bags of coffee, 1000 bales of linters, 1138 liters of sunflower seed oil and hides (5320 tons had been loaded in Buenos Aires and 3623 tons in Santos - her voyages in this period are shown on Page 3). Unbeknownst to them U-213 (Varendorff) had fired 5 torpedoes at them which all missed during the night leading up to the events of June 2, when she at 14:30 was hit by a torpedo from U-578 (Rehwinkel) on the port side amidships (between the engine room and No. 3 hold), off New York in 39 24N 69 50W, about 130 miles south/southeast of Block Island.
She listed heavily to port while at the same time swinging in that direction. The port motorboat amidships was destroyed. The engine stopped and lights went out. The 2nd and 3rd mates were on duty on the bridge, while the captain was in his cabin, but he immediately joined the others on the bridge. An attempt was made to bring her back on course, while also sending out SOS on the emergency radio (5-6 were sent, later reported to have been received by several vessels). From the engine room they were told that it was full of water.
After a few minutes, the captain spotted the U-boat coming up on the port side and ordered the gunners to fire. Gunner Johan Vidnes says in a report that he and O. Brevik sent off 2 shots, but they missed. The boat submerged, whereupon the gunners fired another 4 shots where it had last been seen.
Berganger was sinking rapidly and orders were given to take to the boats. The 2nd mate dumped the secret documents overboard. Able Seaman Vingen got the 3 rafts on the water before he went to the starboard midships lifeboat. When the aft starboard boat was launched it filled with water, tore itslef loose and came adrift, but 2 of the deck crew jumped overboard, swam to the boat and proceeded to bail it, while the remaining survivors were distributed in the starboard midships boat and the aft port boat. 21 men had just managed to get in the latter lifeboat and were only a few meters away from the ship when a 2nd torpedo hit in No. 2 hold, port side (about 18 minutes after the first), the explosion causing them to be thrown helter skelter into the sea when the lifeboat was flung across the water from the explosion. They managed to swim back to it and were hanging on to its side while 4 climbed into it to start bailing when the U-boat came up to ask the usual questions about ship and cargo etc., then took a number of photographs of them before disappearing.
The port boat proved to be too damaged to be used. The starboard boat went over to the boat that still had only the 2 men in it and transferred some men over to it so that it could row back to the scene and pick up some of the survivors from the damaged boat. It took them 2 hours to get back. They then distributed themselves with 17 in the boat and 13 on 3 rafts, with the damaged boat tied to them. The 2 usable lifeboats then set sail and headed for land to get help for the 13 left behind. Berganger, meanwhile, capsized and sank.
On June 4 the 17 survivors in the 2nd mate's boat were picked up by the Norwegian M/S Bañaderos and landed in New York the next day. The 13 (including the 1st mate) were rescued by the destroyer USS Madison (also June 4) and landed in Norfolk on the 6th, while the survivors in the captain's boat were picked up by the American fishing vessel Mary J. Landry 14 miles off Block Island in the evening of June 4 and landed at New Bedford, Mass. on the 5th. By June 8 they were all reunited in New York, where the hearings were held on June 11-1942, with the captain, the 2nd and 3rd mates, the radio operator, the lookout (Able Seaman Vingen), and the helmsman (Ordinary Seaman Steffensen) appearing.
For info, U-578 was lost with all hands a couple of months later. U-213 was sunk in July-1942 - ref. links at the end of this page. U-578 had also been responsible for the attack on Ingerto earlier that year - follow the link for details.
*Ole Vernøy was also on board Siranger when she was sunk. Later joined Narvik. His brother served on Varanger. Einar Andersen had previously served on Thorhild and Athene, later joined Tropic Star, Rita, Kaia Knudsen and Slemmestad.
Related external links:
Back to Berganger on the "Ships starting with B" page.
Other ships by this name: Westfal-Larsen later had another Berganger, delivered from Kockums, Malmö in March-1950, 8051 gt. Sold in Jan.-1969 and renamed Shansi (China Nav. Co. Ltd., London). Became Panamanian Yat Lee in 1977. Sold to Canton in 1981, broken up in China in 1982. See also a posting to my Guestbook re this ship. The company's 3rd Berganger was delivered in Oct.-1974, built in Japan, 35 575 gt. Sold in Sept.-1977 to A/S Kosmos, Sandefjord, renamed Jarilla. A 4th Berganger (chemical tanker) was delivered in Nov.-1980, built in Sarpsborg, Norway, 19 882 gt. This ship sailed as Bow Lancer for Skibs-A/S Storli, Bergen from 1990, and has since had various owners and managers (majority of this info from company fleet list).
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. others for cross checking info. - ref My sources.