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To Bjerk on the "Ships starting with B" page.
Manager: Kr. Gjølberg, Oslo
Built at Akers Mek. Verksted, Oslo 1912 (344) as whale catcher D/S Bjerk for Hvalfangerselskabet Norge A/S (Chr. Nielsen & Co. AS, Larvik), steel hull, 112.8 x 21.5 x 12.3, 182 gt, tripple Expansion 117 nhk (Akers). The book "Damp - Dampskipets æra i Vestfold" states she was used in South Shetland for this company, and still in service for this owner in 1932. Belonged to A/S Norsk Hvalfangst, Oslo in 1935, then Kr. Gjølberg, Oslo 1938.
Requisitioned March 2-1940 by Den Kongelige Norske Marine (Royal Norwegian Marines), used as "guard boat" by 13th "Guard Division" (2nd SFD). Arrived U.K. on May 20-1940, converted to minesweeper. From Oct. 27-1940 she was in use at Rosyth by Training Minesweeper Flotilla (Rosyth branch) as training vessel. Used as minesweeper FY 1712 by 1st Minesweeper Division, Dundee from Sept. 1-1942, Norwegian crew. Taken out of service on Nov. 20-1944 and laid up at Burntisland.
Returned to owner in Oct.-1945, but not equipped for whale catching, laid up. Sold in 1948 to Arnt & Simon Midtgard, Måløy, derigged. Hull sold in 1951 to Kaspar Nilsen, Sand (in Ryfylke). Towed to Brødrene Bjørneviks Motorverksted, Buøy in Stavanger, but not rebuilt. Sold in 1955 to Endre Bjørnevik, Buøy (this was one of the brothers Bjørnevik) and converted to combined seiner and freighter at owner's yard, 112,8 x 21,2 x 12,3, 191 gt, Vølund 300 bhp engine (from 1953), probably up for sale already while being rebuilt. Delivered in 1956 to Tørres Vesterheim & Jon Ytreland e.a., Vedavågen, Karmøy as combined seiner/freighter M/S Bjerk (R-6-A), used for herring fishing in the northwest of Norway in the wintertime and around Iceland in the summer, otherwise as freighter. Sold in 1960 to P/r Thomas Sørensen, Vedavågen, Karmøy, continuing in the same type of combined service.
At some point in the 1960' she was somewhat altered for trawling in the North Sea, probably without much success. When several municipalities were combined in the '60's, her fishery number changed to R-365-K. Sold in 1969 to P/r Jørgen J. Botn, Stårheim. Probably in use as freighter only. Sold in 1972 to Ansgar Kjørlesvik, Deknepollen near Måløy. Owned by Julius Solsnes, Borkenes in Kvæfjord in 1975, in local sand trade. Solsnes also purchased Transport, the former Landanes (ex whale catcher Suderøy III) in May 1982 in order to use her engine for Bjerk (Transport was then sunk in Apr.-1983). Bjerk was laid up around 1987, then sold to England in Aug.-1988, renamed Gamle. Sold at some point to the environmental organization Earthkinds in Poole (Dorset) and renamed Ocean Defender, used for marine training and environmental protection related projects - among other things used to clean birds after Sea Empress foundered near Milford Haven in Febr.-1996. Docked in Gloucester in the summer of 1996, then from Nov.-'97 till Jan.-'98 she functioned as radio station for Radio London in Saint Katherines Dock, Docklands, London. In Dec.-1998 she was utilized in the cleaning of ocean birds in Germany following the oil spill caused by the Italian Pallas. Remained in Poole from Jan.-1999 as "class room". Sold in 2001? Appears to have still been there as of 2002.
A posting to my Ship Forum (by Captain John Taylor, who was captain of the ship when she had the name Ocean Defender) states that she has since been renamed Harpooner (used for diving expeditions in the Mediterranean) and is now for sale in Tunisia. Here's a picture of Harpooner at the Djurgårdsvarvet website (external link - not sure how long this picture will be kept online, so link may not go to Harpooner some time in the future. Here's the main page). Clicking on the image will download a pdf file with more information and several pictures (from inside and out). It states that her main engine has been completely overhauled with original spare parts. She has a cruising speed of 8 knots, 11 knots top speed. The site goes on to describe all the equipment on board, including all the cabins, and has several drawings of her. (See also a previous forum thread. In fact, the vessel is mentioned several times on the Forum, use the search feature to find the misc. threads).
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Back to Bjerk on the "Ships starting with B" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Majority of info received from T. Eriksen, Norway - misc. sources, including Dag Bakka Jr. and messages in my Ship Forum.