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Owner: Dampsk.-A/S Truls
Built by Trondhjems Mekaniske Verksted, Trondheim, Norway in 1938.
Captain: Einar Hansen
Related item on this website:
According to Page 1 above, Bris was on her way from Trinidad to Mobile when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. Her 1941 voyages start on Page 2 and continue on Page 3, which also shows her 1942 voyages - it'll be noticed, that she spent quite a long time in New York that spring.
Bris left Baltimore on Apr. 18-1942 bound for Natal, Brazil with a cargo of asphalt and flour. That evening she anchored up for the night inside Cape Henry, then continued her voyage early the next morning.
In the evening of April 20 (or morning of the 21st, depending on time zone used) she was hit by a torpedo from U-201 (Schnee), position 33 35N 69 35W. The torpedo struck on the port side between No. 1 and 2 holds, about 5' below the water line. Sacks of flour started to appear, forward compartments were immediately flooded, she veered to port(?) at a speed of around 2 knots for about 5 minutes, then plunged by the head and sank. No distress signal was sent, and though she was armed with a 3" gun it was not manned at that time. The 2nd mate was on duty along with 3 lookouts.
The motorboat was manned and launched but ended up filling with water and capsizing, so that all those who had been in it fell in the water. The port lifeboat, however, was successfully lowered and later picked up most of those who had been in the capsized boat; they also found 1 man on a raft. This was subsequently tied to the lifeboat, whereupon some men were transferred to the raft to ease the overcrowded boat. The 1st engineer, who had been in the motorboat, had been severely injured and soon died, the boatswain and 2 stokers were missing. However, at dawn 2 rafts were spotted, with the boatswain on one of them. They also found the motorboat and tried to bail it, but it was damaged beyond repair so after having taken some provisions from it they let it go.
Through that day and night the wind increased, but the next morning they decided to try to reach the U.S. Provisions(?) and after equipment had been taken from the rafts, they set sail, heading west, with all the survivors in the lifeboat. A couple of hours later they spotted another boat from Bris, full of water but otherwise undamaged, and after it had been bailed 9 men (including the captain) were transferred to it, while 13 continued in the port boat. The wind had decreased somewhat and they were able to stay together all day, through the night and most of the next day, but when the winds increased again they lost sight of each other. The captain's boat capsized 3 times with the loss of food and equipment, but they managed to straighten it and bail it each time with the help of a bread tank cut in half.
In the afternoon of May 2, 2 American aircraft came overhead and dropped a gallon of water, fruit and sandwiches down to them along with a note saying "Are radioing for help". They remained in the same position as much as possible during the next 24 hours, but when no help had arrived by the following evening they headed northwest. In the course of the night they spotted a light ahead and at dawn on May 4, when they were about 5 n. miles from Cape Fear, they saw a ship coming towards them. Shortly afterwards they were picked up by the American tanker Chester O. Swain. The 3rd engineer, who had become ill in the lifeboat died on the American ship that same day. Just before midnight they were picked up by a Coast Guard vessel and landed at the Coast Guard Base in Charleston, SC, where the captain, the 2nd mate and Able Seaman Simensen were admitted to Roper Hospital, while the others were accommodated at a hotel.
The 13 in the other lifeboat were rescued in the early morning hours of May 4 by the YT-132, attached to the Parris Island Marine Base, and landed there that same day. (1 of the survivors had been torpedoed 3 times before).
The maritime hearings were held in New York on May 19-1942 with Captain Hansen, the 2nd mate, Able Seaman Knudsen (helmsman), Able Seaman Larsen, and the donkeyman appearing.
As mentioned, the 3rd engineer died on Chester O. Swain; the other 3 may have been caught in the swirl of the propeller and killed after the motorboat capsized. The ship's engine had not been stopped so the propeller was still rotating, and Able Seaman Larsen, who had also been in the capsized boat, stated at the hearings that when the 1st engineer was pulled into the other lifeboat he had a mark on his temple as if he had been hit by something.
U-201 was sunk with all hands the following year, ref. external link at the end of this page for more info.
Stavern Memorial commemorations - The 3 Norwegians are commemorated at this memorial for seamen in Stavern, Norway. Also, Sverre Ingar Johansen, who had previously served on Bris, is commemorated at this memorial. He died when the Panamanian Montana was sunk on Sept. 11-1941, as did several other Norwegians, as can be seen on this page. Uboat.net has more about the sinking of Montana (with crew list).
Back to Bris on the "Ships starting with B" page.
Other ships by this name: This company later had another ship named Bris (tanker), built 1950 (1953?), 9061 gt. Sold to Stavanger and renamed Hebris (Herbris?) 1964. Sold to Haugesund in 1966 (renamed Vilto?), sailed under American charter as Stolt Vito 1966-1968. Sold in March-1968 and renamed Indonesia I of Piræus, then Termopylai in 1971. Broken up 1977. The Clydebuilt Ships website has more details on this ship, saying she was built in 1953. The book "Damp - Dampskipets æra i Vestfold" also mentions a Bris, a steamship managed by Frithjof Ohlsen, Fredriksværn - no further info on this vessel.
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.