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To Helios on the "Ships starting with H" page.
Manager: Bruusgaard, Kiøsterud & Co., Drammen
Built in Fredrikstad, Norway in 1925.
Captain: Johannes Hansen.
Related item on this website:
For info, there's a ship by this name listed as sailing in Convoy HN 9A from Norway to the U.K. in Jan.-1940, but nationality is given as Estonian. As will be seen when following the link, several Norwegian ships took part. (See also Convoy HN 23A).
Helios departed Hong Kong on Dec. 4-1941 for Bangkok, with about 100 tons general cargo, as well as 5 bags of mail. In addition to her own crew of 72, of whom 66 were Chinese, the rest Norwegian, she had 78 Chinese deck passengers on board. The Norwegian officers were Captain Johannes Hansen, 1st Mate Arnt Emil Andreassen, 2nd Mate Thorbjørn Krusche Pedersen, 1st Engineer Rolf Andersen, 2nd Engineer Ole Kristian Andersen and 3rd Engineer Oscar Carlsen. When off Saigon at 06:20 on Dec. 8-1941 Helios was stopped by a Japanese destroyer. Armed guard was placed on board, the radio was made inoperable, her papers examined and the thrust bearing of the main engine taken on board the Japanese vessel. They were subsequently ordered to anchor up on the spot to await further orders. At this Captain Hansen presented the Japanese commander with the following protest:
Sir, I have just received orders from your boarding officer that this vessel is going to be anchored here and that the Thrust Bearing of the main engine is going to be removed. As master of this vessel which is under Norwegian Flag, I strongly protest against this measure, as, to my knowledge, no state of war exists between Japan and our country. Please note that we also have 78 passengers on board and we have only sufficient provisions on board for a limited time.
Your obedient servant, J. Hansen, Master S/S Helios
This protest was of no help, and the destroyer continued on its way, while on Helios extra provisions and water were placed in all the lifeboats, and lifebelts handed out to the passengers and crew. At 11:20 a Japanese cruiser came alongside, 3 officers and some soldiers again boarded and proceeded to examine her papers as well as the officers' cabins (the secret code books had been dropped overboard in a leaded bag before the men from the destroyer had boarded her earlier that morning). Early in the morning of Dec. 9 the cruiser returned and delivered some engine parts that had been taken off during its first visit, then took off again. At 10:50 that same morning the destroyer also came back, returned the thrust bearing which the 1st engineer was ordered to install as quickly as possible, then be ready to leave as soon as this was done. The captain received the following:
The Captain of S/S Helios
I order to you to restore the thrust bearing as quickly as you can and bring out your ship to P. Condore by highest speed. When you arrive at P. Condore you must obey the H.I.J.M.N. If you do not obey this order I will sink your ship immediately.
The Commander of H.I.J.M.S.
At noon they set course for Pulo Condore, and at 17:40 that afternoon a Japanese patrolboat came alongside and took her to port at Great Bay, with arrival at 18:20. At 08:25 on Dec. 12 they departed again, together with a French vessel, both following the patrolboat, but 15 minutes later the patrolboat signalled for them to return to port. 2 days later, on the 14th they again left, this time with 2 Japanese patrolboats, heading for C. St. James, with arrival the next morning, Dec. 15. The following morning 3 Japanese guards came on board, and some of Helios' papers were taken for dispatch to Saigon. The guards left the ship on the 17th, and on the 21st the captain was ordered on board the patrolboat to go with it to Saigon. By this time they were running short of provisions, so on arrival Saigon he insisted on being given some more. He was kept in Saigon overnight, then the next morning he was fetched by an officer who told him that Norway had declared war on Japan (he was later told this was not so), but that no harm would befall them as long as they followed orders, whereupon he was returned to Helios, and that afternoon a vessel delivered some provisions.
On Dec. 30 some Japanese officers and soldiers came on board, the Japanese flag was raised without further explanations, and that afternoon Helios continued to Saigon. In the afternoon of Jan. 1-1942 an officer appeared, and again the officers' cabins were examined. 3 days later, Jan. 4 all the Chinese passengers, except 4 were taken off as were the 5 mailbags and most of the Chinese crew? Some of her cargo was also subsequently unloaded. Between Jan 6 and Jan. 9, a cargo of 2000 tons rice was loaded, and after more provisions had been taken on board, Helios continued north, with the 6 Norwegian officers, 6 Chinese crew, a Japanese naval officer and 15 Japanese able seamen. The Panamanian Capella sailed with them. At Cam Ranh Bay (about 150 miles north of Saigon - Fan Rang Bay?) on Jan. 11 she met up with D/S Ngow Hock (captured Dec. 7), and together they continued north on Jan. 12, via Vinh Thu Bay to Yu Lin Kan Bay (Haina Island) on the 15th until they on Jan 22-1942 arrived Hong Kong. The remaining 4 passengers, the Japanese staff, the ships' Chinese doctor and Thai clerk were landed there. 3 days later, Jan. 25 they again departed, this time for Hukae Bay in Japan with arrival Jan. 31, and from there on Febr. 2 to Ainoura (Aino Ura?), arriving the latter that same day.
In the course of the next few days several Japanese came on board to get more information on the ship, and her remaining papers were handed over. The Norwegians on both vessels were told that Japanese naval authorities would take over the ships and the officers would be freed and taken to a place in Japanese occupied China. On Febr. 28 a naval officer from Sasebo Naval Base came on board and made them sign a declaration promising to not serve an enemy of Japan, otherwise they would not be freed. The new Japanese captain and officers arrived on March 3, in order to take over as soon as the unloading of cargo had been completed, then the following day the Norwegian officers were told to pack their belongings and were subsequently placed on board D/S Halldor for a while (which by then was also in Japanese hands). On March 8 they were sent back to Helios, along with other Norwegians, as well as some English and Chinese seamen. Helios left for Shanghai on March 11, with arrival on the 14th, where the ship was quarantined. All the Norwegian officers were picked up by a tug in the morning of March 17 and were subsequently taken care of by the Norwegian consulate.
The maritime hearings were held in Shanghai on March 31 with Captain Hansen (who had commanded the ship for 4 years), 1st Mate Arnt Andreassen (on board since March-1939), and 2nd Mate Thorbjørn Pedersen (on board since June-1941) appearing. The latter had previously served on another ship by the same company.
On Aug. 17-1942, 3 of Helios' officers and 2 from Ngow Hock travelled on diplomatic passports on board Tatuta Maru for England, via Lourenço Marques (Maputo today), Portugese East Africa (Mozambique today) and Cape Town, arriving Liverpool Oct. 9. Tatuta Maru was used to transport Norwegian diplomats, some seamen and their families, business people and other civilians from Japan, Shanghai and Bangkok (Japanese located in allied countries would have a similar transport). Some went ashore in Lourenço Marques and Cape Town, while others stayed on board until arrival U.K. (some also travelled on other ships from Lourenço Marques to England, S/S Narkunda and S/S El Nil to mention a couple). 1st Engineer, Rolf Andersen signed on D/S Gunda in Africa, and died when she was sunk on Nov. 19-1942. 2 officers from Helios and 3 from Ngow Hock were left behind in Shanghai until Nov.-1945, when they got passage on various troopships, some to the U.K., others to California, and later came home to Norway on other ships in the spring of 1946.
"Nortraships flåte" states that Helios was renamed Hokuyan Maru (*) and sailed under the Japanese flag until sunk by American aircraft on Oct. 23-1943, and that Ngow Hock was renamed Hokuzan Maru in 1942 (attacked on Oct. 26-1943 by USAAF aircraft and sunk 20 05N 110 25E [Kiungshan, China)]. Charles Hocking says "Hoihow, Formosa").
* However, "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939" (Roger W. Jordan) - says Helios was renamed Setsuzan Maru, torpedoed and sunk by submarine USS Sealion on July 6-1944, position 29 59N 122 53E. Here's what the author of this book, Roger W. Jordan has told me in an e-mail:
"This according to Lloyd's War Losses contemporary records: Helios sailed from Hong Kong on 4 Dec 1941 in ballast for Bangkok, and on 8 Dec was captured by Japanese in 08N 107E; taken to Hong Kong and later renamed Setsuzan Maru. Sunk by submarine on 6 July 1944. According to "Japanese naval and Merchant Ship Losses during WW2, published 1947 by US Government Printing Office, Setsuzan Maru was torpedoed by submarine USS Sealion and sunk off Nigpo in 29 59N 122 53E. An entry which takes in most of the above is in Dictionary of Disasters at Sea. It is also confirmed in "Sold East, traders, tramps and tugs in Chinese waters", by HW Dick and SA Kentwell, published by Nautical Association of Australia, 1991. This publication contains much information on the fleet of Bruusgaard, Kiosterud & Co. I think you can take it as certain that Setsuzan Maru, the subsequent name of Helios, was sunk by USS Sealion."
Roger Jordan goes on to say that for most of his book he used original sources from the war years and then updated or amended these from later information when, for example, it was proven that wartime reports were in error. Furthermore, Charles Hocking also lists Helios as the former name for Setsuzan Maru, giving the position "about 100 miles east of Ningpo, China" for her demise at the hands of Sealion. See also a message in my Guestbook.
Related external link:
Back to Helios on the "Ships starting with H" page.
Other ships by this name: Bruusgaard, Kiøsterud & Co., Drammen had also had a ship by this name earlier, built by Wood, Skinner & Co., River Tyne in 1905, 1656 gt. Became Wong Shek Kung of Canton in 1923. Scuttled on May 12-1938 by the Chinese (blockship) in the mouth of Pearl River.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Misc. sources, incl. "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Krigsseiler, krig, hjemkomst, oppgjør", Guri Hjeltnes, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. for cross checking info as named within the text - ref. My sources.