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M/S Polaris
Updated Febr. 16-2009

To Polaris on the "Ships starting with P" page.

Crew List

A picture is available on this external page.

Owner: A/S Selfangeren Polaris
Manager: Alb. Hovland, Ålesund
Abt. 178 gt, 78 net.
Signal Letters: LCZL

Seal catcher, built at Sagvåg, Stord in 1914 (according to the website that I've linked to at the end of this page).

Captain: Peter P. Brandal

Related item on this website:
D/S Dagny I - See "Some background history" on the page.

Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.

 Final Fate - 1942: 

Polaris had unloaded 40 tons of coal and 150 barrels(?) of gasoline in Port Chimo (the cargo had been loaded in Halifax) and left on Oct. 15-1942 for Baffinland (unsure of the name in English) with a cargo of, among other things, petroleum for the garrison there. The next day, when in the Hudson straits, about 10 miles northwest of Button Island an explosion occurred, most probably caused by an accumulation of gas in the hold. She was set on fire and 2 men in the forward cabin were badly burnt, but no lives were lost. The captain, who was on the bridge at the time, was knocked to the floor when he was hit in the chest by the compass; the helmsman was knocked over by the air pressure. The captain managed to get himself to his feet and blew the whistle whereupon 5 men came up from the forecastle through the broken deck and were able to get through the flames to the aft deck (all had burns). 5 minutes after the first explosion 2 more explosions were heard, then another, and the flames soon spread all over the ship, the cargo having been ignited.

The crew took to the lifeboats and reached Button Island where they stopped in the evening of Oct. 17. They continued the following morning, arriving Port Burwell that afternoon where they were assisted by some Eskimoes who gave them shelter at the church. They subsequently managed to stop the American M/S Bear which took them on board, and the 5 injured men were treated by the doctor before this ship took them all to Resolution Island. The next afternoon, Oct. 19 they were transferred to the American* corvette(?) Tahoma and taken to Greenland, where they embarked the American Rapidan on the 24th. On Oct. 30 they were sent on board D/S North King(?), which left the next day for St. John's, N.F. with arrival Nov. 6.

*My question marks are due to the fact that I have a feeling the names and nationalities of some of the vessels mentioned in this report are not entirely correct. I can find no corvette by the name Tahoma, but there was an American Coast Guard Cutter by this name (ref. the external links at the end of this page).

An inquiry was held in Halifax on Nov. 18-1942. The following were questioned: The Captain, the 1st (on board since 1938) and 2nd mates, the 1st (on board for 8 years) and 2nd engineers, and Able Seamen Mur (helmsman) and Urke. All of them were of the opinion that Polaris had struck a mine, having been told by people on Tahoma that they had just destroyed some mines in that area. Able Seamen Brandal and Vaagen had been admitted to a hospital on arrival St. John's and were still there at the time of the hearings.

Crew List - No Casualties:
* Olav Hagen had previously survived the sinking of Tønsbergfjord in March that year.

Peter P. Brandal
1st Mate
Sofus Jørgensen
2nd Mate
Helge Brandal
Able Seaman
Karl Ragnar Vaagen
Able Seaman
Anders Klovning
Able Seaman
Lars Øvstebø
Able Seaman
Henry Urke
Able Seaman
Lauritz Brandal
Able Seaman
Peter Mur
Able Seaman
Olav Hagen*
1st Engineer
Ragnar Hatlø
2nd Engineer
Paul Lunde
Andreas Johansen
Fishing Mate
Ove Nilsen
(Faroe Islands)
Gunnar Tollefsen
Mess Boy
Erling Johansen

Related external links:
S/S Polaris - This website says she was originally a steam ship until 1935. The site also has pictures of the ship and quite a bit of information on her. The first picture is from 1932 on her way to an expedition to east Greenland, the 2nd one was taken after she was converted to a motor ship in 1935. On the 3rd photo she was on her way to the herding grounds at New Foundland in Febr.-1938, after she had been altered and lengthened at Ulsteinvik in 1937/38, and the last photo is taken at the herding grounds, east of Belle Isle. The location given for her demise in 1942 is between Resolution Island and Cape Chidley near the Hudson inlet. There's also a picture of Bear. The text is in Norwegian - the site also has an English version, but with less information on Polaris.

Cutter Bear - Note that the Busko mentioned under "The World At War and the Final Years" on this page, is listed on this website under Buskø.

Cutter Tahoma - Her whereabouts on Oct. 19-1942 is mentioned. Note that the site also has information on Bear. Here's an alphabetical list of vessels.
Another page with info on Tahoma

Back to Polaris on the "Ships starting with P" page.

Other ships by this name: This company also had a Polaris built in 1951, 687 gt in 1956 (had been lengthened). Sailed as Polaris V from 1981 (New Foundland owners). Sold to Oslo in 1986 renamed Aurora, used in the Antarctic. Went to owners in Haugesund in 1990. Renamed Geo Boy 1992. Used in the North Sea (surveying for oil rigs?) until sold to Tromsø in 1998, converted to seal catcher and renamed Polarboy. According to "Damp - Dampskipets æra i Vestfold" Norway also had a barque by the name Polaris, built 1914, 348 gt, but sold already in March that year to Ernst Shackleton and renamed Endurance. It should be possible to find quite a bit of info about Shackleton's expedition and Endurance on the Internet. Here's just one.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. (ref. My sources).


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