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Owner: A/S Selfangeren Polaris
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:
Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.
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.
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:
Related external links:
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).