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Owner: Skibs-A/S Pacific
Delivered from Nederlandsche Scheepsbouw Mij., Amsterdam in Nov.-1920 as Tosca to Den Norske Russlandlinje A/S, Kristiania (Norway Russia Line, Winge & Co., managers). 375.8' x 51.4' x 30.7', 2x 6 cyl. 4 tev Werkspoor, 2300 bhp, 11 knots, 2 propellers. Taken over by Winge & Co. D/S A/S, Kristiania in May-1923. Purchased by Knut Knutsen in April-1929, along with Geisha, Indra and Poljana.
Captain: Aksel Meier Lindahl.
Related item on this website:
Tosca departed Cristobal on March 13-1940, bound for Norway, Sweden and Denmark with general cargo, incl. zinc concentrate, wheat and beans. On March 14 she had to put back to Cartagena, Columbia in order to land Mess Boy Thor Nilsen who had been injured by a heavy sea. He was landed at the pilot station on the 15th and taken to a hospital, while Tosca's voyage continued.
At noon on Apr. 9 she had reached a position 12 n. miles northeast of the Faroe Islands, and upon hearing of the German invasion of Norway via the radio they stopped and remained drifting for a couple of hours, awaiting instructions from the owners, then headed straight west at full speed. It was decided to steer clear of the Faroe Islands, then head to Kirkwall or another Scottish port.
Late that evening the westbound Swedish M/T Sveaborg, which had passed them earlier that day was seen burning and they decided to head in that direction in order to see if they could assist the crew. On approaching the burning ship a small light was seen blinking a couple of times from her port bow, but when they arrived that area nothing was found. Later, Apr. 10 by that time, another light was spotted on the starboard side of the burning ship, and they approached at full speed to reach it. When Tosca was about to go around the ship a greyish vessel was seen vaguely about half a mile off on the port side, but disappeared shortly afterwards. However, 15 minutes later Tosca was struck by a torpedo on the port side near the aft mast and she immediately started to sink by the stern. The torpedo had come from U-37 (Hartmann), about 45 miles northwest of the Faroes (this U-boat had also torpedoed the Swedish ship - see the external link at the end of this page).
The starboard lifeboat was manned and launched, managing to get clear before the ship went down. The port boat, however, capsized and those who had been it it fell into the water. Some of them clung to the capsized boat, some got onto a raft while others held on to debris until they were picked up by the starboard boat about half an hour later. The 18 year old Halvard Bakken and Cook Hjalmar Nygård could not be found (they were the first 2 men to be lost in Nortraship's fleet).
The survivors subsequently found the motorboat, which was full of water. The boat was bailed while the lifeboat towed it away from the wreckage and the burning Swedish ship, and after an hour and a half they were able to start the motor, whereupon the lifeboat was taken in tow towards the west coast of the Faroe Islands. They were spotted by the British trawler Northern Chief later that morning and landed in Kirkwall on Apr. 11, as were the 34(?) rescued from Sveaborg (Uboat.net gives 29 survivors for Sveaborg - again, see the link at the end of this page)
"Våre motorskip" gives position as 62 52N 07 34W, voyage Talcahuano, Chile to Eitrheim.
Related external links:
Knutsen OAS Shipping today - with a brief history of the company.
Back to Tosca on the "Ships starting with T" page.
Norway had previously had another Tosca, this ship later became Varangnes.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Våre motorskip", Leif M. Bjørkelund & E. H. Kongshavn, "Sjøfolk i krig", Leif M. Bjørkelund, "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. (ref. My sources).