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D/S Viggo Hansteen
Built by Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc., Baltimore MD (2251), launched as Liberty Ship George M. Shriver on Oct. 11-1943, delivered Oct. 18. Taken over in Baltimore on Oct. 20-1943. Viggo Hansteen was one of 10 (11?) ships added to Nortraship's Fleet in 1943, on bareboat charter from the United States War Shipping Administration. See my page "Ship Statistics and Misc." for a list of the others under "Gains 1943".
Captain: Torbjørn Thorsen.
From May-1944 Viggo Hansteen had a female, Canadian radio operator, Maude Elisabeth Steane. The exernal website YLRadio has a picture of her (see also this page); her story is also included at the website of the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum. My page about M/S Mosdale has the names of other female Canadian radio operators serving on Norwegian ships during the war. She was later shot by a crew member; date is given as Aug. 14-1944 while the ship was at Naples (the man who killed her also shot himself and was buried at an American cemetery nearby). According to Page 1 of the archive documents, Viggo Hansteen was at Piombino on that date. She's said to have joined the ship in New York in May-1944, but checking the Voyage Record again, we learn that Viggo Hansteen was on her way from Alexandria to the U.S. at that time, and did not arrive Hampton Roads until June 8 (as can be seen, she had been in New York earlier that year).
I've been told that a couple of books have been written about this ship, and that several ghost stories have been told about her through the years after the war, when she had the name Alkimos. I ran a quick search, and found this external page, mentioning the hauntings, as does this page (information not entirely correct). Here's another, and here's the book Ghost of the Alkimos. There's even a Wikipedia article, and plenty more.
(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).
Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.
Errors may exist, and some voyages may be missing.
Viggo Hansteen had a complement of 47 (this number includes the gunners), mostly Norwegian but also 5 Canadians. As mentioned further up on this page, she was taken over in Baltimore on Oct. 20-1943. Her first voyage took her through the Mediterranean and Suez to Bandar Shapur with supplies for Russia, then back to the U.S. (New York) - see Page 1 (and Voyage Record above).
She subsequently joined Convoy UGS 38, which departed Hampton Roads on Apr. 3-1944 and consisted of 85 ships. On Apr. 20 it was attacked by 60 torpedo aircraft which came over the convoy in 3 waves, 3 n. miles off Cape Bengut (the external website that I've linked to at the end of this page has more on this attack). Viggo Hansteen was unharmed, but 1 ship was damaged and the American S/S Paul Hamilton was sunk by the first group of 9 planes. According to "Nortraships flåte" this ship had a cargo of explosives and 498 soldiers on board; all 580 on board died when the ship was blown to pieces. Viggo Hansteen reported an enormous explosion nearby which shook the whole ship. Arnold Hague's "The Allied Convoy System" states that the American ship had 504 troops, all of whom died. He also lists the British Royal Star as lost in the attack on Apr. 20, 1 died. A visitor to my website has told me that the Liberty Ships Samite and Stephen F. Austin were damaged by aerial torpedoes. His source: "Liberty, The Ships That Won the War" by Peter Elphick. This source also states that Viggo Hansteen's destination was Alexandria, where her cargo was unloaded. Going back to Page 1, we learn that she arrived there on Apr. 28. See the external link provided in the Voyage Record for more on this convoy; the Norwegian Polarsol is also listed.
Viggo Hansteen headed back to the U.S. in May to load a cargo at Norfolk, Newport News and Charleston (ammunition and high explosives below decks, glider planes as deck cargo). The gliders were unloaded in Naples in Aug.-1944(?), about 300 American soldiers came on board who were landed at Piombino Roads where the ammunition was also discharged. (As mentioned further up on this page, the Canadian radio operator, Maude Elisabeth Steane is said to have been shot by a crew member on Aug. 14-1944 while the ship was at Naples; it'll be noticed on Page 1, that Viggo Hansteen was at Piombino on that date, having arrived there from Naples on Aug. 3, departing for Castellamare on Aug. 18; had she made another voyage to Naples in between?). She then transported German POW's to Naples, before returning to the U.S., arriving Hampton Roads on Sept. 18.
In Oct.-1944, she sailed from Hampton Roads to Oran, where she arrived on Oct. 30, and a few days later, she made a voyage from Oran to Augusta, having joined Convoy KMS 67*. From Augusta, she went to Naples again, later back to Oran and on to Baltimore, with arrival Dec. 22, according to the archive document (convoy info in Voyage Record).
Early in Jan.-1945, we find her, together with several other Norwegian ships, in the New York-U.K. Convoy HX 331, bound for Cherbourg with general cargo. The Commodore for this convoy was in the Norwegian Montevideo. Viggo Hansteen returned to the U.S. in March in the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 288* with 9 other Norwegian ships, according to "Nortraships flåte", namely Villanger, Dageid, Tanafjord, Slemmestad, G. C. Brøvig, Polartank, Heranger, Harald Torsvik and Høyanger, but A. Hague has instead included Høyanger in the next convoy, ON 289* - see Høyanger. ON 288, for which the Norwegian R. G. Bruusgaard served as Commodore in the British Port Fremantle, departed Southend on March 2 and arrived New York on March 19; Viggo Hansteen arrived Boston that day, having started out from Barry on March 3 - see Page 2.
She returned across the Atlantic the following month with Convoy HX 348*, in which the Liberty Ship Cyrus H. McCormick and the British Empire Gold were sunk by U-1107 on Apr. 18 (ref. links at the end of this page). This convoy had left New York on Apr. 3 and arrived Liverpool on the 20th, but Viggo Hansteen joined from Halifax and arrived Scheldt on Apr. 21. According to A. Hague, she had a general cargo and also carried locomotives on this voyage. She left Scheldt again a week later, joining the westbound Convoy ON 300* for New York, where she arrived on May 19 (Commodore in Heranger).
On June 27, she arrived Bergen, Norway to cheering crowds, in a free country. Page 2 shows her voyages up to and including most of July-1946.
Sold to S. Ugelstad, Oslo Oct.-1946. Managed by Rønneberg & Galtung, Moss from 1948. Ran aground off New Zealand on Apr. 24-1952, 2 m northeast of Moeraki Lighthouse, 28 m northwest of Taiaroa Head, voyage London-Port Chalmers via Panama with cement and cars, but refloated, only slightly damaged. Came under the Costa Rican flag as Alkimos in 1953, Alkimos Shipping Co. S.A., Panama (Faros Shipping Co., London managers), then under Greek flag in 1959. Struck Beagle Island reef on March 20-1963 north of Fremantle, voyage Indonesia-Bunbury in ballast, refloated seriously damaged March 25, towed to Fremantle. Left in tow for Hong Kong on May 3, but broke adrift in a storm and grounded 31 m north of Fremantle on the 31st. Refloated and beached Febr. 11-1964. Anchor chain broke on May 2 and she was driven back ashore. Refloated again on July 1-1965, but grounded again and was finally declared a total loss. Sold locally for scrapping, hull broke in 3 sections, partially demolished and abandoned.
Related external links:
Back to Viggo Hansteen on the "Ships starting with V" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Liberty Ships in Peacetime, and their Contribution to World Shipping History" I. G. Steward (1992 - this book has a nice picture of the ship), and misc. others - (ref. My sources).