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M/S Balkis
Updated March 11-2011

To Balkis on the "Ships starting with B" page.

Survivors & Casualties

Misc. figureheads of Fred Olsen & Co. ships.
They were all made by the sculptor Emil Lie. Balkis' figurehead depicts the Queen of Sheba by the same name.
(Scanned from Fred. Olsen & Co. fleet list, with permission from the company).
Use the Master Ship Index to find info on the other 3 ships.
A picture of Balkis is available on this external page (click in it to enlarge).

Manager: Fred. Olsen & Co., Oslo
2161 gt, 3190 tdwt.
Signal Letters: LKDT

Built in Oslo in 1939.

Captain: Jens Tønder.

Related items on this website:
Guestbook message - From the grandson of 1st Engineer Otto Christophersen.
Guestbook message - From the daughter of 2nd Mate Wilhelm Schinrud (both are included in the crew list below).

Her war voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
Page 1 | Page 2


As will be seen when going to Page 1 above, Balkis was on her way from Santos to New York when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. This voyage had started out in Buenos Aires on March 21 (it'll also be noticed that she appears to have spent quite a long time at Para that summer). Her 1941 voyages also start on this document and continue on Page 2.

 Final Fate - 1942: 

Balkis had arrived New York from Cardenas and Hampton Roads on Jan. 31-1942 and subsequently remained there for quite a while. She left New York again on Febr. 28 for St. John's N. F. with arrival March 3, cargo of 2500 tons paper and pulp. On March 25, she departed St. John's for Halifax where she arrived on the 28th; A. Hague has included her in Convoy CL 14 for this voyage (external link). 2 days later, she left Halifax for Buenos Aires - see also Page 2.

At 7:30 pm Brazilian time* on April 10-1942 , when off the coast of Brazil, 60 naut. miles north of Fortaleza, she was torpedoed (after end of No. 2 hold, port side), shelled and sunk by the Italian submarine Pietro Calvi (Olivieri). All the lights went out and the engine was stopped. A report written by 2nd Mate Wilhelm Schinrud says that Oiler Nils Iversen (he calls him Brazilian) was asleep down below and was never seen again, while the lookout, Able Seaman Erik Hansen, and 2nd Cook Norman Olsen drowned**. It was believed that either the explosion from the torpedo, or the gun fire had killed Captain Tønder, 1st Mate Georg Samuelsen, 3rd Mate Nils Henriksen (both on watch on the bridge) and the stewardess Marget (Mary?) Halten.

* J. Rohwer gives the time as 00:24 on Apr. 11, German time.

** "Nortraships flåte" states that the Norwegian woman (the stewardess may, in fact, have been American?) and a Chilean man drowned when one of the lifeboats malfunctioned and the other capsized. Wilhelm Schinrud's report was in part based on statements given to him by the injured helmsman (who had lost consciousness for a while), since he himself was down below when the torpedo hit.

The port lifeboat could not be launched because the aft block had been broken. Seeing no one around from whom he could obtain further instructions, and observing that the bridge was under heavy fire, Able Seaman Harry Petttersen attempted to lower the starboard boat by himself, but the bow hit the water first and it filled with water due to the way of the ship. He went to his cabin to get a knife, then returned to the boat, got in it and cut it loose. The aft motorboat was also lowered, but when the forward rope was cut, it swung around and tossed several men into the water (the 2 who drowned were initially in this boat). The motorboat got away from the ship with 18 men about 20 minutes after the attack had started and the ship sank about 10 minutes later (02 30S 38W). 1 of the men who was in the water and 3 who were on a raft were subsequently picked up by the motorboat. The able seaman remained in the starboard boat, and one of the occupants of the motorboat went over to him with a flash light and a bucket, then later signalled that it had been bailed and was in good shape.

Able Seaman Knut Kristoffersen, who had been at the helm was severely injured, and was given first aid. They all stayed around until 02:30 while attempting to pick up survivors from the water and distribute themselves in the 2 boats. An emergency sail was then rigged on the lifeboat, which proceeded to tow the motorboat for several hours until the motor started.

The 24 survivors (and the boats) were picked up by the Swedish M/S Scania on Apr. 12 and taken to Fortaleza that same day, where the injured man was taken to a hospital. 7 had died. R. W. Jordan's "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939" says 27 survived, 8 died

(Charles Hocking claims Balkis was sunk by a German U-boat on Apr. 10-1942, off the northeast coast of Brazil, with the loss of 7 crew).

The maritime hearings were held in Fortaleza on Apr. 21-1942 with the 2nd Mate, the chief engineer, the boatswain, and Able Seaman Pettersen appearing.

The sinking of Balkis and other torpedo attacks off Brazil in the months afterwards contributed to Brazil declaring war on the Axial forces.

Survivors & Casualties:

2nd Mate
Wilhelm Schinrud
Olaf Olsen
Arne Larsen
Able Seaman
Knut Kristoffersen
Able Seaman
Harry Pettersen
Able Seaman
Gerhard Rikardsen
Able Seaman
Malvin Andersen
Able Seaman
Amund Øyrås
Able Seaman
Sten Halten
1st Engineer
Otto Christophersen
2nd Engineer
Rolf Pripp
3rd Engineer
Åge Andersen
Edvin Hansen
Fritz Jacobsen
Einar Andreassen
Karl Frisvold
Finn Antonsen
Håkon Andersen
Erling Løwe
Ole Lanes
Mess Boy
Konstantin Rebane
Saloon Boy
Leo Butler
Osvald Jacobsen
Finn Gjelsvik

Jens Tønder

1st Mate
Georg P. Samuelsen

3rd Mate
Nils Henriksen

Able Seaman
Erik Hansen

Nils Antonio Iversen

2nd Cook
Norman Olsen

Mary (Marget?) Halten
(Wife of
Sten Halten above?)

Related external links:
Stavern Memorial commemorations - Seaman Erik Hansen, 3rd Mate Nils Kristian Henriksen, Mess Girl Mary Halten (home town New York), Cook Sten Normann Olsen, Mate Georg Petter Samuelsen, and Captain Jens Tønder are commemorated.

Pietro Calvi - The attack on Balkis is mentioned.

Italy at War

Back to Balkis on the "Ships starting with B" page.

The company later had another ship by this name, built in Landskrona 1955, sold in 1975 to Tamaris Line, Bremen and renamed Telaura.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. others for cross checking info - ref My sources.


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