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M/S Belray
Updated March 25-2011

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

Received from Sverre Johansen (postcard collection).

Source: Bjørn Milde's postcard collection.

Received from (and painted by) Jan Goedhart, Holland.

Post war picture received from (and taken by) David Todd.
He thinks this was in 1952, when she was in drydock in Grimsby Royal Dock off the River Humber (possibly for repairs to bow damage).

More pictures are available on this external page (click in them to enlarge).

Manager: Christen Smith, Oslo
2888 gt, 1678 net, 4094 tdwt.

Sistership of Belnor, and built by Armstrong Whitworth & Co. Ltd., Newcastle upon Tyne (1013), launched on Febr. 15-1926, delivered in May. Single Armstrong-Sulzer, 6-cyl. diesel (or 4 cyl. when built, 6 cyl. post war?) developing 1350 bhp, about 10 knots. Length overall 328' 9", length b.p. 318' 2 1/2", breadth mld 46', depth mld 23' 3", single deck surmounted by a poop, bridge deck and forecastle measuring 83', 23' and 26'.

Like Belnor, Belpamela and Belpareil, Belray was capable of carrying heavy loads like locomotives etc. She had 2 holds, and the derricks were mounted on strong swivel bases, one capable of lifting 100/120 tons, another 45/50 tons. Blocks and pulleys were of high tensile steel, and in order to aid weight distribution, a large lifting beam was used. Here are some excerpts re. these ships from the book "Merchant Ships of the World in Color 1910-1929" by Laurence Dunn:

One of the most important new types to appear during the 20's was the specialist ship designed to carry extra large or heavy loads. Not long after the war, Armstrong Whitworths' had to deliver 200 heavy locomotives and tenders to the Belgian State Railways. To transport these in the usual manner would have involved several months delay, because of dismantling, re-erection, testing etc. Hearing of this Captain Christen Smith, an officer of the Norwegian Navy and an expert in heavy lifts, saw his opportunity. Two existing cargo steamers, the Belgot and the Belfri, were converted to incorporate his ideas as to the arrangement of suitable lifting gear and the stowage and securing of such heavy items. By the use of these ships, the Belgians were able to put their locomotives into service within 24 hours of discharge, the saving in time and cost more than compensating for the extra freight charges. Soon afterwards, Captain Smith was entrusted with the carriage of a large number of locomotives to India. After a visit to Bombay to inspect discharging facilities there, plans were prepared for a series of ships able not only to carry railway rolling stock but also such awkward loads as barges, lightships, etc. A further requirement was the incorporation of extra heavy lifting gear for use when port facilities were inadequate. The outcome was the design for a motorship of about 3,400 tons d.w. Special characteristics were:
1) wide clear holds with the minimum number of bulkheads permissible
2) large hatches, with specially strengthened covers able to support very heavy loads on top
3) deep hatch coamings, to compensate for any loss of strength due to the large size of the hatches
4) a long, single deck, with machinery aft and the narrowest of bridge structures near amidships
5) extra strong stump masts with steel stays, to support the heavy derricks
6) heavy winches to operate these derricks and
7) great inherent stability to prevent excessive list during loading/unloading operations"
The first specially designed ship to join the "Belship" fleet, as it was known, was the Beldis of 1924 (scrapped as Panamanian Marietta in 1971). The sisters Belnor and Belray, delivered in 1926, were of a slightly improved design, longer and wider than Beldis.

Captain: Øivind Barth.

Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.

Voyage Record
From July-1940 to Dec.-1945:

(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).

Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each (where the "Convoy" column is left blank, it means that convoy is not known).

Errors may exist, and some voyages are missing.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1940 July 25 New York City Halifax July 27 Independent Earlier voyages, Page 1
July 31 Halifax Liverpool Aug. 15 HX 62 See also narrative below
Nov. 9 Liverpool OB 241 Dispersed Nov. 14.
Convoy available at OB 241
(external link)
Nov. 13(?) Dispersed from OB 241 Freetown Nov. 30 Independent
Dec. 12 Freetown Capetown Dec. 29 Independent
1941 Jan. 16 Capetown Mombasa Jan. 31 Independent
Febr. 17 Mombasa Aden Febr. 28 Independent
March 5 Aden Port Sudan March 8 BN 18 Convoy available at BN 18
(external link)
March 18 Port Sudan Suez March 23 Independent
Apr. 8 Port Said Haifa Apr. 9 Independent
Apr. 11 Haifa Alexandria Apr. 13 Independent
Apr. 24 Alexandria Suda Bay Apr. 26 AG 14 Convoy available at AG 14
(external link)
May 9 Suda Bay Port Said* May 12 AS 30 *Arrived Alexandria
(Page 1).
Convoy available at AS 30
(external link)
June 19 Alexandria Port Said June 21 Independent Left Port Said June 22
(Page 1).
June 23 Suez Aden Independent Page 1 gives arrival June 30
July 1 Aden Calcutta July 18 Independent
Aug. 3 Calcutta Rangoon Aug. 5 Independent
Aug. 16 Rangoon Aden Sept. 6 Independent
Sept. 6 Aden Berbera Independent
Sept. 16 Berbera Suez Sept. 22 Independent See also Page 1
Sept. 27 Port Said Alexandria Sept. 28 Independent
Oct. 6 Alexandria Port Said Oct. 7 Independent On to Suez Oct. 9
(Page 2).
Oct. 10 Suez Aden Oct. 16 Independent
Oct. 16 Aden Karachi Oct. 24 Independent
Oct. 30 Karachi Portt Okha Independent
Nov. 9 Port Okha Aden Nov. 18 Independent
Nov. 20 Aden Suez Dec. 2 Independent A. Hague says:
Possibly an intermediate call
(Page 2 indicates Safaga).
Dec. 9 Port Said Alexandria Dec. 10 Independent
1942 Jan. 4 Alexandria Port Said Jan. 5 Independent On to Suez Jan. 6
(Page 2).
Jan. 27* Suez Bombay Jan. 27 Independent *See also Page 2
Apr. 5 Bombay Aden Apr. 14 Independent
Apr. 15 Aden Suez Apr. 23 Independent Left Suez same day
(Page 2)
Apr. 25 Port Said Tripoli, Syria Apr. 27 Independent
May 2 Tripoli, Syria Beirut May 2 Independent
May 3 Beirut Haifa May 3 Independent
May 7 Haifa Tripoli, Syria May 8 Independent
May 11 Tripoli, Syria Haifa May 12 Independent
May 15 Haifa Tripoli, Syria May 15 Independent
May 18 Tripoli, Syria Haifa May 19 Independent
May 21 Haifa Tripoli, Syria May 22 Independent
May 25 Tripoli, Syria Haifa May 26 Independent
May 30 Haifa Tripoli, Syria May 31
June 3 Tripoli, Syria Port Said June 5 Independent On to Suez June 6
(Page 2).
June 12 Suez Bombay June 27 Independent Via Safaga
(Page 2).
Aug. 12 Bombay Mombasa Aug. 29 Independent
Aug. 31 Mombasa Bombay Sept. 12 Independent
Sept. 29 Bombay Bandar Abbas* Oct. 6 BP 56A *Arrived Abadan Oct. 8
(Page 2).
Convoy available at BP 56A
(external link)
Oct. 15 Abadan Bandar Abbas Independent
Oct. 19 Bandar Abbas Port Okha Oct. 23 PB 7 Convoy available at PB 7
(external link)
Oct. 25 Port Okha Bombay Oct. 27 Independent
1943 Jan. 1 Bombay Karachi Jan. 4 BP 64B Convoy available at BP 64B
(external link)
Jan. 15 Karachi Bandar Abbas Jan. 19 BP 65A Convoy available at BP 65A
(external link)
Jan. 19 Bandar Abbas Abadan Jan. 21 Independent See also Page 3
Jan. 30 Abadan Bandar Abbas Independent
Febr. 4 Bandar Abbas Aden Febr. 11 PA 23 Convoy available at PA 23
(external link)
Febr. 11 Aden Suez Febr. 18 Independent Left Suez same day
(Page 3)
Febr. 24 Port Said Alexandria Febr. 25 Independent
March 1 Alexandria Tobruk March 3 MW 22 Convoy available at MW 22
(external link)
March 8 Tobruk Tripoli, Libya March 11
March 15 Tripoli, Libya Alexandria March 21
Apr. 24 Alexandria Port Said Apr. 25 Independent On to Suez Apr. 30
(Page 3).
May 3 Suez Safaga May 5 Independent
May 7 Safaga Aden May 13 Independent
May 13 Aden Bombay May 21 Independent Lay at Bombay, damaged in explosion Apr. 14-1944.
See narrative below.
1944 Sept. 11 Bombay Khor Kwai Sept. 16 Independent After repair of Ft. Stikine explosion damage
Sept. 16 Khor Kwai Basra Sept. 19 Independent (Compare w/Page 3)
Sept. 29 Basra Karachi Oct. 4 Independent
Oct. 10 Karachi Bandar Abbas* Oct. 13 Independent *See Page 3
Oct. 13 Khor Kwai Abadan Independent
Oct. 20 Abadan Bombay Oct. 27 Independent
Nov. 7 Bombay Colombo Nov. 11 Independent
Nov. 15 Colombo Chittagong Nov. 22 JC 68 Convoy available at JC 68
(external link)
Nov. 27 Chittagong Calcutta Dec. 2 CH 56A Convoy available at CH 56A
(external link)
Dec. 9 Calcutta Chittagong Dec. 11 HC 88A Convoy available at HC 88A
(external link)
Dec. 13 Chittagong Maungdaw Dec. 14 CH 61A Convoy available at CH 61A
(external link)
Dec. 16 Maungdaw Calcutta Dec. 17 Independent
Dec. 24 Calcutta CJ 44B Detached approx. Dec. 26, arr. Bombay Jan. 2-1945.
Convoy available at CJ 44B
(external link)
1945 Jan. 15 Bombay Basra Jan. 22 Independent See also Page 3
Jan. 29 Basra Bombay Febr. 6 Independent
Febr. 27 Bombay Colombo March 3 Independent
March 6 Colombo Chittagong March 13 Independent
March 17 Chittagong Calcutta March 20 Independent
March 28 Calcutta Akyab March 30 Independent
Apr. 5 Akyab Vizag Apr. 9 Escorted
Apr. 17 Vizag Kyaukpyu Apr. 20 Independent
Apr. 24 Kyaukpyu Calcutta Apr. 29 Independent
May 17 Calcutta Calcutta June 5 Independent A. Hague says:
Unknown intermediate call
(Page 4 indicates Rangoon).
July 29 Calcutta Chittagong July 30 Independent
Aug. 11 Chittagong Rangoon Aug. 14 Independent
Aug. 26 Rangoon Chittagong Aug. 29 Independent
Sept. 6 Chittagong Trincomalee Sept. 15 Independent
Sept. 16 Trincomalee Rangoon Sept. 21 Independent
Oct. 9 Rangoon Singapore Nov. 2 Independent Via Bangkok where arr. Oct. 18
(see also Page 4).
Nov. 4 Singapore Colombo Nov. 10 Independent
Nov. 19 Colombo Bombay Nov. 23 Independent
Dec. 7 Bombay Marmagoa Dec. 8 Independent
Dec. 12 Marmagoa Suez Dec. 28 Independent Subsequent voyages, Page 4

 Misc. Voyages: 
For information on voyages made in between those mentioned here, please see the documents received from the National Archives of Norway and A. Hague's Voyage Record above.

Carrying machinery, Belray is listed among the ships in the Halifax-U.K. Convoy HX 62 on July 31-1940, having been cancelled from the previous convoy, HX 61. Her destination is given as Birkenhead, station 72 - follow the links for more convoy information, other Norwegian ships also took part. See also Page 1. Belray arrived Liverpool on Aug. 15, and unless some voyages are missing from the record, she subsequently spent quite a long time there, before joining Convoy OB 241, which left Liverpool on Nov. 9 and dispersed on the 14th, Belray arriving Freetown independently on the 30th. Beduin, Carmelfjell, Einar Jarl, Maridal and Sveve are also listed, as will be seen when following the link provided within the table above.

Page 1 also shows some of her 1941 voyages. Belray took part in the evacuation of the British forces from Crete in May-1941. Her 1942 voyages are listed on Page 2, while her 1943 and 1944 voyages are shown on Page 3 (convoy information for some of them can be found in the Voyage Record above). It'll be noticed, that she occasionally had long stays in port.

She was one of the unfortunate ships that were in Bombay on April 14-1944 when the British cargo ship Fort Stikine started burning in Victoria Dock. Other Norwegian ships present were Graciosa and Braganza, and Wallem & Co.'s Iran and Norse Trader (Panamanian flag); follow the links for info on what happened to them. My page about Sønnavind has a detailed description by someone who witnessed the carnage from a distance. 11 ships were completely destroyed, 9 damaged, and many people on shore killed or injured (a four digit number). The external websites that I've linked to at the end of this page have more information.

Belray was at Prince's Dock for final trials of her engine after 11 months' repair (according to Page 3, she had arrived Bombay from Aden on May 21-1943). One of her British gunners by the last name of Staines was killed when he was hit by a flying object from the first explosion on Fort Stikine (I believe he's identical to Stanley Ernest Valentine Staines, who's commemorated at Plymouth Naval Memorial - external link). A Chinese fitter and 5 other labourers from shore were also killed and several coolies injured. 4th Engineer Arne Grønneberg and Cook Alfred Ødegaard were also badly injured and had to be taken to the British Military Hospital. Some of her other crew members at the time were Jacob Bøkevold, 1st Mate E. H. Jahr, 2nd Mate Bror Jan Blom, Radio Operator Einar Nystrøm, Able Seaman Bjørn Edvardsen, 1st Engineer Carl Johan Johansen, 3rd Engineer N. Olsen, and a British gunner by the last name of Hayward. I'm assuming her captain was still Øivind Barth(?).

Red hot pieces of iron and metal caused small fires aft, but were subsequently extinguished by those on board. However, as several new fires started aft on the poop deck, most of her complement abandoned the ship, while some remained on board to help carry casualties to shore, but when the fires increased and the ammunition aft started to go off they all left the ship.

Belray had been badly damaged but was repairable. Going back to Page 3, we see that she remained in Bombay until Sept. 11-1944. Her 1945 voyages also start on this document and continue on Page 4. As can be seen, she finally got to go home to Norway in the spring of 1946.

More information on all the Norwegian ships mentioned here can be found via the alphabet index at the end of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index.


Sold in 1960 to Compania Naviera Soraya (Pateras Bros. Ltd., Piræus), Beirut and renamed Artigas, Lebanese flag. Sold in the spring of 1970 to West German breakers, arriving Hamburg on March 25.

Related external links:
Operation Merkur - The Invasion of Crete - From the website Die Gebirgstruppen.

The Bombay Explosion - Details of the events and several pictures.

The First and Last Voyage of the Fort Crevier - (Sister ship of Fort Stikine). More on the Bombay explosion. See also the Epilogue.
List of Ships lost

Fort Ships of WW II - Alphabetical list of Fort ships (also has the Ocean and the Park ships).

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

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


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