2 Finally under steam

On 2 November 1945 the Minister of Trade, Tor Skjønsberg, met with his senior civil servant Peter Simonsen and shipowner Odd Berg from the NSA to settle the final management contracts to the interested companies.

The management contracts were given as follows:

vessel grt built shipping company new name
Ulanga 6860 1940 Westfal-Larsen & Co, Bergen Stornes
Palmyra 3006 1944 Fred Olsen & Co, Oslo Brunlanes
Ahrensburg 2988 1939 AS Thor Dahl, Sandefjord Asnes
Marie Leonhardt 2597 1920 Rafen & Loennechen, Tønsberg Skottnes
Pommern 2180 1935 Jacob Kjøde, Bergen Vestnes
Wesermarsch 1923 1943 Bruusgaard Kiøsterud, Drammen   Bragernes
Wischhafen 2810 1944 Bachke & Co, Trondheim Solnes
Erpel 1771 1927 Thor Thoresen, Oslo* Skognes
Helga L M Russ 1708 1926 Arnt J Mørland, Arendal Hesnes
Hansestadt Lübeck 1704 1925 Erling Mortensen, Oslo Saltnes
Geier 1174 1924 Kornelius Olsen, Stavanger Slettnes
Ludwig 1064 1921 K Andersen Co, Fredrikstad Trollnes
Nordmark 1060 1907 Albert Schjelderup, Bergen Leknes
Amisia 999 1921 Ingv Bjørneboe, Kristiansand Oddernes
Jessica 998 1908 Det Bergenske D/S, Bergen Varnes
Hero 989 1924 Kristian Jebsens Rederi, Bergen Eidenes
Hernösand 952 1894 Einar Lange, Oslo Finnes
Irmgard 837 1911 Reinh Mithassel, Oslo Kapnes
Flachsee 774 1927 Gunstein Stray, Farsund Einarsnes
Frieda Rehder 700 1918 F N Nordbø, Haugesund Haganes
Ariadne 640 1898 O Kvilhaug, Haugesund Pollnes
Glattensee 594 1921 Tollak J Skogland, Haugesund Skarnes
Utvær 906 1943 A O Andersen & Co, Oslo
Kinn 495 1945 S Ditlev-Simonsen, Oslo
Fedje 482 1944 Lorentzens Rederi Co, Oslo

For full spreadsheet click here

For the four largest vessels, the companies were paid a management fee of NOK 10,000 per annum.  The other vessels above 950 grt were remunerated with NOK 7,000 and the smaller 6,000, all in addition to 2,000 for office expenses.

It seems that handing over the ships from the German crews went relatively smooth, from the end of October and into the beginning of 1946. On being handed over, the vessels were transferred to Norwegian registry, manning and registered with The Norwegian Government as owners. New names were given, all ending in “–nes”, like Stornes. (“Nes” meaning point or headland).

Of the 26 vessels left to Norwegian operation, three stood out as particularly attractive. That was the cargo liners Ulanga (1940) and Palmyra (1944) and the reefer Ahrensburg (1939).  The latter two were in Kristiansand for repairs by May 1945, while the former Woermann liner Ulanga was lying in Oslo with engine damage.

Palmyra was one of the first to be transferred to Norwegian operation, being taken over by Fred Olsen & Co on 26 October in Oslo, renamed BrunlanesAhrensburg were handed over in Kristiansand on 21 November to AS Thor Dahl as Asnes, later renamed Thornes.  The larger Ulanga remained in Oslo until the engine repairs were complete on 15 December, when she was taken over by Westfal-Larsen & Co with the name Stornes.

Of the other vessels, several had been employed in the repatriation trade and seems to be handed over to the Norwegians once this had been completed at the end of the year. The smaller steamers Nordmark and Geier were operated in a similar pattern between Norway and Germany with German personnel on leave from the GMSA (the German Mine-Sweeping Administration), the organisation entrusted with the clearing of mines in Norwegian waters.

Generally, the 26 vessels left to Norwegian management could be considered rather run-down after the war years.

The allocation of surrendered ships

The Foreign Ministry in Oslo was entrusted with protecting Norwegian interests in the final allocation round of the German ships.

On 28 November 1945, Peter Simonsen, senior civil servant at the Ministry of Trade, dictated a memo to his colleague at the Foreign Ministry and referred to a meeting with three British civil servants. It was imperative to alert the Embassy in Washington to prevent two of the surviving whaling factories from going to Soviet Russia. It was also high time to claim the oceangoing tugs that had been built for the Germans by Norwegian shipyards during the war. (These were classified as naval auxiliaries in the same category as whale-catchers to be divided by the Tri-Partite Reparations Committee.)

As the issue of distributing the German merchant fleet was now coming up, this was affected by an agreement at the Potsdam conference, that reparations to Poland and the Soviet Union should be settled first and separately.

The three Western powers, USA, UK and France, established the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency (IARA) on 15 October 1945 in order to ascertain the number of industrial plants, machinery and vessels to be divided between the Western allies.

This was followed up with an IARA conference in Paris at the middle of December. Here it was suggested that Norway should have one of the whaling factories (to be Walter Rau), while the Soviets should have one, the Wikinger, whereas the Netherlands claimed one, the largest, Unitas (which in the end went to the UK).

The issue of further allocations of the merchant vessels was to remain till after expiry of the UMA period.

First the Soviet claims

After Paris, another meeting assembled in Berlin by mid-January to decide which vessels were to go to the Soviet Union, and also which vessels Germany should be allowed to retain.

It was here decided that the Soviets would be allocated the following vessels under Norwegian management (or remaining in Norway):

Erpel, Espana, Frieda Rehder, Geier, Irmgard, Keitum, Pommern, Utsire, Utvær and Wesermarsch.

By a Norwegian objection the small tankers Utsire and Utvær were exempted, as they should be listed as naval auxiliaries and thus subject to another round of allocation.

The Espana (7418 grt) and  Keitum (1000 grt) had never been left to Norwegian management, but had remained in Norway in damaged condition. On 3 May 1946 a newspaper (NH&ST) reported that the eight vessels temporarily under Norwegian management had now been transferred to the Soviet Union. This list also included Espana lying in Sandefjord, and ds Keitum in Kristiansand.

Germany should according to the Potsdam agreement be allowed to retain up to 200,000 gross tons of vessels smaller than 2250 tdw, of which a good number of smaller units. The IARA meeting in December had decreed that the Germans should have six of the Norwegian-manned vessels; all rather elderly steamers: Ariadne, Glattensee, Hernösand, Jessica, Ludwig and Nordmark. Of these Ariadne was lost in January 1947 before being delivered. Delivery of the other vessels happened only in April 1947 (as far as I can see).

Allocations to the Soviet Union and Germany

Vessel grt built ex-name Norw manager allocation
Slettnes 1174 1924 Geier 12.45 K Olsen 6.46 Soviet
Oddernes 1058 1921 Amisia 10.45 I Bjørneboe 5.46 Soviet
Eidenes 1055 1924 Hero 12.45 L Harboe-Jensen 6.46 Soviet
Haganes 700 1918 Frieda Rehder 12.45 F N Nordbø 6.46 Soviet
Vestnes 2285 1935 Pommern 12.45 J Kjøde 6.46 Soviet
Bragernes 2803 1943 Weser Marsch 3.46 B; K & Co 6.46 Soviet
Kapnes 837 1911 Irmgard 11.45 R Mithassel 46 Soviet
Skognes 1771 1927 Erpel 12.45 T Thoresen 46 Soviet
Skarnes 594g 1921 Glattensee 10.45 T Skogland 4.47 Germany
Finnes 1024 1894 Hernösand 12.45 Einar Lange 4.47 Germany
Varnes 983 1908 Jessica 10.45 BDS 4.47 Germany
Pollnes 640 1898 Ariadne 4.46 O Kvilhaug 1.47 total loss before delivery
Leknes 1750 1907 Nordmark 11.45 A Schjelderup 4.47 Germany