3 The fight over surrendered ships

IARA, based in Brussels, took its time to obtain full information on the German vessels to be distributed between the Allied nations. Only on 27 February 1946, Ingolf Hysing-Olsen of Nortraship, London, was given a list of 293 vessels of a total of 800,000 gross tons. Now the final battle over distribution could begin.

As Poland and the Soviet Union had already been given their share of reparation tonnage, the remainder was to be distributed between USA, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, India, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Great Britain and South Africa.

The final allocation was to be settled by a conference in Brussels where all countries were to be present. To the Norwegian delegation, the shipowners Carl Høegh, Kristian Jebsen and Svend Foyn Bruun were appointed, in addition to senior civil servant Johs Dalstø from the Ministry of Trade and managing director Erling Mossige of Nortraship.

It was obvious that the basic information on the respective vessels was not satisfactory. A new list dated 2 March had seven fewer ships, divided into the following categories:

Type of vessel number grt value in GBP
Passenger ships 12 162.789 4,225,400.00
Cargo liners 35 151.799 2,260,500.00
Tankers/special 15 94.7 1,487,300.00
Oil tankers 31 16.58 544,700
Dry cargo 183 307.14 4,220,800.00
incomplete 10 41.098 551,500
Together 286 774.166 13,290,200.00

Out of this total Norway was entitled to a share of 10.14 per cent, corresponding to its war loss.

It was obvious that plenum negotiations on distribution of so many and diverse vessels would at best be a cumbersome and time-consuming affair. The four countries with the largest claims, USA, UK, the Netherlands and Norway, met consequently for a private pre-conference in London on 2-5 May. From Norway Carl Høegh, Erling Mossige and the economist Kaare Petersen took part. The four majors arrived at a common proposal.

The great allocation conference opened in Brussels on 7 May 1946. Despite the preparatory meeting in London it turned out to be a test of patience. Countries that represented less than 3 per cent of the total losses took up a lot of time. The reparations to Australia, Canada, Denmark and New Zealand were soon settled, and South Africa agreed to take part in the British quota. Other countries created a lot of problems “by posing quite unreasonable claims that led to endless discussions and innumerable compromise proposals” (according to the Norwegian minutes).

In the end Belgium and Yugoslavia were persuaded to accept the majors’ proposal, while Egypt and India declared themselves dissatisfied with the vessels allocated. France accepted the passenger liner Europa (1931) that no one else wanted. Belgium vied for the cargo liner Kamerun, while USA was interested in Palmyra, which also Norway wanted.  “Great Britain showed great understanding”.

(Based on report dated 3 June 1946 from the Norwegian IARA delegasjon by Carsten Helgebye to the Foreign Ministry.)

The final outcome of the IARA allocation conference in Brussels was as follows:

Australia 1.279
Belgium 11.195
Canada 10.797
Denmark 20.459
Egypt 1.923
USA 46.925
France 60.162
Great Britain 349.627
Greece 42.354
India 2.594
New Zealand 1.418
Norway 77.618
The Netherlands 51.915
Yugoslavia 11.02
Total 689.286
in gross tons

It was also established that all vessels had to undergo formal prize condemnation prior to final allocation and issuing of Bills of Sale.  For Norway the total gain was 42 vessels of 77,618 gross tons at a total value of about NOK 25 million.

In his report to the Minister of Trade dated 5 June 1946, Carl Høegh reflects on the Norwegian policy. The delegation had given priority to smaller vessels, preferably singledeckers suitable for short sea trading. They also shied away from the war-built Hansa-ships as these were built from inferior-quality Thomas steel and of which there were some 30 on the list.  Preferable the Norwegians wanted ships built in the late 1930s. They also had to take a few smaller tankers, the Norwegian State Railways (Norges Statsbaner) wanted a collier, while the Ministry of Industry saw use in the small chlorine carrier Norden. The Navy was given temporary use of the old Lindenau from 1914.

German name grt built ex Empire Norw gvm commercial buyer new name
Angeln 633 1940 Næss & Co, Bergen Tercia
Belt 337 1936 Norsk Brændselsolje, Oslo Mil 20
Norden 265 1935 Bergsnes Nordisk Lettmetall AS Klor
Bukarest 4550 1939 Ettrick Bremnes BDS, Bergen Clio
Brunes 1412 1922 Congress Brunes R Mithassel, Oslo Skuld
Palmyra 3006 1944 Brunlanes L Harboe-Jensen, Oslo Bambi
Adele Traber 2633 1930 Oykell Norges Statsbaner, Oslo Bruse
Diete Körner 243 1939 O J Meidell-Olsen, Oslo Tanja
Dragnes 1404 1923 Conleith Dragnes K Andersen & Co, Frst Mimona
Ekornes 1719 1926 Conqueror Ekornes Bj Tetlie, Trondheim Elfrida
Else Müller 1791 1921 K Th Einersen, Oslo Biodd
Mülheim Ruhr 5825 1938 Falknes AS Borgestad, Psg Brynje
Fornes 1999 1927 Condover Fornes Ingvar Jansen, Bergen Fornes
Frieda 722 1941 Anton Steen, Bergen Henken II
Karl Chr Lohse 1894 1942 Conningberg Fuglenes Hilmar Reksten, Bergen Justinian
Galtnes 1168 1939 Conclave Galtnes Lykkes Rederi, Trh Ila
Peter Vith 1661 1928 Constitution Grannes O Wahlstrøm, Oslo Selnes
Pickhuben 1017 1924 Condicote Grimsnes Det Stavangerske DS Tungenes
Haga 1310 1939 Consumer Hauknes Det Nordenfjeldske DS Orm Jarl
Hertha 225 1937 DS AS Borgundøy, Hgs Atlas
Helga LM Russ 1708 1926 Hesnes A J Mørland, Adl Rita
Julia 300 1938 Ragnv Solevåg, Bud Tempo
Kamerun 5226 1938 J L Mowinckel, Bgn Goya
Kondor 223 1939 Fylkesbaatane i S&F, Bgn Fjalir
Walter Rau 13474 1937 Kosmos IV Anders Jahre, Sfj Kosmos IV
Königsau 974 1921 Continent F N Nordbø, Haugesund Dana
Königsau 373 1939 Royal Norwegian Navy KNM Sarpen
Annelis Christophersen 1633 1927 Concern Laksnes F N Nordbø, Hgs
Lindenau 998 1915 Vegarnes T J Skogland, Hgs Skogholt
Main 964 1927 Sigv Risanger, Hgs Røyksund
Marga 208 1937 Møre og Romsdal Fylkesb, Molde Sunnmøre
Morsum 970 1936 Backers Rederi, Krs N Bjogna
Paul L M Russ 1157 1923 Hesnes (2) Jørgensens Red, Grimstad Hesnes
Probstei 333 1914 J Vallestad, Bgn Alstentind
Reinhard L M Russ 1262 1923 B Ekerholt, Oslo Reiås
Hansestadt Lübeck 1704 1925 Saltnes E Mortensen, Oslo Rondane
Schafstedt 302 1938 Holter-Sørensen & Co, O Vibeke
Sonnenfelde 923 1922 Bj Raak, Trondheim Ranheim
Ulanga 6860 1940 Stornes Westfal-Larsen & Co, Bgn Taranger
Lothar Friedrich 275 1903 Straumsnes Rederiet Odfjell, Bgn Straumsnes
Süderau 1524 1939 Content Svartnes Fred Olsen & Co, Oslo Barlind
Ahrensburg 2988 1939 Asnes/Thornes A Torgersen, Oslo Mona Lisa
Ludwig 1064 1921 Trollnes O N Saanum, Mandal Trollnes

For full spreadsheet click here