{' '} {' '}
Limited time offer
SAVE % on your upgrade.

Page 1

Norwegian Whalers Page 1

This album was put together by a New Zealand crew member of one of the Norwegian whaling expeditions in 1927. This particular company had established a ship repair yard in Paterson Inlet, where the chasers were left over the southern winter to be refurbished for the following summer whaling season in the Ross Sea. The mother ship (s) meanwhile having returned to Norway to discharge the catch and refit for the following season in Antarctica. The album was given by the author to Mr Murray Menzies in recognition of “kindness given” and subsequently by the Watson Family to Peter Tait.

Notes. The text is as written by the author. Some photos have notes on the back, and where possible I have melded this with the written text on each page. In a couple of instances and for clarity I have applied minimum editing. The spelling is as written. In places of particular interest I have inserted an explanatory sidebar bordered in red. For Some background on the Rosshavet Whaling Company and it’s ships please look at pages 58-59


Norwegian Whalers Page 2

I assume that one of these men is the author of this album


Norwegian Whalers Page 3

Some of the New Zealanders who sailed with the Sir James Clarke Ross, on the 1927 trip to the frozen south. These are mostly of maori blood from Bluff and Stewart Island. This snap was taken in Patersons Inlet the morning we sailed. Their work is chiefly trimming, some get jobs on the blubber or meat deck but most work in the coal, the storage tanks are full of bunker coal for the Ross and coal burning chasers and as the Ross burns up to 30 tons a day they are kept busy


Norwegian Whalers Page 4

Icebergs are first encountered about a day south of the Campbells and are pretty dangerous as fogs are very thick about these waters at times. This makes travel very slow.

The fleet steams in formation in fog, two chasers to port, two to starboard and one dead ahead. The whistles blow every two minutes. Eack chaser has it's own number of blasts and answers when called. A watch is also kept on the forepeak during these fogs. After leaving the Campbells going south it gets lighter every night, being light altogether once in the pack.


Norwegian Whalers Page 5

This photo shows the stem of the Ross, taken from the Ice Pilots crows nest on the forward mast nearly 100 feet above the main deck. This crows nest is only used in the pack ice. The Ice Pilot is usually the 1st or 2nd mate, who has the picking of the ships course. It is impossible to travel in a straight line, rather he has to follow cracks in the ice. He puts the bowinto a crack and forces it open. The cracks are formed by ice bergs which travel much faster than the lighter floe. Once the ship is through the ice closes up again.


Norwegian Whalers Page 6

In the middle of the pack ice the mothership is breaking the pack ice on her way south. We were a week in the ice when we received a wireless from the Larsen that there were plenty of whales outside the pack and so we turned around and went out again. We took 70 whales, 56 Blues, 11 Fins and 3 Humps which gave nearly 6000 barrels of oil. The same amount of whales later in the season would have given nearly 8000 barrels, as once in the Ross Sea where food is plentiful

The Larsen referred to above was the companies second ship, the two working together


Norwegian Whalers Page 7

The five whale chasers in Pack Ice, 1927 Star 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 waiting for the mothership Sir James Clarke Ross to forge ahead. These stops are frequent once in the floes. The trouble being breaking the ice which is anything between 2 and 12 feet thick. The mother ship is forever going forward and charging the ice. Sometimes she wedges herself fast then one of the stars will try and get her loose. If this fails men go over the side with big saws and cut out the blocks. This can only be done if the ice is less than 6 feet thick. Otherwise she must stay until the thaw starts. In 1926 the Ross was fast 37 days in one place


Norwegian Whalers Page 8

Star 6 fast in the ice. She was trying to release the Ross which was fast when she charged and came high and dry on the Ice. It took three chasers and her own steam to pull her back into the water. It then went on with the good work again. It took the Ross 27 days to go through the pack ice on this trip and if it had not been for Captain Andersons daring charging the pack ice it would have taken much longer, as he released the Ross on several occasions when she was hard and fast


Norwegian Whalers Page 9

Star 5 coming out of the pack ice into open water of the Ross Sea. This is where whaling starts in earnest. Each chaser is bunkered, taking on full supplies of harpoons, bombs, ropes, water, tucker and rum and gin for the very cold weather and anything else they might require. They usually take enough food to last 10 days, but they are hardly away for more than 3 or 4 days. The boats have a crew of 11. Captain, Mate, 2 Engineers, 2 Firemen, 4 AB's and Cook. They stand 12 hour watches, but all hands on deck for whales, even the cook who stands by the winch.


Norwegian Whalers Page 10

Star 1 This chaser is what is known as the scout boat. It does little or no whaling, standing by the mother ship in case of blows coming up. If this should happen then she makes fast to as many of the whales as she can pick up, turns her head to the sea and hangs on. When the chasers are fishing a good way from the mother ship, say when she is sheltering. then the scout goes out and brings the whales in they might have. As soon as the whales start to leave one place then this chaser follows and wirelesses the Ross.


Norwegian Whalers Page 11

Bow of a whale chaser showing the harpoon gun and rope all ready-ness for the chase. This type of gun is the most common in the whaling business today. It will swing any given way and shoot up to 40 fathoms. But the gunner does not shoot at anything like that distance for late in the season it is possible to get very close to them as they are very fat, giving nearly double the quantity of oil as when first they come out of the ice. They make about 8 knots when feeding so are easily overtaken by the speedy chasers which make 14 to 15 knots.


Norwegian Whalers Page 12

For an explanation of the development of on deck processing please go to page 59

This slipway was fitted to the Ross, but proved to be a failure. It cost $25000 and carried away under the weight of a large Blue Whale as can be seen in a later photo. However the weather was that good that season the flensers were able to work in the water. The Ross taking a full ship of whale oil, 50000 barrels, worth around 250,000 pounds. The Fin Whales are not as plentiful as the Blue Whales but a goodly number are taken later in the season. They are usually taken in male and female pairs and when one is taken the other won't leave. They run up to 75 feet in length, giving a paying quantity of oil. This is a fin whale on the slip.


Norwegian Whalers Page 13

Blue Whale on Slipway This slipway was fitted to the Ross to enable her to work the whales in rough weather and save time in always having to run for shelter. But needless to say it was useless, giving way under the first blue whale here seen. Being an engineer myself I must say I had some faith in the thing when others shook their heads, as one would have thought whoever designed and built it would have worked out the stresses and strain. When tried I doubt whether it would have carried a hump which is only about 35 tons


Norwegian Whalers Page 14

The arm of the slip can be seen badly bent and the wire broken, the whole arm and stays gave way in the endand are lying somewhere at the bottom of the Ross Sea. The blocks seen were used to pull slip clear of the water while steaming. The up to date slips are filled either to the bow or the stern and are a large tunnel 20 ft or so in diameter. When steaming a large cap fits over the hole and keeps out the sea. The Ross was too narrow to be fitted in this way.


Norwegian Whalers Page 15

The slip is pretty well down to it now and one wonders what the man who designed it would say if he could only have seen it. One could have imagined what would have happened in a sea trying to haul up a large Blue Whale suppose half way up and the sea had left it. Things would have been bound to have happened, to say nothing of the danger of hauling gear carrying away. The four purchase block was used for this work and the winches could pull 150 tons dead weight.


Norwegian Whalers Page 16

This is just what a large blue whale is like as we see them. A man is quite small compared with one of these little chaps. This whale gave well over 100 barrels of oil, and only about half was used, the body being cast adrift. Bluber, head and tail the only parts taken. We once past through a floe coming from where the Alonso was fishing and I counted 47 of these bodies. This was when the Ross was steaming after the whales along the edge of the Barrier sea ice.

The Alonso referred to above was another companies vessel., working out of Hobart


Norwegian Whalers Page 17

This piece of blubber is from under the tail up to the middle and is about 18 inches in thickness and soiled fat. It is much more difficult to cut up once on deck owing to the thickness as it must be cut up to pass down the slide with as little trouble as possible. This is thinner than would allow a man to slide down as needless to say one slips about owing to the oil coming away from the raw blubber every where. There are no barnacles on the Blue or Fin whales, but plenty on the Humps.


Norwegian Whalers Page 18

A flenser at work on the first blanket of blubber. This is taken from the belly. They have a hard task at times owing to the cold and rough weather. But they are used to the life and more than likely don't notice it the same as one looking on. But for all that they have to be careful. They jump back and to the whale from the punt. The punt boy has the worst job of the whole crew. His job is to hold the punt up to the whale, no joke in a choppy sea and cold weather.


Norwegian Whalers Page 19

The blanket nearly ready to cut away. This is soiled fat and very firm and not flabby as one might think. It varies from 4 inches to 12 inches thick. When taken aboard it is cut into strips. In the background can be seen the elevators. There are 10 of these used to carry the blubber to the different digesters there are ten of these used for first grade blubber, each one has a chute of its own, with a small trap door which can be closed at will by the attendant. When the digesters are full the lids are screwed down the steam turned on, cooking for 12 hours, the oil then pumped into settling tanks.


Norwegian Whalers Page 20

The back blubber is the thinnest of the whole whale, being up to 6 inches in thickness. It is a sort of outer skin, something like rubber and very pliable. And in the case of most whales is blue on the back, blotched with white. Each kind of whale is easily distinguished. The Fin has a white belly. The Hump only about 35 ft in length and has a hump in the back making it a funny looking object, while the Blue whale is blue and dirty white on the belly.


Norwegian Whalers Page 21

Here is the blubber of a Blue Whale. This is how the blanket is cut up and made ready to pass into the mincers. Each strip is passed down a chute into the revolving cutters and are cut into pieces half an inch in thickness. They are then carried up the elevators to the required digesters it is not usual to have as much blubber as this on deck only when the cutters or belt brake does this happen, cutters are broken by pieces of bone embedded in the blubber.


Norwegian Whalers Page 22

Captain Anderson of Star 6 taking aim. The whale is just rising and can be easily seen by the man in the crows nest. This lookout gives orders to the man at the wheel and directs the gunner. The water being very clear, the whale is easily seen 40 to 50 feet below the surface. The whale all have different habits, some blow 4 times others 5 before sounding for the last time, staying down for 10 to 20 minutes. Their back comes right clear of the water from tip to tip, making a large target.


Norwegian Whalers Page 23

Here is Captain Anderson after shooting the Blue Whale which can be seen on the surface. He was the leading gunner in the 1927 season, with 66 whales. It was a bad season for the Ross, the weather being too rough and the gunners very poor, as a good gunner can easily get well over a hundred whales in a season. The worlds record is over 500 in a season. This was done in South Georgia where the season lasts 9 months 261 was taken by one of the CA Larsen gunners in the Ross Sea season lasting 4 months.


Norwegian Whalers Page 24

Chaser Star 10. One of the most up to date chasers in the fleet, she was built in 1927 and is an oil burner, can steam at 15 knots and is fitted with the latest wireless and direction finder. She is seen coming along side the Ross with 4 Blue Whales. The flag at half mast is an answer to a signal from the Ross. The long poles are flags used to mark whales. When several are killed by one boat they are pumped full of air, flag them and leave them while they chase more. The chaser captain gets 10 pounds each for the first 50 whales, 12 pounds 10 shillings for the next 50 and 15 pounds for everything after that. Fins and Humps are a little less per whale


Norwegian Whalers Page 25

Three whale chasers sheltering under the lee of a large ice berg, waiting for the Ross to move on. We were lying some distance off when this was taken. The air is so clear one has little idea of distance both day and by night it is possible to take just as good a photo by night as by day. The only difference is that it is much colder by night than in the day time some really good photos of the midnight sun can be taken about the first of the year.


Norwegian Whalers Page 26

Nilsen Olonso's scout boat Pol 3 is seen coming alongside the Ross. She bought her doctor to the hospital. He was in a bad way, and looked to have at least one leg in Davies locker. Our Doctor went back to Nilsen where he stayed some 3 weeks until their own was fit and well.

The footway seen from the bridge to the gun is a big improvement to the chasers as it allows the gunner to take the ship close up to the whale before leaving the wheel to the mate or an AB.


Norwegian Whalers Page 27

Self Forming Gas This is a blue whale, no larger than any other, but in the photo looks very large indeed. This is due to the self forming gas which consume large quantities of oil. This whale was picked up by one of our chasers, how it met its fate I don’t know, it was of little use as most of the fat was self consumed, the whale was cut up aft. The blubber going into the german boilers with the rest that was worthwhile into the bone digesters. During rough weather the flensers are unable to work and in four or five days the blubber is nearly useless, being only about 3rd grade and only about a third in quantity. The oil from the meat is useless and bone oil also suffers. If the whale is very bad it is cut away


Norwegian Whalers Page 28

Midnight Sun This photo shows Star 2 coming alongside with two Fin Whales. This snap was taken at midnight on New Years Day, 1927. This boat is now fishing out of Bluff around the sounds. She had a freezer put in and is now a fine looking little boat. The man coming down from the mast is an AB. His job is to watch for whales and to give orders to the gunner and the man at the wheel


Norwegian Whalers Page 29

Star 9, the last new chaser undergoes repairs. She buckled her shaft and broke her propeller in the floes. This damage makes so much noise the chaser is unable to get close to the whales. The Ross carried a spare propeller and shafts for each of her chasers, so there is no trouble fitting these.

The fuel oil in the aft bunkers would be pumped into the forward tanks, heavy chains loaded onto the bow and the stern lifted clear of the water.


Norwegian Whalers Page 30

Repairs at Sea There is no going into dock once the whalers leave their land base. All repairs must be done at sea under all sorts of conditions. Captain Thorstensen, Master of the Fleet, can be seen looking over the stern.


Norwegian Whalers Page 31

Whale Chaser Star 4, the baby of the fleet, was nearly lost in 1927, striking a large piece of ice floe. She stoved in a bow plate and was sinking fast. The pumps were unable to keep down the water. She was got alongside the Ross with the aid of two more chasers. All her bunkers was removed, she was lifted bodily out of the water and a new plate fitted after 12 hours of hard work, many hands on the job


Norwegian Whalers Page 32

This is the jaw bone of a large Blue Whale. Some idea of the size can be gained from the height of the flenser against the jaw. It would be no problem for a railway engine to pass through it. 1 seventh of the Blue whale is head. They are taken up to 110 feet long and I have heard of 120 feet but never seen larger than 107 feet


Norwegian Whalers Page 33

The Nelson Olonso had the misfortune to loose two of her crew. The coffin of a mess boy who died after an operation aboard the Ross. He was caught in the bight while a whale was being drawn up the slipway. The rocking of the ship tightened the rope just as he put his foot in the bight, crushing it very badly. The coffin is being passed to the chaser Pol 3, one of the Nelson Olonso's boats. The body is in pickle and will be taken to Norway if the parents request. If not it will be laid to rest in Hobart, the Nelsons southern base


Norwegian Whalers Page 34

The weather is very rough and cold at times, being several degrees below zero. Then the chasers can't fish as this photo shows, everything is frozen. This would not matter much if the ropes didn't freeze. They weaken that much they can't carry the weight of a large whale. Some whales put up a game fight and a faulty rope would mean losing whale, rope and harpoon. One Blue whale broke away after 18 hours fight with 6 harpoons in it in 1927. The whales that are lost surface in time but are of little use, self formed gas having consumed all the blubber.


Norwegian Whalers Page 35

On the Ice. Land of Discovery. This is where Captain Scott landed and had his base. Some signs of the huts can still be seen. This is the only known place between Discovery and the Bay of Whales where it is possible to land, there being ice walls for hundreds of miles. Barrier seals and penguins were plentiful and again showed no fear of man. The seal might turn and have a look, but the penguins had quite a lot to say yet gave it up as usual when getting no answer. The surface of the ice was quite smooth as far as the eye could see.


Norwegian Whalers Page 36

Coulman Island

This island lies off the coast of King Edward Island and is 56 17 south and is ice bound until December. It is named after one of the Officers with Captain Ross when the Ross Sea was first discovered. There is ideal shelter for the mother ship and this is where they usually make for when a blow comes up, which it can do in less than an hour.


Norwegian Whalers Page 37

The Great Ice Barrier.

This is a bottle neck inlet some 450 miles from the South Pole, and where Captain Scott started for the pole. It is the only known place between the Bay of Whales and Discovery where it is possible to land. This shows the left hand side going in. The Sir James Clarke Ross stayed here some 3 weeks anchored in 350 fathoms of water with 500 fathoms of chain out. At times the temperature was 29 below zero.


Norwegian Whalers Page 38

The harpoon on the left is the type used in all whaling grounds today. They weigh about 100 lb with 4 or 5 lb bomb attached. The harpoon is steel and when bent is straightened and used again. The bombs are just a rough casting and are hollow, half an inch thick. These are filled with gun cotton and powder and screwed into the end of the harpoon. It is fired by detonator timed so many seconds after the harpoon is fired from the gun. The harpoon is 5 ft long overall. The barbs open about 2ft 6 inches once a strain is taken.


Norwegian Whalers Page 39

A flenser cutting away the lower jaw. He is standing on the carcase. The flimsy looking stuff is a fatty skin between the meat and blubber. The inside part of the tongue is something similar. The tongue is what the killer whales go after and the only thing they eat. They attack in numbers, two getting hold of each side of the lower jaw. They keep the mouth open this way, drown him and then eat the tongue.


Norwegian Whalers Page 40

Three Blue Whales along side the Ross. The two nicks in the tail show the flensers how many harpoons to remove. The ends of the harpoons go right into the whale and can't be seen. The whale always float belly up after being pumped full of air, they would otherwise sink in a very short time.


Norwegian Whalers Page 41

Flensers are here seen working in the water with ice drifting down on them. It is unusual to work with ice packing in, the chaser forward is trying to make the drift miss the flenser and the motor boat pushing away ice that is not kept out. The motor boat is used for a number of jobs and is very powerful, just towing a whale about like a chip.


Norwegian Whalers Page 42

View forward seeing whales alongside the Ross. All flensing is done on the forward part of the ship, the bodies are then towed aft and what is required is removed and the rest cast adrift. As can be seen the water is quite calm and ideal for working the whale in the water, which is much easier than working it on deck, as there is no trouble turning it over in the water. A wire is passed around the whale and attached to a fin and the least strain will roll the whale.


Norwegian Whalers Page 43

Here are 6 large Blue Whales all quite fresh. These are worth 7 or 8 hundred pounds each to the whale boats. The fins can be seen and are quite small to the size of the body. However this is made up for by a very powerful tail. There is not much difference between the cow and the bull in size. The cow being a little larger


Norwegian Whalers Page 44

The top jaw of a Blue Whale showing the mate holding on. Some idea of size in that he was a man of about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches. The bushy stuff is balleen, or whale bone. It is fully 3 foot 6 inches in length at the back, tapering to 18 inches. The balleen is frayed on the inside of the mouth and is similar to horses hair, but quite straight on the outside. It has no value and is dumped.


Norwegian Whalers Page 45

The Rib bones of a Blue Whale. It is not only the ribs are taken, only when whales are not too plentiful, as they take more cutting up than the firmer tail and head. The flenser is standing on whale meat. This is fairly soiled yet good to eat and is the only fresh meat the whalers have. It is cut off in large pieces and hung up for several days before being cut up into steaks and fried.


Norwegian Whalers Page 46

A flenser cutting away the meat from the back bone. This like the tongue and other meat is taken to a chute and sent down to the main deck into a large storage tank and is then fed into one of the two German boilers. These mince up the meat and then extract the fat with the aid of steam. They take some 20 minutes to each filling.


Norwegian Whalers Page 47

Here is a flenser with flensing knife as used on all kinds of work. It has a handle about 4 feet in length, a half round blade made of the finest Finnish steel, hand forged. The fine layer of fat can be seen. The meat is bright red and looks very fresh, with fine streaks of fat through it.


Norwegian Whalers Page 48

On the meat deck.

The back view of the top jaw, The ball joint of the neck can be seen to the right. The whale also has two ears which can be very sensitive although there is no opening to the outer skin. The ears are well back into the head and have two bone spiles which come out to outer edge of the blubbers skin. These conduct sound to the ear which is similar to a large sea shell, about 3 lbs in weight.


Norwegian Whalers Page 49

The meat deck

This deck was built onto the Ross for the second season as a whaler. It is about level with the boat deck. There are 6 winches and two windlasses. Also 2 steam saws. One seen here. These are used to cut up the backbone and any other bone. The man is drawing a piece of meat away to the slide and on deck are pieces ready to clear away.


Norwegian Whalers Page 50

Pieces of jaw, fin and backbone ready to be passed into the bone digesters. There are 10 of these on the Ross, holding about a ton of bone at a time when properly packed. When full the lid is screwed down and made steam proof, steam is pumped in and cooking takes around 10 hours. The oil is pumped away with the water and passes into the separators, water is taken from the oiul, and glue from the water. Oil saved this way amounts to hundreds of barrels in a season.


Norwegian Whalers Page 51

Emperor Penguins are first seen on the pack ice and are in schools of anywhere from a dozen to some hundreds. They are very tame, having never been hunted and like the seals are under the protection of the New Zealand Government. The Ross caught seven of these penguins to bring back to Auckland. Two died, the rest made the trip. The difficulty was feeding. Fish cakes when tried found favour. They weigh about 90 lb.


Norwegian Whalers Page 52

Last days whaling for the Sir James Clarke Ross, 1928. She was low in the water as can be seen. She was some 18 inches below her marks when she left for her base in Stewart Island. She took 50,000 barrels of oil, a full ship, this being her most successful season as a whaler. The weather conditions were ideal, hardly losing a days fishing. Whales were plentiful. She also had two new chasers and good gunners. She passed several whales to her sister ship The CA Larsen when the Larsen was short of whales. The Larsen took 70,000 barrels.


Norwegian Whalers Page 53

Star 4 homeward bound off Balleney Island. Whales were plentiful here, we came a week off our course to put in some shore marks with I think views of taking up a shore station at some further date. However after wasting 2 days and unable to find a landing place they gave it up as a bad job. The small pieces of ice seen in the water are seen for hundreds of miles in these waters. They are the last of the floes, the drift running past this place. The Ross was the second ship to visit since it's discovery 50 years ago.


Norwegian Whalers Page 54

Homeward bound from the Ross Sea. We were battered from stem to stern on the home run. No work was done on deck for over a week. The Nelson Olenso lost one of her Ordinary Seamen washed overboard and drowned. She was 12 hours ahead of us and to the east. The man was leaving his cabin to go on watch when the sea broke right over the ship, never giving him a chance. It was at night. There is plenty to do on the home run, with all the decks, bullwarks, bridge and ships gear is washed down with caustic soda and hosed down by the time we reach our base. .


Norwegian Whalers Page 55

Shortly after CA Larsen struck rocks on Whero Island.

The Larsen is the biggest whaler afloat, having tankage for over 100,000 barrels of whale and bunker oil. She is an oil burner. She steams at 11.5 knots. She holds the worlds record for one season catch 73000 barrels. This taken in a little over 4 months from base to base. Her digesters can put over 1000 barrels per day. She can work in all weathers, being able to take 6 whales on board at once. Two on the meat deck, two under the bridge and two on the fordeck.


Norwegian Whalers Page 56

CA Larsen is seen after her mishap in Foveaux Straits. The tugs Southland and Dunedin in attendance, also several chasers. She had over 70,000 barrels of whale oil aboard and was fortunate in loosing very little, She just about ripped her bilge plates on her starboard side right out. The oil was transhipped into a tanker coming from Norway. Mats were fitted over the holes by divers. The water pumped out and she was refloated, taken to dock in Port Chalmers and temporarily repaired, later going into dock in England.


Norwegian Whalers Page 57

The Return to Stewart Island.

Members of the crew of Sir James Clarke Ross awaiting their home mail. A few of the 250 men and boys that go to make the crew of a whaling fleet.

No news of home is received while the ships are at sea, only a little by wireless. No other ships coming within miles of the whaling grounds.


Norwegian Whalers Page 58

The Stranding of the C.A.Larsen Reprint of an article in issue 33 NZ Maritime News By J.P.C Watt Introduction and Background Between 1923 and 1933 the Ross Sea Whaling Company* Sandefjord, Norway, made nine expeditions to New Zealand's Dependency in the Antarctic. Operating initially in the Ross Sea, under licence from the NZ. Government, the Company established a shore base at Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island, where the chasers were repaired and maintained through the winter, in readiness for the summer season. Three factory ships operated at various times; the Sir James Clark Ross in 1923-24, 2425, 25-26; both the Sir James Clark Ross and the C, A, Larsen in 1926-27, 27-28, 28-29, 29-30; and the modern, whaler Sir James Clark Ross II in 1930-31 and 32-33. A glut of whale oil on the international market cancelled operations in1933 The factory ship(s) would leave Norway about the end- of August and sail direct far Stewart Island, sometimes calling briefly at Wellington, Lyttelton, or more usually Port Chalmers. Coal, water, fuel oil, and supplies were taken on. Following a brief stop in Paterson Inlet to relieve the over-wintering party, and to rendezvous with the five chasers which accompanied each factory ship, the convoy would depart for the South, returning as soon as the pack ice threatened to close, or the tanks of whale oil were full. The return of the convoy each February/March became a high point in the year for the Stewart Island and Bluff communities, In most years up to 20 or so "locals" would join the expedition far the adventure "Down South", being signed-on by the Norwegian Consul in Bluff, Mr Mathias Wiig, One year,, as recounted in this article, one of the factory ships made the return landfall at Paterson Inlet a little too literally. The story of the casualty and subsequent successful salvage at the C. A, Larsen is a remarkable one, not previously recounted except in the press of the day and other short newspaper ac-


Norwegian Whalers Page 59

counts. Named after Carl Anton Larsen**, the C. A, Larsen was converted from an oil tanker to a whale factory in 19266 following her purchase by the “Rosshavet” Company. The conversion was done in Friedrikstad and included a new flensing deck and a unique slipway built into her bow. The slipway was equipped with a 60 ton hinged door which was held open by wire hawsers when the slip was in use. At all other times it was tightly closed over the circular hole. The door or cap gave the C.A. Larsen an unusual appearance and it must have been a distinct disadvantage when steaming in ice or heavy seas. Only the second ship to embody Captain Larsen's idea of a built-in slipway through which whales could be hauled on deck, the C. A. Larsen was probably the only whale factory ship ever to have the slip located in the bows. That it was not located in the stern was presumably a consequence of her original design as a tanker, with all the facilities located in the stern. Stern ramps and slipways became a standard feature of whale ships and their introduction marked a new era in pelagic whaling in the late 1920’s. By 1930-31 41 whale factories of various nationalities were operating. Side ramps were also experimented with, but an outboard slipway and ramp fitted to the Sir James Clark Ross for the 1927/28 season was not a success, the structure collapsing under the first whale. The slipway was dropped overboard in the Ross Sea and the ramp portion returned to Norway The C. A. Larsen was built in 1913 by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd., Newcastle, as the Eagle tanker San Gregorio**. The original owners were the Eagle Oil Transport Co. Ltd. of London whose purpose was to provide oceanic transport facilities for the Aguila (Mexican Eagle) Oil Company from the Gulf of Mexico to the U.K.8 From 1926 to 1938 she was whaling with the "Roavet" Norway. In 1940 she was taken over by the German Navy for use as a base tanker at Kirkenes and in July 1944 was sunk by British Fleet Air Arm aircraft during a raid on the battleship Tirpitz In Altenfjord. Salvaged and refitted, she was then sold to A. von der Lippe, Norway, being renamed the Antarctic. After another eight years whaling she arrived at Hamburg on 7th August 1954 to be scrapped by Lehr and Co. The sinking of the C. A. Larsen in Norway in 1944 is a fascinating sidelight to a fascinating ship. However, it is on an earlier casualty in New Zealand waters that attention


Norwegian Whalers Page 60

will now be focussed. T

The Stranding For a large ship, entrance to Paterson Inlet (Stewart Island) is not easy. Unmarked and unlit, except for Ackers Point Light on the northern headland, the recommended deep water passage approaches the inlet westward from the north end of Bench Island, and proceeds south-westwards towards the eastern end of Ulva Island, the largest island in the Inlet. The passage passes tiny Whero (Passage) Island, ornithologically famous for Dr L.E. Rochdale’s pioneering seabird studies. Today Whero is totally bereft of bush cover which characterised it up to the 1950’s and is now exclusively occupied by a thriving colony of Stewart Island Shags. One mile to the south lies the low unbushed promontory and early Maori settlement known as The Neck. At a point where The Neck and the east end of Ulva are only about turn half a mile apart, a ship entering the Inlet must take a 30-degree turn to port. With Ulva Island now on the starboard beam, the magnificent deep water harbour of Big Glory (Southwest Bay) lies ahead. In recent years this harbour has been the servicing base for the Penrod 74 oil rig. Apart from occasional visits by the Navy, research ships and the rare cruise liner, bush rimmed Big Glory today attracts little attention from anyone but prospective mussel farmers. Salmon farming is also being investigated. To continue west up Paterson Inlet proper requires a 90 degree turn to starboard prior to entering Big Glory harbour. Passage is then made westward between the south shore of the Inlet and the south side of Ulva Island. On reaching the west end of Ulva, deep water (more than ten fathoms) persists for another four miles but nowhere in this reach is there anchorage to compare with Big Glory. Being a drowned valley, down tilted to the east, Paterson Inlet remains essentially open to the west; and at a latitude touching 47°S the prevailing westerly’s are a force to be reckoned with. It was to the north-western deep water limit of Paterson Inlet, and to the lee of Price's Point on the northern shoreline, that the Norwegian whale factory ships Sir James Clark Ross and C A. Larsen had to proceed. In a snug, north lying, bush-rimmed little


Norwegian Whalers Page 61

bay, the site of boat-building activity in the 1860's, the Norwegians had established their shore-base. Known then as "Kaipipi Shipyard" or "Price's" and marked on today's maps as "The Whalers' Base", no whale was ever actually brought ashore at this base. It was indeed a "shipyard", a base for repairing and overhauling the five chasers that were licensed with each factory ship. Returning from the Antarctic in late summer, the factory ship would leave an overwintering party at the base before continuing home via Panama. In

the peak years 1926-27 to 1929-30 when both factory ships were operating, the overwintering party totalled up to 50 men. In these years ten chasers and their replacements could be found moored in clusters in the sheltered and picturesque bays of Price's Inlet and Kidney Fern Arm. During the winter each in turn would be put on the slipway adjacent to the 4,300 square foot workshop; for repairs and overhauling. But that's another story. About 7 a:m, on Tuesday morning, 21st February 1928, the Sir James Clark Ross (Captain G. Thorstensen) entered Paterson Inlet on what must have been the start of


Norwegian Whalers Page 62

the flood tide. The season in the Antarctic had been good and both factories were returning a little earlier than usual fully laden with whale oil, the Ross with approximately 48,000 barrels and the Larsen with 76,000 barrels, six barrels equalling one ton. The five chasers Stan, StarIV, Star. V, Star VI, and Star IX were with her that year, and with them in attendance she anchored off Price's Point. Contact was made with the skeleton summer party who had remained at the base since the mother-ships had sailed for the South in mid-November. The excitement and pleasure of returning to a green, sunny, bush-clad landscape can be imagined, although it was thwarted a little for the 15 or so Stewart Island and Bluff men as they were unable to get ashore immediately. Health and Customs formalities had to be attended to and the authorities were still on the other side of Foveaux Strait in Bluff. The Ross had entered without a pilot. It was in fact the ninth time she had navigated the entrance to the Inlet, and while Captain George Hooper (Nautical Adviser to the Marine Department) had on earlier occasions piloted the whale factories in and out he was satisfied the Captains were now used to the conditions, even though he considered it to be a dangerous piece of navigation. It is unlikely that she entered on what is now the recommended route. Using a chart even then about 75 years old, the safest route in was that where the most soundings were. Approaching from the south, therefore, she probably came up inside Bench Island (as the C. A. Larsen did a few hours later) and turned to port between The Neck and Whero, this being more direct than coming up outside Bench Island. Whatever track she took, the state of the tide and the experience of her Captain ensured a safe entry. Captain Hooper boarded the ship soon after her arrival, having been instructed by the Secretary of Marine to meet the ships and report on their season in the Ross Dependency. No observer representing the New Zealand Government had gone south with the ships that year; in other years either Captain Hooper or Captain Whiteford (General Administrative and Executive Officer of the Ross Dependency) had accompanied the expedition. About 4 p.m. that afternoon the larger factory ship, the C. A. Larsen (Captain Oscar Nilsen) was seen approaching the entrance. Conditions were fine but cloudy, a fresh southwester was blowing, there was little sea running, and the tide was at half ebb.8 Among the 166 men on board was a small contingent of Stewart Islanders. Some were down in their cabins, and as familiar landmarks were seen through the porthole the subject turned to the dinner that might be waiting at home for them that night. Mr.


Norwegian Whalers Page 63 "Buddie" Willa then a young man and today a master of anecdote, recalls: "We were coming through between Whero and Anglem Point. I remember glancing out of the porthole and seeing Whero far too close. I knew these waters like the back of my hand as I was brought up on The Neck. 1 knew how the ebb tide-flow shifts away from The Neck as it slacks, running up nearer Whero and then moving towards Acker's Paint: We were going too slow. The tide could catch us. I turned to Stanford Leask and Tommy Wast who were in the cabin with me and said 'Stanford, Tommy, I think it's possible, just possible, that for dinner tonight we could be enjoying paua!". A few minutes later the ship struck. A series of violent jolts and vibrations shook the vessel as she ploughed over the top of submerged rocks on the west side of Whero. At the wheel of the Larsen was Mr. Rolph Pedersen, now retired and living in Invercargill. "When we were carried onto Whero the whale ship was shaking from stem to stern" he recalled during a recent conversation. "The Captain had ordered `Full ahead' to clear Whero and immediately ordered `Full astern'. But we were drawing 31 feet forward and we held fast. All hands except the watch were ordered onto the accompanying chasers" (Star VII, Star Vlll, Star X, Karrakatta and Pagodroma.) "An attempt was made by the chasers to pull her off, first from the stern and then from the bow. When she did finally come free, largely on account of her own efforts and the action of the tide, the bow immediately started going down. We watched as oil was forced up out of the full starboard tanks as the list developed". Back on the Sir James Clark Ross 'a wireless message for help from the G A. Larsen was received with disbelief. But as one eye-witness later reported, the C. A. Larsen's siren settled all doubts. Amidst an atmosphere of "tense excitement bordering on panic", things began to happen very quickly indeed. "Orders in Norwegian began flying around from the Sir James Clark Ross to chasers, and within a few minutes the chasers were on their way to the scene of the disaster". Mr. Karl Johansen, retired, of Port Chalmers, was


Norwegian Whalers Page 64 serving on the chaser Star VI (Captain Otto Olsen) that year. He recalls they still had steam up from their arrival that morning and that no one had yet gone ashore. It took little time, then, for the Ross's chasers to set off down the Inlet to offer assistance. As things turned out there was little they could do, as the Larsen came off on her own and proceeded slowly under her own steam to shallow water. Star VI, however, was able to render assistance to Star IX, the latter, having fouled a rope around her propeller, requiring a tow back to Price's.

Captain Hooper in his report of 27th March 1928 to the Secretary of Marine7 writes ".... I was asked to go (from the Ross) in one of the chasers. On arrival at the entrance it was seen the Larsen was badly damaged - her bow being down about eight feet below her draught. The master, fearing the ship would sink soon, desired to beach her at once. In response to his request I went on board and piloted him through the entrance to the nearest safe shallow place, managing to place her on the bottom as it became dark. There was no moon, and the darkness and the condition of the ship determined this, the fore-deck being now awash. The ship was now secured so as to prevent her going into deeper water. These operations occupied much time and were completed by,


Norwegian Whalers Page 65

I think, about 4 a.m., at which time I returned to the Ross". News of the whale factory's demise spread quickly through the township of Oban in adjacent Halfmoon Bay. Fishing boats were quickly on the scene, and as evening closed in many of the locals flocked up the road to Observation Rock with it panoramic view over Paterson Inlet. Two hundred feet below the lookout to the southeast, between Sydney Cove (on the north side of Ulva Island) and Native Island where the water shallows to 4'fi fathoms, lay the Larsen, deliberately and safely stranded. As the long twilight faded to a moonless night the ship lay in a blaze of light, the mosquito fleet of chasers humming in attendance. Being a converted oil tanker her machinery was all aft, while the damage sustained was well forward on the starboard side. At no stage, then, was the engine room in any danger. Full power was sustained and all generators were kept fully operational all the time. It was a busy night, for with the tide now on the flood, and the ship reasonably exposed to both the east and the west, all attention had to be given to securing her against movement. According to a press article, the local policeman, Constable Woodley, put out in a launch from Golden Bay about 11 p.m. His intention was to go aboard. With all the activity around the ship, the launch had to turn back as it was unable to attract attention. Besides, the patrolling chasers were a navigational hazard and "to have ventured in among the Star chasers would have been courting death!" As Captain Hooper reported, it was nearly dawn before any rest could be taken. 'The Salvage Aground in Paterson Inlet on Wednesday morning the 22ndJanuary 1928, the C, A, Larsen's future was far from certain. Upper-most in Captain Nilsen's mind was the need for additional pumps to counter the flow of water into the ship. Accordingly, one pump was brought dawn from Price's, and tugs from Bluff and Dunedin were called to assist, Although Paterson Inlet was outside the jurisdiction of the Bluff Harbour Board, their response was immediate. An agreement was quickly drawn up to take effect from 4 a.m. that day to supply the use of the salvage tug Theresa Ward (Capt. Schofield), The terms were £540 sterling for the first 48 hours and £200 per day thereafter, For "standing by" rather than "attending", the charge was £120 sterling, Coal was to be supplied by Captain Nilsen at current rates. Both the Theresa Ward and the new diesel


Norwegian Whalers Page 66

tug 5ourhland arrived in the early afternoon and the Theresa Ward immediately commenced pumping from the starboard side of the ship. A press report suggested that an airlock gave same initial problems. Operations were fully in hand by the time the 5outhland, with Harbour Board officials on-board, returned to Bluff later that afternoon. Unconfirmed reports suggest the Southland was unable to render assistance as critical parts of her pumping gear had been inadvertently left behind when she sailed on her delivery voyage from Ireland. In the end the Theresa Ward was engaged for two days and the Bluff Board's diver, three assistants, and gear including an air compressor (£20 per day, minimum £10) were hired for eleven days. Later, on the 29th February, an agreement was signed for the Bluff Harbour Board to supply the use of its dredge Murihiku (Capt. J. C, Imlay) "for the purpose of lifting an anchor weighing about 4tons 14cwt and 135 fathoms of 2¾ Inch stud link cable weighing about 54cwt, 2qrs, per 15 fathoms at per Lloyd's Certificates". These were lost from the C A. Larsen off Whero when she ran aground. This work was successfully carried out between the 29th February and 6th March, After some difficulty the anchor and some of the chain were laid out in Big Glory Harbour, and the remaining chain was transferred to the C A, Larsen. A total of 1584 fathoms of chain was recovered. Total charges received by the Bluff Harbour Board far services and hire during the salvage amounted to £1 ,459 5s. 6d, The Dunedin tug Dunedin arrived at Paterson Inlet at 10.15 a.m on the 23rd February. On board were the Otago Harbour Master (Capt. J. MacLean), the Otago Harbour Board's diver (Mr. R. Arthur) and special pumping equipment. Hire negotiations by wireless took some time but eventually the tug, the Merryweather pump, hose and air compressors were engaged under contract and pumping operations commenced on the 24th. The Dunedin’s services were retained for nine days. Within a few hours of arriving Mr. Arthur descended under the C. A. Larsen and carefully surveyed the forward part and starboard side of the hull. He reported to Captain Nilsen that afternoon. The next morning, Friday 24th, both Mr. Arthur and Mr. R. C. Miller (salvaging contractor) descended. With the ship sitting firmly on the sandy bottom, their inspection at times involved pushing each other through 18-inch gaps between the ship and the sea floor. Their inspection continued on the Saturday morning. Later that day a written report was handed to Captain Nilsen. For about 296 feet (the ship's 'total length was 527 feet) down the line of the starboard bilge keel, and trav-


Norwegian Whalers Page 67 ersing all twelve of the starboard oil tanks, plates had been ripped as the ship passed over the submerged rock. Aft of tank 9 the bilge keel had been ripped off and at one place was rolled and projected outwards and downwards. Further forward tanks 10, l 1 and 12 were holed and the frames "set up". The damage was greatest under the slipway at the bow, where a coffer-dam separated the oil tanks from the forward ballast tanks. It . was apparent that this was where the ship had struck first, the blow leaving a ten foot indentation fore and aft eight feet in height. The cofferdam bulkhead frames were set in and the plates between the bulkhead were burst, leaving a hole three feet by two feet. Down the port side there was better news - no damage. The sternpost, rudder and propeller, too, were clear of damage. Optimistically they concluded: "We have considered the best means of effecting temporary repairs and have decided that we can carry these repairs out in a satisfactory and proper manner within a period of three weeks if required, provided every assistance is given us on deck, and the weather remains good". Mr. Miller's reputation in marine salvage was considerable. His record is understood to have included work on the Waikare in Dusky Sound, the Tyrone on Otago Peninsula, the Kowhai holed in Otago Harbour, the Blackwall in Lyttelton, and gold dredges in Otago Central. It is reported that earlier he had had four years salvaging on the African coast and that his initial experience was around the coasts of Great Britain. It can be assumed that his and Mr. Arthur's optimistic report considerably bolstered confidence on board. There was certainly serious damage, but the ship's propeller and rudder were unscathed, the engine room and boiler space were undamaged, and apart from damage to the pumping plant situated in two pump rooms in the damaged part of the ship, the machinery" was in good order. To what extent Mr. Miller and Mr. Arthur influenced the final plan of action is not altogether clear. It appears that Captain Nilsen remained essentially in charge of operations, but Mr. A. J: Crawford (Lloyd's representative and District Surveyor, Dunedin) and a Mr Brodrickulo (representing Halfangerness Assuranceforening) were now on the scene. So, too, was Captain Coil McDonald, one time Marine Superintendent for the Union Steam Ship Company, member of the Otago Harbour Board, and adviser for Lloyd's. It is concluded that thorough discussion together resulted in an appropriate salvage strategy. This would involve temporarily patching the holes, floating the vessel


Norwegian Whalers Page 68

on compressed air, discharging the cargo, and making for the nearest dry dock for more permanent repairs. The co-operation of everyone was essential. There was no knowing when the next easterly or westerly would jeopardise ship and cargo alike. Wages for the crew therefore went up 100¿ from the day the ship hit Whero. Divers were recruited from wherever they could be found, including at least one working for the Kawarau Falls Gold Mining Company at the time of the construction of the Lake Wakatipu control gates. Timber was ordered from the Maori Beach sawmill near Port William, and every sizeable bolt in Invercargill was sent across Foveaux Strait by the Company's agents, John Edmond and Co. Supplies of cement, and possibly of canvas, must also have been purchased. By 1st Match the "Southland Times" was reporting the delivery of timber by the ketch Kekeno, and the manufacture of collision mats for placing over the holes. The previous day (29th February) a nautical inquiry was held in Halfmoon Bay by the Norwegian Vice-Consul in Bluff, Mr. Wiig. The press was not admitted, the proceedings being solely in the interests of the Norwegian authorities. All evidence was sent to Norway. Being a foreign ship no New Zealand inquiry was held, but developments were closely monitored by the Marine Department. On the 2nd March Mr. W. J. McIntyre, Surveyor of Ships in Invercargill, advised his senior in Wellington (Mr. W: Cullen) that detention notices had been served on both the Master and the Vice-Consul under Section 229 of the Shipping and Seamen Act 1908 Some of the details of the salvage were recalled recently by Mr. Archie Johnson of Stewart Island. Using three punts with two divers each, the procedure was for the divers to bolt timber and canvas covers over the 'open holes from the outside of the ship. Mr. Johnson recalls that at the height of activities there were eight divers operating, including a Mr. Bill Vear, Mr. "Andy" Miller of Port Chalmers, and a Mr, Cameron. The highly qualified divers received £ 24 a day, the others £16. Each diver had air pumped to him by two men on the punt operating 20 minute shifts. Several Stewart Islanders had short-term jobs in this capacity, one being the late Mr. Eric Leask. The wage rate of 16s. Od. a day want up to 25s. Od. when a contingent from Port Chalmers arrived, but the divers' assistants received a bonus from their own diver, who contributed to a "kitty" in appreciation of the steady supply of fresh Paterson Inlet air! When the job was completed on the outside of the hull the divers turned their attention to inside.


Norwegian Whalers Page 69 Using quantifies of cement which was lowered in buckets down into the damaged oil tanks, the divers filled the holes from inside, grouting and spreading the mixture into all cavities. During these activities arrangements were being made to lighten ship. A brand-new tanker,, the m.s. Spinanger, was radioed and diverted from her voyage from Bergen to the Persian Gulf. The old Union Steam Ship Company hulk Tarawera, which had been purchased by Rosshavet to act as a store ship at Price's, was made ready for her penultimate shift. Quantities of coal were unloaded, some presumably being sent to Price's and some simply thrown overboard. An oil-burner herself, the C A. Larsen still had to carry coal for some of her chasers. Just two weeks after the stranding, the repairs had reached the stage where an attempt could be made to refloat the ship and seek anchorage in the more sheltered waters of Big Glory Harbour. Chief Engineer of the C. A. Larsen, Mr. Peter Varild, proved the hero of the day, when for the first time in his life he donned a diving suit and in the dark waters of the flooded ship successfully started the necessary pumps. In recognition of this special effort the Rosshavet Company later presented him with a suitably inscribed pocket watch and chain. On the 8th March, with all pumps operating and with the hired air compressors creating pressure inside the damaged tanks, water was pumped into an after tank. In response the bow lifted and the ship moved from where she had lain for 16 days. Drawing 44 feet forward and 30 feet aft, and with Star IV on standby, she moved uneventfully under her own steam to Big Glory harbour. In the meantime the Sir James Clark Ross had sailed for Norway. With her five chasers laid up at Price's, and with full bunkers, she sailed on 28th February for discharge at New York, via Panama. Coal was presumably delivered to the ship in Paterson Inlet, as she is not recorded as calling at any other New Zealand port. Certainly on other occasions direct shipments of coal were made from Westport to Paterson Inlet by the Union Company colliers s.s. Kaituna (April 1926) and s.s. Karort (November 1926 and March 1927). As some apprehension was under-standably felt by both Captain Thorstensen and Mr, Magnus Kurnow, a managing director of the Rosshavet Company who accompanied the expedition that year, Captain Hooper piloted her out. Later, on the 9th March, when Mr. Kurnow met in Wellington with the Minister of Marine (Hon. G, Jas, Anderson) and Hon. Sir Francis Dell to "discuss whaling operations generally", he asked if a man could be stationed at Paterson Inlet to take


Norwegian Whalers Page 70 ships in and out "as the Captains were not sure of prevailing conditions". Afloat and at anchor in Big Glory, the C. A. Larsen was still far from seaworthy. Although the Surveyor of Ships in Invercargill had served detention orders on the Master and the Vice-Consul, the Secretary of Marine served no detention order on the vessel. However, it was understood that the vessel could not leave New Zealand waters until certified by the Marine Department's Senior Surveyor of Ships, Mr. Noy of Port Chalmers. The repairs so far effected were only temporary. The next step was to lighten ship and get her into dry dock, the nearest being at Port Chalmers some 150 miles up the Otago coast. On 9th March the Tarawera was towed by Star IV from Price’s to Big Glory. Tied alongside the C A. Larsen, all non-essential gear was transferred aboard the old hulk. "More than 1,000 tons of whaling gear and machinery", according to one report. "All the gear in the bow, lines for the chasers, coils of wire, harpoons, the lot", according to another. In addition, 170 barrels (28 tons) of sperm oil were also transferred across. This was later transhipped to the old coaster Kotare (Capt. McKenzie) for redelivery to the C. A. Larsen at Port Chalmers. A ghost of her former days, the Tarawera had deteriorated to the point where her appearance spawned good stories, One is told of the murder of a Chinaman in the crew's quarters, and of the fo'c'sl¢ being haunted thereafter. Perhaps that explains why she sprang a leak in the bow while loading from the C A. Larsen and started to slowly settle by the bow! Fortunately, after some anxious moments, the problem was identified and corrected. On 4th April the tanker Spinanger arrived in Paterson Inlet. The chaser Star 1V met her and Mr. Karl Johansen piloted her into Big Glory and alongside the C. A. Larsen. Transfer of the majority of the C. A. Larsen's whale oil proceeded without a hitch. The exact volume is not known, but not less than 50,000 barrels can be inferred. The C. A, Larsen had arrived with an estimated 76,000 barrels, she 'retained approximately 9,600 barrels (ie 600 tons) in her port tanks when she left, NZ and lost an undefined amount estimated to "not nearly approach 20¿ of the total cargo" and probably not over 10¿.. Some reports suggest 5 to 6¿. The two ships, alongside each other I Big Glory, must have been a fine sight. Unfortunately no photographs have been located. The Spinanger, although a smaller ship, is said to have towed over the C. A. Larsen. Being brand-new (some reports suggest she


Norwegian Whalers Page 71 was on her maiden 'voyage) the disgust of her Captain at having to load foul smelling whale oil can be imagined. Also upset were the New Zealand bureaucrats when they found they could not charge light dues because the ships were not at an official port! Once loaded, the Spinanger left immediately for New York via Panama. On 12th April Tarawera was cast off and towed back to Price's by Star TV The C. A. Larsen was now ready for her trip to Port Chalmers. Mr. W. J. McIntyre gave Captain Nilsen and the Collector of Customs the necessary notes for the ship to proceed. At 3p.m. on the 12th, with the chaser Karrakatta in attendance (Karl Johansen on board), she left Big Glory. Two air compressors were fitted on deck and connected to all starboard tanks in such a way that one or both could operate at once. The starboard tanks were kept under a pressure of 1 I lbs. of air to equalise pressure from the sea. All starboard tank tops were shored down with heavy timber and the deep tank forward was shored down from the deck above. Port tanks 8, 9 and 11 had 1,600 tons of whale oil in them. The Otago Harbour Board pump was fitted to the deep, tank and able to be used at a moment's notice, but the ship's own small Worthington pumps were in fact able to keep the leaks under contro1. In this condition she made safe passage and arrived next day at Port Chalmers to a curious public and an excited press. On 17th April she entered the Otago dock at Port Chalmers. To accommodate her it had been necessary to lengthen the dock by 27 feet, a job made difficult by the extremely hard concrete of the dock walls. Finally an excavation sufficiently wide was blasted and timber piles were driven to support the revetment. Earth was excavated to rock bottom. Her entry into the dock was the most difficult ever experienced in Otago Harbour, according to the Chairman of the Otago Harbour Board in his annual report.' was, however, "faultlessly` made, the vessel's rudder being a bare six inches inside the entrance, and the weird tunnel-shaped drop-away bow only one foot away from the newly excavated dock head". No time was wasted while making external and internal inspections. Captain Nilsen, with Lloyd's representatives Mr. W. Crawford and adviser Captain Coil McDonald, quickly elected to call tenders for a combination of permanent and temporary repairs that would at least get the ship back to sea and safely home. Time was running out if the C. A. Larsen was to keep her schedule for another Antarctic expedition departing Norway in September. Tenders closed at l0a.m. on Monday 30th April. Firms in Auckland, Christchurch and Part Chalmers are understood to have submitted tenders, but it is not surprising that the Part Chalmers firm of Stevenson and Cook Engineering Co.


Norwegian Whalers Page 72 Ltd. won the contract. For £8,000 they contracted to have the job complete in 28 days. In fact it took only18 day. Working in shifts around the clock, a repair job of high quality was carried out. Port Chalmers was keen to establish a reputation in the northern hemisphere for goad workmanship As Mr. J, Knewstubb, manager of Stevenson and Cook commented at a farewell function, it was only regretted that the firm did not have the opportunity of showing what could be done in the way of a full permanent repair. In the permanent repairs that were carried out, 3½ tons of 5/8-inch plating were used. "Damage to the starboard side of the deep tank and forward cofferdam was restored to the original form and strength. Plates in strakes D, E, F and stealer plate in the way of frames 63, 64 and 65 were renewed. Butt of C1 and C2 straightened in place. For the deep tank, the frame connecting the shell and bulkhead, longitudinals, bracket plates and bottom transverses all straightened, faired and made good. At completion of work, tank and coffer-dam satisfactorily tested with a head of water". Thus reported Mr. H. G. L. Noy, Surveyor of Ships, in his Survey of Seaworthiness which was carried out between 16th April and 20th May 19 28 at a cost to the C.A.Larsen of £ 1616 s.O d For temporary repairs the local press reported the use of 19 tons of ½ Inch steel plating, not to mention the 2' tons of rivets and 120 tons of concrete that went into the total job. Mr. Noy reported: "The bottom of the hull was badly damaged on the starboard side for a length of about 310 feet, the strakes damaged being the bilge strake and two strakes below. This was temporarily repaired by fitting½-inch and 7/16-inch plate double riveted to the good portions of plate and covering all fractured plate. The transverse joints were all lap jointed, double riveted, stays ¾ inch diameter being fitted between the new and old plates of the hull, after which the space between the new and old plates and an additional three inches above were filled with concrete. Nos. 1-12 tanks, the fore and after pump rooms, fore and after coffer-dams, oil fuel tank and deep tank were satisfactorily tested after repairs with a head of water". In preparation for all this work, 18 of the C. A. Larsen's crew took on three days' extra duties for a£20 bonus. This involved cleaning out the whale oil, a filthy job, requiring gas masks to protect the eyes and lungs. On the 20th May the C. A. Larsen was ready to leave dock, and as uneventfully as she had entered she quietly slipped out. Meanwhile Captain Nilsen entertained the authorities on board. He thanked every-one for the good job and the way his company and his


Norwegian Whalers Page 73

men had been treated. To mark the occasion Messrs. Scurr and Neil, directors of Stevenson and Cook, presented Captain Nilsen with a clock set in a greenstone tiki. Mr. Varild was presented with a gift for Mrs Varild. At a later function Harbour Board members presented a Mosgiel woollen rug to Captain Nilsen. Everyone was apparently well pleased, the Port of Otago personnel for the floating advertisement of their expertise, and Captain Nilsen for a ship once again seaworthy. Sailing on 21st May, the C. A. Larsen bunkered at the Miramar Wharf in Wellington on 23 24th May before finally leaving for Panama and Newcastle-on-Tyne. Once there; there was little time to enjoy a summer holiday. On arrival she went straight into dock for full permanent repairs by her original builders. A swarm of men boarded her and in only three weeks she was ready. Her crew, who had signed off and gone home by passenger ship, came back to England to take delivery and return to Norway. Lying off in Sandefjord Harbour and loading from barges, all was bustle once again. Another season lay ahead, no less eventful than the season just past. Few knew then of the C. A. Larsen's forthcoming role as a carrier of aircraft to Wellington for the Byrd Expedition. And no one could have known of her contribution when she towed Byrds City of New York through the pack ice. There was the loss of a chaser that year too. Each season had its own adventure! For the time being the good news was that the C. A. Larsen was afloat and sound-ofÂŹbottom once again. Her encounter with Whero Island was a thing of the past.

Profile for Sails Ashore

Whaling in the Ross Sea in the 20's  

Photos and descrtive notes from a Norwegian whaling expedition into the Ros Sea in the 20's

Whaling in the Ross Sea in the 20's  

Photos and descrtive notes from a Norwegian whaling expedition into the Ros Sea in the 20's

Profile for ptait
Advertisement