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D/S Pluto

To Pluto on the "Ships starting with P" page.

Source: From Bjørn Milde's postcard collection.

Owner: A/S D/S Facto, Haugesund
Manager: B. Stolt-Nilsen & Sønner A/S, Haugesund
1598 gt

Delivered from Laxevaag Maskin- og Jernskibsbyggeri, Bergen in Aug.-1918 as Røvær to D/S A/S John K. Haalands Rederi, Haugesund. 1598 gt, 925 net, 2450 tdwt, 246' x 37.9' x 15.6', 3 cyl. Triple exp. steam engine (Laxevaag), 163 hp, 9 knots. Sold in 1922 to D/S A/S Pluto (B. Stolt-Nielsen & Co.), Haugesund, renamed Pluto. Sold Nov.-1926 to A/S D/S Facto (B. Stolt-Nielsen & Sønner A/S).

 Final Fate - 1940 (Norway still neutral): 

Torpedoed and sunk on Jan. 23-1940 by U-19 (Schepke), when on a voyage from Bergen to Middlesbrough in ballast, position 55 35N 01 27W, no casualties. Note that Arnold Hague has included her in Convoy HN 8 from Norway to the U.K. around this time. The crew of 22 were picked up by a Finnish ship and taken to Seahouses.

U-19 also sank the British Baltanglia (this ship had also been in Convoy HN 8 from Norway). It looks like both ships were intitially believed to have struck mines. Roger Griffiths, England has sent me a report, based on an interview with Captain G. Thomas of Baltanglia, dated Jan. 24-1940 and stating the following:
"We sailed from Methil bound to the Tyne on January 3rd (this should probably be 23rd) with a general cargo of 1930 tons. Radio telephone was fitted and the ship was unarmed. The colour of my hull, superstructure was grey. We were flying no ensign at the time of the explosion, and our confidential books were all thrown over the side in a weighted canvas bag. The crew numbered 27 including myself, and we carried no passengers.

We left Methil at midnight and at 10 minutes past 7 a.m. we were abeam of the Longstone Buoy. We then had to go 2 miles further south, then down on to the last true course and through the swept channel. There was a Norwegian steamer the Pluto ahead of me by about a mile, and ahead of him there were several other steamers more or less in line. I heard an explosion and then noticed the Pluto start to sink by the stern. I hauled over to port and came full astern, made a starboard cant(?) to get a lee of his boats when I found another steamer dashing past me in a better position to pick his boats up. I then told the man at the wheel to go back on the course full speed ahead and three minutes afterwards at 7.50 a.m. we struck a mine. The force of the explosion knocked me unconscious for perhaps half a minute.

The Pluto sank in six minutes, and we were only about three quarters of a mile astern of her when the mine hit her. We were about 315° from her position where she struck a mine".

Baltanglia's captain then goes on to describe the damages to his own ship, adding they abandoned her in 2 lifeboats, which were towed in by local fishermen from Seahouses. They tried to launch a lifeboat, but could not do so on account of the tide. Authorities later questioned the mine theory, and believed there was evidence the explosions had been caused by a torpedo.

I also found some information in a war time diary for the northeast of England (external site by Roy Ripley and Brian Pears - go to the 1940 section):
"Tuesday, 23rd January,1940 - 'SS Pluto' (1,598t) a Norwegian ship, was sailing E of Longstone Island, Farnes when she was torpedoed by U 23 and sank at 55 33 24N - 01 28 30W". Info on Baltanglia is just underneath. (A visitor to my site has told me that "Shipwreck Index of the British Isles" gives the position as 5.25 miles east of Beadnell Point, Northumberland for Pluto). Note that info in these sources is not always entirely correct.

For info, U-19 was also responsible for the loss of Deodata, Manx and Gudveig - follow the links for dates and more details.

Related external links:
| Joachim Schepke

Back to Pluto on the "Ships starting with P" page.

Other ships by this name: This company had previously had another ship by the name Pluto, also a steamer. Built in Bergen in 1912, 1147 gt. Taken as prize on Nov. 3-1916 in the North Sea by UB-21 and used as transport vessel by the German Army. Taken as French prize in March-1917. From 1920 she sailed as Charles Schiaffino of Algeria, from 1923 as Komet of Christiania, from July-1935 she belonged to H. Tangvald-Pedersen, Porsgrunn. Sunk by German bombers on June 17-1940 on a voyage Caen-Grangemouth. Listed as D/S Komet on this website.

There was also a Finnish and an Italian ship by the name Pluto during the war.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Våre gamle skip", Leif M. Bjørkelund and E. H. Kongshavn, and misc. (ref. My sources).


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