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To Pluto on the "Ships starting with P" page.
Owner: A/S D/S Facto, Haugesund
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).
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 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):
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).