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Husvik today

 
   News and Events 

Memorial Plaque commemorating Shackleton's ship "Endurance"

 

 

In 1914 Ernest Shackleton embarked on his expedition to cross the Antarctic continent. The expedition has become renowned for its dramatic conclusion involving shipwreck and the men's battle for survival. The expedition's ship "Endurance", was originally built in Sandefjord , Norway I 1912 carrying the name "Polaris".

 

July 30th a memorial plaque will be unveiled on the "Endurance" building site.

The plaque gives a short background on the ship and will contribute to preserving its dramatic history which started in Sandefjord. The plaque has been produced by the Sandefjord Museums and the mayor of Sandefjord will conduct the unveiling

Endurance at Grytviken in 1914 by Frank Hurley

South Georgia Memorial Chapel - Sandefjord

Sandfjord Chapel

Bishop Laila Riksaasen will open a floating memorial chapel that has been built on a barge at the waterfront at Sandefjord to commemorate all those Norwegian Whalers who lost their lives on South Georgia . Per Ramberg has driven the idea of the Chapel forward and turned it into reality with the support of Oyas Venner (Friends of the Island ). The opening ceremony will be held on Wednesday 28 July at 5 pm .

A steel plate from Grytviken was transported by HMS ENDURANCE last year to Portsmouth and then shipped to Sandefjord. Two smaller sections of the plate have been cleaned, polished and engraved with all those Norwegians who lost their lives. The ceremony will include the unveiling of the two memorial tablets by the Bishop. The Mayor of Sandefjord and the Oyas Venner will then give greetings.

Steel engraving

 

 

A Century of Discovery

Southampton Oceanography Centre held an International Symposium from 28 to 30 June to review "Antarctic Exploration and the Southern Ocean". Details of the Symposium and its results can be found at www.soc.soton.ac.uk .

Project Atlantis was invited to exhibit in the exhibition area that supported the Symposium. Two exhibits were included that have been developed for the Discovery House Exhibition Centre project on KEP, South Georgia. One included a touch screen with a virtual book that included a potted history of the Discovery Investigations (1926 to 1956) and importantly the considerable achievements that followed. The second was a touch screen giving access to an archive content management system that has been developed by Project Atlantis for the Discovery House project and contained selected images and film from the Discovery Investigations archive. We plan to include the archive content management system on the web site in the future to provide access to the archive images and film held here by Project Atlantis.

 

 

 

Sandefjord - South Georgia Remembered

An exhibition, " South Georgia - the Island and the People" opened at the Sandefjord whaling museum on 11 June. The exhibition is excellent and well worth a visit. It will be running for the next 12 months or so.

Sidsel Hansen, the Museum Director said "The Whaling Museum Sandefjord wishes to relate some of the stories from South Georgia 's whaling epoc. In particular we wish to tell the stories as seen by the people who had their work in these extreme regions throughout the last century. Some of the men who were there are telling their own stories through photographs and letters. The Museum has delved  into its archives to find old letters, photographs and artifacts. In addition we have received objects from private persons and from institutions."

A booklet accompanies the exhibition to provide additional information. Some interesting extracts about the whaling stations are shown below. The booklet also contains some extracts from letters home and in particular describes whaling operations at Ocean Harbour (New Fortuna).

The Shore Stations

 

In total seven shore stations for whaling were established. One of these, Godthul was a shore base for floating factory ships. Various companies owned the shore stations from Norway, Scotland, Argentina and South Africa .

Husvik

Owners

Year

Operations

Tonsberg Hvalfangeri

1907 - 1960

Floating Factory ships 1907-13

Shore Station 1910-31, 1945-57,1959-60

Albion Star

1960 - 1979

Partly dismantled 1960/1, meat freezer moves to Grytviken

Tonsberg Hvalfangeri was the first limited company from Tonsberg to undertake whaling in the South. The company was formed in 1907 with 300,000 NOK and Oscar Hytten, a ship owner was the manager.

The company expanded in 1910-11 and built a shore station and guano factory.

When whaling activities ceased at Husvik in 1931, the company had caught 16,200 whales and produced around 900,000 barrels of oil and 380,000 sacks of guano.

In 1945, whaling operations restarted and a large freezer plant was installed in 1957, the first of its kind in the Antarctic region. Christian Salvesen acquired the station in 1979.

Stromness
Stromness Today

Owners

Year

Operations

Personnel

A/S Sandefjords
Hvalfangerselskab,
Norway

1906 - 20

Floating factory ship from 1906. Shore station from march 1913. Rented to Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. 1917 - 1919

1912: 147 people - Floating Factory Ship.

1920/1: 161 people.

A/S Vestfold , Norway

1920 - 45

Merged with Whaling co. "Ocean". Catching until April 1913.

Rented to South Georgia Company from 1931 for docking.

 

Chr Salvesen Ltd, Scotland

1945 -

Closed down after 1960/61 season and used for ship repair

 

Peder Bogen, Sandefjord founded Sandefjord's Hvalfangerselskab in 1906 to conduct whaling from South Georgia . Peder Bogen was granted a licence in London , but it did not allow the construction of a shore station. The exemption was to avoid a conflict with established companies e.g. Argentina de Pesca and South Georgia Exploration Company. In 1908 the company was allowed to lease some land in Rosita Cove (later known as Stromness Harbour . A shore station was built in 1912-15.

In May 1916 Sir Ernest Shackleton walked into the station, after crossing the interior of South Georgia for the first time, to raise the alarm for his stranded companions on Elephant Island 850 miles away in Antarctica .

A merger with the company and "Ocean" a company from Larvik resulted a name change to A/S Vestfold. The station was used for ship repair and dry-docking only from 1931.

 

Grytviken

Owners

Date

Operations

Personnel

Compania Argentina de Pesca S.A.

1904 - 1960

Also used floating factory ships 1909 - 1916

1929: 350 Norwegians

Albion Star Ltd

Falkland Islands

1960 - 1979

Last whaling season was 1961/62.
Leased to Japanese Company 1963 - 1965.

Closed down whaling operations on 4 December 1964

 

Chr. Salvesen Ltd,

Scotland

1979 -

 

 

 

The first shore station

Captain C A Larsen has previously visited South Georgia in 1894 and 1902. Grytviken met the requirements for a whaling operation; it had a safe harbour with a beach running down to the sea, a good supply of water and an abundance of whales in the adjacent seas. Using Argentine capital Larsen commenced building a shore station on 16th November 1904 .

Whaling men from Sandefjord

Vestfold influenced the whole enterprise. Larsen first whale catcher "Fortuna", much larger than any previous such vessel, was built at the Framnaes shipyard in Sandefjord. He also ordered most of his equipment from Sandefjord, and most of his whalers came from the town.

 

Up to 1912, most of Latrsen's catch was taken close to South Georgia and was the Humpback species. As whales became scarce close inshore the species also changed to the larger Blue and Fin species. For example out of a total catch between 1926 - 39 of 34,000 whales taken only 360 were Humpbacks.

 

Godthul

 

Owners

Date

Operations

Bryde & Dahis

Hvalfangerselskap , Norway

1908 - 1929

Floating Factory Ship

 

Bryde & Dahls Hvalfangerselskap, Sandefjord was established by Thor Dahl and Ingvald Bryde. Thor Dhal Became sole owner after Ingvald sold his interests.

 

The company purchased the first Norwegian licence for whaling on South Georgia . The company took over the South Georgia Exploration Company's 21 years lease and licence on 16 September 1908 . The lease was used from 1908 to 1917 and 1922 to 1929.

 

Godthul served as a safe anchorage for the floating factory ships with only a minimal footprint ashore. In 1929 operations ceased, as the market was unstable, equipment was old and a significant investment in a shore station was needed to compete successfully. The company had other whaling interests in South Shetlands and transferred its activities there.

 

Leith Harbour

Leith Harbour

Owners

Date

Operations

Personnel

The South Georgia company, (Chr salvesen Ltd.) Scotland

1909 - 19

Floating factory ships supplemented shore operations

1929: 380 Norwegians

 

Chr. Salvesen Ltd started their whaling operations from New Island , Falklands Islands . The commenced operations for Leith in 1909.

There was no whaling during the 1932-33, 1940-41 seasons and from 1942 to 1945. Their last season was in 1960-61. A Japanese company operated from Leith from 1963-64 to 1966-67.

Salvesen used Norwegian expertise and was thus an important employer in the county of Vestfold . Between 1925-35, around a total of 1200 Norwegians a year were employed. Over the 50 years of Salvesen's operations some 200 million NOK was invested in Norway .

Salvesens and Argentina de Pesca were the only two companies to survive the economic slump of the 1930s. Pelagic Whaling kept the company afloat. It eventually bought out smaller companies operating from South Georgia .

 

New Fortuna Bay ( Ocean Harbour )

 

Owner

Date

Operations

Whaling Company Ocean Ltd, Norway

1909 - 1920

Equipment moved to Stromness after merger with Hvalfangerselskab 1920

 

 

Ocean Ltd was founded by Captain Larsen's brother, Lauritz E. Larsen who had been second in charge at Grytviken. Lauritz's concession was subject to all parts of the whales caught were to be processed. The station was the first to be built with equipment to cook blubber, meat and bones. A guano process was also installed to produce the first guano from South Georgia .

Prince Olaf Harbour

 

Owner

Date

Operations

Personnel

Southern Whaling and Sealing Company (Irving & Johnson) South Africa

1911 - 1919

Up to 1916 Floating factory ships and then a shore station from 1917

 

Southern Whaling and Sealing Company Lever Brothers UK

1919 - 1934

Shore Station 1919 - 1931

1929: 330 Norwegians

Chr. Salvesen Scotland

1936

Non operative

 

An exception was made in 1911 by the Colonial Office to issue a whaling concession to support British Whaling efforts despite an earlier decision not to issue further licences. The shore station was built in 1915 - 1916. The company were the first to try using diesel whale catchers for two seasons. The trial was an expensive failure and steam catchers replaced the diesel boats. Lever Brothers took over the station in 1919 following a period of minimal financial return. Whaling ceased at the station in 1931 and Chr. Salvesen Ltd took over the shore station in 1936.

 

 

 

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