SS Norge

SS Norge [ˈnɔrɡə] was a Danish passenger liner sailing from Copenhagen, Kristiania and Kristiansand to New York, mainly with emigrants, which sank off Rockall in 1904. It was the biggest civilian maritime disaster in the Atlantic Ocean until the sinking of Titanic eight years later, and is still the largest loss of life from a Danish merchant ship.[1][2]

Name: Pieter de Coninck
Owner: Theodore C. Engels & Co
Port of registry: Antwerp  Belgium
Builder: Alex Stephen & Sons Ltd, Linthouse, Glasgow
Yard number: 252
Launched: 11 June 1881
Name: Norge
Namesake: Scandinavian word for Norway

1889-1898 A/S Dampskibs-selskabet Thingvalla

1898-1904 Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab (DFDS)
Port of registry: Copenhagen  Denmark
Fate: Ran aground and sank on 28 June 1904
General characteristics
Tonnage: 3,359 Gross Register Tons
Installed power: 1,400 hp (1,000 kW)
Speed: 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Capacity: 800 passengers


She was built in 1881 by Alexander Stephen and Sons of Linthouse, Glasgow, for the Belgian company Theodore C. Engels & Co of Antwerp; her original name was Pieter de Coninck. The ship was 3,359 GRT and 3,700 tonnes deadweight (DWT), and the 1,400-horsepower (1.0 MW) engine gave a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She could carry a maximum of 800 passengers.[3]

In 1889, she was sold to a Danish company, A/S Dampskibs-selskabet Thingvalla, for its Stettin-Copenhagen-Kristiania-Kristiansand-New York service and renamed Norge.[3] On 20 August 1898, Norge collided with the French fishing brigantine La Coquette in a fog. La Coquette broke in two and sank, and 16 of the 25 crew aboard drowned.[4] Following financial difficulties, Thingvalla was purchased in 1898 by Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab (DFDS), Copenhagen, which served the route as "Scandinavia-America Line".[5] By then, the capacity of Norge was 50 1st class, 150 2nd class and 900 3rd class passengers.[3]

On 22 June 1904 Norge left Copenhagen under the command of Captain Valdemar Johannes Gundel. After taking on Norwegian immigrants at Oslo and Kristiansand, the ship set course across the Atlantic Ocean, travelling north of Scotland to New York City. She was carrying a crew of 68 and 727 passengers. Among the steerage passengers, there were 296 Norwegians, 236 Russians, 79 Danes, 68 Swedes, and 15 Finns. Half of the steerage passengers had prepaid tickets, paid for by relatives living in the United States.[6]

On 28 June, Norge ran aground on Hasselwood Rock, Helen's Reef, close to Rockall, in foggy weather.[3][7] She was reversed off the rock after a few minutes, but the collision had ripped holes in the ship's hull, and water began pouring into the hold.[7][6] The crew of the Norge began lowering the lifeboats, but the first two lowered were destroyed by waves.[6] Only five boats were successfully launched out of the eight on board.[8] Many passengers jumped overboard, only to drown.[8] The Norge sank twelve minutes after the collision. Captain Gundal stayed with the ship as it sank, but managed to swim to one of the lifeboats.[8][9]

According to author Per Kristian Sebak's comprehensive account, more than 635 people died during the sinking, among them 225 Norwegians. The first survivors to be rescued, a group of 26, were found by the Grimsby trawler Sylvia. 32 more were picked up by the British steamer Cervonax, and 70, including Captain Gundal, by the German steamer Energie.[8] Some of the 160 survivors spent up to eight days in open lifeboats before rescue. Several more people lost their lives in the days that followed rescue, as a result of their exposure to the elements and swallowing salt water. Among the survivors was the poet Herman Wildenvey.[10][11]

The disaster remains the worst in Danish maritime history.[3] The wreck of Norge was located off Rockall in July 2003.[12]

See also


  1. Ole Ventegodt. "Norge". Den Store Danske, Gyldendal. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  2. "Project SS Norge". Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  3. Thorsøe, Søren (1991). DFDS 1866-1991 (in Danish and English). DFDS/The World Ship Society. pp. 236–237. ISBN 87-980030-0-3.
  4. "Sixteen Fishermen Lost". New York Times. 26 August 1898. p. 12. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  5. Thorsøe, Søren (1991). DFDS 1866-1991 (in Danish and English). DFDS/The World Ship Society. p. 28. ISBN 87-980030-0-3.
  6. "101 from Norge Wreck Arrive at Stornoway". Pittsburgh Daily Post. 5 July 1904. p. 1. Retrieved 18 March 2016 via
  7. Hocking, Charles (1969). Dictionary of Disasters at Sea, Vol II. London: Lloyd's Register of Shipping. p. 511.
  8. "Awful Death Panic as the Norge Sank". New York Times (5 July 1904). pp. 1, 7. Retrieved 18 March 2016 via Page 7
  9. "DS «Norge»". Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  10. Archived 14 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. Erik Bjerck Hagen. "Herman Wildenvey". Store norske leksikon. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  12. Follett, Christopher (28 November 2016). "Watch out for the big rock: Remembering Denmark's greatest maritime disaster". Copenhagen Post. Retrieved 22 April 2017.

Other sources

  • Per Kristian Sebak  (2004) Titanic's Predecessor: The S/S Norge Disaster of 1904 (Seaward Publishing) ISBN 82-996779-0-4
  • Panula-Heinonen, HIldur. "SS Norge Shipping Disaster". Find A Grave Memorial. Retrieved 30 January 2014.

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