The whaling mothership Kosmos was the first ship to be constructed as a whaling factory ship. Previously, all such ships were created from the conversion of existing older ships. When completed, she was not only the largest whaling ship, but also the largest ship in the Norwegian merchant fleet and the largest tanker in the world. Seven new fishing boats were built for the new ship at the same time.
The Kosmos was ordered by the Norwegian shipowner Anders Jahre (1891–1982) in January 1928 for the whaling company A / S Kosmos, which was only founded in November 1928, at the Workman, Clark & Co shipyard in Belfast . In July 1929 she was delivered as the first newly built whaling factory ship. The ship had a tank volume to hold the whale oil for an entire fishing season. The whales caught by the fishing boats could be pulled onto deck through an opening in the stern and then processed there. All machines were available on board to cut up and process the captured whales. At six million kroner, the new ship cost around 50% more than the conversions of old passenger ships, such as the Athenic to the Pelagos , or tankers, such as the San Jeronimo to the Southern Empress , but was better optimized for use and was the largest factory ship until 1936 worldwide. Her sister ship Kosmos II , completed in 1932, was slightly smaller (16,966 GRT). At the same time, the Smith's Dock shipyard in Middlesbrough built seven whaling boats for the Kosmos under construction numbers 861 to 867 with the names Kos I to Kos VII of 248 GRT.
In her first season (1929/30) the Kosmos hunted under her captain Hans Andresen with her seven fishing boats in the Southern Ocean northeast of the Balleny Islands . The maiden voyage from Sandefjord led from August 10, 1929 via Curaçao to fill up the oil bunkers and the Panama Canal until October 8 to Wellington ( New Zealand ). On October 19, the Kosmos reached its operational area for the first time. As a novelty, the expedition also had an airplane on board to search for whales and to bring the fishing boats up. It was a small machine of the De Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth type with the registration N-42 . The plane disappeared without a trace during a flight on December 26, 1929 with the pilot Leif Lier (* 1895) and the ship's doctor Ingvald Schreiner as observers. After this accident, such attempts were not repeated until the World War. Apart from the tragic accident, the season ended successfully on March 2, 1930. The slaughtered 1,822 whales enabled the production of 120,000 barrels of whale oil, which was also produced considerably cheaper than on the other Norwegian ships. On May 1, 1930, the ship returned to Sandefjord.
In the following year, the fishing fleet was reinforced by two more new fishing boats Kos VIII and Kos IX , which marched behind the Kosmos , which had already leaked into the South Sea and which began hunting again in the area of the Balleny Islands. This time the hunters of the Kosmos expedition killed 2,431 whales, mainly off Wilkesland , after fewer whales were encountered in the old hunting area. This time Kosmos brought back almost 200,000 barrels of top quality whale oil. However, after these two very successful winters, the 1931/32 season was also canceled for the Kosmos , which, like all Norwegian factory ships, was launched because the oil price had fallen significantly after the Great Depression and there was a dispute with the main British customers about guaranteed prices.
For the first time quotas were in effect for the 1932/33 season. Since parts of the quota of the old factory ship Pontos had been secured, the Kosmos was able to produce 180,000 barrels of oil with its eight fishing boats ( Kos II - Kos IX ). In addition to her, the years group also brought the mother ships of the companies A / S Antarctic, A / S Pelagos, which the partner Svend Foyn Bruun, Sr. (1883-1956) had brought into the group, and for the first time the sister ship completed in the previous year Kosmos II is used in its own company with eight fishing boats (including Kos I ). The new ship produced the record amount of over 220,000 barrels of whale oil.
In the following two winters, the Kosmos was in action with six and eight of her fishing boats, respectively. In 1935/36 she ran out with six of the old fishing boats ( Kos III - Kos VIII ) and two boats from the sister ship ( Kos XVII and Kos XVIII ) and at the end of the fishing season, Kos XIII and Kos XVI, used two more boats from Kosmos II . For their whaling boats, the years group had now set up a station in Walvis Bay , where they could be serviced and no longer had to walk the long way back home.
In addition to the ideas for the protection of whales, which have not yet taken off, the market situation for whale oil changed in the mid-1930s. Whale oil was primarily used for margarine production. The German Empire was a main buyer of Norwegian whale oil and was building its own whaling fleet , with the German-British Unilever group partly supporting this. The Germans were interested in acquiring one of the Kosmos ships, which ultimately did not succeed. Another fishing competitor emerged in the Japanese whaling fleet, which put five new factory ships the size of Kosmos ships into service by the time of World War II . However, the first ship was made available by the years group in 1934 with the sale of the old Antarctic (9,593 GRT, 1906, ex Opawa ) to Japan.
The 1936/37 season contested the Kosmos , which had lost its title as the world's largest whaling ship to the British Terje Viken , with nine fishing boats. In addition to the older Kos IV , Kos VII , Kos XI , Kos XVII and Kos XVIII , two completely new boats were used with Kos XIX (305 GRT) and Kos XX (356 GRT). There were also the two boats built in Norway, the Tas II (250 BRT, 1930) and the Gos IV (217 BRT, 1928). After this season, both Kosmos factory ships went into service as normal tankers on the Curaçao / Aruba route to Europe over the summer . During the fishing season, Kosmos remained the tanker and supplier of the factory ships used by the Jahres group. In addition to the Kosmos II with its nine fishing boats, these were the Pelagos and the formally American Ulysses . With supplies, spare parts and fuel on the way out, she had to go to Rio de Janeiro for repairs due to a boiler damage and reached the whaling fleet late. On February 19, 1938 she took care of the Ulysses , from whom she then took over 187 men on March 16 and brought them back to Norway who no longer wanted to work on this ship, on which the collective agreements of the Norwegian whaling union were not applied. Ulysses , running under the American flag, was used by Anders Jahre to export whale oil to the USA without tariffs and to put pressure on his Norwegian competitors and the unions.
In the following fishing season 1938/39, the Kosmos was used again as a normal factory ship with eight fishing boats. The next fishing season in 1939/40 began as a peace season for the Norwegian whalers, especially since Norway was still negotiating with Great Britain and the German Reich about the distribution of the catch results during the outbreak of World War II and also reached an agreement in February 1940, which the two warring parties wanted to accept and Germany guaranteed a share of 12,360 tons of whale oil from the seasonal result. The German attack on Norway on April 9, 1940 canceled this agreement because the factory ships had not yet returned home. The Kosmos had returned to Walvis Bay with its nine fishing boats at the end of the fishing season, had left São Vicente (Cape Verde) at the time of the German attack on Norway and was on its way to Trinidad . She was ordered to call at Dakar , where she stayed until June before returning to Walvis Bay. In August it replenished its fuel supplies in South Africa in order to bring the whale oil still on board to the Dutch West Indies and then to use it again for whaling.
The end of the cosmos
Unlike all other Norwegian factory ships, the Kosmos remained with her cargo in the southern hemisphere. The sister ship Kosmos II called at Tenerife after the German attack on Norway, only to sail to Great Britain via Gibraltar after about a week . The Pelagos , which also called at Dakar , immediately moved to Halifax . The initially planned onward journey to Great Britain was canceled, however, and the cargo was then unloaded in the USA. The Solglimt and the Ole Wegger went from South Africa via Trinidad to the USA, the Vestfold , the Sir James Clark Ross , the Thorshammer and the Suderoy had visited Montevideo at the end of the season and went to the USA via Brazil, similar to the NT Nielsen Alonso and the Lancing , who went to Rio de Janeiro after the fishing season .
The Kosmos left Walvis Bay on September 12, 1940 with a cargo of 106,000 barrels of whale oil . On September 26, 1940, she was caught on the way to Curaçao near the equator by the German auxiliary cruiser Thor , whose aircraft had discovered the factory ship. Despite the valuable cargo, the commander had the ship sunk at position because he had no chance saw to bring the conspicuous ship into the German sphere of influence. The cosmos was heavily covered by long wait times since the hunting season 1939/1940 and could reach only low speeds and also had only a small fuel oil storage. The 79-man crew under Hans Andresen, who had commanded the ship throughout his entire service, was taken on board and later transferred to the Rio Grande , which took around 350 prisoners to France.
- Arnold Kludas : The ships of Hamburg-Süd 1871 to 1951 . Gerhard Stalling Verlag, Oldenburg 1976, ISBN 3-7979-1875-5 .
- Joh. N. Tønnessen, Arne Odd Johnsen: The History of Modern Whaling. University of California Press, 1982, ISBN 0-520-03973-4 .
- The cosmos on lardex.net (norw.)
- Information about the sinking of the cosmos by Thor on warsailors.com (Engl.)
- Quentin R. Walsh, US Coast Guard: The Whaling Expedition of the Ulysses, 1937–1938 (English; PDF; 6.5 MB)
- Norsk Polar History. Retrieved August 20, 2012 .
- Tønnessen, p. 378.
- Tønnessen, p. 472.
- MS Rio Grande , Hamburg-Süd , 1939 Howaldtswerke Hamburg , 6062 BRT, 13kn, left Rio Grande on October 31 , meeting with Thor on November 15, entered the Gironde with his prisoners on December 13, 1940 , Kludas, p 128.