Maritime inquiry 1939 - 1945
The information below regarding ships in the Nortraship fleet is a direct transcript of the original source "Sjøforklaringer fra andre verdenskrig (1940 - 1945)". The informasjon is collected from maritime inquiries held during and right after the war. The information may differ from the other quality assured information in Krigsseilerregisteret.
Second mate, Wilhelm Schinrud's statement.
M.s Balkis left Halifax on the 30th of March well equipped for the voyage sailing under the direction of the naval control at Halifax without incident until the 10th of April at 7.30 p.m. Brazilian time. At that time, the Chief Officer and 3rd Officer were on watch and A. B. Knut Kristoffersen was at the helm. I was down below and can only give the testimony of Knut Kristoffersen as to what happened on the bridge then. As he was severely injured, he cannot give a connected account but insists upon saying that the Chief Officer came down from the top bridge to the lower bridge and said that a submarine had been sighted on the port side and ordered him to put hard to port. Immediately after that the torpedo struck the after part of No. 2 hold and having lost consciousness, he, Knut Kristoffersen, does not remember anything more until he was in the water swimming. Immediately after the explosion, the submarine started machine gunning the gun aft, amidships and the pill boxes on the bridge. Either the explosion or the gun fire killed the captain, chief officer, 3rd officer and stewardess. The oiler - Niels Antonio Iversen, was apparently asleep down below and was never seen again. The look out A.B. Eric Hansen and the 2nd cook - Norman Olsen were in the water swimming and must have been drowned. There were 2 lifeboats and one small gig fitted out as a lifbeboat, besides a motor launch fully equipped and 3 rafts also fully equipped, three boats and one raft being amidships and the motor launch and two rafts aft. The port lifeboat could not be lowered, as the block aft was broken. The starboard boat was lowered, but filled with water on account of the way of the ship. One man however, managed to get into it. The motor launch aft was successfully lowered, but owing to the cutting of the forward rope, it swung round and tossed several men into the water among whom the two who were drowned. At about 7.50 p.m. the motor launch got away from the ship, (which sunk approximately 10 minutes later) wiht eighteen men in it and managed to pick up first one man who was swimming, then three men who were on a raft. We found one man in the starboard lifteboat, who stayed there and another man went over to him from the motor launch with a flash light and a bucket.
First aid was rendered to the injured helmsman, who was picked up from the water with a broken leg and severe wounds. At that moment the starboard boat signalled and the motor launch approached her and found that she had been bailed out and was in good shape and had picked up one man. We proceeded to divide our men between the two boats and stayed around till 2.30 a.m. endeavoureing to pick up other survivors. An emergency sail was then rigged on the lifeboat, which towed the motor-launch for severel hours until the engine started. We then headed for land in the hope of being picked up by a passing ship and on the 12th at 5.0 a.m. we signalled to a ship which turned out to be the Swedish motor ship "Scania". The picked us up, as well as the lifeboats and went 12 hour back to Fortaleza with us. We were landed at Fortaleza at 3.30 p.m. same day. We at once sent for an ambulance for the wounded man, who was removed to the infirmary. He was in good condition on landing due to particularly good treatment accorded to him by the Chief Officer of the "Scania". The crew was sent ashore as soon as everything was settled with the port authorities, and installed at several hotels in Fortaleza.
The M.S. "Balkis" was on her way from St. John's, Nfld. via Halifax to Buenos Airies with a full load of newsprint, paper rolls and pulp.
Fortaleza, May 2nd, 1942