Daily Event for June 28, 2005

June 28, 1904 the Danish steamship Norge ran aground on Rockall shoals. The Norge had been built in 1881 by Alexander Stephen and Sons, Glasgow. She was 304' long with a beam of 41" registered at 3,310 tons. Like most of the ships of her time she was rigged for sail along with having a single screw. Norge had been launched as Pieter de Coninck, but when she was acquired by the Scandinavian American Line of Copenhagen in 1889 the name was changed. At the time of the wreck the emigrant trade was booming and Norge was carrying 700 people bound for a new life in the new world. Many would never see the new world, only the next one.

Norge departed Copenhagen, Denmark bound for New York on June 22, 1904. Six days later she grounded near the Hebrides. The Captain, attempting to refloat her ordered the engines reversed. This action caused the vessel to be to be holed and she began to sink, soon the passengers began to panic and rushed the boats. The third mate reportedly regained control by threatening to kill anyone who entered the boats without permission.

The evacuation of the ship was still not orderly, one boat was destroyed while being launched when the tackle failed. One end of the boat was dropped and the people inside were dumped into the sea, the boat was then dashed against the side of the ship and demolished. A second boat was launched, but it too was destroyed by the waves killing many who were on board. Some lifeboats were successfully launched saving some, however many simply jumped into the water and drowned.

The ship was gone just 20 minuets later, the Captain reportedly intended to go down with his ship, but was none the less rescued. In total between 550 and 700 people were killed (depending on source). The Maritime and Commercial Court in Copenhagen cleared the captain of negligence although there was speculation that the ship was sailing in an overcrowded condition. No blame was placed on the shipping line.

© 2005 Michael W. Pocock

SS Norge