Mystery Ship the Samson

John M. Feeney

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Sep 20, 2000
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Arne: Cool!!! Thanks *very* much for the post.

Gotta run out right now, but I'll get back to you shortly.

Cheers,
John
 

John M. Feeney

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Sep 20, 2000
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Arne: Phenomenal!

And that direction specified would seem to put the "cork" in it. (I wonder why the MMSA and/or Harrison never realized this -- didn't see it?)

Since Naess said the "light" and rockets were a couple of miles WEST of them, even if the Samson *had* been in the vicinity -- which seems somewhat unlikely, from other details discussed -- she couldn't have been THE "mystery ship". (The Titanic was roughly SSE of the Californian, so any ship to the east of Titanic couldn't possibly be *between* them.)

Very much obliged, Arne! I've often seen this article referred to, but never seen the article itself. And it certainly is vastly important to Titanic's "later" history.

Fantastic!

Cheers,
John
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I should think 'dorryer' were 'dories', which were the flat bottomed, double-ended boats used by fishermen on the Grand Banks. They were designed to stack inside each other.

Arne, would the 'rormann' be the helmsman?
 

John M. Feeney

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Sep 20, 2000
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"... the Swedish aid ex[p]edition after Nobile and his men ..."

Hi, Arne: I'm also curious, was this 1928 mission a rescue operation? It sounds like Naess and comrades were going off in the ships "Quest" and "Tonja" to bring back a party that had sailed aboard the "Hobby" and "Braganza" (possibly ice-bound in the Arctic Ocean). Is that the case?

What's also very intriguing about the article is that, although the times and circumstances seem quite wrong for the ship to have actually been Titanic, it comes across that Naess may have sincerely *believed* it was the Titanic he saw!

If so, one can only wonder (scarey thought!) -- what ship did he actually see, and what was going on with it? Were there other reported vessels in distress on the night of April 14-15, 1912? I'll admit, the Isafjordur (Isafjörthur) port records don't allow for a round-trip voyage to Titanic's vicinity (much less Cape Hatteras) between April 6th and 20th, but is it possible there's some other kernel of truth here?

The Samson was a 6-knot ship when not under sail, according to Reade's research. The port records suggest she left April 7 (the April 6 notation is an arrival date), returning on April 20. That's 13 days, maybe almost 14 (if "leave early morning, arrive late evening").

Reade's estimate -- 19 days under sail + steam = 21 days under steam alone -- implies a possible speed of about 6-2/3 knots while dual-powered. (Let's call it "7" for ease of calculation.)

Assuming 13 days voyaging -- it would help to have at least a whole day for sealing -- that's 13 * 24 = 312 hours round-trip = 156 hours one-way.

7 knots * 156 hours = 1092 nautical miles. (This is very generous, of course, but that's the point.)

The Samson might then have been able to travel about 1100 miles and still have time to get back to port under optimal conditions. Isafjördhur is nestled in a fjord at the extreme northwestern tip of Iceland, at (roughly) 66N, 23W.

Checking some Arctic Region and Canadian maps, I found that a voyage of 1100 nautical miles could get them well into the Labrador Sea, but not even close to the Labrador Coast or Newfoundland (another 300+ miles), so not within any territorial waters. The only places that appear to be in range are Greenland, Norway (and its various island possessions), the Faroes, and parts of Britain. (Although any tiny "owned" islands wouldn't show on my maps.)

Worth the exercise I suppose, but ultimately ... I don't know. The only sense I can make of the references to "the Americans" in that very restricted case, would be the generic sense of "North Americans" (Canadians).

Anyway, fantastic work, Arne. This is a treasure!

Cheers,
John
 

Arne Mjåland

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Oct 21, 2001
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Thank you for your comments. Rormann is probably a helmsman, but I am not quite sure.
The 1928 mission was a rescue operation. I will bring some more detalis next week.
Norsk Polarinstitutt/ NORWEGIAN POLAR INSTITUTE has its own internet page. It is possible that they also may be able to answer questions you may have. Have any of you seen photocopies of the entries of Samson at Iceland port in April 1912. I just wondered which record institute keeps it to day?
 

John M. Feeney

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Sep 20, 2000
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Hi, Arne (and thanks):

Leslie Reade's book, "The Ship That Stood Still" [ed., E.P. De Groot] contains photocopies of the two key pages for April, 1912 (in the photographic plates).

Reade indicates that the records were located in the old "Supplementary Revenue Book" of Isafjordhur, then subsequently microfilmed and certified as authentic by the National Archivist of Iceland. (The credit for all this, of course, is squarely due to Reade and his contacts. It's the end-product of a 6-year effort.)

Those are attributed, "Credit: National Archives of Iceland", so that's probably the best place to look for the *full* reference. (It's a "running ledger", just incremented line by line each day.) Reade's two pages show Samson's arrivals of April 6 and April 20th, plus all accompanying entries; he also verbally indicates a later arrival on May 9, 1912.

Thanks for the tip on the Norsk Polarinstitutt web page!

Cheers,
John
 

Arne Mjåland

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Oct 21, 2001
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There was at least one rescue operation in 1928.
June 11 1928 there was an article in Arbeider-Avisen that the ship "Italia" was wrecked. Same paper June 13 1928, The prospects of save the crew on "Italia" has got worse. June 25 1928: The search for Roald Amundsen without results.
And September 9 1928. Roald Amundsen and his friends are dead. There is obviously more about this in other sources as well.
 

Arne Mjåland

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Oct 21, 2001
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I recommend the article in the summer 1991 issue of The Titanic Commutator:
"Witness found at the Artic Circle after 78 years. Say they remerber Samson post call in Iceland.
 

John M. Feeney

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I wrote (re the Samson): "Reade's estimate -- 19 days under sail + steam = 21 days under steam alone -- implies a possible speed of about 6-2/3 knots while dual-powered. (Let's call it "7" for ease of calculation.)"

Even as I wrote that -- and it is faithful to Reade -- it seemed a but understated to me.

Is that really too conservative (Reade didn't think so) or is it just a question of *averaging* versus prevailing winds?

I'd think a dual-powered vessel might achieve better than 1 additional knot in good winds. But I could see the *average* being reduced by the inability to effectively utilize sail on one leg of the voyage due to mostly head winds encountered then. True?

Arne: Thanks for those additional leads. The tale of Amudsen and his lost team is a tragic one indeed. Treacherous business, that polar exploration!
 

Arne Mjåland

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I got hold of an article in the Norwegian magazine ALLE MENN number 38/39 1980. There is an article about the Titanic and the Samson. I have translated something from the article which I do not think has been published in this forum before:
According to Henrik Naess on the Samson the course was set from Lindesnes; Norway north of the Orkney Islands. After the Samson had passed the Orkney Islands the course was put west out in the Atlantic. The weather on the voyage had not been the best. There had been very thick fog. That passed on for a while. The ship ended up in socalled "fishballice", that meant ice that the sea had broken to pieces. Then Samson approached the proper drifting ice. It was so thick that is was impossible to get through. The course was therfore changed, and Samsom went southwest quite until it got dark the next evening. Then the ship into the ice and settled for the night.. At that time Naess noticed two big stars far down in the sky southwards. He asket the man in the crows nest what is was and he told it was lanterns, and a lot of light. Shortly afterwards rockets appeared. Then all lights disappeared, and it got dark again. They did not see anymore.
The Samson sailed away. because as Naess wrote in a private letter many years afterwards: "We could not take the risk that anybody saw us as we were in the Labrador without licence. The whold crew of 45 had been hired on their own responsibility in case they were caught by American sealhunters.
Samsom manouvered northwards. After the Samsom had sailed quite a distance away from the Titanic, the ship lay still for 8 days, then the Samson went to the Damnarkstredet. There the ice was rough, and the Samson touched a piece of ice. The iron on the bough (the front) was damaged. Then it was decided the ship should go to Iceland, to Isafjord. There it was supposed to investigate wether the damage could be repaired. However the shipowner ordered us to come home to Kristiansund, Norway.
That means that the Samson may have been repaired, probably in Kristiansund.
Elderly people in Isafjord remembered the visit of the Samson in the middle of the 1960 s. The crew on the Samson got terribly drunk. The locals had to protect the women against the drunk Norwegian sealhunters.
 

Arne Mjåland

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I have wondered what happened to captain on the Samson, Carl Johann Ring in his later life. I came up with this:
According to the Nova Scotia book about the Samson captain Carl Johann Ring was torpedoed to death by a German submarine in the North Sea on June 20 1918.
Mr. Ring was at that time captain on the barque EGLANTINE which was built in Quebeck in 1866. In 1918 the ship was owned by the Oslo shipowner Thos J. Wiborg.
The crew on the EGLANTINE were 8 seamen. Only mate Haakon Olsen from Fredrikstad survived. He was then of course the only witness present at the inquiry which took place in London August 12 1918. The EGLANTINE was on its way from West Hartlepool to Porsgrunn, Norway with a coal cargo.At that time captain Ring was 42 years old. He came from Vrengen near Tonsberg, Norway. The EGLANTINE did not sink immediately and the crew managed to get on to a draft.
Captain Ring had been hurt by an explosive granat from the German submarine. He died on the draft June 20 due to severe wounds in his arm.
The only survivor Mr. Olsen, was picked up by a British warship June 30 and taken to Harwich. He was there put into hospital, and recovered well there. There is nothing in the story about wether the dead crew members were buried at sea or simply left on the draft.
The last hours before captain Ring died, he did not say a word to the then two remaining survivors, the witness and the 1 mate.
Captain Ring had earlier kept quiet about the famous story by mate Henrik Naess about the Samson was near the Titanic. Ring would neither confirm or refuse the story.
 
P

Pedge Jameson

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I have heard this bounced around allot, do you folks think maybe that "GHOST" ship was nothing more then an illegal whaling vessel as I have heard?
I am new so this has probably been covered, sorry.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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No I don't. It should be pointed out that what was claimed that it was a vessel engaged in illegal seal hunting. What it ignores is that in 1912, there was nothing illegal about hunting seals on the high seas. It also ignore the fact that the vessel in question...the Samson...couldn't possibly have been anywhere near the Titanic at the time she came to grief.
 
P

Pedge Jameson

Guest
Ahhh, well I did not claim to be an expert on seal hunting, although when I was in 2nd grade I won a save the seals contest for artwork and got a stuffed sealion out of it. ;)
Good call Mike!!
They really need to lay those illegal fishing stories to rest once and for all.

[Moderator's note: This post and the two above it, were posted as a separate thread, but have been moved to the already pre-existing one addressing the same issue. JDT]
 

Olblindman

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The only ship close to Titanic was the Californian. That is it. Why Captain Lord did not respond to the rockets, is anybody's guess. He was informed. His officers on deck knew it meant distress---why did they not take the initiative to wake the radio-man? I feel that the Californian is at least partly to blame for the loss of lives, and Lord did not act accordingly. Rostron, on the other hand, turned his ship immediately to aid the Titanic, even before he confirmed the message.


What if the Titanic would have steamed towards the Calfornian? I wonder if she would have taken water on that much more rapidly, or if they could have cut the distance significantly..........that would be the subject of an interesting model....how far would the Titanic have traveled, wounded as she was. Even if the time floating was cut in half...they could possibly have made the distance........? an estimated 8 to 10 miles at say 15 knots.....

Of course, she might have flooded that much quicker. Britannic attempted to head for shore when she was struck, and didn't get too far at all. Her damage was far more extreme though.
 

Ajmal Dar

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Jan 5, 2018
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Hi Erik,

Its not fair to conclude that the Samson was the mystery ship. Some research was later done and found that the Samson was actually in Iceland on the 14th and 15th April undergoing repairs. Also, the steward on the Samson (a man surnamec Naess) did not make the claim until 1925 which is a bit suspect. Also, I have read that the position of the Titanic (350 miles off the Grand banks of Newfoundland) would not be where seals would congregate. I am not sure if this is the case in reality.

On balance, I would view the story of the Samson with sceptism.

best regards,

Ajmal
 

Ajmal Dar

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Jan 5, 2018
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what is fascinating is the observations of capt. henry moore of the mount temple. the mt steamed to the titanic position to answer the cqd call. at 3-25am he says he was 14 miles away from the titanic position ans saw a single funneled schooner coming from the direction of the titanic and 1.5 miles ahead of the mt. this put the schooner at 13.5 miles away from the titanic position. moore heard the horn of the schooner sounding and he changed directio to avoid colliding with the schooner. the schooner had one masthead light. moore was an experienced captain with 32 years sea experience and 27 years atlantic experience. moore gave his evidence at the us enquiry. very credible i would say that there was a schooner on the vicinity of titanic.

Regards,

Ajmal
 
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