mardi 25 janvier 2011

Belpamela (1928-1947), un cargo pour transports lourds et encombrants

"Construit pour un armateur norvégien, Balpamela est un cargo d'un type spécial destiné aux transports extra-lourds. On le voit ici charger un bateau-phare destiné aux Indes" (en fait, la Birmanie)… et le décharger?

Balpamela a servi au transport des 1340 locomotives 141-R Mikados (surnommée la "belle Américaine") commandées aux Etats-Unis par la toute nouvelle SNCF. Les unes étaient chargées à fond de cale, les autres en pontée. Durant le dernier voyage d'Amérique du Nord vers la France, le cargo norvégien a sombré près de Terre-Neuve lors d'une tempête, le 11 avril 1947, avec 16 de ces locomotives à son bord.
Balpamela went down with 17 locomotives on board off Newfoundland on Apr. 11-1947. During the last voyage, from North America to France, the ship transported 16 steam engines, SNCF-type 141-R.

Tonnage: 3215 gt, 1869 net, 4518 tdwt. Machinery: 4 cyl. 2T single acting Sulzer DM (Armstrong Whitworth), 1350 bhp.

Delivered in Febr.-1928 from Armstrong Whitworth & Co., Ltd., Newcastle upon Tyne (1028) as Belpamela to Rederiet Belmoira A/S (Christen Smith), Oslo. Taken over by Skips-A/S, Belships Co. Ltd. (Christen Smith), Oslo in Oct.-1935.

During 1928 Armstrong Whitworth delivered two specialty ships to Belships, Norway. The company had been established in 1918 by Christen Smith, but was immediately challenged by the general state of the shipping business, enough to cause the Belship company to seek out some sort of a niche in the business. Their research led them to focus on the movement of railway locomotives and other rolling stock from the industrial centers of Europe and the USA to all parts of the world. These heavy lift ships were equipped with heavy cranes for use in poorly equipped ports. They were also used to transport unusual items such as small lightships, buoys and bulky equipment for the oil industry

The Belpamela was the first (her sister-ship Belmoira has been sunk by U26's torpedoes during 1940) of the pair to be delivered - during February 1928 from Armstrong Whitworth Co Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne (order number 1028?) to Rederiet Belmoira A/S (Christen Smith), Oslo.

Because of the unusual, and highly visible cargos carried by these two ships, they drew the attention of the media. During February 1930 the Belpamela worked a Liverpool - India sailing loaded with sixteen steam locomotives (each weighing 90 tons), nine tenders, a seaplane carrier and a 220 ton lightship bound for the Persian Gulf.

Transferred to Skips-A/S, Belships Co. Ltd. (Christen Smith), Oslo in October 1935.

During December 1935 the Belpamela was loaded at Birkenhead with steam locomotives bound for China. In January 1937 a 120 ton lightship was hoisted aboard the Belpamela at Woolwich, England bound for Rangoon, Burma. During December 1938 a shipment of 105 foot long oil towers weighing 100 tons were delivered from London to the Persian Gulf, the load was laid flat across the width of the deck, with an 18 foot overlap on either side.

On or about March 1st 1940 the Belpamela and the Lagaholm (the latter en-route from Baltimore to Malmo with mixed cargo) were ordered by the British armed boarding vessels HMS Northern Sky and HMS Northern Princess to proceed to Kirkwall for contraband inspection. In the early morning hours of the next day, March 2nd 1940 the Belpamela was attacked by the U-32, fortunately all three torpedoes detonated prematurely. In a second attack at about 7.15am, this time on the Lagaholm, the U-32 stopped the ship and used the deck gun to sink the vessel after the crew had taken to the lifeboats. The crew were rescued by the Belpamela and taken to Kirkwall & North Ronaldsay.

From July 12th 1940 the Belpamela came under German control.

On April 2nd 1945 rocket equipped Mosquitos from the Banff Strike Wing in Scotland attacked a number of ships at Framns Mekaniske Vrksted (Sandefjord) leading to the sinking of the Concordia and the William Blumer. Damaged in the attack were the Hektor, Shios Espana, Kattegat and the Belpamela. Following the attack the damaged Belpamela was towed from Sandefjord to Oslo for repair. Whilst here the ship became the subject of a plot to sabotage the ship, plastic explosives were used to cause enough damage to keep the ship out of service for the remainder of the war.

After the war the Belpamela was repaired and continued in its pre-war role of transporting railway equipment across the oceans. In particular the American & Canadian locomotive manufacturers filled orders to supply France with 1,340 type 141R Mikados for the SNCF to assist in replacing their seriously depleted locomotive fleet. During the second week of April 1947 the Belpamela started out across the Atlantic (New York - Cherbourg) with sixteen locomotives built by the Montreal Locomotive Works bound for France. These were numbered 1220 - 1235. However off the coast of Newfoundland the ship encountered heavy weather and foundered, becoming a total loss, nine crew members died. The ship sank at position 37.44N/53.03W.

Ici, Balpamela est chargé de voitures du type métro.

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