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Ship that Saved my Life!
Karl Henrik Henriksen story
page contains the remarkable story of survival of a seventeen
year old lad, Karl Henrik Henriksen who was a deckhand on the
Norwegian freighter MV Margarita. His experience with SS France
became permanently etched in Karls life, for it was this
great liner and its crew that saved his life in April 1964.
Family with the sea in their blood!
came from a longstanding seagoing family. Both his Father and
Grandfather had served on the MS Eidsvold although at different
times before WW2. Later his Grandfather was the captain of the
ill-fated MS Vinni, which was captured by a Japanese vessel on December
7, 1940, offshore of the Island of Nauru in the South Pacific.
MS Eidsvold Right: MS Vinni
MV Vinni was captured by a German raider the Komet
but she was disguised having a Japanese name and Japanese flag.
The crew were taken prisoner and transferred to the Komet. They
were released two weeks later and were later evacuated to Australia.
For the full story visit: www.warsailors.com/raidervictims/vinni.html.
you might say that young Karl Henrik Henriksen had salt in his
blood and as a young lad took after his father and went to sea.
Having joined the crew of the freighter MV Margarita, she became
the ship that started what we might call the unwanted
adventure, one he could well have done without!
unwanted adventure that changed a life!
following story was originally written in Norwegian by Karl Henrik
by Reuben Goossens
Margarita had sailed from Lower Buchanan Liberia and was heading
for The Netherlands when the ships carpenter and I, a deckhand,
became ill as we were passing Casablanca Morocco. When we arrived
in Rotterdam a doctor was called on board on two occasions and we
were diagnosed having a bout of the flu. We remained in port for
departure we headed for the Atlantic, yet both the carpenter and
I remained in the ships sick bay. Soon I began to have feverish
fantasies and became dehydrated. In the meantime several other
crew members also became ill.
19, 1964. Tragically, at 0200 hours the carpenter Mr. I. L. Dahl
passed away and the captain decided to move me up to the pilot
cabin for my comfort and being able to keep a close eye out for
me. The Captain immediately sent out a distress signal seeking
urgent medical assistance. Early in the morning we passed SS France,
which was heading at full steam for Southampton.
France and the Margarita pass each other in the morning of April
the Canadian coastguard received our signal they ordered the SS France,
being the ship nearest to us, to make haste and offer assistance.
At 1300 hours both ships makes a U turn heading for each at full
recall that whilst awaiting the France, deckhand Karlsen pulled
me between the bunk and the toilet as I had become so ill I was
not able to hold anything back. It had become obvious that the
condition became more critical by the minute. As he lifted me I
sort of recall that I could see the France through the window. It
was now 1810 hours (the time according to the diary kept by mess
boy Oeystein Bjoerloew). The position is around 1000 NM
north-east of New York.
passed out and when I awoke again I was lying out on deck
strapped in on the emergency stretcher with Oeystein Bjoerloew
standing over me wishing me good luck and a God bless you. He was
my neighbour from back home and he told me later that he really
wondered if he will ever see me again. Again being weak I went in
and out of consciousness. The next thing I can remember is when
they were lifting me over the side of the ship and lowering me
down the side of the ship heading for a lifeboat sent over by the
France. Suddenly the stretcher must have bumped and the stretcher
ended up almost with hanging with my head pointing downwards. The
bosun A. A. Tveit, a WW2 sailor, called out to the deckhand above
Give it some slack, God damn it.
are the last words I can recall from the MV Margarita. Later the
Chief Engineer told me that I had cried out so loud when that
happened, thus the crew watching thought that at least that there
is still some hope of life if he can cry out like that.
the lifeboat I can only just recall that a slight spay of
seawater fell on my face, and one of the crew of the lifeboat
took off his sweater and wrapped it around my face. I
do recall that the sweater had a logo on the left side and
that it was the French Line logo. As I lay on the starboard
side of the lifeboat, obvious it had been a lifeboat from the
ships portside. (*1 See a photograph down the page taken
in April 1994 of the actual lifeboat seen on SS Norway. Later
these lifeboats were replaced by NCL).
it became all dark again, except it seemed like there flashes
around me, which must have been flashlights from passengers
taking photographs. Whilst at sea on the France I cannot really
remember anything. However, whilst onboard, I had a strange
out of the body experience. Everything suddenly
became a shimmering white, it was almost like satin and it was so
peaceful, yet at the same time it felt like I was being sucked
down a big drain and me feverously crawling to get out of it.
this my mind seemed to clear and I see lots of people standing
around me around my bunk, some in uniforms and others in civvies.
I also recall that there was a Swedish passenger who spoke to me
at some point. Im wondering if it was then when I received
the SS France Medal and around $400 that had been contributed by
the passengers. $400 was in fact more than my earnings during my
ten months on MV Margarita.
Margarita as seen from SS France
this I woke up in the ambulance driving away from the France. As
we were driving off to the Chest Hospital in Southampton I
remember seeing the France slowly vanishing in the distance.
Before I knew it we arrived at the Hospital in Southampton and I
was taken into the quarantine ward.
rescue at sea made the news and it was broadcast on BBC TV and on
radio, as well as various news papers both in the UK and France.
It was from the radio that I first learned that I had typhus.
Whilst still in hospital I received many telegrams and I remember
a magnificent bunch of flowers. Attached was a card that read;
With very best wishes for your recovery. It was
signed, Mr. and Mrs. Carl J Wolters of cabin M30. It
was yet another beautiful touch from the many kind passengers
that were on SS France during that voyage.
is seen above in the Southampton Chest Hospital on April
25, 1964. On the right is Jan Hagland a journalist Agderposten
his hometown newspaper. He came to Southampton to do an
interview. In later years Jan became the Head of
information in the Norwegian Petroleum
Directorate. The bottle of Champagne on the bedside table
was a gift from the French Line and SS France.
the day that Karl was released from hospital it just happened
that the SS France was also in port, but this time bound for New
York. Norwegian consular officials made arrangements for Karl to
join the Boat Train to Waterloo station London where a French
Line official from the London office placed Karl in a taxi to the
Duchy Hotel. The next day Karl was taken to London Heathrow and
flew home with SAS Airlines. When arriving home he found that he
made the news once more.
This is the golden medal that was given to Karl before he left SS
France in Southampton as a memento. Although he has little to no
recollection of it being given to him he treasures the medal
greatly and to this day he calls it his Crown Jewel.
Its diameter is 53mm and it is 6mm thick. The weight is 70 grams.
France has left a permanent impact on Karls life and in
later years he followed her career whilst she was SS France and
then the Klosters (NCL) cruise ship SS Norway. Although he
had little to no recollection of his voyage on SS France, over
the years he collected as much memorabilia he could find. Better
still thirty years later Karl took a cruise on the Norway.
life after he returned home to Norway:
in Norway first Karl returned to sea after which he completed his
compulsory military service. He then resumed his education to
become an electronics technician and when he returned to sea
once again, it was as an electrician. Later between 1974 to
1978 Karl worked with a team that travelled to various
locations where they upgraded engine rooms with
classifications up to the E0-class (Engine Zero). He
returned to sea once again, but this time he was able to
sail with his partner Astrid on the same ship who was the ships
radio officer. His two last ships were; a bow loading
tanker in the North Sea and finally the MV Kosmos, an
accommodation ship supporting a rig. Later Karl was
employed by Statoil a Norwegian Oil company and he is
now stationed on platform Gullfaks C in the North Sea working in
the Fire and Gas department. Karl has been with Statoil for 19
cruise on SS Norway:
1994 Karl decided to take a cruise on the ship that saved his
life, but now she was NCLs SS Norway. The ship departed Miami
on 2 April 2, 1994, precisely 30 years after his life saving
experience on SS France. Travelling with him was Astrid
and their six year old daughter Pia Christine. They were
accommodated in Suite Aphrodite being one of the
original cabins. Shortly after arriving in their cabin Karl
received a phone call from Captain Kjell Haugen who welcomed
him and his family aboard and invited him up to the bridge the
next morning at 0930 hours.
the Bridge he met the Captain, the Staff Captain Hans Meeg
and the Chief engineer and he was escorted to the Captains staff
room. They were certainly curious about Karls experience
back in 1964. Whilst being somewhat embarrassed by all the
attention, Karl gave them the details of the event.
next day Karl received a bottle of Champagne in the cabin and an
invitation to a private cocktail party to be held by the Captain.
At 1945 hours Karl and his family were escorted by concierge
to the venue that had up to 30 selected guests. It was a
special event which was greatly appreciated.
took many photographs during the cruise, but to this day he feels
that the most important one is of the lifeboat 2 that transported
him from the Margarita to the France. Sadly it was not long later
when the Norway received a refit that saw her original lifeboats
removed and replaced with the enclosed type. Karl wishes he would
have been able to locate lifeboat number 2 as obviously he would
have loved to have been able to buy it, for this boat was
part and parcel of his life saving experience on that fateful
day, April 19, 1964.
Karl lifeboat number 2 will always remain the most important
little boat ever to have sailed the sea
following are Karls own words regarding the cruise
took great care of me whilst I was onboard and was given guided
tours around the ship including one to the engine room. In
addition I was even invited to join a life boat drill that
is a crew only drill, which was quite an event. Later, whilst on
the bridge I had the privilege of taking the helm and steer the
great SS Norway by hand. The Captain also arranged a meeting with
the ships doctors and nurses in the hospital. Obviously this
was very special since it was the original hospital I was taken
care of. I even tested the bed, the one he occupied back in 1964.
I do not remember this bed at all, but Nurse dont worry I
am really feeling fine
cruise was a special event in my life considering the last time I
was on this ship was in a state of extreme illness, But my family
had a wonderful cruise and I recall that on the last day we
visited NCLs private Island where my daughter Pia Christine
first learned to swim. The cruise will remain in my
memory for life. My thanks gratitude extend to the Captain,
Officers and all the crew, for they gave me and my family
a marvellous week!
Saturday April 9, 1994 we departed the Miami dockside on a bus
and I recall looked back sadly at SS Norway, which all too soon
slipped out of sight. No matter what, this great ship will always
be the SS France to me for that was the ship that saved my life
back in 1964! Sadly I never saw her again, and will I ever see
you again my great Queen of the Sea?
the cruise, Karls story was printed in the ships newspaper
Hot Line. You can read it on Page Two.
is still at sea, but in a very different way than during his
younger days for now he is based on the Oil Platform Gullfaks C
in the North Sea where he works in the Fire and Gas department.
the past twenty six years Karl has been a member of the Arendals
Seamens Association and he meets with them whenever
he is ashore. Karl is seen below (facing the camera) at one of
the monthly meetings during the winter season called Torskeaften.
seen facing the camera at the Arendals Seamens
Association meeting on February 23, 2006
Norway - May 2007:
Norway, ex France (renamed Blue Lady) awaited her destiny at
Alang India where she awaited her fate since August 2005, but she
was eventually broken up, even after a lengthy court case in the
Supreme Court of India did not save her for we did have buyer for
her tio turn her into a luxury floating Hotel SS
hereby wish to thank Karl for sharing his remarkable story, for
it certainly has given us yet another reason to understand why
this great liner is of such historic importance. Karls
story, I am sure, is but one of the many adventures experienced
on this Grand Dame of the Sea.
Two contains images of various news releases in the UK, France
and Norway, as well as a letter from the Norwegian Consulate in London
and Karls story in his own words, but in his Norwegian
native tongue, as it was written up in the local media there.
SS Norway Blue Lady
Norway Deck Plan
QE2 passes the Norway
Photographer Don Tremain presents his experience and four
Tomas-Rosales shares his photographs of the Norway in Miami
Michael and Lee Ann Pavlick honeymoon cruise in 2002
Norway in Bremerhaven Page Two
Norway Departs Bremerhaven 23 May 2005
A series of photographs of SS Blue Lady in Alang
Pauli Dangerousli describes his 1997 cruise on the SS Norway
The Ship that Saved my Life The Karl Henrik Henriksen
Story (2 pages)
Surreal times on the SS France by Patrick Jackson
This inaugural SS Norway brochure (1980) was provided by Mr. Michael
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in the passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960
the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos
Classic Liners Campaign & Classic Ocean Voyages pages
on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the
authors private collection. In addition
there are some images that have been provided by Shipping
Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is
given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs
provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner
concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so
kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be
found on www.ssmaritime.com
only), in order that due credit may be given. I know what it is
like, I have seen a multitude of my own photographs on other
sites, yet these individuals either refuse to provide credit or
remove them when asked, knowing full well that there is no legal
comeback when it comes to the net. However, let us show these
charlatans up and do the right thing at all times and give credit
where credit is due!
notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to
ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this
notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is
is owned and © Copyright by Reuben Goossens - All Rights