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HNoMS Æger (1936)
HNoMS Æger (1936).jpg
Norwegian Sleipner class destroyer Æger at sea before the Second World War.
Career (Norway)
Name: Æger
Namesake: Ægir – the Jötunn king of the sea in Norse mythology
Builder: The Royal Norwegian Navy's shipyard at Karljohansvern, Horten
Yard number: 122[1]
Launched: 25 August 1936[1]
Commissioned: 1936
Fate: Bombed and beached 9 April 1940
Service record
Commanders: Captain Nils Larsen Bruun
(? – 9 April 1940)
Operations: Opposing the German invasion of Norway
Victories: 1 ship (6,780 tons) sunk
2 bombers downed
General characteristics
Class & type: Sleipner class
Displacement: 735 tons[2]
Length: 74.30 m (243.77 ft)
Beam: 7.75 m (25.43 ft)
Draft: 4.15 m (13.62 ft)
Propulsion: Two De Laval geared turbines with two shafts and 12,500 hp
Speed: 32 knots (59.26 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nautical miles (6,482.00 km) at 15 knots (27.78 km/h)
Complement: 75 men
Armament: 3 × 10 cm guns
1 × 40 mm Bofors L/60
anti-aircraft gun
2 × 12.7 mm Colt
anti-aircraft machine guns
2 × 53.3 cm trainable torpedo tubes
4 × depth charge throwers

HNoMS Æger was a Sleipner class destroyer launched at Karljohansvern naval shipyard in Horten in 1936. The Sleipner class was part of a Norwegian rearmament scheme started as war became ever more likely in the 1930s. When the Germans invaded Norway on 9 April 1940, Æger intercepted and sank the clandestine German supply ship Roda. She was shortly afterwards attacked and sunk by German bombers, bringing down two of the attacking aircraft with her anti-aircraft armament before being taken out of action by a heavy bomb.

Construction

Æger was built at Karljohansvern naval shipyard with yard number 122. She was launched on 25 August 1936.[1]

Second World War

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Æger formed part of the Norwegian 2nd Naval District's 2nd Destroyer Division,[3] covering an area roughly the same as the Vestlandet and Trøndelag regions.

The German invasion

Æger was amongst the first Royal Norwegian Navy units to encounter the German invasion forces of Operation Weserübung when in the early morning of 9 April 1940 she intercepted the German cargo ship Roda off the port city of Stavanger.

The Roda

Roda sinking.

At around 0100hrs on 9 April Norwegian customs officers came on board the Æger while she was at anchor in Stavanger and reported their suspicion that the 6,780 ton cargo ship Roda[4] anchored near Ullsnes was probably carrying a different cargo than the 7,000 tons of coke stated in her cargo documents. The German vessel was riding far too high in the water to carry such a cargo. Adding still more suspicion was the fact that the Germans claimed they were bringing the coke to the Norwegian company Sigval Bergesen, a company the customs officers knew had never before taken deliveries of coke.[5] Although the situation was unclear the Norwegian destroyer's commander, Captain Nils Larsen Bruun, decided to take Roda as a prize.

When the Norwegian destroyer found the German ship in the Byfjord near Stavanger and signalled that they were going to seize the German vessel the crew of the Roda resisted, leading to Captain Larsen Bruun deciding to sink the cargo ship. After the German crew had abandoned their ship, Æger fired a total of twenty-five 10 cm rounds into both sides of the vessel, sinking her in deep waters.

Air attacks

Colt MG52 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun on the destroyer Sleipner.

A short while after the sinking of Roda Luftwaffe aircraft started appearing overhead. At 0830hrs the first three of in total ten Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88 bombers from III/Kampfgeschwader 4 began attacking Æger at low altitude.[6] Responding with her single 40 mm Bofors gun and two 12.7 mm Colt anti-aircraft machine guns Æger claimed two of the attacking bombers shot down while zig-zagging to avoid the stacks of bombs being unleashed at her. However, while trying to avoid an attack by three aircraft all from different directions Æger was hit amidships by a 250 kg bomb, tearing up the deck of the destroyer and blowing out the sides of the ship. Seven crew members were killed outright, one mortally and three lightly wounded, with the ship being left dead in the water. As seven more German aircraft continued to attack the crippled destroyer another bomb hit the mast, leaving it bent out of shape but bouncing off into the sea without exploding. Yet another bomb hit the side of the ship midship, but stuck without exploding. All the time the attacking aircraft were pelting the crippled vessel with their machine guns. As all of the ship's anti-aircraft weapons were by now knocked out, Captain Bruun ordered his crew to abandon ship. The entire surviving crew managed to get ashore without any further casualties.

Aftermath

The wreck of Æger near Stavanger in April 1940.

Captain Bruun now had fifty-seven unwounded crew members under his command and originally intended to keep his crew together and bring them to unoccupied areas to continue the fight. However, as both Stavanger and the nearby Sola Air Station had been occupied by the invaders, he instead decided to dismiss the crew. He also encouraged them to form small groups and make their way to unoccupied areas to continue the fighting, something a majority of the crew did. The wreck of the Æger later drifted ashore at nearby Hundvåg and attracted many civilian spectators until removed for scrapping. The three 10 cm main guns of the Æger were removed by the Germans, the first two in May, the third in August 1940, for use as coastal artillery. The guns were deployed as a harbour defence battery at Grødeimhammeren just north of Stavanger.[7]

Roda's cargo later turned out to have been the entire contingent of heavy anti-aircraft guns intended for the defence of Sola Air Station after its capture by German paratroops, the loss of the guns leaving the newly captured air strips vulnerable to RAF attack.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Aeger (6110145)". Miramar Ship Index. http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz. Retrieved 8 February 2009.  (subscription required)
  2. Abelsen 1986: 34
  3. Niehorster, Leo. "Scandinavian Campaign: Administrative Order of Battle Royal Norwegian Navy 2nd Naval District". http://niehorster.orbat.com/022_norway/navy_02.htm. Retrieved 8 February 2009. 
  4. "Roda (5606811)". Miramar Ship Index. http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz. Retrieved 8 February 2009.  (subscription required)
  5. Bjørnsen 1977: 27
  6. Jürgen Rohwer (2007). "Chronik des Seekrieges 1939-1945: 1940 April" (in German). Bibliothek für Zeitgeschichte. Württembergische Landesbibliothek. http://www.wlb-stuttgart.de/seekrieg/40-04.htm. Retrieved 7 October 2010. 
  7. Fjeld 1999: 232, 264

Bibliography

  • Abelsen, Frank (1986) (in Norwegian and English). Norwegian naval ships 1939-1945. Oslo: Sem & Stenersen AS. ISBN 82-7046-050-8. 
  • Berg, Ole F. (1997) (in Norwegian). I skjærgården og på havet - Marinens krig 8. april 1940 - 8. mai 1945. Oslo: Marinens krigsveteranforening. ISBN 82-993545-2-8. 
  • Bjørnsen, Bjørn (1977) (in Norwegian). Det utrolige døgnet. Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag. ISBN 82-05-10553-7. 
  • Fjeld, Odd T. (1999) (in Norwegian). Klar til strid - Kystartilleriet gjennom århundrene. Oslo: Kystartilleriets Offisersforening. ISBN 82-995208-0-0. 

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