Kista Dan 1953-1957
Kista Dan was instrumental in the establishment of two ANARE stations, Davis and Mawson.
Built at Aalborg Vaerft in 1952 by the Danish firm J Lauritzen Lines, the Kista Dan was an experiment in many ways. With a welded ice breaker hull and a fully enclosed crow's nest containing all the navigation instruments, the Kista Dan was also fitted with special protection for the rudder and propeller against the ice. The propeller was equipped with a purpose built reversible-pitch propeller mechanism.
Kista Dan had a strengthened hull for navigation in ice beyond the standard of Lloyds + 100 A1 "Strengthened for navigation in Ice" and Finnish Ice Class 1A. Her specifications included:
- main engine Burmeister & Wain diesel, type 635-VF-62, bore 350 mm, stroke 620 mm. The 6 cylinder engine was one single-acting, direct-reversible, two-stroke, with a registered output of 1560 IHP.(Indicated Horse Power).
- length 64.89 metres
- breadth 11.2 metres
- draft fully loaded 5.96 metres
- gross tonnage 1250 tons
- range of action 14 500 nautical miles
- speed 12 knots
- passenger capacity 24 with two, three and six berth cabins
Kista Dan had a significant cargo capacity with two holds and a heavy lift derrick. The larger hold could accommodate one of the two Auster aircraft which AAD Director Phil Law had obtained for ANARE exploratory work. The captain of the ship, Hans Christian Petersen, became an ANARE legend during these years.
During her first ANARE voyage, the Kista Dan was to resupply Macquarie Island in December 1953, before visiting Heard Island to resupply the station and collect a team of thirty huskies. She then headed south via Kerguelen Island to seek a suitable location in Mac.Robertson Land for the establishment of Australia's first continental station. Mawson was established on 13 February 1954.
Kista Dan impressed all on board with her speed and ability to plough through the pack ice. She compared most favourably with the earlier trip on the HMAS Wyatt Earp, which Law described as having the 'ice breaking capabilities of a gnat!'
In March 1955, following the establishment of the base at Mawson,Kista Danwas light on cargo, riding high in the bows and during a hurricane off the Vestfold Hills,;lay over between 45 to 72 degrees. The vessel was unable to be righted because water had frozen in the pipes. The rebuilt Auster aircraft on the deck was destroyed.
Captain Peterson had taken the ship into the coast late in the season against his wishes, but at Phillip Law's insistence. This event terminated their once very good friendship, and Peterson and Law never sailed together again. Had the vessel been trimmed earlier, and not so light in the bow, it would have had no trouble in riding out the storm (information from artist and expeditioner Fred Elliott 1999).
Kista Dan was the first of the Lauritzen ships to sport the striking red colour which today characterises many polar fleets. Initially the ship's lifeboats were painted red to enable them to be seen more easily in the ice. Soon after, the crow's nest on the foremast followed suit, then the deck and finally the ship itself.
The Kista Dan was charted by ANARE until 1957 and was replaced by her sister ships, the Thala Dan and the Magga Dan.
In 1967 Kista Dan was sold by Lauritzen to the Karlsen Shipping Co. Ltd in Halifax Nova Scotia and re-named Martin Karlsen. She was employed in the seal fishery industry and out of season, was chartered for research/resupply purposes, mainly within the Canadian Arctic waters and Hudson Bay.
In 1979 the ship was sold to the Bowring Steamship Company (and subsequently transferred to a subsidiary, The Bearcreek Oil & Shipping Company), renamed Benjamin Bowring, and chartered to 'The Transglobe Expedition' until the end of 1982. The expedition achieved the first ever longitudinal circumnavigation of the world across land, sea and ice (including both poles) by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Charles Burton.
In 1983 the ship was sold to Halba Shipping Ltd London, and renamed Arctic Gael, with the intention of being chartered for research work. She remained laid-up until 1984.
In 1984 she was sold to Freighters & Tankers Ltd, Hamilton, and renamed Olimpiakos. She was sailed to the Greek island of Cos and part converted to a yacht by John Goulandris (Greek shipowner) and became permanently laid-up.
In June 1997 the ship (still Olympiakos) was sold to Polar Ventures Limited and managed by Pete Wilkinson. It was he who planned to use her for pollution control in Antarctic waters. However, as a result of the many years laid up, Olympiakos was in poor condition and also suffered serious structural damage to the hull in a storm against the harbour wall. In addition the fuel tanks (and fuel) were contaminated with water. The cost of repairs were uneconomical and Polar Ventures Limited was forced to sell the vessel in 1998 to a Turkish breakers yard where she was finally scrapped.
A sad ending for a truly wonderful ship!
Information on the more recent history of Kista Dan supplied by Antony Bowring, Marine Co-ordinator of the Transglobe Expedition 1979-1982.