MV Thala Dan 1957-1982

Met balloon release on board Thala Dan, Casey 1971
Met balloon release on board Thala Dan, Casey 1971 (Photo: Patrick Bensley)
The Thala Dan at Mawson in 1960 Thala Dan, Dumont d'Urville, Adélie Land 1979Thala Dan at Casey 1980People stare out the widows of the bridge that has charts and instruments all round.Thala Dan plans - side viewThala Dan plans - top view

Built in 1957 in Denmark, the MV Thala Dan was a substantial ship for the time. Following the success of the Kista Dan, the J. Lauritzen Lines built another two ships of the same type, but larger and more powerful: the Thala Dan and the Magga Dan. Each ship was ice-strengthened for navigation in polar waters. 'Thala' is a Scandinavian name; 'Dan' means from Denmark (Danish).

Specifications

  • Motor Vessel (MV)
  • Lloyds + 100 A1 Ice Class 1 “Strengthened for navigation in Ice” and Finnish Ice Class 1A
  • main engine: Burmeister & Wain 2020 IHP (Indicated Horse Power)
  • capacity: 1400 tons dead weight
  • length: 75.14 metres
  • breadth: 13.7 metres
  • 50 passengers in 2, 3, 4 and 5 berth cabins
  • service speed: 12 knots
  • 3 cargo holds with overall capacity of 1800 cubic metres
  • 9 heavy lift derrick cranes with lifting capacity ranging from 2 to 30 tons

Key Antarctic voyages

In 1959, the Thala Dan, approaching newly established Davis station, ran onto an unchartered rock pinnacle. Station Leader John Béchervaise recalled the incident:

Suddenly we struck a rock. This was really a tremendous shock, in every sense of the term. I can remember the masts quivering and making a strange noise, as if they were vibrating, and a few men were almost thrown off their feet.

Captain Hans Christian Petersen followed the same course of action as Captain Cook when his ship, the Endeavour, suffered a similar fate on the Great Barrier Reef in 1770.

A sail was passed under the hull which prevented the inflow of water, the water was pumped out of the tank, and the captain prepared a number of wooden wedges to be driven into the gash from the oil tank just inside the hull, which had taken the strain. – Interview with John Béchervaise & Tim Bowden, ANARE Jubilee history project.

It took over two weeks to free the ship, and almost another fortnight to continue the short distance to Davis station, where temporary repairs enabled the ship to return to Australia.

Later life

Over the course of its Antarctic service, the Thala Dan was used during the Arctic northern summer to transport cargo and passengers to Greenland.

In 1982, the ship was purchased by the Brazilian Navy for Antarctic service, and renamed the Baroa de Teff. The ship ceased service in 2002, and was scrapped in 2007.