SS Viking


SS Viking

The SS "Viking" was the sealing vessel used by film producer Varick Frissel in the making of the 1931 film "The Viking". During the shooting of extra footage for this film it exploded, taking the lives of Varick Frissel and 26 other crew members.

The "Viking", a wooden steam whaler, was built by Nylands at Christiania, Norway in 1881 the same location as another famous Newfoundland vessel the "Southern Cross". The "Viking" was a vessel of 620 gross tons and equipped with a 90 horsepower auxiliary engine. The "Viking" was launched in 1882 from the Nylands Shipyard and for a while spent a number of years hunting the saddleback seal off the coast of Greenland. In 1882 the "Viking" was used by Fridtjof Nansen for his first Arctic expedition.

In 1904 the "Viking" was purchased by the Bowring Brothers of St. John’s [cite web| url=http://www.heritage.nf.ca/law/merchants.html| title=Bowring Brothers| accessdate=2007-12-16] for the sealing industry and placed under the command of Captain William Bartlett, father of Captain Bob Bartlett, where William master of her until 1923. The "Viking" was the smallest of the Bowring Brothers' fleet and its loss was the first for the Bowring Brothers in fifty-two years. The "Viking" was capable of carrying 276 men.

In 1930 and 1931, the "Viking" was charted by Varrick Frissel and Arthur G. Penrod to make a film of the annual seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. The "Viking" was mastered by Captain Bob Bartlett for the making of the film and was featured in the final production. The film was shown at the Nickel Theater in St. John’s, to the chagrin of its producers who felt that it required more sensational footage. To obtain additional footage both Frissel and Penrod returned to the front the following spring in the "Viking" this time with Captain Abram Kean.

On March 15, 1931 about eight miles off Horse Islands, while stuck in the ice, the "Viking" was rocked by an explosion that blew the stern off the vessel. Dynamite loaded on the vessel to add to the sensationalism of giant explosions of icebergs had somehow been set off, killing 27 of the 147 on board including Varick Frissell. The "Viking" caught fire and sank. [cite web| url=http://www.heritage.nf.ca/arts/early_days.html| title=Film and Video - Early Days| publisher=Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage| accessdate=2007-12-16] Some of the survivors made the over-ice trek to Horse Islands, while some were rescued by other vessels dispatched to the area. [cite web| url=http://newfoundlandshipwrecks.com/Viking/documents/viking_survivors_estimated_at_118.htm| title=Viking Survivors| accessdate=2007-12-15]

Footnotes

* [http://newfoundlandshipwrecks.com/index1.htm Viking Shipwreck]


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