Danmark (1906)

The bark Danmark is best known for her role as expedition ship for the Danmark expedition (1906–08), so named after the ship, but had a long prehistory as a whaler under the name Sir Colin Campell of Peterhead and later as a sealer named Magdalena of Tønsberg/Kristiana.

Danmark leaving Fredrikshavn for the Danmark Expedition to NE Grenland 1906-1908

Danmark in Danmarkshavn, 1907
United Kingdom
Name: Sir Colin Campbell
Owner: W.H. Alexander, Peterhead
Builder: Sunderland, England
Launched: 1855
Out of service: 1862
Homeport: Peterhead
United Kingdom
Owner: G. Paul
In service: 1862
Out of service: 1871
Homeport: Peterhead
Owner: F. Hansen & Co.
In service: 1871
Out of service: 1892
Renamed: Magdalena
Homeport: Tønsberg
Owner: Gustav C. Hansen
In service: 1892
Out of service: 1901
Homeport: Christiania
Owner: Alfred Nilsson
In service: 1901
Out of service: 1906
Homeport: Tønsberg
Owner: Danish Expedition Fund
In service: 1906
Out of service: 1909
Renamed: Danmark
Homeport: Copenhagen
Owner: Grønlands Minedrift A/S
In service: 1906
Out of service: 1917
Homeport: Copenhagen
Fate: Wrecked at Höganäs 13 Dec 1917, scrapped in 1918 in Helsingør
General characteristics
Class and type: Steam bark
Tonnage: 377 BRT, 242 NRT (1906)
Length: 122.5 ft (37.3 m)
Beam: 30.2 ft (9.2 m)
Draught: 17.5 ft (5.3 m)
  • Steam engine, 98 HP high pressure
  • 200 HP triple expanstion (Akers, Cristiania) from 1892
Speed: up to 6 knots under engine

The ship was built in Sunderland, England in 1855, rigged as a three-masted steam bark and originally fitted with a 98 hp high pressure steam engine. She sailed under the name Sir Colin Campell on whaling trips from Scotland to the Greenland Sea and Davis Strait. In 1892 she was sold to Norway, refitted with a 200 hp triple expansion engine, renamed Magdalena and sailed as a seal catcher until 1906.[1] The later polar explorer Roald Amundsen sailed on Magdalena in 1884 on a seal hunt into the West Ice.[2] From the records of the oil factory of J.A. Nielson in Tønsberg it is reported that Magdalena, owned by Gustav C. Hansen, was the first ship to process blubber at the factory when it opened in 1883 (1,300-1,400 barrels of seal oil).[3] In 1901 the ship was used to deploy stores on Shannon Island and Bass Rock, East Greenland for the American Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition.[1] In 1906 Magdalena was sold for a price of 39,250 kroner to the Danish Expedition Fund, to serve as ship for the upcoming expedition to Northeast Greenland. She underwent refurbishing and was rechristened to Danmark.

Danmark Expedition

Danmark left Copenhagen 24 June 1906 and left for Greenland on 2 July after a short stop in Frederikshavn. Leader of the expedition was shared between Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen (who did not return from the expedition but died on the ice at Nioghalvfjerds Fjorden) and captain of the ship Alf Trolle. Danmark reached the West Ice in late July and with some difficulties passed through the ice and reached a protected bay, which they named Danmark Havn (Danmark harbour) after the ship and which became the base for the ship during two overwinterings. Other places in NE Greenland named after Danmark are Danmarksfjorden and Danmarksmonumentet, a mountain near Morkefjord. Danmark left Greenland on 21 July 1908 and although the boiler was damaged in a collision with an iceberg in the West Ice, she reached Bergen in Norway safely on 15 August and returned to Copenhagen on 23 August.

Later fate

Upon return to Copenhagen Danmark was set for sale. In the meantime, in the summer 1909 she went on another voyage to Greenland, this time to Qaanaaq (Thule), before being sold in 1910 to the mining company Grønlandsk Minedrift A/S for the price of 15,000 kroner. The ship continued to sail on Greenland, transporting ore and minerals to Denmark, until unfortunate events led to its loss in 1917. When Danmark returned from Greenland with 130 ton of Cryolite and ore the crew had been away from civilization for so long that they were unaware of the outbreak of the first world war and met no ships on their return voyage that could tell them. Thus, when they reached the entrance to the Sound, they did not know that all lighthouses had been switched off and they ran aground on the Swedish coast at Höganäs. The crew was rescued, but the ship could not be saved and was later towed to Helsingør, where it was broken up in 1918.[1]


  1. Sandbeck, Thorkild (2007). Danske havforskningsskibe gennem 250 år. Stenstrup, Denmark: Skib Forlag.
  2. Jensen, Niels Aage (2011). Amundsen. Copenhagen: Informations Forlag. p. 27. ISBN 978-87-7514-7687.
  3. Gløersen, G. (1900). Tønsbergs og Omegns Industri. Kristiania: A.M. Hanche. p. 96.
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