Pilotage into Oslo is about four hours, during which the Oslofjord is travelled, making up the majority of the 55 nautical mile passage from the pilot station into Norway’s capital city.
Part of the history of this fjord is the Battle of Drobak, which was a naval battle that took place during the Second World War when the German Kreigsmarine entered Oslofjord with the purpose of capturing Oslo, the Norwegian King and his Government.
Near the settlement of Drobak on the eastern side of the Oslofjord, just 6-7 miles after the fjord narrows, is an island sat in the middle of the waterway in a prime strategic location. Upon the island is a fortress called Oscarsborg Fortress. At the time of the engagement the fortress guns were over 40 years old (ironically made in Germany) and the fortress itself was only being maintained to drill new artillery recruits and for historical purposes. There was also a twin tube torpedo battery sunken into a cave a short distance further along the fjord that was not known about by anyone other than the Norwegian Military.
The pilot informed me that the Norwegian’s were half expecting an invasion at some stage but were not really sure whether it would be Nazi Germany’s desire for Empire, or the British looking to better secure their coastline that would be the instigators. He also told me that it was not until after the start of the engagement that the Norwegian’s knew it was a German Warship they were firing at, only being confirmed when they could hear the German music playing from its decks.
The Warship in question was the “Blucher” an Admiral Hipper Class Cruiser, named for the Prussian commander at the battle of Waterloo, and the flagship of the invading flotilla. The 11 inch Krupp guns on the fortress both scored direct hits, but it was the torpedoes that did the real damage, crippling the cruiser which continued for a couple of miles further down the fjord before foundering and blockading the fjord, thus slowing the invading German forces sufficiently to get the King and Government to safety.
As we sailed past the island the battery was easily visible and the cave that once housed the torpedoes could also be made out. The Blucher was actually 30 feet longer than Saga Ruby but 6 feet narrower and about 8000 tonnes lighter to give a better sense of proportion as we approached the resting place of the German cruiser. Small quantities of oil still bubble up from the wreck which now lies 30 fathoms beneath the surface, and this was visible to those looking for it as we passed over the spot where she sank.
We finally moored up in Oslo just after midday, in the prime location underneath the Akershus Fortress a prominent historical landmark in the harbour.
With such a long pilotage we could only afford a half day call in Norway’s capital city and set sail again just before 18:00 passing the ferry “Stena Saga” within the harbour limits before proceeding along the fjord and back out to sea.
This will be my last blog for a couple of months as I hand the ship over to Captain Krzysztof Majdzinski once we have traversed the North Sea and arrive back in Dover.