Global History & Background
On 09 June the French submarine RUBIS, a Saphire class sub, launched mines in Hjeltefjorden that caused the ship Sverre Sigurdssøn to sink 1815 on 10 June 1940. Rubis was launched 30 September 1931 in Toulon, France and went into active service in April 1933. She was assigned to Brest in January 1940, to operate in the fart north and help Finland, but she did not arrive before Finland surrendered by the Treaty of Moscow of 12 March 1940. England requested at the same time reinforcement in minelaying submarines and she was set in service out of Dundee on 1st may 1940.
At this moment, France recalls the submarines, the English get the minelayer to participate in a final operation. On June 20, she left for Trondheim, The Armistice of 22 June 1940 was signed at 18:36 near Compiègne, France, by officials of Nazi Germany and the Third French Republic, “communication difficulties” kept the crew in the dark about this event, and the Rubis laid its mines on June 26.
During the Norwegian campaign, in May 1940, Rubis laid mines off the Norwegian coast; the boat’s mines claimed four Norwegian vessels in May and June, and a further three merchant ships in July. At the time of the French surrender on 22 June 1940, the boat was in the port of Dundee, Scotland in the United Kingdom, where the boat promptly joined the pavilion of the Free French Forces. After the the British admiralty launched “Operation Catapult” by surprise on 03 July 1940. At that time, she was commanded by Capitaine de Corvette Georges Cabanier. The crew’s desire to continue the fight (only an officer, a non-commissioned officer and 3 sailors returned to France) were such that the Rubis became one of the first submarines of Free France. Their enthusiasm for the struggle against Germany inspired them to acts of great daring. By war’s end the tiny Rubis would be the most successful unit of the entire Free French navy.
The sinking of Sverre Sigurdssøn 10 June 1940
According to the official reports made after the sinking, she was traveling from Trondheim to Oslo 09 June 1940. The weather was good, changing briez, clear air. The ship passed Ålesund 0120 trough Storefjorden. At 0215 a German patrolboat stopped them and checked the paperwork before continuing past Haugsholmen and round Stålet and Kjerringpynten close to land. When passing Måløy the pilot gives directions trough the usual route. At Hindesøy they did a safetydrill with boats and wests, everything was working as it should. She went on trough Skomakeren, Steinsund og Ronglevær, they then changed course trough Feiefjorden close to Torskeflesa.
They passed Sjelanger at 1800 hours and at 1805 hours 10 June 1940 “Clear” (Stop-Klar) was signaled and just after 1810 they passed Medfjordboen to go as close portside land as possible out Hjeltefjorden, and one minute later there was a violent explosion under the front of the ship. On the bridge was captain Wirum, and 1st officer O. Mariusen and the Pilot E. Toft. On rudder I. Jensen and lookout O. Bjerkan. The ship started immediately to sink. The engines where flooded with steam from the steam pipes and water was pouring over the engines. Boats where launched while the front of the ship was under water. It took no more than 3 minutes from explosion to the ship sank. Pilot E Toft was most likely flung on deck during the explosion and was unconsies, most likely dead when the ship started to sink. The crew in the boats started to look for Toft, but could not find him.
Location of the wreck
The location registered was 60deg36minN, 04deg55minE. During a survey in 2012 initiated by BKK for the planned Mongstad-Kollsnes power cable it was found and first pictures of the vessel was made at 115 meters depth.
First divers on the wreck
09.09.2022 a team of divers “West Coast Divers” do what is claimed to be the first dive on the vessel and release the following fantastic video