SS Glitra

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SS Glitra.jpg
United Kingdom
Name: SS Glitra
Builder: Swan Hunter, Newcastle upon Tyne
Launched: 1882
Christened: Saxon Prince
Renamed: Glitra (1895)
Homeport: Leith
Fate: Captured and scuttled by U-17 20 October 1914
General characteristics
Tonnage: 866 tons
Length: 215 ft (65.53 m)
Beam: 30 ft (9.14 m)
Draught: 6 ft (1.83 m)
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h)

SS Glitra was a steam ship that was the first British merchant vessel to be sunk by a German submarine in the First World War.


SS Saxon Prince was the first ship built for Prince Steam Shipping Ltd., otherwise known as "Prince Line". She was launched in 1882, and in 1884 entered service with Prince Line. She served for eleven years with Prince Line and was then sold to Christian Salvesen in 1895. Saxon Prince was renamed Glitra and served with Christian Salvesen for nineteen years. She was fated to be the first British merchant vessel sunk by Germany in the First World War.[1]

Capture and sinking[edit]

Kapitänleutnant Johannes Feldkirchener

On 20 October 1914, Glitra was outbound from Grangemouth with a destination of Stavanger, Norway laden with coal, iron plate and oil when she was stopped and searched 14 nautical miles (26 km) west south west of Skudenes, Rogaland, Norway by the German U-boat U-17, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Johannes Feldkirchener. The stop and search was done in accordance with the "prize rules" of war. The crew were ordered into the lifeboats, and once all were safely aboard the captors opened the sea valves and scuttled Glitra.[1][2]

As U-17 searched and scuttled Glitra the two vessels were being observed by the Royal Norwegian Navy 1. class torpedo boat HNoMS Hai on neutrality protection duties. The Norwegians did not interfere with the incident itself, as it took place outside Norwegian territorial waters, but after U-17 left the scene Hai took the British lifeboats under tow and brought the crewmen to the south western Norwegian port of Skudeneshavn.[3]

Thus Glitra became the first British merchant vessel to be lost to a German submarine[4]

See also[edit]

Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships


  1. ^ a b "s.s. GLITRA". Facta Nautica. Retrieved 2008-03-24. (Polish)
  2. ^ "BRITISH MERCHANT SHIPS LOST to ENEMY ACTION Part 1 of 3 - Years 1914, 1915, 1916 in date order". Naval History. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Jon Rustung Hegland, & Johan Henrik Lilleheim (1998). Norske torpedobåter gjennom 125 år (in Norwegian). Hundvåg: Sjømilitære Samfund ved Norsk Tidsskrift for Sjøvesen. p. 43. ISBN 82-994738-1-0. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Glitra". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 2008-03-24.