Hjalmar Bjørge was built in 1963 at Skudenshavn, Norway, to Det Norsk Veritas +1 A1-N-ICE-C standards. One of thirteen 22.85m Norwegian Rescue Ships, Hjalmar Bjorge was heavily built and comprehensively fitted out as a liveaboard ocean-going towing and fleet support vessel for the Norwegian fishing fleet. She worked as Rescue Vessel No. 69 until 1996 for NSSR (Norsk Selskab til Skibbrudnes Redning or Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue). After decommissioning Hjalmar Bjorge was sold to an American owner who renamed her “Sunrise” and painted her a Danish blue colour. He kept the vessel in Ireland and added a bow-thrust and stabilisers after which, due to ill health, the vessel was little used until Northern Light bought her in February 2002.
The correct Norwegian pronunciation for Hjalmar Bjørge is”YAL-MUH B’YOR-GAY” but we call the boat “HAL-MUH GEORGE” because it’s easier (and our Norwegian accents are really rubbish). The Bjørge family is a well-known Norwegian shipping family and this boat is named after Hjalmar because, unusually, when the boat was being manufactured for the Rescue Service the family donated around half the cost of the build. We have been told by the the Bjørge family that Hjalmar Bjørge and his shipbuilding partner were proud patriotic Norwegians who, during the Second World War, refused Hitler’s request to return their vessels to port so they could be sequestered by the Nazis. For this refusal they were imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
Aware that pronunciation of the boat’s name might give our guests pause for thought we considered changing it. While swithering over alternatives, we came across the original lettering that sits across the curved wheelhouse. Decision made – honour the vessel’s heritage and stick with the given name!
During 2002 – 2003 an extensive refurbishment saw the superstructure of the vessel extended backwards, the top deck enlarged, the addition of “wings” at the side (providing covered walkways) and extra guest cabins. Hjalmar Bjørge now comfortably accommodates 12 guests in six twin-berth cabins with their own sinks. Five cabins have bunks and one has twin beds. Two quiet-flush toilets and a shower have been added below decks with a further toilet and shower at deck level. The new build contains a galley, store and spacious dining/saloon area. Crew cabins have been built at the aft of the vessel and we have added new, quieter generators as well as a watermaker, central heating and more efficient propellers.
We have worked steadily to decrease the impact that Hjalmar Bjørge has on the environment in which she works. Click here to read about our measures.
Click here to see a gallery of more photos of Hjalmar Bjørge in stunning Hebridean locations.
DID YOU KNOW?
The first signs of habitation on Hirta (the largest island in the St Kilda archipelago and the only one you can really land on) are thought to have occurred c. 600 AD.