Is there an article about the Icelandic passenger ship that was sunk in 1944 by a U-boat?

godafoss icelandic ship ww2

On November 10, 1944, a German U-boat sank Goðafoss, an Icelandic passenger ship, just outside Reykjavík harbour, leading to the deaths of  24 people. We haven’t written about the event itself, but we have, however, covered the reception history of an interesting book about the event, called “Útkall: Árás á Goðafoss,” or “SOS: Attack on the Goðafoss.” 

Published in 2003 by Óttar Sveinsson, it attracted international attention and has been translated into multiple languages. Notably, when it was translated into German, a special press conference was held at the Frankfurt book fair, in which an Icelandic survivor from the attack and a former U-Boat crew member met and reconciled. After the German translation attracted some attention, a documentary was even made about the event in Germany. 

While the Goðafoss may certainly be the most notorious U-boat attack from an Icelandic perspective, it was certainly not the only one to affect Icelanders. Because of Iceland’s important position between Europe and North America, many wartime convoys passed through Iceland. Icelandic vessels were very careful to fly the Icelandic flag to signal their neutrality, but some eight Icelandic vessels were nevertheless attacked and sunk by U-boats during the war.

Sunken Truck Recovered from Arctic Expedition

arctic trucks salvage expedition

This Sunday, August 28, rescue divers and helicopter teams salvaged a truck from the Arctic Ocean that had been lost on an expedition last March.

The original expedition and subsequent salvage mission was organized by Transglobal Car Expedition, but Icelandic company Arctic Trucks was also involved and present for both.

The truck in question was lost this March it fell through the ice on an expedition, which was an attempt to drive from Yellowknife, Canada to Resolute Bay. The trip was training for a larger expedition around the world, but it was cut short when one of the trucks was lost to the ice. Luckily, all of the crew escaped safely.

However, local communities critiqued the expedition operator, and said that the truck threatened to pollute traditional fishing grounds.

Emil Grímsson, a representative for the expedition, said in a statement that although they did not want to minimize concerns over potential pollution, that they would have to wait for suitable conditions to salvage the truck.

The conditions were finally right last week, and the truck was successfully lifted from its resting place, 15m beneath the sea. Due to unfavorable water currents, dive teams working in coordination with a helicopter only had several short windows in which to carry out the operation.

In a public post on their Facebook, Arctic Trucks stated: “Two boats were first launched to explore the area and locate the AT44. The diving team then began inspecting the vehicle underwater. Despite initially strong currents and rapid ice movement nearby, subsequent good weather conditions, clear water and superb visibility in the Arctic Ocean aided swift progress. After carefully attaching the lines and flotation bags, the truck (still upside down) was carefully moved to a shallower depth, before being turned onto its wheels and pulled onshore. The team were also able to recover all the equipment and personal items from the vehicle.”

After the fourth attempt, the truck was finally lifted onto land, as can be seen in the dramatic photographs above.

Upon recovering the vehicle, Arctic Trucks stated: “The vehicle will now be made ready for loading onto the next available sealift vessel to Montreal. The safe and successful completion of this recovery operation left the site in pristine condition, preserving the beautiful yet fragile Arctic ecosystem.”

The truck is considered a total loss after nearly a half year under water.

In addition to the salvage teams, local residents were present as well. In a statement, a team member called it a privilege to work with them, and that it was an honor to be shown their camps and hunting grounds that stretch back for hundreds of years.

Historically Cold Summer Confirmed in Recent Report from Met Office

icelandic weather summer temperatures

According to a recent report from the Meteorological Office of Iceland, this year’s summer has broken records for low temperatures.

In total, there were 27 days when the temperature exceeded 20°C (68°F) in all of Iceland. Compared to last summer, there were 57 such days of higher temperatures.

The highest recorded temperature this summer was in Mánárbakki in Northeast Iceland, an area that often has sunny and warm weather in the summer.

Reykjavík only managed to register 18°C (64°F) this summer, a 20-year year record that was only lower in 2001.

However, summer is still not entirely over. Relatively calm and warm weather is expected this weekend. Unlikely to break records, it should still be good weather for the final days of hiking, fishing, berry picking, and other outdoor activities this year.



Harpa Þórsdóttir Appointed Curator of National Museum Amidst Some Critique

national museum of iceland þjóðminjasafn

In a recent press release from the Ministry of Culture and Trade, Harpa Þórsdóttir was appointed the head curator of Þjóðminjasafn, the National Museum of Iceland.

Harpa will be taking over the position from Margrét Hallgrímsdóttir, who has held the position since 2000.

However, Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Minister of Culture and Trade, has come under some criticism for the appointment. As the position was not advertised publicly, some say that the appointment is a return to corruption and nepotism.

In an editorial for Vísir, administrative specialist Haukur Arnþórsson criticized the lack of transparency, and called for public positions to be advertised in such a way that ensure a fair hiring process:

“The main ideas behind the obligation to advertise vacancies are, on the one hand, that public funds are managed well […] and on the other hand, that everyone is equal in relation to the public sector and that their merits are assessed professionally and honestly. These points of view are not met when an employee is recruited by transferring between jobs. It is not clear what criteria are at play, which is, however, the case when a job is advertised – and the minister cannot give the public proper explanations of the hiring criteria in this respect.”

Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Minister of Culture and Trade, has pushed back against the criticism, stating that Harpa is both highly qualified, and that legal precedent exists for such hiring practices. Many other ministries, for example, hire through internal selection instead of placing open applications for every vacant position. Regarding the hiring, Lilja stated: “We have a very capable individual coming from one museum and moving on to the next.”

Harpa completed her Maîtrise in Art History at the Sorbonne in 1998, and has had a 20 year long career in museums and museum management. Prior to her appointment to the National Museum, Harpa directed the National Gallery Iceland, another of Iceland’s three major public museum collections.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has since stated that she intends to investigate such “manual hiring” practices, and wants to begin an initiative to collect data on such practices.

“I think it is important to compile these numbers over a period of time so that we can assess whether this is a trend, and to make decisions on that basis,” she stated to Vísir.