By David John Smith
If you are following the Wild Telemark Facebook pages and saw yesterday’s post (31 August), you will see that we featured the rail ferry M/F Storegut.
Accordingly, we thought you might like to know more about this magnificent vessel. It is still in operation today, with Captain Tommy Leikenrud at the helm.
The rail ferry M/F Storegut was commissioned to bring Norsk Hydro’s ferry shipping capacity up to the necessary level in the years following the sinking of the D/F Hydro towards the end of World War II in February 1944.
Once completed and launched in 1956, the M/F Storegut became the largest inland vessel in the Nordic countries and would be the backbone of Norsk Hydro company operations for the next decades. Once the new ferry was put into service, the DF Ammonia then was relegated to reserve status.
Built by Glommen Mechanical Works AS on the ferry slipway at Tinnoset, the main purpose of the M/F Storegut was to transport rail cars containing Norway saltpetre and other Hydro products across Lake Tinn in the process of export to the international market. A triple-screw railway ferry, the M/F Storegut was the first vessel in Norway to be equipped with bow thrusters.
As the photos show, the M/F Storegut was a class act. The lounges below deck have stencil¬ painted Huntonit wall panels, while the other lounges feature veneer. The seating on board is made of nickel-plated steel pipe upholstered with artificial leather, with the exception of Hydro’s lounges where the furniture is upholstered with fabric.
Lounges under the railway deck as well as on a separate lounge deck above the railway deck were used by the normal passenger, with a dining room and smoking lounge at the aft end of the upper lounge deck reserved for Hydro’s management and the company’s visitors.
The M/F Storegut was the company workhorse during its years of operation from 1956 to 1991, when it was taken out of service when Norsk Hydro shut down most of its production in Rjukan.The ferry was declared protected by the National Directorate for Cultural Heritage in 2009, at the same time as DF «Ammonia» was placed under the same protection and is now a museum vessel as part of the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum.
Only minor changes have been made since the vessel was completed in 1956, and as mentioned in the introduction, the M/F Storegut is still in operation today.