Unsolved Murders

Jurgen Maarnes

Age: 37

Sex: male

Date: 26 May 1960

Place: MV Anella, Bromborough Dock, Bebington, Cheshire

Jurgen Maarnes died in a fire on his tanker, the 5,152 tons MV Anella whilst it was berthed in Bromborough Dock.

Jurgen Maarnes was a Norwegian and had only been master of the tanker for six weeks after taking over in the Indian Ocean when the previous captain, Lars Knutsvik, suddenly died.

The captain’s cabin had comprised of a five room suite and it was heard that it had been ablaze for at least an hour before it was reported.

An open verdict was returned at his inquest at Bromborough on Wednesday 25 May 1960.

His cause of death was due to asphyxia and shock due to extensive burns.

A Station Officer with the Cheshire County Fire Service at Bebington said that he had no idea how the fire had started but said that it must have been going for at least an hour before it was discovered. He said that damage in the captain's rooms indicated that the fire could have started either in the bedroom or the dining-room.

He said that they found Jurgen Maarnes half-submerged in water in the bathroom, extensively burned.

When the Coroner summed up he said, 'I am far from satisfied there was an officer on watch and a deck watch. If the fire had been going for at least an hour I am surprised no one noticed it. I am not suggesting there is anything wrong or improper, but I do think there was a certain amount of laxity in the watch that was being kept'.

The Coroner then added that if the jury felt that the captain had been smoking, was tired and had been drinking and had set fire to himself, then that would he an accident.

However, he then said, 'But if you feel there could be any other explanation for the fire, there is no suggestion that there has been any foul play, but if you are not satisfied you are at liberty to say so'.

The Second Mate who came from Harstad, said that he last saw Jurgen Maarnes at about 6.30pm on the Tuesday. He said that he had been on watch during the night and was in his cabin most of the time and that there had also been a watchman on deck. He said that at about 5.30am the following morning that he went to see the pump man and that from the stern bridge he saw smoke coming from the captain's quarters.

He said that he then ran up to the door and pushed it open but could not enter because of the smoke and fire. However, he said that he heard Jurgen Maarnes call out for help.

The Second Mate said, 'I ran to the bridge and pressed the fire alarm and got a hose out. I pushed this through the porthole of the captain's cabin and continued to pour water in the cabin until the arrival of the fire brigade'.

He added that he also tried to use the fire extinguisher from the bridge but said that he couldn't get it to work.

The Chief Steward said that he had been in the captain's cabin from midnight until about 3am talking over a quarter bottle of whisky after which they went below for something to eat. He said that Jurgen Maarnes was not drunk but that one could tell that he had had a drink. He said that after that that he went back to his own room and heard Jurgen Maarnes going up.

The cause of the fire was described as being a mystery.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 26 May 1960