The Maria Schröder began life as the Rolf Jarl, a 1,917 GRT steam powered cargo ship of the “three-island” style built at Trondhjems Mekaniske Værksted (Yard No. 174), Trondheim, Norway, for Det Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab, also of Trondheim, Norway. She was launched 19 June 1920 and delivered the following October with a length of 81 meters, beam of 12.8 meters, and draught of just under 7-meters. Propulsion was provided by a triple-expansion steam engine provided by the builder, and a single shaft for a speed of 11.5 knots (trials speed).
The ship was first placed on the Mediterranean service route where she sailed for most of the next 20 years. The next reference that we have of the ship is that she was stopped off of Algeria on 10 March 1940 by a French patrol, who ordered the ship to Oran for inspection and released a few days later.
One reference indicates that the Rolf Jarl was in Norway when Germany invaded the country, but was able to escape and sail to France in May 1940, after which, she was placed in Allied service.
In October 1940 the ship was slated to sail with Convoy HX83 to Sydney, Austrailia, but did not depart with the convoy. Instead, she was redirected to Belfast, Ireland for orders and a cargo of lumber, and then joined Convoy SC9 on the Sydney-UK passage.
On 08 December 1940, the Rolf Jarl departed Liverpool, UK, with Convoy OB256 en route to St. John, N.B. Then, in January 1941 the ship was scheduled to sail with Convoy SC20 from Halifax with a cargo of raw timber destined for Belfast. However, this was canceled and she sailed with the following convoy SC20. The following March she was slated to sail with Convoy HG57, but was redirected to sail with Convoy HG58 instead with a cargo of oranges for Bristol, UK.
In June 1941 the Rolf Jarl sailed with Convoy SL78, departing Freetown on 18 June and arriving in Liverpool on 12 July. And then in August, sailed with Convoy ON4 in the North Atlantic. After which she sailed with Convoy SL78 to Sydney. On the return trip, the ship was scheduled to sail as part of Convoy SC54 from Sydney to the UK, but joined the following convoy SC55 instead.
In July 1942 she sailed with Convoy SC91, and then in August she sailed on Convoy ON122 in the North Atlantic (Westbound leg).
After this, there is no more mention of the Rolf Jarl until after WWII when she was sold to Reederei Richard Schröder, Hamburg, Germany, in August 1950 and renamed the Maria Schröder.
The Loss of the Maria Schröder:
On 11 April 1956, while en route from Aqaba, Jordan to West Germany, the ship ran aground on a reef at Nabq at position 28.10N/34.30E. Attempts to refloat the ship were unsuccessful and she was declared a total constructive loss.
The wreck of the Maria Schröder lies atop the reef approximately 100-meters offshore from what is now the Nabq State Park. Most of the ship is still above water with a debris trail located on the starboard side of ship which leads down to a depth of about 24 meters. At the base of the wreck in the surrounding coral there is a wide variety of aquatic life to be seen. The site is popular with bird-watchers and snorkelers and is on the tour route for local tourist agencies.
Lee has been in the marketing industry for the last 15 years and now specializes in teaching marketing techniques to people in the scuba diving industry. He is founder of Dive Media Solutions which, in addition to providing complete marketing, media, communications and IT solutions exclusively for the scuba diving industry, also produces The Scuba News. He is a partner in The Equalizer Magazine along with providing 1-2-1 tutorials with dive centers and diving manufacturers around the world. You can connect with Lee via Twitter by following @DiveMedia