The Rolano – A Second World War Kriegsfishkutter (War Fish Cutter) vessel

by Dirk Septer 2018


Rolano (O.N. 371083 – exKFK 133 Photo taken at Campbell River, BC on May 23, 2015) (Photo by Dirk Septer.)

The Rolano is one of 1,072 German Kriegsfishkutter (KFK) War Fish Cutter vessels ordered by the Kriegsmarine during the Second World War. (24m x 6.4m x 2.75m). The 411 KFK vessels were built in Germany at the Burmester Shipyard located at Swinemuende–Ost (Ernst Burmester Schiffwerft KG). Additional vessels were built in 42 other shipyards located in seven European countries, including 44 of them in 17 shipyards in neutral Sweden. Twelve were built in Greece; 24 in Warna, Bulgaria; 12 in Cherson (Ukraine); 22 in six different yards in Belgium and 29 in 12 shipyards in the Netherlands. Prior to the end of the Second World War, 610 of these were delivered and commissioned. Of the 554 that saw active service, approximately 199 were lost, and at least 135 of these were sunk.

Ten of the surviving vessels were later re–commissioned into the newly–established West German Bundesmarine named as W1 to W10 (July 1956), and with the West German Border Guard (March 1957). The remaining KFKs were transferred as war reparations: 147 went to the USSR; 156 to the USA and 52 to the UK. Others went to France (26), Norway (9), Netherlands (5), Greece (4) and Sweden (1).

The Rolano was built during the Second World War by Tore Holms, Gamleby, Sweden for the Kriegsmarine as Kriegsfishkutter KFK 133 and was delivered in November 1943. Initially she served as NS 33 for the Hafenschuetz Stavanger, Norway; (port protection) and subsequently as UJ 1766 with the Bootjagdflottille, Stavanger, Norway; (submarine patrols). Later the vessel was renumbered as BX 573. In May 1945 the vessel was surrendered and put into service with the German Mine Sweeping Administration (GMSA). In 1953 the US turned her over to the Federal Republic of Germany (No. 3069 Agreement relating to the return to the Federal Republic of Germany of certain German naval vessels by the Tripartite Naval Commission, signed at Bonn on August 23, 1953, #344 with a DM30,000 value). Hermann Neves became the first civilian owner. Registered as NC 419 Cuxhaven, the vessel joined the German deep sea fishing fleet. Neves converted her as a fishing vessel for side trawling 1956–1977).


Old NC 419 registration still visible under the Rolano name. (Photo by Dirk Septer.)

In 1977, the Rolano was imported into Port Alberni, BC, where the vessel was converted from a fish packer into a gaff–rigged Ketch motor sailer, accommodating 12 passengers. Canadian owners have included: Heinz W. Strehlow, Port Alberni (1978); Albert V. Galbraith, Fulforth Harbour (1979); Cram Marine Enterprises Ltd, Fulforth Harbour (1980–1984); Grant Adlington, Squamish (1985–1986); Christine L. Waddington, Pitt Meadows, (1987); and Ralph B. Hull, Cowichan Bay (1988–1993). 430980 B.C. Ltd., Sooke, has operated the vessel since 1994.


Apart from a few minor modifications, the Rolano is still powered by her original 6–cylinder MWM (Motor Werke Mannheim) engine. Photo taken at Campbell River, BC. (Photo by Dirk Septer.)

Karin (ex–KFK 631)

During a holiday in Scotland in the summer of 2017, I spotted a sister vessel of the Rolano. Tied up in the harbour at Kirkwall I immediately recognized the diving charter vessel Karin as a former KFK vessel. This war fishing cutter was built in 1944 for the Kriegsmarine as KFK 631 by Burmester, Swinemuende, Germany (yard no. 388) No. V5537. In May 1945, this vessel was surrendered and later transferred to the German Mine Sweeping Administration (GMSA). In the early 1950s, she became a Hamburg, West Germany–registered beam trawler HF–410, then owned and operated by Karl Simonsen, of Hamburg. Changing hands a number of times, the vessel eventually ended up in the United Kingdom. Currently she is operated by Stonehaven Snorkellers as dive charter vessel.


The Karin at Kirkwall 2017 (Photo by Dirk Septer.)

As an interesting aside, the diving vessel Karin shows the recovered construction plate of World War I Imperial German Navy Koenig class battle ship SMS Mark Graf built by A.G Weser, Bremen, Germany. After the end of the war, this large German battle ship was scuttled at nearby Scapa Flow.

In the years following the end of the Second World War, a number of derivatives of this successful KFK design were constructed, including the Prince Rupert-registered Curve of Time.

Curve of Time

The Curve of Time (O.N. 812727) (Photo by Dirk Septer.)

Originally built in the Netherlands as the Peter Leonhard, this vessel fished commercially until 1984, after which Greenpeace International purchased her. In June 1986 the Norwegian coast guard arrested the vessel twice in the Barents Sea. As the Moby Dick she was seized after a six–hour chase, charged with interfering with the whale hunt off northern Norway. In February 1995 she was also involved in the boarding of Shell Oil’s 14,500–tonne Brent Spear oil storage facility in the North Sea.

The vessel crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times, eventually arriving on the west coast of British Columbia via the Panama Canal. In the fall of 1997, Due West Charters had purchased Moby Dick and renamed her the Curve of Time, after Muriel Wylie Blanchet’s iconic cabin cruiser in which she travelled up and down the British Columbia coast with her five children. The vessel was not registered in Canada until about 2001.

Now a charter vessel for kayak adventures and research trips looking for whales, sea otters and sea lions, she was also used by RCSCC Fraser sea cadets as a training vessel. Between 2001–2016 she was owned by 504897 B.C. Ltd., New Westminster BC. Based in Powell River, the Curve of Time is being used as a kayak mother ship for Due West Charters Ltd. with accommodations for 10 guests. There are two cabins on the main deck, each accommodating two people. Aft below decks there is a comfortable sitting area adjoining six individually curtained traditional ship’s bunks. There are two full washrooms with showers on the main deck. Vessel details: 25.43m x 6.30m 109 GT/39 NT. MMSI 316002684. Call Sign PC8149. She was built as the Peter Leonhard in 1959 by D. en Joh. Boot N.V., Alphen Aan Den Rijn, Netherlands (Yard number 1277). She was renamed as De Vrouw Bregtje (1961-1985); Wiking (1985-1986); then Moby Dick (1986-1998). Owner: 504897 B.C. Ltd, New Westminster, BC.

The current owner is keeping the vessel anchored in Gorge Harbour on Cortes Island having been idle for some time.

To quote from this article please cite:

Septer, Dirk (2018) The Rolano – A Second World War Kriegsfishkutter (War Fish Cutter) vessel. 2018.

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