SS Aud was a temporary name given to SMS Libau as part of her attempt to carry arms to Ireland. The vessel was built in Hull, England in 1907 and named SS Castro but had been captured by the Imperial German Navy in the Kiel Canal in August 1914 and renamed SMS Libau. She had a similar appearance to a Norwegian vessel, SS Aud, so was repainted as such to disguise herself. She sailed from Germany on 09 April 1916 with a crew of 23 volunteers dressed as ‘Norwegians’ carrying an estimated 10 machine guns, 20,000 Mosin-Nagant rifles (captured from the Russians), around 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition and a quantity of explosives. Her disguise enabled her to avoid contact with the Royal Navy as she traveled up the coast of Norway, passing close to the Arctic Circle then down the West Coast of Ireland.
Radio intelligence had alerted the British that a landing of arms was soon to be attempted, placing the Royal Navy based at Queenstown Co Cork on high alert. SS Aud arrived off Fenit Harbour in Tralee Bay on 20 April 1916 where she was due to meet Roger Casement, a British Diplomat of Irish origins who had obtained German support for the rebellion. Casement had arrived on board U-19, landing to the North at Banna Strand and was soon captured. He was later executed for treason.
Having failed to make contact with Casement or his men, SS Aud made for Germany but was intercepted by HMS Bluebell on 23 April 1916. She was ordered to proceed to Queenstown however the crew scuttled the ship at the entrance to the harbour. Having changed into their Kriegsmarine Uniforms to avoid being treated as spies, they were interned for the remainder of the war.
Artefacts from SS Aud are on display at Cork Public Museum. The ship’s two anchors were recovered in 2012 and were due to go on display in Fenit and Cork in time for the centenary.