The Gorch Fock, a three-masted sailboat used by the German navy for training cadets, was handed over to navy officials in the northern town of Wilhelmshaven on Thursday after nearly six years of repairs.
The refit of the ship sparked some controversy after costs rose from the original estimate of € 10million (€ 11.6million) to € 135million.
Delays and financial irregularities at the first shipyard to go into service with repairs added to the fury, which saw the Defense Ministry come under heavy fire.
The first shipyard for the refit work, Elsflether in Bremerhaven, went bankrupt in February 2019. The work has been completed in the last two years by the Lürssen shipyard in the northern port city of Bremen.
The repairs included the almost complete replacement of the hull plating, the renewal of the decks and the overhaul of the engine.
The ship’s albatross figurehead was designed by a former WWII submarine commander
60 years of service for Gorch Fock
The Gorch Fock, which entered service as a training ship in 1959, is named after the German writer Johann Kinau, who wrote under the pen name “Gorch Fock”. Kinau was killed in the Battle of Jutland / Skagerrak during World War I in 1916.
The ship has been at the center of other controversies in the past, notably in 2010 when a 25-year-old officer candidate died from rigging in the Brazilian port of Salvador da Bahia. This incident sparked a rebellion among the trainees which ultimately led to the dismissal of the ship’s captain.
At least five other sailors lost their lives in accidents on the ship.
The return to service of the vessel will be officially celebrated on Monday at its home port of Kiel. Then, the ship’s main crew will train in the Baltic Sea in October before the first cadets are rehired in January in the Canary Islands.
tj / rt (AFP, dpa)