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Next year Statsraad Lehmkuhl will undergo massive upgrades. From April to September, the ship will be docked at the Laksevåg shipyard in Bergen. The biggest operation will be taking down the entire rigging.
– “All the masts and yards will brought ashore for inspection and sandblasting. The entire standing rigging will be replaced. The running rigging, around 20 kilometres of rope, will also be partially replaced. Finally, we will rebuild the entire rigging”, operations manager Sigvard Madsen says.
In addition, the galley and cold storage rooms are to be renewed and the main deck repointed. There will also be some steel work around the foundation of the mainmast.
– “This will be the biggest upgrade in 20 years. The majority of the masts are original from when the ship was built 109 years ago, so they must be well looked after. It will be a lot of work and very exciting”, Madsen says.
The barque Grossherzog Friedrich August, later Statsraad Lehmkuhl, at the launch in Germany in 1914, before the rigging was in place. Next summer, Lehmkuhl will look almost the same, when all masts and yards are down.
The work will take place at Laksevåg in Bergen and will cost forty million kroners (around 40 million US dollar).
– “2024 will be a particularly financially demanding year for Statsraad Lehmkuhl”, Haakon Vatle, CEO of the Lehmkuhl foundation, says.
Therefore, there were many happy faces to be seen when the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Lubna Jaffery, recently came to visit, bringing a grant from the Norwegian Government of four million kroner.
– “It is important to support the city’s pride and the enormous effort they have made in recent years, through the circumnavigation One Ocean Expedition and the focus on the ocean”, Jaffery said, during her visit to Bergen.
Good vibes during the Minister of Cultural Affairs Lubna Jaffery´s visit to Bergen. She brought four million kroners from the Norwegian Government. Lehmkuhl CEO Haakon Vatle (left), and Governing Mayor of Bergen, Rune Bakervik. Photo: Helene Spurkeland
Vatle is deeply grateful for the grant.
– “We see it as great recognition for the work put in by the Lehmkuhl Foundation. This grant increases the chance that our ship can sail safely with new generations into the future, as a floating ambassador for the seafaring nation of Norway and the UN’s Decade of the Seas.”
Vatle admits that they are not quite there yet.
– “There will be a need for further grants to manage the shipyard stay in 2024 in a good way. We hope that both Bergen municipality and Vestland county municipality follow up in the same way as the Ministry of Culture.”
Vatle also hopes for contributions from other parties who see the value in the foundation’s work.
– “Just give us a call! We are happy for any help to preserve Statsraad Lehmkuhl for future generations”, he says with a smile.
109-year-old Statsraad Lehmkuhl on a steady course towards future expeditions. Here in The South China Sea during the circumnavigation One Ocean Expedition in 2022. Photo: André Marton Pedersen.
A different summer season
The work at the shipyard starts at the end of April and lasts for five months.
– “Unfortunately, we therefore have to cancel the usual summer season with sailing voyages for the public. Instead, we hope to set up a couple of voyages in the fall, possibly in warmer regions”, Vatle says.
Docking in the summer means better working conditions and safety. The alternative would have been to have the work carried out in a port in southern Europe.
– “By choosing Laksevåg shipyard, we help to maintain Norwegian craft traditions and local workplaces, which is important to us. In addition, the ship does not disappear completely population of Bergen”, Vatle says.
This year’s docking
Also this year the ship will dock at Laksevåg. Among other things, the toilet and shower facilities for the voyage crew are to be rebuilt and steel plates replaced and riveted. The costs are estimated at 25 million kroners.
– “We have saved up for this, so we will handle the yard costs this fall on our own keel”, says Vatle.
Right now, the ship is in the Trondheimsfjord with 100 young people from all over the world on board. Next week, they will be replaced by cadets from The Royal Naval College.
Vatle encourages the public to follow Statsraad Lehmkuhl’s digital channels in the future.
– “These are exciting times for the ship, especially considering our plans for a new, big expedition in 2025-2026. We attempt to follow in Roald Amundsen’s footsteps and sail through the Northwest Passage”, Vatle says.