Rescue Crews Save Historic Tall Ship From Sinking

On Friday morning, a lifesaving crew from the German Sea Rescue Society (DGzRS) worked with German police to save a historic sailing vessel from sinking in Eckernförde Bay, located on Germany’s Baltic coast north of Kiel.

At about 0925, the master of the workboat Nok 1 contacted the Bremen branch of the DGzRS over Channel 16 and reported an emergency. The Nok 1 had the traditional sailing vessel Carmelan in tow, and the vessel’s bow was sinking noticeably deeper into the water. After investigation, the workboat reported that the Carmelan was taking on water and threatening to sink.

At the time of the call, the tug and tow were about four nautical miles northwest of Kiel lighthouse. The DGzRS dispatchers alerted assets from two nearby stations, including the larger rescue vessel Fritz Knack. 

The German Federal Police vessel Bayreuth was first on scene, followed by Fritz Knack. “When we got to the distressed ship at around 0950, the ship was already two-thirds full [of water]. It would not have been [much more] and it would have sunk,” said DGzRS responder Henry Hildebrandt.

Luckily, conditions were calm, and they were able to come alongside quickly and deploy emergency bilge pumps. With a total of five pumps on board, they managed to bring the flooding under control.

With the pumps running and first responders providing an escort, the Carmelan was towed safely into a shipyard in Kiel-Friedrichsort for repairs.

Carmelan is a 1927-built motor-sailing fishing vessel with a gaff ketch rig. She had a 50-year career in fishing in the North Sea, extending long after the Age of Sail had ended. After a refit in the 1970s-80s, she re-entered service as an educational vessel.

Wolfgang Fricke / CC BY 3.0

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