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  • 2015 September 22

    Elsflether Werft’s technologies and specific approach to repair of sailing ships

    The town of Elsfleth situated at the confluence of the Hunte with the Weser, on the left bank of the Weser near Bremen is well known for its long shipbuilding and shipping history. It has a school of navigation famous all over Germany, a training center and simulators being used for training courses including those for Gazprom personnel. The town has recently seen the launch of the Green Shipping Competence Center through a mega-support of the Lower Saxony government. The Center is to ensure that new research innovations are realised going forward.  The shipyard is an integral component of shipbuilding and shipping in the town. The shipyard located in the tidal area sees water level difference of up to 3.6 meters. Therefore, some of larger ships undergo repair at the partner shipyard Bredo in Bremerhaven. The shipyard’s personnel numbers over 100 employees. Before 1994, the shipyard was engaged exclusively in building new ships and minor repairs. Over that period it built 417 different ships. The last newbuilt was the famous sailing ship "Lili Marleen". Starting from 1996, the yard has been crossed over to ship repair, modernization and modification of vessels including sailing ships.

    The shipyard is currently implementing a long-term modernization programme aimed at expansion of its production capacity, for an intense ship repair as well as more workshops and wider range of equipment. Just two years ago the shipyard looked like it is in the picture below.
    Today, multi-million programme provides for construction of new production facilities, modernization of launch-and-recovery systems, retrofitting of fitting-out quay, upgrading of hotel facilities for accommodation of crews during their ships repair, development of infrastructure, further training of employees, launch of study/employment combination programme for young specialists, introduction of integration programmes for migrants and young specialists, holding of social activities aimed at teambuilding and fostering an attitude of care towards the enterprise.

    All those investment programmes became possible with the goodwill and resolution of the shipyard’s sole owner Brigitte Rohden and the Company management - Klaus Wiechmann and Marcus Reinberg.

    Starting from 2000, the shipyard has been involved in more ambitious projects as the repair of large sailing ships requiring special approach and attention due to their long history. Their repair process is arranged with special caution and accuracy starting from selection of place for installation of repair equipment and up to thorough observation of interior details in view of their historical value.

    Among the Company’s regular customers is the famous sailing ship "Gorch Fock", from the German navy.
    From 2000 to 2013, the sailing ship paid seven visits to the Elsflether Werft. In 2000-2001, the ship underwent an overhaul covering the following systems – air-conditioning, rescue system, piping system, wet-refuse disposal plant, complete electrical system, incl. units and switching devices, navigation and radar system, modification of the living and sanitary facilities for female officer cadets, rigging/ sail, waste water system, complete interior furnishings, installation of a bow jet-system for improved steering.

    Upon completion of all the works which also included the repair of the steel hull structure and painting operations following abrasive sand-jet cleaning, all the mechanisms and equipment were tested in the presence of classification societies’ representatives.

    In 2010-2012, fixed ballast and skin plates were fully replaced and the works to improve safety of aloft operations was performed.

    The repair of “Großherzogin Elisabeth” is another example of accurate work.  

    Special attention was paid to the repair of the ship’s hull, rigging, mechanisms and equipment, painting and repair of the interior. The shipyard also used to work with other famous sailing ships like “Salomon”, “Atlantik”, “Ruach”, “Eye of the Wind” and “Mercedes”.

    In its operations the shipyard applies advanced methods of repair and new technologies like water jet cutting of steel onboard the ship, anti-corrosion protection when using lead ballast, innovative cathodic protection, development of extensive measures aimed at safer       aloft operations.

    Recent incident with “Kruzenshtern” when the sailing ship’s bowsprit was damaged is not an exception. Similar damage happened to “Großherzogin Elisabeth” almost in the same period of time.
    The ship is under repair which is nearing completion. The deck and rigging were partly renovated as well as the bowsprit. 
    Those working at the shipyard say that repairing sailing ships is hard but interesting. The shipyard helps old vessels be brushed up and renovated in compliance with up-to-date standards.

    Through the efforts of Elsflether Werft specialist those old sailing ships sill play the seas to everybody’s admiration.

    This year, Elsflether Werft participates in the international shipbuilding event NEVA-2015 in Saint-Petersburg, for the first time in its history. Together with the design bureau Technolog Services and ship repair company Bredo, headed by its Director, it exhibits at stand 1026 (1), German Pavilion, opposite the stand of the United Shipbuilding Corporation in Hall 1 F.

    The shipyard’s Operations Manager Stanislav Kovalchik, graduate of State Marine Technical University of St.Petersburg, will tell his Russian colleagues about organisation of the continuous repair process and will be glad to establish strong business relationship Russian ship repair companies and owners of sailing ships.