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Cars and Transportation

Historic sailboat sinks after collision

June 9, 2019

A 136-year-old wooden schooner had only just emerged from a €1.5-million renovation when it was sunk by a container ship near Hamburg. The accident would likely have been fatal if rescuers hadn't been in the area.

Emergency workers secure the wreck of the No. 5 Elbe Foto: Bodo Marks/dpa
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Marks

Hamburg's oldest operating seagoing vessel has sunk after colliding with a container ship in the Elbe River on Saturday.

There were 43 passengers on board when the 1883-built No. 5 Elbe collided with the 141-meter-long (462-foot) container ship Astrosprinter about 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Hamburg.

The passengers were almost immediately rescued, thanks to a quick response from five rescue boats that were attending a minor accident just a few hundred meters away. At least five people were injured, one of them severely.

"It would have been fatal for the passengers if we hadn't been in the vicinity," operations director Wilfried Sprekels told local newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt.

However, the wooden gaff schooner suffered serious damage and sank, though rescuers were able to secure the wreck relatively close to the surface. The container ship continued its voyage, having suffered almost no damage.

No. 5 Elbe in the Hamburg harbor  Maurizio Gambarini dpa
Danish shipbuilders spent eight months renovating the gleaming white boatImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Gambarini

Expensive renovation

The historic 37-meter (121-foot) vessel had only just returned to Hamburg's waters after a complete overhaul. It had spent eight months in a Danish shipyard undergoing a €1.5-million ($1.7-million) renovation and was unveiled earlier this week.

The schooner was built in 1883 in Hamburg, and bought pilots to ships in the North Sea. It was decommissioned in the 1920s and sold to adventurer Warwick Tompkins in the United States. In 2002, the Hamburg Maritime Foundation bought the ship from an antique dealer for €800,000 and brought it back home.

It was Hamburg's last remaining ship from the wooden shipbuilding era.

Hamburg: An urban harbor for mega-ships

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