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Lightship “Elbe 3” is back – refurbishment on schedule and on budget

It took longer and was considerably more expensive, but now the museum and lightship “Elbe 3” has been returned to its home.

The 115-year-old steel sailing ship “Elbe 3” was repaired at Bredo Dry Docks in Bremerhaven at a cost of around €3m during an almost year-long stay at the shipyard.

The museum ship has now been transferred back to the museum harbour by the German Maritime Museum with the help of two tugboats across the Weser.

The red 44-metre-long three-master was no longer accessible to visitors for many years before the refurbishment. During its time in the shipyard, the entire lower ship was renovated. Not only did the work take three times as long as planned, but at €3m, the costs were also significantly higher than the original estimate of €1.7m. Significantly more damage than expected was discovered during the docking period. The money came from the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, donors, the city of Bremerhaven and the state of Bremen, among others.

Eventful history for later lightship “Elbe 3”

The historic lightship “Elbe 3” has been part of the city’s maritime heritage since 1967. The Royal Hydraulic Engineering Inspectorate originally had the station ship built for the Eider estuary under the name “Eider” at the Eider shipyard in Tönning in 1908. During the First World War, it served as a lightship on the North Sea minefields, then it belonged to the Cuxhaven Waterways and Shipping Office as the “Bürgermeister Abendroth” and was moored in the Baltic Sea during the Second World War.

It was then used as a beacon and pilot station at the “Elbe 3” position with a crew of 16 in the German Bight. In an emergency, the ship could be manoeuvred with a storm sail. Initially, the beacon consisted of kerosene lamps, but later a diesel generator and batteries were installed for electric lighting. The fog horns, which were initially operated by hand, were replaced by a large fog horn. The lightship “Elbe 3” is now the oldest ship in the museum harbour and will be used as a floating exhibition and event space in the future. (CE)

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Copyright: Eckardt

Caption: The lightship "Elbe 3" (© Eckardt)