"This is a low blow for us, unbelievable!" In an initial reaction, Joachim Kaiser, chairman of the Hamburg Maritime Foundation, summed up what many people thought when they heard of the tragic accident of the pilot schooner "No 5 Elbe" at the weekend. In the vicinity of Stade, the ship, which was laid in the Hamburg Stülcken shipyard in Kiel in 1883, collided with the container ship "Astrosprinter" flying the Cypriot flag and later sank in a nearby port.
Fortunately, at the time of the accident, DLRG and fire-fighting boats were very close by on the Elbe, which were supposed to come to the aid of a sailor who had run aground. When they observed the collision between the "No 5 Elbe" and the "Astrosprinter", they rushed to the scene of the accident, hid the people on board, transferred pumps and towed the schooner.
The "No 5 Elbe" immediately after the collision with the "Astrosprinter". DLRG and fire brigade rush to help
A total of 43 people were on board the sailor, eight of them were injured in the accident, according to initial reports, one of them seriously. The container ship was able to continue its voyage. According to an initial notification from the police, at the time of the accident it was driving correctly on the right-hand side of the fairway in the direction of Cuxhaven and was manned by a pilot. The "No 5 Elbe" had crossed the main fairway, on which the maritime traffic regulations apply, when it came before the bow of the professional ship.
Pumps did not compete against the penetrating water
Eyewitnesses report that, contrary to expectations, the pilot protector straightened up again after the collision; at first it had apparently looked as if he was being pushed completely under water by the much larger container ship. The boat leaked so badly that neither its own nor the pumps handed over by the helpers were sufficient to cope with the penetrating water. The tow to Stadersand in the Schwing estuary was still successful. But there "No 5 Elbe" went deep.
The "No 5 Elbe" sunk in the port of Stadersand
What happens next with the boat will only be decided after it has been recovered, so that cannot be expected until tomorrow. At the weekend, however, many, some of whom are directly involved with the ship, expressed their confidence that they would be able to save it. Wolfgang Benz from the "Friends of the Lotsenschoner" association said something to the NDR Hamburg Journal: "Of course, other people now make decisions. As deckhands, we can only say that we will carry on.
The pilot schooner, which has an eventful history in its wake, only started up again this spring after extensive renovation in a Danish shipyard. In 2002, at the instigation of the foundation board member Joachim Kaiser, he was brought back to Hamburg from the USA, where he had been sold more than half a century ago. Since then, it has been traveling as a floating museum on the Elbe with paying guests.
More information and background information in the upcoming YACHT.