German Navy sail training ship will not be scrapped after all

German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen announced on Thursday that the navy’s iconic sail training ship Gorch Fock would receive a new lease of life after a thorough rejuvenation process.

The ship’s future was uncertain when serious damages were discovered after the ship had been docked for a regular maintenance period in January 2016.

Gorch Fock was initially expected to stay at the Elsfleth shipyard for 17 weeks with reparation costs estimated at 10 million euros.

However, previously undetected damages caused delays in the schedule and increases in spending. Work stopped altogether in October with a total of 35 million euros of contracts handed out for reparations.

Germany had to decide whether to decommission the ship at that moment and search for a replacement or a ship leased from a partner navy or continue with reparations.

Making the announcement on January 26, Ursula von der Leyen said the decision to keep Gorch Fock was influenced by the ship’s historic value. The minister also noted that this decision would give the country more time to plan for the ship’s successor.

The minister said that once the Gorch Fock leaves the dock after reparations, it will be ready to remain in service beyond 2030.

“It was a difficult decision to make as almost everything on the ship needs to be replaced,” von der Leyen said. “We decided to do this because the Gorch Fock symbolizes much more than a sail training ship, she is THE sailing training ship of the navy and Germany’s ambassador on the seas to.”