Tall Ship ‘Alexander von Humboldt’1
Manufactured in 1906 at Bremen by the shipyard AG Weser, Alexander von Humboldt is a German tall ship, whose original title was ‘Reserve Sonderburg.’ After nearly 80 years of service, during which she regularly operated in the Baltic and North Seas, Reserve Sonderburg was retired in 1986. Two years later, another German shipyard Motorwerke Bremerhaven transformed her into a three masted vessel and re-launched it under the current name of Alexander von Humboldt.
Reserve Sonderburg was originally drafted in on September 10, 1906 as a reserve light vessel so that it could cover for others at the time of yard maintenance. Having being assigned the construction serial number of 155, it was the first light vessel of its kind, made by AG Weser. Like most of the other light vessels of that time, Sonderburg’s hull was also based on another sailing ship.
There is some ambiguity regarding the ship’s original name, as according to the documentation dating back to its 1906 inauguration, Reserve Sonderburg was also called ‘Reserve Fehmarnbelt.’ Her first home port was in the Danish city of Sønderborg and therefore, it can be argued that the name ‘Reserve Sonderburg’ was a derivation from this connection. From the 25 year period of 1920 to 1945, the light vessel served on a number of routes, but its main operational area was around the Baltic Sea, while its home port was based in Kiel-Holtenau. In 1945, she was permanently chosen as the replacement vessel for Kiel- the light vessel, which had been damaged severely in the World War II bombings.
Reserve Sonderburg sank in 1957 as a result of a collision with a Swedish freighter. She was subsequently pulled out of the water and required intense overhauling of two years, before it was possible to put her back into service. In 1967, upon receiving a promotion in her location, she was again assigned the role of reserve light vessel- her original sea role. A few years later, she was again selected to fill in for retired vessel ‘Amrumbank.’ Another accident ensued and Reserve Sonderburg was towed to Bremehaven and renamed ‘Confidentia.’
In May 1988, she was re-inaugurated by the ‘Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training’ under its current name of Alexander von Humboldt- a tribute to the famous German voyager of the same name. DSST transformed the reserve vessel into a tall ship and coloured its hull green, as a tribute to the Rickmers shipping company’s historical green sailing ships.
Nicknamed ‘Alex’ by her crew, Alexander von Humboldt is currently serving as one of DSST’s sail training ships and has covered more than 300,000 nautical miles during its two decades with the German company. She still takes parts in several annual events such as tall ships’ races and summer cruises in the North and Baltic Seas.
Tags: ag weser, Alexander von Humboldt, DSST, light vessel, Reserve sonderburg, ships, three masted vessel