Sea tug Elbe: 1959 – 2019

From 24 February 1959 to this day, the Elbe has written towage and shipping history. It all started with a fog that lasted for days, which threatened to confuse the program for the test trip and the transfer. The transfer could still take place because an unexpectedly powerful spring sun drove out the fog. The first towing job under the command of Captain A. Poot was only a short trip. The passenger ship Victoria was towed from Vlissingen to Rotterdam in 10 hours. Then quickly followed the larger work. In 1959 another voyage followed with two aircraft carriers simultaneously from Boston to Antwerp.

Action ship Greenpeace

The Association of Maryland Pilots decided in 1985 to donate its pilot vessel Maryland to the environmental organisation Greenpeace. The original Elbe was further rebuilt, with hydraulic cranes to launch the well-known dinghies and the ship was given a helicopter deck, to obtain air support during expeditions in Arctic waters to find a route through the ice. Because the Elbe was not built as an ice class, Greenpeace added 17 mm of extra steel to its bow. However, the assistance of a helicopter remained very welcome.

The Elbe was welcomed in the waters of Rotterdam on January 4, 2002 after many years of absence. For the first time since September 1976 the ship returned under the name Elbe and with a blue band in the chimney.

The first berth of the ship was Schiedamse de Wiltonhaven. Here a start was made with the restoration. The anchor spindle was pulled and the front mast was restored to its original state, among other things without a crow’s nest. The widened bridge deck, with covered sloop deck was adapted and with the removal of the helicopter platform on the aft deck the Elbe got back the first contours of the sea tugboat.

In the spring of 2003 the Elbe was the starting vessel for the Heineken Race of the Classics. The Elbe returns to its original home port of Maassluis in October 2003 and April 2004. Until disaster strikes on 30 July 2004: The Elbe is hit by the heavy transport ship Fairpartner, where the Fairpartner drills himself with the bulb stem in the engine room. The Elbe sinks within a few minutes.

The ship is salvaged and repaired in Vlaardingen. The Elbe is the last ship to dock at HVO shipyard. The yard then closes the gate. On October 27, 2004, the Elbe is at Wärtsilä in the Wilhelminahaven in Schiedam, the Elbe sinks again, this time by sabotage. The volunteers see their months of work disappear under water, but keep their dream: The Elbe is saved from the demolition hammer and the restoration continues.

On Saturday 12 February 2005, the Elbe returns to its original home port of Maassluis. At a temperature of 3 degrees and wind force 8-9 from the southwest, the ship receives a warm welcome from hundreds of interested people. The rest of the restoration is more extensive than ever. The engine room was completely persuaded, the cables in the entire ship were replaced, the interior was largely dismantled, the ship was insulated again, tank tops were replaced, the mountain timber removed in 1976 was reinstalled, the aft mast was temporarily removed and replaced, the bulwark on the aft deck was replaced, the bridge wing at the aft mast was replaced, the engine room cap was renewed and the betting was placed back on the aft deck.

All these activities make the Elbe another sailing ship that in the year 2019 has the shine of sea tug back by far.

The Elbe will visit Oostende for the second time at Anchor and is really worth a visit. He will be moored at the cruise quay behind the station.