109-year old passenger steam ship back in Flensburg Harbor after “Heart Transplant” in Husum.
FLENSBURG/ HUSUM- It has been four months, since Flensburg’s iconic ship, “the Alexandra” disappeared from the dock area Schiffsbrücke, located near the Rum and Ship Museum (Schiffahrtmuseum). The 109-year old steamship, built in 1908 by Janssen & Schmilinsky, is the last saloon ship of its kind that is operated on steam, had been at the docks of Husum, undergoing one of the most complicated operations in its own history.
That operation was the replacement of the boiler!
Crews at the Husum Dock and Repair Corporation had to cut open the 37 meter long ship, removing parts of the upper deck and its signature smokestack to remove the boiler that had been in the ship’s hull since the ship was built. The boiler, which used wood and coal to heat the water and at between 180 and 200°C, was considered functionally obsolete and was therefore swapped in place of the newest boiler, which has the same function as its predecessor, but dependent mostly on wood. The total cost for the replacement was 780,000 Euros (appr. $810,000) A film demonstrating how the new boiler works, courtesy of SHZ.de, is below to show the readers.
Although the replacement took place in November, rebuilding the ship to its original form, combined with technical inspections and pursuing permission to operate the ship and return it back to Flensburg delayed its debut until today.
After a two-day journey, totalling over 400 kilometers, the Alex was greeted by thousands of visitors and fans today as it arrived at its original home for the first time after a four month absence.
The replacement of the boiler was one of seven successful restoration projects on the Alex since 1975. In 2015, new steel was added to the ship’s hull, replacing original parts that had corroded and put the ship at risk of being decommissioned. With the ship back in Flensburg, the next steps are to prepare it for its seasonal use beginning the weekend of Ascension Day in May. By then, the ship will welcome visitors, locals and fans as it tours the Flensburg Fjorde, while the ship’s captain, Guenther Hermann, talks about the ship’s history, together with the city’s history.
- The ship was named after the Princess of Schleswig-Holstein/Sondernburg/Glücksburg Alexandra Victoria (1887-1957), whose royal family had resided in Glücksburg Castle until 1918.
- The ship runs at a horsepower of 420 PS and travel at a maximum of 12 knots (22 km/h)
- The ship was the ambassador for the sailing competition at the 1936 and 1972 Olympics. Kiel was used as the venue for both, even though the remaining competition was in Berlin and Munich, respectively.
- The ship was used extensively for scuba crew and as a torpedo interceptor during World War II. It was also a rescue ship.
- The ship provides passenger service between Flensburg and Glücksburg, as well as tours around the Fjorde.
- Since 1982, the Alexandra has been listed in the Denkmalschutz Buch, the German equivalent to the National Register of Historic Places in the United States. Since the 1990s, it is the last passenger steamship of its kind in operation in Germany.