||Maritime Topics On Stamps: |
Two tall ships named
Gorch Fock, whose real name was Johann Kinau, was born 1880 at Hamburg
Finkenwerder. He wanted to become a fisherman like his father, but he was
not strong enough for that profession. He worked as a merchant’s assistant and
accountant. Early on he wrote stories and theater plays, most of them in
‘plattduetsch’ language, the low German dialect spoken in the German coastal regions.
In 1912 he published his novel 'Seefahrt ist Not' (seafaring is necessary)
which became a classic in German maritime literature. Shortly thereafter his
old dream of 'going to sea' seemed to become
true. In 1916, during World War One, he was drafted into the German navy.
Just two months later he drowned aboard SMS 'Wiesbaden' in the Battle of the
Skagerrak, also known as the Battle of Jutland.
Two sail training vessels of the German navy were named in his honor, in 1933
The cover shows the second bark named 'Gorch Fock' and the stamp celebrating
the centenary of the writer’s birth.
On 26th July 1932 the German sail training ship 'Niobe' went down in
the Baltic Sea near the island of Fehmarn. An extremely strong
thunderstorm squall caused the schooner to list 40 to 50 degrees, the rudder
became useless. Attempting to head into the wind, 'Niobe' heeled over
completely and capsized within a few minutes. 40 men could be saved, 69 sailors
drowned below while attending naval instruction.
Whereupon the German navy decided to build a new sail training vessel, to be
called 'Gorch Fock'.
The specifications of the first ' Gorch Fock ':
- Built 1933 at the Blohm & Voss shipyard, Hamburg
- Three-mast bark with steel hull
- Length x Beam x Draft   =   269 x 39 x 17 feet
- 1392 GRT, 1510 ts displacement
- 23 sails, altogether 1750 square meters
- Height mainmast over deck of 135 feet
- Auxiliary engine 550 HP
- In German naval service: 66 men regular crew and 180 cadets
- In Soviet merchant service, renamed ‘Tovaristch’: 46 men regular crew,
Until 1939 'Gorch Fock' made extensive cruises training naval cadets in
seamanship and navigation. During World War II she was stationed at the port of
Stralsund. Leaving the harbor in May 1945, she ran on a mine and sank. Other
sources report that she was scuttled by her crew. In 1948 the wreck was raised
by the Soviet Union and repaired the following three years. 1951 she was
commissioned as a sail training ship for the Soviet merchant marine and renamed
'Tovaristch' (‘comrade’) . She was assigned to the naval college in Cherson in
the Black Sea. Incidentally, she became the second bark to be called
‘Tovaristch’. Earlier, the Russians operated a four-mast bark of same name which sunk in
the Asov Sea in 1943.
In 1957 'Towaristch' sailed around the world and rounded Cape Horn. 1974 and
1976 she triumphed twice during 'Operation Sail' races. In 1992 when the
Soviet Union dissolved the bark was transferred to the Ukrainian flag, its home
port Cherson being part of that new nation.
During 1992/3 the German 'Tall-Ship Friends' organization arranged for public
participation in windjammer cruises on the ship. From 1995 to 1999 she was
laid-up in England awaiting repairs, but required financing fell through. In
Ship Friends' offered to assist in restauration work and the ship was towed
Wilhelmshaven. In the year 2000 ' Towaristch ' was a highlight of the world
fair 'EXPO at the Sea'.
The Ukraine did not have any funds to restore 'Towaristch'. Her berth
was provided free of charge and the Ukrainian crew was fed by the people
of Wilhelmshaven. This state of affairs continued for four years while 'Tall
Ship Friends' were busy raising funds towards the ship’s future. In 2003 the
organization managed to buy the bark from her Ukrainian owners and the
dockship 'Condock V' carried 'Towaristch' to Stralsund in the Baltic Sea.
Maintenance and much needed repairs started immediately. On 29th November 2003, back under
the German flag, the bark was re-christened with her former name 'Gorch
Fock'. Presently the ship is open for visitors. Planning includes restaurant
facilities aboard and a complete restauration to full seaworthiness and future
cruises under sail. (Last report January 2004.)
The specifications of the second ' Gorch Fock ':
- Built 1958 by Blohm & Voss shipyard, Hamburg
- Three-mast bark with steel hull
- Length x Beam x Draft = 292 x 39 x 16 feet
- 1760 ts displacement
- 23 sails, altogether 1952 square meters
- Height mainmast over waterline 148 ft
- Largest yard length 79 ft
- Auxiliary engine 800 HP, later increased to 1,660 HP
- Speed under sail max. 16 knots, with engine max. 13,7 knots
- 69 men permanent crew, 200 officer and NCO cadets
The second 'Gorch Fock' has four sister ships still afloat, all built all
1933 and 1938 at the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg. There is the first
'Gorch Fock' ex 'Towarischtsch', the U.S. Coast Guard’s 'Eagle' ex 'Horst
Wessel', the Portuguese 'Sagres II' ex 'Albert Leo Schlageter', and the Romanian
Greatest possible safety installations were key to the construction of these
ships. The result is that all of them are still in sailing conditions to this
day. Consequently, the post-war German Navy had 'Gorch Fock' (2) designed and
built along the same construction plans, with the most modern safety and
navigational equipment available at the time. 'Gorch Fock's (2) hull, masts and
yards are made of steel. Approximately 300 tons of iron ballast in her hull
provide for good stability even at a theoretical list of 90 degrees. A high
freeboard and additional bulkheads provide security against water damage.
'Gorch Fock' is the sail training ship of the German navy. Officers
and petty officers candidates receive here an important part of their
practical and theoretical training. Since 1997 women participate in it
The first course started in July of 1959, which found a successful
conclusion with a cruise to the Canary Islands. Approx. three training
cruises have been made every year since. During the winter the ship rests in its
home port Kiel or undergoes maintenance work in a ship yard.
The ship has been in service for over 45 years already. During this
time up to the end of 2003, 134 foreign training cruies have been
In 1987/88 'Gorch Fock' sailed around the world in 336 days. The distance
covered was 33,572 nm, with 19 ports of call in 15 countries and on five
continents (80th- 83rd voyages). In 1996/97 'Gorch Fock' sailed approximately 36,000
nm in 343 days, 65% of the time under sails alone.
With these cruises 'Gorch Fock' serves as Germany’s Good Will Ambassador
promoting world-wide peace, friendship, and understanding between countries and
peoples . As such she participated in 1976’s Bicentenary of American
Independence in New York and the Bicentenary of the foundation of the Australian nation
in Sydney in 1988.
Since 1960 'Gorch Fock' participates in international tall ships
meetings and races. Those are the annual 'Cutty Sark Tall Ship Races',
'Operation Sail' spectaculars, and special races like1992’s Columbus Race
Atlantic. Each time the bark was among the foremost places, eight
times she was the fastest ship arriving at its destination.
The best run during a watch (distance sailed in four hours) amounted to
61.6 nm corresponding to an average speed of 15.4 kn. The best day’s
run was 323.2 nm, that is 13.4 kn on average.
Upon commissioning day in 1958 the Hanseatic City of Hamburg assumed the
sponsorship for the 'Gorch Fock'. 1982the state parliament of
Schleswig-Holstein followed establishing another sponsorship/partnership. 'Gorch Fock' took
part in numerous attendances at Hamburg’s ‘Harbor Birthday’ celebrations.
In her home port Kiel she serves as flagship leading the annual windjammer
parades during the ‘Kieler Woche’.
This cover and cancel show the 'Gorch Fock's wooden figurehead, a wandering
In December 2002 the albatross was lost in a stormy English Channel. A new
one was carved and installed weighing 350 kg. But exactly one year later in
high seas in the Bay of Biscay this second albatross was also torn from the
bows. Now, in the spring of 2004, yet another albatross version is being installed
on the 'Gorch Fock', this one made of strong but light-weight carbon fibers.