What did bad data cost
Sail training ship: The Gorch Fock is scheduled to set sail again at the end of May 2021
The expensive and lengthy renovation of the naval training ship “Gorch Fock” is approaching its end. The Navy expects to get its 60-year-old sailing ship back in five months. "The repair is currently going according to plan, so that according to the current assessment, the completion will take place by May 31, 2021," says a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense in Berlin.
Then the general overhaul of the three-master will have taken five and a half years. It will have cost German taxpayers 135 million euros instead of the planned 10 million euros. Bad preliminary planning by the Navy - so the Federal Audit Office saw it - and irregularities at the previous main contractor have led to the debacle. Therefore, there is likely to be trouble on land for years to come, even if the “Gorch Fock” is already sailing out to sea as ambassador for Germany and its navy.
The Bremen Lürssen shipyard is completing the barque in Berne on the Lower Weser. The interior work is currently under way, says the Bundeswehr spokesman. The masts received the rigging. The first systems would be put into operation. What cannot be seen from the outside because of the scaffolding hall above the ship: The steel hull has been back to its white color for a few weeks. During the renovation, the hull had been given a gray-green protective paint. The aim is for the "Gorch Fock" to come out of the dock back into the water in March, says the spokesman.
Lürssen builds yachts for the super-rich and naval ships, confidentiality is part of the business. The shipyard has also rarely commented on the “Gorch Fock”. The repair is "a special challenge for us too", says managing director Tim Wagner after all. Working on the rigging and the mechanical steering system is not an everyday task for the employees. "At the same time, this order has an emotional component: we all at the shipyard know the importance of this sailing training ship for the German Navy."
An uncertainty before completion: conservationists accuse the federal government of having imported illegally felled teak from Indonesia for the deck of the “Gorch Fock”. You have sued the Cologne Administrative Court to stop the installation of the hardwood. A decision is still pending. However, two instances saw no reason for a construction freeze in the urgent decisions made last December.
"The allegations are directed against the timber importer and the import authorization by the Federal Agency for Food and Agriculture (BLE), which is responsible for assessing the legality of timber imports," said the Bundeswehr spokesman in Berlin.
Investigations by the Osnabrück public prosecutor's office against two former board members of the Elsflether shipyard and several naval employees are part of the ongoing trouble on land. It is about fraud, infidelity and corruption. The small shipyard on the Lower Weser had serviced the “Gorch Fock” for decades and also secured the order for the general overhaul.
But the board members are said to have put money from the Navy into dubious ancillary business, which they deny. Elsflether Wert AG has been insolvent since February 2019. Creditors have filed claims of 87 million euros with the insolvency administrator. The shipyard with over 100 years of shipbuilding tradition has been deserted since the end of the year, and a buyer is being sought. The investigators are also targeting suppliers to the “Gorch Fock”. According to the public prosecutors, the entire complex has more than 100 individual proceedings.
On the “Gorch Fock” the navy teaches its officer candidates traditional seamanship. "The first training trip should start from Kiel," announced the Bundeswehr spokesman. “It is planned for July 2021 and will go through northern European waters.” Before that, the cadets will practice on the chartered yacht “Alexander von Humboldt II”. The last trip is planned from February 12th to 25th, 2021.
More on the subject: As head of the new state cyber agency, Christoph Igel is to secure access to digital innovations for the federal government and thus protect the country against future dangers.
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