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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author



Page Two: M.S. Georg Büchner

M.S. George Büchner Introduction:

Thus on July 5, 1967 the M.S. Charlesville was purchased by the East German “VEB Deutsche Seerederei” of Rostock and she was renamed the Georg Büchner, after a famous and much loved German dramatist and writer of poetry and prose who lived from October 17, 1813 to February 19, 1837.

As soon as she was officially taken over, she was taken to the VEB Warnowwerft Warnemünde, who equipped the M.S. Georg Büchner for he4r new role as freight-training ship! Upon completion, she was registered as being; 11,060 GRT and she was entered a new service.

Here we see the M.S. Georg Büchner during her operational days to Cuba

Photograph by & © Rudolf Klarner

Her duties was to operate as a cargo ship sailing between the Baltic Sea mostly to Cuba, but also visiting ports in Mexico, Bermuda, Jamaica and the Bahamas as was required. Considering her passenger days were now over, but she did have a brand new and a very special role to play at sea for on every voyage around 150 apprentices would receive training and learn first hand everything there was to learn in order to become able bodied seaman! She was to be operated from 1968 to December 31, 1973 by “VEB Deutsche Seereederei Rostock.”

Control panel in the engine room

The ship was operated by around 100 officers and crew, but being an “Oceangoing Maritime Institute” there would around 150 apprentices onboard on each voyage, who sought to be the sailors of the future and the Georg Büchner proved to be more than successful in this task! Onboard would be highly qualified maritime instructors, teaching these young future sailors who in the long run would become officers and some even great captains!

 The outdoor swimming pool has never chanced, except later, when based in

Rostock the pool was covered and the area fully enclosed for a conference

The M.S. Georg Büchner would operate for the next ten years on this service, with the only change taking place during this time, occurring on January 1, 1974 when she was transferred to “VEB Deutfracht/Seerederei” Rostock (DSR).

Photographs of the Georg Büchner sailing to and from Cuba are far and few between

Photographer is unknown – Please see my “Photo notes” at bottom of page


The M.S. Georg Büchner during her cargo and training days at sea

Photograph by “Foto-Schäfer Warnemünde” - Archive Shipbuilding and Maritime Museum Rostock

From what I have been told, it was early in 1977, whilst some trainees were undertaking welding training on her hull and it seemed that there was an accident that resulted in her hull springing a leak. Although it was not considered as being major and temporary repairs were sufficient, but further repairs were required. Some feel that this event may have been one of the reasons that her days at sea brought her day to a closure as soon as it did!

The Georg Büchner seen in port during her sailing days

Photograph by & © Rudolf Klarner

A New Beginning for the Georg Büchner:

Although, it seemed that her owners could well have already been in discussion about making some changes, for obviously operating costs had been ever increasing, and there had been thoughts to continue to operate her as a Maritime Training Ship, but more likely suitably berthed, which obviously would be far more economical!

The decision was made, and the M.S. Georg Büchner was decommissioned June 7, 1977. On June 7, the ship was transferred to Betriebsschule Flotte” or the “Operation School Fleet” for her new stationary life!

Thus on June 25, the M.S. Georg Büchner sailed under her own power to the “Stockznia Remontowa Gryfia” yard in Stettin (Szczecin) Poland where on the next day her refit commenced for her new role.

Upon completion, she berthed at Rostock-Schmarl on August 31, no longer the M.S., but she would now be known as “Schiff Georg Büchner.”

On November 5, 1977 the Georg Büchner officially entered into the “Betriebsschule Flotte” and the new “Berufsschule (Vocational school) der DSR” was officially opened. She became a boarding school for sailors and engineers, thus in reality nothing much changed onboard, just that the ship would not be sailing any more.

A New Beginning for Germany and the Georg Büchner:

After 1989 with Berlin Wall having fallen there would be many big changes take place in a new greater Germany, and this would somehow include the Georg Büchner in Rostock-Schmarl for she also would soon be heading in a new direction, although this would be in stages.

Change 1: Sadly on June 18, 1990 the “Berufsschule (Vocational school) der DSR” closed, and the ship was transferred to the “Deutsche Seerederei Rostock GmbH.

Change 2: Then on March 15, 1991, the “Hanseatic City of Rostock” decided to take over the ship for the symbolic price of ONE Deutsch (German) Mark, to prevent her from being sold to be scrapped.

She would still be used as a stationary training ship with a boarding vocational school now named; “August Lüthgens.” This continued for a considerable time. However, in due course the School found itself in financial difficulties and the ship needed a new source of income! Thus it her maritime training days were finally over 1999!

The Georg Büchner from 1967 to the end of 1998 had served the German maritime industry well, as countless young future seafarers under the competent leadership of the finest trainers gave them every possible opportunity, and of course the opportunity to get their sea legs.

It is said that over all her years of being a training ship, at least 15,000 mariners had had their first experience aboard this one fine ex ocean liner, and they were able to operate the many parts of what remained mostly an operational ship, from the derricks, the pumps, and so many other parts of the ship that maintained operational at that time, including the engine!

On January 1, 1991 she was transferred to “Vorderverein Traditionsschiff eV Rostock.”

The Georg Büchner at Rostock in use as a Hotel and Youth Hostel

In October 2001 she was transferred to the Rostock city harbour, being a prime location! The Georg Büchner was converted into a Hotel and a Youth Hostel and she was used her as such towards late 2012.

The Georg Büchner Hotel and Youth Hostel offered comfortable accommodations, from original cabins, to rather basic style rooms. This was available on a bed and breakfast basis. Breakfast was served in the ex Charlesville’s “Café,” now named the “Officers Mess” and the “Terrace” whilst other meals are served in the original main Restaurant on D Deck.

A friend of the author who visited the Georg Büchner had a two night stay aboard, and he sent me his report. Below is just some of what he wrote about the ship and her then condition:

“I must say although I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay onboard this old Belgium girl, yet I found it all rather sad, for so much of what was once such a beautiful ship has now been destroyed by what I can only call those who have no care whatsoever about precious maritime history! At one point on my first day, I was so upset that I was about to leave and not remain, but I decided to stay anyway.

My cabin was just fine and it was one on A deck, It was one of the original single bed crew cabins, thus it was small and very plain, for, it seemed that most of the original fittings had gone. But it was comfortable enough. Parts of the ship have sadly rebuilt and are beyond recognition from the beautiful Charlesville that I remember, from what suddenly seems so long ago now. But thankfully, I was delighted to see the rich timber panelling and some of the artwork at the main stairwell and in the beloved “Café,” which is now called the “Officers Club,” these are all the original vintage Charlesville fittings. A delicious breakfast was included in the hotel rate and that was served in the Officers Club, or on the old Terrace, which used to be outdoors, but it is now a fully enclosed and a part of the Officers Mess, and it is a very pleasant place to sit and relax and look over the aft decks. For a little extra I had a jolly good lunch, which was available in the original Main Restaurant, although that the venue was a disappointment as it sadly changed for the worse!.

Overall, I found that the ship was looking sad and neglected and they will have to do a whole lot better, for in this state she will not be able to continue. Someone told me that there are “bad fund problem”, well that is obvious, so why not sell her to Belgium that is if they want her? For the way she is going now, all I can see is her on the road to breakers yard, so I hope that there are some strong supporters out there for obviously Reuben, you have not been contacted by a single soul about this wonderful ship, thus no one seems to want her. I find that very sad!” (Email June 2012 - He desires to remain incognito).

Above: A fine view of the Georg Büchner looking from her bow to aft

The lower portholes was a space for dormitories and later used for events, etc

Below: a view towards her superstructure and the Bridge

Photographs © - but taken by the author of the above



Photo Album


The Georg Büchner seen at Rostock


The Bridge



The Telegraph on the Bridge

Photo by & © Geert de Vrieese


B (Promenade) Deck Lobby with the superb timber stairwell and original piece of art

Photograph by & © Bjorn Aerts


C (Shelter) Deck Main Entrance Lobby with the superb timber stairwell

And the Information Desk (Pursers Office)

Photograph by & © Bjorn Aerts


Here we see the stairs at the lowest level, the closed doors leads to the

original crew accommodations and mess, on the starboard side on the ship on C Deck

Photograph by & © Bjorn Aerts



Above & below: Hotel room, above sitting area, below bedroom





Above & below: Two original cabin’s, above on D deck, below on C Deck

they are used as: above Youth accommodation, and below a hotel room

Photograph above by & © Bjorn Aerts




A single bedded Youth Hostel room up on B deck 


 Officer’s Club aft of B (Promenade) Deck, this is the breakfast venue and general café



Above & Below: Thankfully the popular original painting survived!

Photograph by & © Bjorn Aerts




 The Officer’s Club Terrace – this has now been enclosed as on the original ship

the M.S. Charlesville it was outdoors, although mostly undercover


Portholes were added to a number of regions when she was based in Rostock, which I feel was defacing a historic classic ship!

These areas were used for educational purposes, then for displays and special events, etc

Photograph by & © Bjorn Aerts

On board the ship there were facilities for small conventions and receptions, as well as visits to the ship itself. She had even been listed and protected as a “Maritime Heritage Site” in the Land of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, as it had became obvious that she could well be in danger.

Considering that the ex M.S. Charlesville’s four earlier “Ville” sisters, as well as their two newer ships had all long gone, the ex MS Charlesville was now the only survivor of these superb Passenger-Congo liners! Thankfully due to her superior construction methods and superb interiors, even though much of it was removed, yet thankfully parts of her delightful heritage remains intact, but that would be until the end of May 2013!

As I had said, she had been listed and protected as a “Maritime Heritage Site” but sadly as we soon found out, this would prove to have little to NO meaning!

The German Deception - When does “Heritage Listing” mean NOTHING!

Tragically in December 2012, “Vorderverein Traditionsschiff eV Rostock” suddenly sold the ship to a suspicious buyer from the Seychelles who did not even have as much as an email address, thus obviously buying for an Indian breaker!

Personally I call this an act of deception by her owners, no matter what! And all of the following need to take notice: Germany, her owner Vorderverein Traditionsschiff eV Rostock, the buyer, the Tug company, and Poland will all have a share of the blame and the responsibility of this hideous disaster that took place between May 28 and 30, 2013 for what occurred is simply not acceptable under any circumstances. Therefore they will have to share in the costs of raising the Georg Büchner and at least in cleaning her up to a condition as she was in Rostock prior to her departure!

Suddenly it seemed that only at the last moment a call went out worldwide to save this ship, but it was a little late! One would wonder, why did they not ask me for assistance a great deal earlier? But just as she was heading for the breakers, that is the most difficult time!

Schiff Georg Büchner’s Departure & Sinking:

Now the worst of the worst was about to happen! Although the Georg Büchner was due to depart earlier, but the Polish tug “Ajaks” assigned to her was having mechanical problems, and thus she was not ready until May 28, 2013.

Strangely enough, claims were made that the insurance for the ship was increased sometimes before in February, or prior her departure from Rostock, but obviously the author has not been able to confirm, but it was mentioned on two German sites.

Nevertheless, the Georg Büchner departed Rostock under tow on May 28, 2013, with the ocean-going-tug “Ajaks” being the means of the Georg Büchner getting to the breakers yards at Klaipeda in Lithuania.

It was said that her departure was supposed to be a close secret, yet it seemed that everybody in Rostock seemed to know all about her departure, as there were huge numbers wharf side to see her off, as well countless yachts, boats and other crafts on the water following her out to sea! Therefore, it seemed that the world knew she was leaving for the breakers and all had that dreaded feeling for it all felt more than just strange?

She slowly moved from the wharf as she was assisted by the tug “Axel,” for the “Ajaks,” did not have sufficient power for the task to pull her away from the wharf by her self. But as she headed away countless horns where blazing everywhere and it continued as she sailed towards the sea, and as I have been told, there was not a dry eye to be found for this was a sad day for so many who felt betrayed by the mayor and the city of Rostock especially her owners!

Thousands had been fighting to save her, and they continued to hope that something could still be done. But it seemed that both the City, the Mayor and the ships new owners just wanted the Georg Büchner out of Rostock as quickly as possible, before something happened that could halt their escape, and possibly that someone had managed to place an embargo on her, to have her listed as an historical German, or Belgium Maritime Monument for there had been Belgium’s who had been fighting a long time to obtain her.

Georg Buchner has departed and is still under tow of the tug Axel, the Ajaks is seen just aft


With the Ajaks ahead and the Georg Büchner in tow, no one knew that this was to be a voyage to disaster!


A sad view for those who were looking at this view from the German shores, for this would have been their very last view of her!

Here is a YouTube Link to a video of her departure on May 28, 2013:

As it turned out May 29 was a peaceful day at sea, yet many supporters of the ship were following her track on the German FB group, as well as the AIS, as many felt that the tug could take her out of the Baltic and towards Alang India, and that she would be sold for additional money! Little did they know what they would see the next day!

The Georg Büchner seen under tow on the Baltic, and where is that reported “terrible list

On May 30, she continued on her way, but it was noted that her course became rather unusual, if not extreme and erratic during the early evening hours! The AIS chart showed that in the early evening whilst in the Baltic Sea off Danzig, that the tug “Ajaks” which had been proceeding at a steady rate of 3 knots with the Georg Büchner under tow, suddenly commenced to make some weird movements, of what could be called semi circles of sorts and then suddenly the Ajaks headed south at a speed of 9 to 10-knots for Gdansk, Poland.

When she arrived, there was no Georg Büchner in sight. What was even more strange was that the captain of the Ajaks only made an official report a considerable time later that the Georg Büchner, ex Charlesville, had foundered in approximately 34 meters of water in the South-eastern Baltic Sea in position 54-55.8N 018-31.3E.

The Aftermath:

It has been said that the whole incident surrounding the sinking of the Georg Büchner, ex Charlesville “that there is something rotten about it.” One would assume that by this is meant that it was more than strange that this ship would sink while in tow in completely calm waters and nothing seemingly being wrong at all?

Amazingly, with several days divers had gone down and visited the vessel 34 meters down of the Baltic Sea and took a series of photographs of her. What amazed everyone was that she had no damage whatsoever and she was in a perfect condition, just laying on her starboard side, like she was having a rest after a long life!

Please note: The following images come from and I am most grateful to them. You can see many more excellent photographs of the ship on the bottom of the Baltic on their site, but sadly their pages are not in English, but you can use a translator of course. But to say the least, these images speak for themselves!

 The stern shows up well and it is certainly very clear which ship this is!


One of the Alpha divers heads slowly forward


The divers have reached her former glory, the Funnel and her engine room covers topside


Finally divers are far forward and photographed her superstructure and bridge. Apart from her being on

her side, it is difficult to believe that she is on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, it is a sad sight to see!

The Battle to Save the Very Last Belgium Congo Liner:

The end of what was an amazing Belgium liner, a ship that was the very last of a long line of the Belgium / Congo ships came to an end in a very strange and a most questionable manner! However, at this stage, in June 2013, there are thoughts related to planning to raising the ex Charlesville and if at all possible return her to Belgium. Considering her immaculate condition and not being damaged, or having a cracked hull, etc, although she would need to be comprehensively inspected, it would be possible!

Read the attached “Press Release dated June 10, 2013, released by Belgium’s “Watererfgoed Vlaanderen” or “Flanders Water Heritage” Organisation. Please Note: the Press Release is located on my Save The Classic Liners Campaign page! Just use the back arrow to return to this special feature.

The point is this, even though her great glory days may well be behind her, and she has served both Belgium and Germany well. There are so many who have spent considerable time on board this ship and they will have some wonderful memories. If it is at all possible to restore her as a Belgium Maritime Museum, come Tourist Centre and a quality Hotel, and not just a budget one as it was in Germany, but in some way do what the Dutch has done with the great SS Rotterdam, although it would be on a smaller scale, yet still on a superb and an extremely special Passenger-Cargo Liner!

As you will have realised, I have placed the Charlesville on the Save The Classic Liners Campaign and we can only hope that something worthwhile can be done, and it will have to be done soon! All I can say, let‘s hope!

Special Links:

Link One:

Read about one of her sisters the M.S. Baudouinville (2), which was renamed the M.S. Thysville and eventually became the delightful Australian based liner, come cruise ship, the MV Australasia.

Link Two:

Visit: Lakonia's Final Voyage - This is just one page out of an extensive feature entitled “Memories of the JVO.” This was a greatly loved liner for so many years, especially when she operated between Europe and New Zealand and Australia, as well as the United States!

Link Three:

Please watch this wonderful video on the M.S. Charlesville / Georg Büchner at: It was made by the Belgium’s as part of a campaign to save her, but sadly it has now failed, as we will discover on Page Two! The video shows in part, the ship in her original state and it will provide some wonderful insights to her happy days as a fine liner filled with happy passengers!

Link Four:

On the following site there is a series of 50 photographs of the Georg Büchner, which were taken on December 28, 2012, being a final visit by Gerhard Franz and Reinhard Lachs. The ship was by then already in a poor state as she was no longer in use and had already been sold to the breakers, awaiting departure! Visit:

Link Five:

A dear associate of mine, Mr. Andreas Basedow has a great love for Classic Liners and other ships, and he has a superb website, although most of it is in German, but you will discover some of the finest photographs of the Georg Bucher. Just click the photograph below!

The M.S. Georg Buchner is seen above in Havana Cuba

Photo provided by Andreas Basedow and the …

Conveyor Association Tradition Baltic Marine Archives

Link Six:

This is worthwhile visiting - containing a series of Andreas Basedow’s personal photographs whilst he was on her for two return voyages in 1974.

Link Seven:

The Georg Büchner now needs your help as we are working on saving her, and believe me IT IS A BIG JOB! Enter the; “Save The Classic Liners Campaign.

Photographs on this feature are from: 1, the author’s personal travel agencies collection. 2, as sent in by supporters, and 3, or as stated!


M.S. Charlesville Index:

Page One:      M.S. Charlesville from construction, maiden voyage in 1951 to her sale in 1967.

Page Two:      M.S. Georg Büchner from 1967 read her history through to her tragic end in 2013. (This Page).


In Closing of her German Days, let us Remember Her Days at Sea!


This is the last photograph of the M.S. Georg Büchner for this page

She is seen during her wonderful sailing days, but in port in 1974



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Commenced in the passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960


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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me in order that due credit may be given. I know what it is like, I have seen a multitude of my own photographs on other sites, yet these individuals either refuse to provide credit or remove them when asked, knowing full well that there is no legal comeback when it comes to the net. However, let us show these charlatans up and do the right thing at all times and give credit where credit is due!

This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!


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