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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.
we see the M.S. Georg Büchner during
her operational days to
Photograph by & © Rudolf Klarner
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 “
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 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”
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).
of the Georg Büchner sailing to and from
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
by “Foto-Schäfer Warnemünde” - Archive Shipbuilding and Maritime Museum
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
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 (
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.
After 1989 with
Berlin Wall having fallen there would be many big changes take place in a new
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!
1, 1991 she was transferred to “Vorderverein Traditionsschiff eV
In October 2001 she was transferred to the
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
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
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 © ssmaritime.com - but taken by the author of the above
Georg Büchner seen at
The Telegraph on the Bridge
Photo by & © Geert de Vrieese
(Promenade) Deck Lobby with the superb timber stairwell and
original piece of art
B (Promenade) Deck Lobby with the superb timber stairwell and original piece of art
Photograph by & © Bjorn Aerts
(Shelter) Deck Main Entrance Lobby with the superb timber stairwell
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
single bedded Youth Hostel room up on B deck
A single bedded Youth Hostel room up on B deck
Above & Below: Thankfully the popular original painting survived!
Photograph by & © Bjorn Aerts
the M.S. Charlesville it was outdoors, although mostly undercover
were added to a number of regions when she was based in
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
On board the ship there were facilities for small conventions and receptions, as well as visits to the ship itself. She had even beenlisted 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!
December 2012, “Vorderverein
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
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!
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
Nevertheless, the Georg Büchner
It was said that her departure was supposed to be
a close secret, yet it seemed that everybody in
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tse8w41fcc&feature=player_embedded.
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
The GeorgBüchner seen under tow on the Baltic, and where is that reported “terrible list
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.
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.
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?
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
Please note: The following images come from http://alpha-divers.pl/georg-buchner-wrakowe/ 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!
One of the Alpha divers heads slowly forward
divers have reached her former glory, the Funnel and her engine room covers
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
The end of what was an amazing
Read the attached “Press
Release” dated June 10, 2013, released by
The point is this, even though her great glory
days may well be behind her, and she has served both
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!
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.
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
Please watch this wonderful video on the M.S. Charlesville / Georg
Büchner at: http://vimeo.com/65285403. It was
made by the
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: www.seeleute-rostock.de/content/index.htm?GBuechner.
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
Photo provided by Andreas Basedow and the …
Conveyor Association Tradition Baltic Marine Archives
This is worthwhile visiting - www.cybersbase.de/seefahrt/dsrfotos/x1buechner.htm containing a series of Andreas Basedow’s personal photographs whilst he was on her for two return voyages in 1974.
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.”
Photographson 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
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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