Alexander von Humboldt (ship)

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Tall Ship Alexander von Humboldt, all 25 sails up
Alexander von Humboldt – all 25 sails set
Career (Germany) 40px
Name: Alexander von Humboldt
Namesake: Alexander von Humboldt
Owner: Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training, Bremerhaven [German Sail Training Foundation, Bremerhaven]
Ordered: 1906
Builder: AG Weser shipyard
Launched: 10 September 1906
Homeport: Bremerhaven
General characteristics
Displacement: 396 metric tons
Length: 62.55 m (205.2 ft)
Beam: 8.02 m (26.3 ft)
Complement: 60 (25 crew + 35 trainees)
Notes: Sail area: 1035.6 m²

Alexander von Humboldt is a German ship originally built in 1906 by the German shipyard AG Weser at Bremen as Reserve Sonderburg. She was operated throughout the North and Baltic Seas until being retired in 1986. Subsequently she was converted into a three masted barque by the German shipyard Motorwerke Bremerhaven and was re-launched in 1988 as Alexander von Humboldt.


Planned and ordered in 1906 as a reserve lightvessel (to stand in for other lightvessels during scheduled yard maintenance), the ship was launched on 10 September 1906 at AG Weser with construction serial number 155 as the first of its class. Her hull was based on a sailing ship, as was common in this class. There is no clear record if she was christened Reserve Fehmarnbelt (after her first station) or Reserve Sonderburg, as both names are documented. On the ship's bell appears Reserve; a first home port at Sonderburg (today Sønderborg, Denmark) is most likely. From 1920 to 1945 the ship was home ported at Kiel-Holtenau and served in many locations, but mainly along Baltic shores.

She was installed in 1945 as a permanent replacement for the bombed and damaged light vessel Kiel. In the spring of 1957 she was rammed by a Swedish freighter and sank, was raised and after a two-year overhaul returned to service in 1959.

During the summer of 1967 her location was upgraded to a lighthouse and she returned to stand-by reserve for North Sea deployment. Eventually she was assigned as permanent replacement for the retired Amrumbank. Being supplanted again by a fully automated light vessel – and following another collision and overhaul in Wilhelmshaven – was towed to Bremerhaven and named Confidentia.

Alexander von Humboldt

A newly established foundation, the Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training or DSST [German Sail Training Foundation] bought the vessel and transformed her into a tall ship based on her sailing ship hull. On 30 May 1988 she was christened Alexander von Humboldt after the celebrated German explorer. In a historical reference to the sailing ships of the Rickmers shipping company of Bremen, her hull was painted green. Green sails were installed as a marketing tool for advertising campaigns by the ship's sponsor, the German brewer Beck's.

"Alex", as she is called by her crew, serves as a sail training ship and is the flagship of DSST and has traveled over 300,000 nautical miles (560,000 km) in 20 years (equal to 14 times around the equator). High points every year are tall ships' races and winter cruises to the Canary Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. During summer months she sails in the North and Baltic Seas.

Her longest cruise to date was a voyage in commemoration of Alexander von Humboldt's expedition to South America and the Caribbean. On 19 January 2006, Alex rounded Cape Horn under sail, following the route of the legendary Tall Ships of the 19th and early 20th century in celebration of her centenary year.

See also

External links

bg:Александър фон Хумболт (кораб) da:Alexander von Humboldt (skib) de:Alexander von Humboldt (1906) fr:Alexander von Humboldt (bateau) nn:SS «Alexander von Humboldt» pl:STS Alexander von Humboldt