Monday, 24 January 2011

Gorch Fock off to home port

The German navy's sail training ship, the Gorch Foch, is on her way home under a replacement captain and crew following a 'mutiny' by naval cadets in Argentina. The mutiny came after a 25 year old officer cadet fell to her death from the rigging only two days after joining the ship. 

We had HMS Ganges down the road when I was a young chap, an institution that gave its young matelots a superlative training, including how to climb rigging. The school had its own 155' mast, and the order to 'Man the Mast!' could come at any time. There was no safety harness in those days,of course, but there was a sort of primitive safety net, visible in the photo below. Still, safety net or not, I'd rather have red hot needles pushed in my eyeballs than have been the 'button boy' - the young lad who stood at the peak of the topmast with only a lightning conductor grasped between his knees to prevent him being blown off. I wonder if this unfortunate young German woman received any such training before being sent up the Gorch Foch's rigging?


Weekend Yachtsman said...

Does you good, does it not, to see that huge White Ensign?

I wonder if we will ever again see it flying from a capital ship?

Frankly I'd rather seen them all sunk than flying the Crown of Thorns.

H said...

And what, indeed, of the sad decline in discipline in the German navy? It seems that the harshest punishment available for disobeying orders was to be put on the next plane home. Dear oh dear oh dear.

Anonymous said...

Death at sea is a part of life, so to speak. I remember being aboard the Chilean training tall ship "Esmeralda" when it came in to Cape town in the late 80's - they'd lost a midshipman while going around Cape Horn. The attitude among the remaining trainees was to carry on, and not let the same happen to them.

OK, so "Gorch Foch" was in port at the time, and there are questions about the suitability of sending someone aloft after only two days on board, but this is the navy (irrelevant of which nation's navy), and risks abound.

Don't like it? Don't join! (I had no such choice, being conscripted at the time!)