On 20 March, the sail training ship left its home base in Kiel after a long winter break for its first training cruise in the naval anniversary year.
A good 250 officer candidates of the 2022 crew will gain their first seafaring experience on board the tall ship in three cruises through their so-called basic seafaring training. On the sail training ship, the cadets learn basic seamanship and experience the importance of teamwork in practice.
Under the command of Captain Andreas-Peter Graf von Kielmansegg, the route initially heads south, to Spain and Portugal. The way back takes ship and crew via Ireland back to Kiel.
“First of all, of course, a number of planning and administrative activities take place in the run-up to such a trip,” reports the commander of the preparations. “First and foremost is the determination of the itinerary and, for example, the diplomatic registrations in the ports to be visited.” In addition, for several weeks now, there has already been the replenishment of spare parts stocks, the storage of provisions and much more.
Since the beginning of the year, the permanent crew had already refreshed their skills and trained new members. According to von Kielmansegg, the focus was on controlling emergency situations, such as extinguishing a fire on board or fighting a leak.
The officer cadets have already trained seafaring at the pier
The last, final training phase before the departure was the two-week so-called sailing pre-training for the now embarked course. “During this time, we practiced moving in the rigging, operating the rigging and even performing entire sailing maneuvers at the pier together with officer candidates,” says von Kielmansegg. “Which means that the ship is now prepared for the upcoming voyage.”
Since its commissioning in December 1958, about 15,000 officer and non-commissioned officer candidates have been trained on the “Gorch Fock”. In the course of the training voyages, the ship has so far visited around 390 ports in almost 60 countries on five continents and covered more than 750,000 nautical miles, which corresponds to the equivalent of about 35 orbits of the earth.
“I hope that, in addition to the formally set training goals, we will create a positive experience of seafaring,” says the commander of Kielmansegg, looking ahead. “It would be nice if everyone could take away the experience that seafaring and the camaraderie experienced can be a lot of fun. If we succeed, and if everyone comes home healthy, then it will have been a happy seafaring.”
Following their basic seafaring training, the junior officers go to the universities of the Bundeswehr in Hamburg and Munich for the academic part of their military careers.
The barque itself is expected back in Germany on 7 July. This means that the “Gorch Fock” will not be at its regular berth, the Gorch-Fock-Mole at the Kiel-Wik base, for Kieler Woche 2023 from 17 to 25 June. And she will also miss the 175th anniversary of the founding of German navies on 14 June in her home port.