Finally back in Bergen
Statsraad Lehmkuhl arrived in Bergen, Norway April 15 2023.
On Saturday April 15th Statsraad Lehmkuhl sailed into Vågen in Bergen, just as planned.
The weather was gorgeous, with 15 degrees Celsius, sunny skies, and no wind. Weather like this has the same effect on Bergen as it does on an ant hill. The city center was buzzing with happy people, and as the clock approached noon, the harbour was packed with people looking forward to welcoming the ship.
After 604 days, nearly 60,000 nautical miles - 110,000 kilometers, 37 ports, and 24 countries, Statsraad Lehmkuhl finally was back home.
The first thing we saw out there behind the peninsula Kvarven was the fountain shooting up from the navy vessel escorting Statsraad Lehmkuhl in the final stretch. Then the masts appeared, and there was the ship, just as white and beautiful as when director and expedition leader Haakon Vatle cast off in Arendal on August 20th, 2021.
Cadets from the Norwegian Naval Academy were singing in the masts, and a convoy of small boats followed along. Large screens had been set up in the harbour, and people could see and hear the shanties ringing out from the rigging long before they saw the ship itself.
Captain Jens Joachim Hiorth stood on the port side, directing his crew. Since the ship left Cape Town on January 20th, cadets from the Naval Academy have been sailing the ship along with the regular crew. On the way home, Statsraad Lehmkuhl stopped in Natal, Brazil, Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, and Lerwick in Shetland. There, the brass and lacquer were polished, and the hull was washed.
A royal welcome
As the Statsraad Lehmkuhl approached the dock, Haakon Vatle was ready. He caught the line that was thrown onto land, pulled in the rope, and secured the mooring. The cityscape was complete again.
The ship received a royal welcome, literally. His Majesty King Harald was present and went aboard to congratulate the officers and crew, and speeches were given by Bergen's mayor Linn Kristin Engø, county governor Jon Askeland, and the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thompson.
In the evening, the king had dinner on board with the partners who made the One Ocean Expedition possible. In the harbour, the festivities continued all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Sunday the people of Bergen was invited on board, still enjoying the beautiful spring weather.
Bergen has been the home port for Statsraad Lehmkuhl ever since the ship arrived in Bergen in 1921.
The Statsraad Lehmkuhl was built as a sail training ship in Germany in 1914 and was named Grossherzog Friedrich August. At the time, the ship was state-of-the-art and the first school ship in the world with a diesel engine. After World War I, England received the ship as war reparations, and it was moored in Newcastle when Kristofer Lehmkuhl, the director of shipping company Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab, discovered it. He bought the ship, had it restored, and in 1923, it sailed its first trip as a sail training ship with the name Statsraad Lehmkuhl.
The German occupiers had control over the ship during World War II, But since 1946 it has sailed under the Norwegian flag, and since 1978 it has been owned by the Statsraad Lehmkuhl Foundation. When the ship is not at sea, it adorns Bradbenken in Vågen. There, the foundation has its offices in a former warehouse building, and there is also the Statsraaden Bar, a popular meeting place.
Statsraad Lehmkuhl is a highly visible symbol for the port city of Bergen. The city was established early in the 11th century and is well protected with good harbors on the west coast of Norway. The location is strategic, between the fisheries further north and the markets to the south in Europe. Up until the 1600s, Bergen was the largest city in the Nordic region.
Trade and shipping are still important industries in Bergen, and the city is a center for marine, maritime, and petroleum-related research communities and business clusters. Bergen has one of the most trafficked airports in the Nordic countries and one of Europe's largest and busiest ports.
Bergen has a mild and humid coastal climate. The high mountains further east lift the moist air that comes in from the west causing precipitation, and the city is the wettest in all of Europe, with 2250 millimeters of precipitation per year.
The autumn is the wettest season, while spring is the driest.
Normal maximum temperature in April: 9.1 ℃
Normal precipitation in April: 114 mm
Previous port: Lerwick, Shetland