A historic Dutch vessel capsized during maintenance in Cape Town on Saturday. The 112-year-old bark (three-masted ship), the Europa, was on its side when TimesLIVE visited the port.
In a statement, the company that owns the vessel said the accident “occurred during the maintenance period”. “We want to assure you that the safety and wellbeing of our crew and guests are our utmost priority. All crew members have safely left the ship, one sailor has been injured and is in stable condition and receiving appropriate medical care,” the statement reads. “The extent of the damage to the ship is still being assessed and at this moment we cannot determine the exact timeline for resuming our sailing operations. We want to assure you that our crew is working diligently to address and resolve the situation, to determine the necessary steps to move forward. Please be assured that we are dedicated to getting our lady bark Europa back to full operational capacity as soon as possible.”
The company said it would provide updates via its social channels and is committed to maintaining transparency throughout the process.
Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) confirmed the accident at its ship repair facility, the Synchro-lift.
”At the time of the incident, the vessel had 26 crew members and two contractors on board. They have been safely evacuated, with one injury reported. TNPA fire, security and pollution services as well as the city’s emergency rescue services were contacted and arrived on site,” TNPA said. “The cause of the incident is being investigated, access to the Synchro-lift and the vessel in question has been restricted while the investigation is still under way.”
The owners of the vessel told TimesLIVE it was built in 1911 on the “Stülcken wharf in Hamburg, Germany”. She was first named the Senator Brockes.
“The original client who ordered the ship was the State of Hamburg. The ship was built to serve as a light ship on the German river Elbe,” the company said. “In 1986 the ship was brought to the Netherlands. In eight years the ship was completely renovated and re-rigged. The conversion was both inside and out. Inside the ship, all cabins were remodelled and of course the galley and common areas were established.” Its exterior changed as well and the ship was re-rigged into a three-masted bark.
“The ship can house 48 trainees and 16 crew. The Europa is an official sail training vessel. Being such a type of ship you will be mustered as a trainee and join in the activities on deck,” the company said. “Getting instructions from the crew on how to sail Europa is a real part of the experience on board. This way, not only holiday-seekers populate the ship but also students of the maritime schools join the ship.”
The company said since 2000, the bark has been crossing oceans and seas regularly and has a reputation of being a “ship that really sails”. “Our voyages bring us to remote islands and cities all over the world, giving you the possibility to step on board halfway through a long ocean crossing,” the company said. “Bark Europa follows the favourable winds of traditional sailing routes. This has taken her to all continents, sailing the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, thus earning her the nickname Ocean Wanderer. From December to March in the southern hemisphere summer, Europa conducts expeditions to the Antarctic peninsula. “Europa also participates in tall ships races, the largest international ocean races for sail-training ships in the world. Races occur annually in various parts of the world with thousands of spectators. Our crew and guests are international and of different ages, united in their search for adventure and new experiences.”