I didn’t get to see much of the Tall Ships’ Races this year, I checked out some of them at the harbour of Bergen. Those ships are beautiful and all but I’ve kind of seen them before. Though in nice weather in Bergen they all look awesome. One thing I thought was fun was the visit of Hämeenmaa (02), a Finish mine layer, escort and logistical support ship. A huge contrast to the good old sailers. It participated in the Nordic Cadet Meeting (NOCA).
Hämeenmaa (02) had a turbulent birth, it was supposed to be built by Wärtsilä Meriteollisuus (founded 1834), but it went bankrupt and the project were transferred to Hollming. Hollming merged with Rauma Yards. Later it were bought by the Norwegian Kvaerner and became Aker Finnyards. Finish shipyard industry struggled as in many other Nordic countries. Power play, big money, foul play, unemployment etc but that is a different story. (My theory is that Kvaerner inserted negative expectations in 1998 to ease new purchases)
Hämeenmaa (02) were upgraded in April last year to be compatible to modern systems and to be used in international operations. It has an ice operating classification of ICE-1A and can operate around the year (check out her bow – they powerdrive the bow up onto the ice and let the ship’s weight crush the ice). The upgrade trial is active, which is why I think its fun it came to Bergen, and estimated to be transferred to service later this year. They are testing the new Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) Sonar Systems and the new South African Umkhonto-IR SAM system. It will then be used in European security operations (ESDP) and defence policy. Lets just say that it will be a very important ship in northern areas in near future. It is part of the Headline Goal 2010.
The Tall Ship’s Races are extremely popular here in Bergen, almost 100 ships attend this year with over 4000 crew members, tens of thousands visited the city centre and created an atmosphere only to be seen when we celebrate our Constitution Day. Next stop is Den Helder Holland via Fedje where the race ends.
Photo by Eivind Senneset.
Our precious local Statsraad Lehmkuhl, winner of last years Tall Ship’s Races companied by Christian Radic and Sørlandet. The little Class C there called Gediania is from Poland and were built in 1973. It has attended the races on several occasions.
Photo by Robin Strand.