Historic vessel ‘under threat’

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Alarms are ringing over the future of one of Norway’s most famous Tall Ships, the 77-year-old Christian Radich. The foundation running the vessel worries that the military won’t continue to use Christian Radich for naval officer training when its contract runs out next year, and that can mean the loss of year-round maintenance and important operating revenues.

The "Christian Radich" ur cruising on a quiet Oslo Fjord two years ago. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The “Christian Radich” out cruising on a quiet Oslo Fjord two years ago. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Einar Corwin, director of the foundation Stiftelsen Christian Radich, told newspaper Dagsavisen on Tuesday that there’s no immediate danger that that the vessel will stop sailing, “but as a cultural landmark, the Christian Radich is threatened.”

The Oslo-based sailing ship has won many of the annual Tall Ships Races around the world and is one of three high-masted ships still sailing around Norway. Built as a training vessel in 1937, the Christian Radich has continued to be used by Norway’s naval defense forces in its officer training programs (Befalsskolen for Sjøforsvaret, BSS).

The winter training programs in the waters of southern Europe have allowed the ship to remain active year-round and, most importantly, receive continual maintenance, Corwin said. But now there’s a question over whether the officers’ training program will continue to use the vessel when its contract runs out in 2015.

Without the maintenance and the contract income that the military has provided in return for use of the vessel, Corwin says he’s “extremely worried” about the sailing ship’s future. It costs around NOK 30 million to keep the vessel in good shape, but ticket sales from both short- and long-term cruises and harbour tours in Oslo during the summer don’t raise anywhere near that amount.

The foundation receives NOK 7 million from the state Ministry of Culture, with the training school providing half of the vessel’s remaining NOK 23 million in operating revenues. Loss of the school’s contract, also part of a potential cost-cutting move on the part of the military, will leave a significant shortfall.

“We have used Christian Radich since 2005 and are very satisfied,” Bjørge Aase, chief of the officers’ training school, told Dagsavisen. “I can understand the foundation’s view on this.” He said a “working group” was looking at various solutions, with a decision expected later this spring.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund