Friggin`in the riggin`. And a bit of mutiny! That would have cheered Adolf up?

Discussion in 'The NAAFI Bar' started by A_Brace_of_Buns, Jan 19, 2011.

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  1. For those that can read German, a link: Meuterei auf der "Gorch Fock" nach Todes-Sturz von Kadettin

    For those that can`t, my translation of the salient bits:

    Mutiny on the "Gorch Fock" after death fall

    After the fatal fall of a female officer candidate from the rigging of the sail training ship "Gorch Fock" a little over two months ago, a mutiny has occurred on it. A speaker for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Hellmut Königshaus (FDP), confirmed a corresponding report in the "Mitteldeutschen Zeitung", which quoted from a letter by Königshaus to the Defence Committee and the Federal Ministry of Defence

    According to it, "after the painful loss of the female comrade not many wanted to immediately `go aloft´ any longer" – that is, to clamber into the rigging – while "others didn`t want to continue with the 'Gorch Fock'."

    Rebellious officer cadets

    According to the letter, a discussion flared up with the training supervisors about how comparable the accidental death on the training ship is with the death of a soldier killed in action. The rebellious cadets were then accused of a "lack of cooperation with the ship's officers", and that they should "be flown back to Germany because of mutiny".

    In the letter from the Commissioner there is also mention of massive pressure from the trainers regarding `going aloft´. The cadets had been threatened that, if they refused, they would not be able to become an officer.

    Sentences had fallen like "if you don`t go up, tomorrow you will fly home" or "step on it, *don`t act like a big girls blouse" were further quoted from the letter by the newspaper. In one case, an officer candidate with a pronounced fear of heights was `caused´ to clamber up the highest mast, although he did not want to.

    A case of sexual harassment is to be reviewed


    On the 7th of November last year, during a stopover in the Brazilian port of Salvador de Bahia, a 25-year-old female officer candidate toppled out of the rigging during a training exercise and crashed onto the wooden deck. She died shortly afterwards in hospital. The training on the "Gorch Fock" had been temporarily suspended after that.

    *The `polite´ translation for "stellen Sie sich nicht so an" is "don`t be that way". "Don`t act like a big girls blouse" is, however, the basic sentiment being expressed!

    Not very inspiring, is it? Very few of the comments from the German readership are supportive.

    So what`s it to be, a little less buggery and rum, but a lot more lash. As for the prat with a pronounced fear of heights volunteering to go on a sailing ship - did he perhaps pass a special course in thickery? Or are the selectors to blame?

    And just what are they doing with females on a bloody great sailing ship like the "Gorch Fock"? And this is the second such that they`ve lost in about a year - they had one washed overboard into the North Sea!

    Does this perhaps help with explaining their performance in Afghanistan?
  2. Some countries, including Germany, send trainee officers to sea on large sailing vessels to learn teamwork, build character etc. It's much cheaper than sending them to sea on a modern, fuel guzzling frigate or destroyer.

    Sending people up rigging risks their lives for absolutely no training benefit whatsoever. No navy makes operational use of large sailing ships. No officer will ever have to climb aloft to manage sails during a seagoing career. Even when sailing ships were in use, officers didn't climb rigging (unless, of course, you were a Midshipman on HMS Bounty under Captain Bligh).

    Can't speak for the Germans, but in the Royal Navy mutiny is roughly defined as two or more people complaining at the same time. What the German cadets did falls well within the scope of the Naval Discipline Act, or whatever it's called these days, and the cadets could well have found themselves court martialled and/or dismissed had they been Royal Navy cadets. But then, had they been RN Midshipmen, they wouldn't have been re-enacting scenes from The Onedin Line.
    • Bullshit Bullshit x 1
  3. Off course slightly, the Americans have the sister ship of the Gorch Fock, the former Horst Wessel, liberated for war reparations.
    The auxiliary power plant was two FOGB U-boat type diesels until fairly recently.
  4. Maybe, but, they'll be shit hot if a bit of Mast Manning is called for, unlike our Matelots since HMS Ganges closed its shiny gates in the 70's
  5. Bit that seems to have been missed is that going aloft is not compulsory for the cadets on the course.

    That is for a given value of not of course.

    As for why? Well why do we go adventure training?
  6. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    Mutinies, or "justifable complaints against management" don't just happen over one incident, no matter how painful and in particular officer cadets with a strong mind on their future careers don't rock the boat, as it were. I suggest that a bunch of officers in whom the cadets already had no confidence have misread the ship's company's feelings and badly handled a distressing incident. Failure not on the part of the cadets but of the leadership.
  7. Obviously, we only know as much as is in that article, but it does sound like pretty crap leadership to be bawling at people to go aloft when one of their mates has just got herself killed doing just that. Now, if the instructors had said "I'm going up, who's coming with me?" they might have got different results.
  8. There is a large sailing ship which pulls in here. It`s some sort of training vessel and you often see people, including women, climbing about in the rigging. I noticed a few weeks ago that they cheat, they all wear safety harnesses.
  9. By refusing to go aloft, the cadet crew members potentialy put the ship in danger, after all as a "wind ship" primarilly she depends on the wind to propel her through the water and to hold a course in a seaway, notwithstanding she may also have auxiliary power. So, in my view it was clearly mutiny, six dozen at the grating Mr Bush, and lay it on well.
  10. I think we, in the NAAFI bar, are missing a trick. The question should be :
    Would the 25 year old female officer candidate get it?
    Would she still, after the fall?

  11. We'll bally well see if a lick o' the cat don't knock the cock-sureness out of 'em!..

    Quis Separabit
    Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum
  12. If she was still warm the yes
  13. Apparently not so: the ship was in harbour at the time of the accident and the ensuing hassles. It then continued its journey with the non-officer-cadet crew:

    Die "Gorch Fock" wird ihre Südamerika-Reise nun mit der etwa 80 Soldaten starken Stammbesatzung fortsetzen.

    The Gorch Fock will continue its South American voyage with its core crew of some 80 sailors.
    (Ausbildung auf der "Gorch Fock" ausgesetzt: Törn ins Ungewisse)

    The same article also says that the German navy:

    • denies that there was a mutiny;
    • flew all the officer cadets back to Germany, both because of the psychological state some of them were in and to give the core crew and investigators a breather.
  14. I disagree. At the beginning of the '70s, I spent time on board Segelschulschiffe Gorch Fock (named after a heroic German sailor in WWI) with four other RN cadets and five midshipmen as a summer leave activity. We joined the ship in Dublin and passaged to Kiel via the Pentland Firth. For all I know, this scheme may still persist.

    At the time, Gorch Fock was commanded by the affable Kapitän zur See Ernst von Witzendorff, a former U-boat Commander. He had us Brits assigned to sailing stations on the main royals (the highest) as a 'treat'. We had to learn all the orders in German and the experience was both character-testing and wunderbar - perhaps the sort of thing that's needed to instil the 'grit' that everyone in the RN seems to be talking about today. I never again had any trouble with heights which is just as well because my next leave activity was a free-fall parachute course with the booties at Lympstone.

    Every evening, the Captain cleared lower deck for an informal chat and a sort of karaoke session when we had to sing for our supper. As we passed Scapa Flow, he pointed out where his 'good friend' Günther Prien had sunk the Royal Oak. I met him again a couple of years late during a ship's visit to Hamburg where he had been appointed Port Admiral.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  15. Incidentally, we had our own tragedy last year. This one involved a 14-year old Sea Cadet:You can't legislate against every risk, nor should you try. Otherwise, there would be railings around every patch of water in the country, including rivers and canals.
    • Like Like x 1