Every now and again, I go for stroll along the Schlachte Embankment. Bremen’s former harbour still provides moorings for ships and boats, and there’s quite a range of historical vessels here, from steamers to tall ships. So, I decided to take a closer look at them during my walk.
MS Treue – the concrete ship
I start right at the eastern end of the Schlachte Embankment with a rather unusual vessel, the MS Treue. It’s unusual because it’s made of concrete, which just sounds weird. Does concrete float? Well the MS Treue certainly does! And has done since 1943. The year it was built gives a clue as to why anyone would build a ship made of concrete. Steel was in short supply during the Second World War, so using concrete was a way of using as little of the metal as possible.
For 20 years, the MS Treue served as a transport vessel before being permanently moored in Hamburg. It was moved to its current berth on the Weser river in Bremen almost two decades ago. Today, it houses a club that attracts revellers with electronic music, particularly at the weekends.
A few metres downriver is the Bremen Theatre Ship, which has been berthed here since 2002. The cargo hold of the ‘Rügen’, a former barge, was converted around 20 years ago and now has two auditoriums with nearly 300 seats in total. ‘Hier lacht Bremen’ (This is where Bremen laughs) is painted on the external wall of the ship, which is over 70 metres long. The theatre brings a lot of entertaining comedies to the two stages, but concerts, readings and other events are also staged here from time to time.
Martinianleger – St Martin’s quay
My walk continues from the Theatre Ship along the Schlachte Embankment, under Wilhelm Kaisen bridge to St Martin’s quay. There’s a throng of people around the ticket booth as the boat tour is about to start. The Hanseat tour boat has already docked and is taking passengers on board. In the summer it can get quite busy here, even during the week, when the Halöver boats set off on their regular round tours of the harbour and up the Weser river. When the city’s football team are playing at home, the popular stadium ferry from Bremen-Nord also stops here.
Alexander von Humboldt
Just along from St Martin’s quay is the latest addition to the fleet on the Schlachte Embankment. Since being decommissioned, the Alexander von Humboldt has served as a floating hotel and restaurant. The impressive three-masted tall ship is not only a genuine globetrotter, it has also found fame on screen. It is familiar to many German people from TV, where the ship with its green sails provided the backdrop for an ad campaign for Beck’s beer.
The ‘Alex’ was built by AG Weser in 1906 as the lightship Reserve Sonderburg and painted red. It was rebuilt as a three-masted tall ship in the 1980s, renamed Alexander von Humboldt and served as a training and cadet vessel.
Right next to the Alex there’s more of a swashbuckling feel. I’m certainly reminded of pirate movies when I look at the ship. But as the sign above the quay indicates, you’re more likely to find Pannekoeken – that’s pancakes to you and me – here than pirates.
The Admiral Nelson was permanently moored in Bremen in 2001. The name of this faithfully reconstructed frigate comes from the British admiral Horatio Nelson, who finally put an end to Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain at the battle of Trafalgar.
Beyond the Teerhof footbridge I come to a much smaller vessel. At around 23 metres in length, the Nedeva seems more of a boat than a ship, at least that’s what it looks like to me. I later find out that the correct name for this type of vessel is motor yacht. It has a pleasantly old-fashioned ambience, which is no surprise as it was built in 1930. The Nedeva is mainly used for civil wedding ceremonies. It has room for up to 55 guests, and its five cabins can accommodate twelve to stay overnight. I imagine what it must feel like to lie in one of those small cabins at night with the river bobbing gently up and down beneath me and the elegant wood creaking and exuding an old-world charm. Could be quite cosy :)
(Editor’s note, 20.01.2020: The Nedeva will not be rented for an indefinite period.)
This is probably the oldest vessel on the Schlachte Embankment. After all, the Friedrich was built in 1880 and is almost 140 years old. In its early years, it ferried workers to and from the shipyards in its home port of Hamburg, back then still as a steamer. It also saw service as a fireboat. In 1918, a Bremen-based shipping magnate bought it to transport dockers along the Weser river. In the mid-20th century, he commissioned the addition of a second floor and started using the Friedrich for harbour tours.
Around 1950, it was converted from steam and continued its work on the Weser until 1963, when the Schreiber shipping company decommissioned it and used it as a floating workshop on St Martin’s quay. A group of enthusiasts formed a society in the 1980s to restore the Friedrich, and since 2000 it has been moored on the Schlachte Embankment and used for events and chartered trips.
Weserstolz and Pusdorp
I make my way downriver and spot two more floating landmarks on the other side of the river. Here, the Weserstolz and the Pusdorp are moored. The former is a historical paddle steamer that still runs on steam today. It is used for day trips and is part of the Halöver fleet.
The latter is used on scheduled services during the summer months. In the west of the city, the Pusdorp connects the two sides of the Weser river. It was once used as a tug, which is why it has a somewhat robust look. I like the strong, compact shape of the vessel, which can carry almost 50 people.
My walk ends at pier eight, and the ship moored here has a rather eye-catching shape. An oversized, black chimney rises from the middle of its hull and there are large, clunky boxes on the side of the ship. This is a replica of a paddle steamer built in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century. The original vessel was probably the first paddle steamer built by a German shipbuilder and operated by a German company. The replica of the ‘Weser’ was launched in Vegesack in 2008, but without an engine. Other key drive elements are also missing, as the shipbuilders went bankrupt before it was completed. Eventually, the replica was towed to pier eight on the Schlachte Embankment, where Bremen youth hostel took it on and has been using it to house guests ever since. There’s room for up to 30 people in the cabins below deck, so here’s your chance to literally spend the night on the Weser :)
Time to head home. There are quite a few people strolling along the banks of the river or basking in the spring sunshine on one of the benches. The various ships are moored to the piers and gently bob up and down on the river. The ropes and sails of the tall ships near St Martin’s quay are squeaking and rustling, and suddenly I feel the lure of adventure and of the wide open seas. At least I got a little taste of it on my walk along the Schlachte Embankment.
Information on all the ships, tours and accommodation is available from our service team on +49 (0)421 30 800 10.
We have a great offer for groups: ship spotting on the Schlachte Embankment.