Adolph Bermpohl (ship)

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Adolph Bermpohl
Adolph Bermpohl, Helgoland station.jpg
Ship data
flag GermanyGermany Germany Finland
other ship names


Ship type Rescue cruiser
class Georg Breusing class
Callsign DBAD
Shipyard Abeking & Rasmussen , Lemwerder
Build number 6170
baptism October 23, 1965
Launch 1965
Whereabouts Broken down in 2001
Ship dimensions and crew
26.66 m ( Lüa )
width 5.6 m
Draft Max. 1.62 m
displacement 90  t
crew 4 men
Machine system
machine 3 motors
2,400 hp (1,765 kW)
24 kn (44 km / h)
propeller 3
Vegesack p1
Ship data
Ship type Daughter boat
Callsign DA 6132
Shipyard Abeking & Rasmussen, Lemwerder
Build number 6171
Launch 1965
Ship dimensions and crew
8.5 m ( Lüa )
width 2.45 m
Draft Max. 0.65 m
Machine system
100 hp (74 kW)
13 kn (24 km / h)
Adolph Bermpohl with daughter boat Vegesack

The Adolph Bermpohl was a sea rescue cruiser of the German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People (DGzRS). She was a cruiser of the 26 m class (so-called Georg Breusing class) and was built in 1965 by the Abeking & Rasmussen shipyard in Lemwerder under construction number 6170. The DGzRS internal designation was KRS 8. The daughter boat Vegesack (hull number 6171) had the internal designation KRT 8. On February 23, 1967 all persons on board the rescue cruiser and its daughter boat were killed in an accident.

Naming of the ship and daughter boat

The ship was christened in Vegesack on October 23, 1965 in the name of Adolph Bermpohl , the founder of the idea of ​​organized sea ​​rescue in Germany. The daughter boat was named after the Bremen district of Vegesack, where Adolph Bermpohl worked.


From October 1965 to May 1979 the Adolph Bermpohl was stationed at the DGzRS station in Helgoland , where she was replaced by the rescue cruiser Wilhelm Kaisen . After that, the Adolph Bermpohl was stationed in List on Sylt until it was decommissioned in May 1989 , her successor there was the Minden .

The accident of February 23, 1967

Course of the accident

Memorial stone on the dune, Heligoland to the entire crew of the rescue cruiser Adolph Bermpohl, who fell victim to the hurricane of February 23, 1967 during the sea rescue operation off Heligoland, and to all rescue men of the German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People, who lost their lives while working at sea

After the Adolph Bermpohl and her crew had already rescued 184 people from distress at sea, the ship itself fell victim to an accident on February 23, 1967 during a hurricane . On that day, a severe hurricane hit the North Sea , which, as it later turned out, killed more than 80 sailors. The Adolph Bermpohl was - like many other units of the DGzRS - in constant use to provide help to boats and ships in need.

At 4:14 p.m. Norddeich Radio received a call for help from the Dutch fishing trawler TM 1 Burgemeester van Kampen (home port: Termunterzijl , 39 GRT, skipper: Jacob Vos ), which was about eight nautical miles north of the island of Helgoland and reported a water ingress. The wheelhouse of the cutter was dented by the sea at this point , causing water to enter the ship.

The Adolph Bermpohl was involved at that time already with another case of distress. Since another ship was already helping there, foreman Paul Denker decided to set course for the wrecked fishing cutter, which was reached after an hour. Due to the prevailing transverse lakes, the cutter with its three-person crew could not turn without risking capsizing. So it was impossible to tow the ship to Heligoland. Due to the poor condition of the cutter's crew, it was also not possible to get her onto the cruiser with a line. So it was decided to hide the crew with the daughter boat. The Vegesack was launched at 5:15 p.m. About 45 minutes later the crew of the fishing boat was on board the daughter boat. The radio communication between the damaged man and the rescuer was so disturbed that Norddeich Radio had to act as an intermediary. Taking the daughter boat onto the cruiser was impossible in the prevailing weather conditions, so the Vegesack had to drive in the slipstream of Adolph Bermpohl towards Helgoland.

The distress at sea was declared over by the distress management at around 6:30 p.m. and the cutter abandoned. The Adolph Bermpohl directional radio calls of the coast stations Norddeich- and Elbe-Weser Radio were not answered, but what did not appear suspicious, since one had to assume that the crew was too busy to attend the radio messages.

At around 6.45 p.m. the Heligoland lighthouse keeper observed two white lights in the Helgoland north entrance, which probably belonged to the rescue cruiser and the daughter boat traveling alongside. However, the severe hurricane and the associated very poor visibility made further observation impossible. By 7:00 p.m., both lights had disappeared. This observation coincided with the results of the investigation on both ships after the accident, since the on-board clocks had stopped at the same time as the disappearance of the lights was observed. When radio contact with Adolph Bermpohl could no longer be established after 7:00 p.m. and the rescue cruiser in the Helgoland port was overdue, it had to be assumed that there must have been a serious accident on the return trip from the emergency TM 1 Burgemeester van Kampen . Therefore, the emergency management in Bremen immediately initiated a large-scale search for the ship and the people on board. However, on the night of February 23-24, 1967, this remained without result.

Report from the discovery in the Museum Helgoland

The following morning the crew of the island supplier Atlantis found the damaged cruiser 13 nautical miles southeast of Heligoland with the engine running and uncoupled. However, none of the crew members was found on board. The subsequent search by helicopter was also unsuccessful. The following night, the Vegesack was found floating five nautical miles west of where the cruiser was found. The boat was straightened with the help of three fishing boats, but no survivors were found either. A SAR helicopter called from the island of Borkum was also unsuccessful. Only months later could three of the crew members be recovered dead, the fourth was never found. The three Dutch fishermen Jacob Vos, Schelto Westerhuis and Rommert Bijma who were recovered from the cutter were also killed in the accident. On February 28, 1967, a memorial service for the seven victims took place on Heligoland.

Cause of accident

Since there were no survivors, the incident could not be fully clarified and the hearing on the cause of the accident before the Maritime Administration was based only on circumstantial evidence . The investigation focused on the damage to the rescue cruiser, the radio traffic and the recordings of the plumbing protocol.

Due to the extreme wind speeds and the very high seas associated with it, it was not possible to drive the daughter boat west around Heligoland. The crew of the rescue cruiser was therefore forced to use the north entrance to the sea area between the main island and the dune, which is known to be very dangerous. At the time of the Adolph Bermpohl's departure , the crew knew that the western approach buoy of the north entrance had gone out, but they had no knowledge of the fact that the eastern approach buoy had been driven in the direction of Sellebrunnriff. Probably due to the poor condition of the rescued people, the cruiser crew decided to take them on to the cruiser, contrary to the original intention, as indicated by the climbing nets deployed on the starboard side. In addition, the emergency at sea of ​​the motor ship Ruhr south of Helgoland had already been reported, which the Adolph Bermpohl was supposed to rush to aid after the rescued were dropped.

All evidence suggests that both ships unknowingly entered the surf area of ​​the underwater Sellebrunn Reef due to the displacement of the approach buoy and the extremely poor visibility and in the dark. At the time of the accident, the evaluation of the plumbing log showed a sharply decreasing water depth with an average wave height of 10 meters.

This is based on the suspicion that at the moment when the Dutch rescue cruiser and daughter boat were taken over by a heavy bottom sea , the cruiser was pushed to its side and the daughter boat was buried under itself at the moment when it went alongside on the starboard side, to hand over the castaways. Oil spills in the engine room showed that the cruiser briefly hit a list of 90 degrees and therefore did not capsize, as was the case with the accident involving the 27.5 m rescue cruiser Alfried Krupp . Since at that time none of the people involved was probably below deck and no one was secured with safety lines because of the impending takeover of the rescued persons, rescuers and rescued persons were dragged into the water and killed.

Consequences of the accident

The accident indirectly led to another catastrophe. After the rescued persons had been deposited, the rescue cruiser was to rush to the aid of the Duisburg motor ship Ruhr , which had become incapable of maneuvering in the Weser estuary after the heavy-sided cargo made of steel plates had been passed over. Due to the accident of the Adolph Bermpohl , there was no help after the Langeoog motor rescue boat Langeoog was unable to reach the open sea under the extreme weather and sea conditions. When the Ruhr went down , all six crew members were killed. A rescue attempt by the German trawler Kap Wallo , which was located near the Ruhr , also failed.

Despite the serious accident, the damage to the vehicles was relatively minor, and despite the tragedy of the events, the construction of the German rescue cruiser had proven its worth. Later the Adolph Bermpohl was given a closed upper control stand, and the daughter boat - like the dinghies of the other cruisers - was converted into a self- erecting. In honor of the perished crew members, four new DGzRS buildings bear their names: Paul Denker , H.-J. Kratschke , Otto Schülke and G. Kuchenbecker .

The hurricane was given the name Adolph-Bermpohl-Hurricane on the occasion of the perished seafarers .

A similarly serious accident occurred in 1995 on the cruiser Alfried Krupp , which was equipped with a closed upper control stand due to the accident.


After the cruiser was decommissioned by the DGzRS, it was sold to the Finnish Maritime Rescue Service Suomen Meripelastusseura (SMPS), where it was put into operation as a rescue cruiser under the name Russarö after a conversion of the upper driver's cab . Most recently, until it was scrapped in 2001, it served the SMPS as a training ship. The daughter boat Vegesack is still used by the Estonian Sea Rescue Service as Paavo .


Using a popular kit from Graupner Modellbau , the Adolph Bermpohl was often recreated as a remote-controlled model (approx. 1.20 m long) and could be found at many inner-city lakes and model making clubs.

On behalf of the city of Gütersloh , members of the ship model club Nautilus Gütersloh built a 1:22 scale model of the cruiser in 1978, which was set up in the foyer of the town hall for several years. In 2013 the city of Gütersloh donated the model to the DGzRS, which shows it in exhibitions.

Sister ships

  • Georg Breusing
  • Arwed Emminghaus
  • other ships produced under license:
    • Peacock : pilot boat in Astoria / Oregon (USA)
    • Michele Fiorillo : Italian rescue cruiser


  • Wilhelm Esmann: The lifeboats of the DGzRS from 1864-2004 . Hauschild HM GmbH, Bremen 2004.
  • Boy Lornsen , Hans-Herbert Lemke: Sea rescue cruiser Adolph Bermpohl . West Holstein Publishing House Boyens & Co., Heide 1987.

Individual evidence

  1. Newspaper report, published on (in Dutch)
  2. ^ A b German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People: Yearbook 1968. P. 6 ff. Bremen 1968.
  3. Picture of the Peacock

Web links

Commons : Adolph Bermpohl  - Collection of images, videos and audio files