What you do not want to imagine / the worst case
As on the three previous trips, we again trusted the agency Captain
Zylmann to look after us. This time there was no cabin plan in
advance and checking in is much more complicated in Rotterdam,
because before "boarding" you first have to go to the
so-called Immigration Office to register there before and after
the trip. If you do not do this, you are liable to heavy fines.
This office is located far from the ELBTRADER berth in the city
centre and the port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe. Also
you can't get close to the port with your own car and the shuttle
service responsible for this will charge at least another 60,-
€ per trip. For us, however, only a journey with the passenger
car comes into question, because we live in the country and of
us alone the journey to the railway station in Hannover is a "world
With searches in the Internet I read then still the following
Freighter being towed to Bremerhaven
(18.12.19) The Cyprus-flagged container vessel 'Elbtrader', 8246
GT (IMO: 9388534), owned by MS Elbtrader GmbH & Co. KG in
Drochtersen, which had an engine failure on 12.12. in the English
Channel south of the Isle of Wight on the voyage from Rotterdam
to Dublin and was subsequently towed by the tug 'Apex' to Southampton,
left the port again on 16.12. at 15.20 hrs. This time the shipwrecked
tug 'Mustang' (IMO: 9555383) with its crew of 12 persons was on
the hook of the tugboat 'Mustang' flying the Cyprus flag. The
tugboat was to be brought from the container terminal of DP World
to Bremerhaven for repair after completion of the discharge work.
The tugboat was expected there on 19.12.
Source: Tim Schwabedissen
So there happened what no freighter traveller wants to experience,
an accident in the English Channel. Fortunately, a tugboat was
quick enough to tow the ship with its cargo, which was intended
for Dublin, to the nearby port of Southampton. There the cargo
was discharged and the relatively short voyage from there to Bremerhaven,
to the repair dock in the fishing port, took a full 3 days. The
tug cannot go any faster with the big pot behind it. In a forum
I found the following information:
On Dec 12, 2019, at 1 a.m. the 'Elbtrader' with a crew of 12 on
board and carrying 6.015 tonnes containers, was disabled due to
an engine failure in the English Channel South of the Isle
of Wight while enroute from Rotterdam to Dublin. The ship reported
a defective filter in position 50 22 36 N, 001 21 50 W, about
12 miles south of St. Catherines Light. The vessel required a
change of the filter while drifting at a speed of 1.4 knots. In
fact the damage was to its gearbox and required towing to port
for completion of repair works. The tug 'Apex' was called to assist
and pulled the ship to the sheltered area of the Nab Anchorage.
The pilot boarded the vessel at a5 p.m. and safely berthed at
the container terminal of DP World in Southampton at 11.30 p.m.
After discharge of containers the ship was to be taken to another
berth for permanent repairs.
On Dec 24,2019 the ELBTRADER is still moored in the fishing port
of Bremerhaven and is waiting for a free place in the floating
docks of the Bredo shipyard.
After this incident, I thought about what it would have meant
for us as passengers if we had caught that ride. We might have
been taken back to Bremerhaven, but our car would not have been
there. Besides, the registration office would have been waiting
for us. So we would have had to try to get from Bremerhaven to
Rotterdam to pick up our car there and sign out. Or they would
have put us ashore in Southhampton and we would have had to go
back to Rotterdam from there. We would not have reached our actual
destination and would have been punished with numerous additional
costs (taxi, train ride, hotel). Not to mention the lost time.
This is also a difference to a cruise, with a cargo ship trip
the passenger bears the risk. This should be clear to anyone
who wants to take such a trip.