Chronicle of the rescue of the four-masted barque PEKING 2001 - 2017

The successful repatriation of PEKING from New York to Germany was preceded by a 15-year negotiation process in which several people and institutions were involved. The most important milestones in this process are presented below in chronological order.

On the initiative of Reinhard Wolf, syndic of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, and Joachim Kaiser, the foundation Hamburg Maritim (foundation) is established by the Hamburgische Landesbank. The aim of the foundation is to preserve the maritime heritage of Hamburg; In particular, a copy of all ship types typical of the port and the Lower Elbe should be secured, faithfully restored and, as far as possible, operated by volunteer crews. In addition to Wolf as chairman u. a. Joachim Kaiser, captain and expert for historical ships, founding director of the foundation. Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Ulf Gänger, Member of the Board of Hamburgische Landesbank, Chairman of the Advisory Board Gert Hinnerk Behlmer, State Councilor for Culture of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Wolf and Kaiser visit the four-masted bark PEKING for the first time in New York, the last remaining example from the legendary "Flying P-Liner" of the Hamburg-based shipping company F. Laeisz.The owner of the ship is the Southstreet Seaport Museum in New York: Peter Neill, the director, is both interested in acquiring the foundation, and Neill advises the museum's bodies and declares his readiness to sell the foundation to the Foundation before the end of the year.

Henning Schwarzkopf, lawyer and business consultant in Hamburg, learns from a willingness to sell by the PEKING owners of an American sailing friend, Larry Huntington, as part of the DCNAC transatlantic regatta and turns to Wolf with the offer to support this project. From now on, both are pursuing the project in close cooperation.

The Board of the Foundation agrees to endeavor to repatriate PEKING if the ship is in a fundamentally repairable condition and can be financed from private donations; However, the purchase price of initially $ 8 million is estimated as significantly too high. Nikolaus W. Schües, owner of the shipping company F. Laeisz and member of the board of trustees, welcomes the efforts of the board in principle and offers support.

Wolf's trip to New York and negotiation with Tom Gochberg, responsible for the PEKING in the "Board of Trustees" of the museum, agreeing on the cornerstones of a "Letter of Intent". a. a purchase price of 2.8 million USD provides. Gochberg encounters resistance in the board of the Seaport Museum and stops the contact first.

The Seaport Museum is experiencing economic difficulties and is contacting again. In order to be able to reliably assess the condition of the hull and the required refurbishment, docking in NY is required. The museum agrees, provided the costs are borne by the foundation. With the legal support of the Hamburg lawyer Carsten Grau, a LoI is worked out. Acquisition of the necessary finance for the docking at the Hamburg employment agency "Jugend in Arbeit Hamburg e. Addressed by the experts of Germanischer Lloyds and Blohm + Voss for the investigation in NY Under the direction of Kaiser, in November 2007 the docking at the Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Co On Staten Island, it is found that there is a significant need for repair, but the ship is overall repairable.

Discussions with the shipping company Combi Lift; Mr. Peer Kelch, about a transport aboard a dock ship, after the option of a (much cheaper) tow, both on the Schleppgutachten and on the refusal of the insurer failed to insure the towing. Parallel inquiry at shipyards - u.a. Blohm + Voss - after the willingness and the costs of a complete renovation of the PEKING. Just under € 3 million will be called for hull rehabilitation.

Wolf develops a concept for the purchase, restoration and operation of the Peking as a museum ship and reaches on this basis with three Hamburg merchants donation pledges over a total of € 5 million for the transport and the basic rehabilitation of the hull and rig. A financing of the purchase price is rejected, however, because this is unjustifiable given the state of BEIJING. Schwarzkopf communicates this to NY and urges to reduce the purchase price. The Seaport Museum agrees in principle to a reduction to € 1 million for later participation in visitor income.

The Board of Management and the Foundation's Board of Trustees have significant concerns about the project and the associated risks, which are largely unreasonable in view of the commitments already made in the previously acquired general cargo vessel MS BLEICHEN
become. Wolf ends his activities as CEO of the foundation and continues to pursue the project alone with the support of Schwarzkopf.

In NY Gochberg advertises to rely on the Hamburg efforts to finance the project and to pursue the already discussed idea of ​​scrapping.

Blohm + Voss now prizes the required repair at € 15 million. Wolf contacted the Elsflether shipyard and the Russian shipyard Sudoremont Zapad in Kaliningrad, both of whom showed interest in the rehabilitation in preliminary talks. Both shipyards are investigating PEKING in NY and are making offers of € 5 million for the remediation of the hull and rig. the Russian shipyard, however, with much larger scope of services.

Due to press coverage, the Hamburg Member of the Bundestag Johannes Kahrs asks Wolf about the project, explains his interest and offers support.
In November, Hurricane Sandy sweeps across the North American East Coast and severely damages NY, including at the Seaport Museum's land-based facilities, which defies the storm and will not be damaged.

As a result of the storm damage, the museum under bankruptcy administration after "Chapter 11" and is the "Museum of the City of New York" and its director Susan H. Jones assumed. After consulting with the museum's volunteers, Jones decides to part with PEKING and put all his energy into the restoration of the ship WAVERTREE, which also belongs to the museum.
On March 25, Jones tells Wolf that the museum is now the PEKING free, in their present condition and without further obligations. Wolf says a quick clarification in Hamburg. In the New York press is reported for the first time on the upcoming submission of PEKING, which is taken up in the Hamburg press.
On November 8th, Wolf and Schwarzkopf, together with five other persons interested in PEKING, found the association "Friends of the Viermastbark PEKING eV" in order to have a legal entity for further negotiations and the transaction.

Wolf revised the concept for transport, restoration and a self-supporting operation of the PEKING as a museum ship based on the current circumstances and asks the sponsors to provide the funds promised orally. But they refuse now.
With the support of the agency "Spendwerk", a new donation concept aimed at a broad target group is being developed and sent to about 200 personalities in Hamburg and Northern Germany - the response is disappointing.

Schwarzkopf is constantly sending the efforts and the results to NY, where as a result concrete plans for the scrapping of the PEKING are being developed. Schwarzkopf is pushing for a delay, which is not least due to the fact that the shipping company F. Laeisz takes over the insurance premiums for the ship lying from 2015.

Wolf informs Kahrs about the situation and the threat of scrapping the PEKING in NY. Kahrs agrees to public funding by Hamburg and the federal government, but insists on working out a concept for a comprehensive restoration of PEKING with a "shelf life" of at least 20 years and a corresponding binding shipyard offer.
Because a commission of a Russian shipyard is eliminated due to the current political situation, Wolf asks the Elsflether shipyard for a correspondingly extended offer. The shipyard is again investigating the PEKING in NY under the new task and is working out a comprehensive renovation offer.
In the summer of 2015, Elsflether Werft Wolf, Kahrs and Behlmer will submit a fixed price offer based on the specified specifications. The amount includes transport, installation of the later berth in front of shed 51 and unforeseen to € 26 million.
Kahrs tries in vain to win the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to take over the usual co-financing of 50%. With the support of his Bundestag colleagues from Hamburg, in particular Rüdiger Kruse and Anja Hajduk, Kahrs promotes the financing of the total amount in the budget committee.
On 13 November, the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag decides to make available a total of € 120 million for the construction of a German Harbor Museum in Hamburg, including the recovery and restoration of the PEKING in the amount of € 26 million; the funds are mutually coverable.

Together with the members of the association Wolf develops a comprehensive concept for its own foundation as a permanent owner of PEKING, the organization of the restoration and the transfer of the current operation after completion to the association.

At the General Assembly at the end of November, the association decides to open up to anyone interested in receiving PEKING and to offer the owner of the ship permanent service on a voluntary basis. Mathias Kahl replaces Wolf as chairman.

On behalf of the Foundation, the experts Detlev Löll and Ben Lodemann examine the PEKING in New York and confirm the ability to repair within the limits of the approved funds.
In a letter of intent with the Hamburg Maritime Foundation, the Hamburg cultural authority, which has been commissioned by the "Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media" to implement the project, agrees to transfer the ship to the Foundation for the restoration phase and to organize the transport Afterwards the PEKING will be part of the German Harbor Museum in Hamburg as the most important exhibition piece, and Kaiser will be responsible for the project on the Foundation's side.
With the recommendation of the Advisory Board, the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, chaired by Nikolaus H. Schües, approves the Letter of Intent on 26 April 2016. Following an invitation to tender, the shipping company Combi Lift in Bremen will be commissioned to repatriate PEKING via the docking vessel.
Following a tender, Peters Werft receives the order for restoration in Wewelsfleth.

Eighty-six years after its last departure from the Port of Hamburg, the PEKING will return to the Elbe on 31 July on board the docking vessel COMBI DOCK III. It will be floated in the Elbehafen Brunsbüttel and towed to the Peters shipyard on 2 August in the Stör, where the Restoration begins immediately.


Reinhard Wolf / Henning Schwarzkopf / Joachim Kaiser           Hamburg, April 2018