Sørlandet is a Norwegian heritage vessel and the world’s oldest fully rigged ship in operation. She was built in 1927 at Høivolds Mek shipyard in the city of Kristiansand on the south coast of Norway. “Sister” to Statsrad Lehmkuhl and Christian Radich, she is the oldest of three Norwegian tall ships, the “Great Trio of Norway.”
In 1927 ship owner O.A.T. Skjelbred built Sørlandet for 25,000 pounds sterling. When she was launched she measured 210 feet in length and 577 gross tons. She had no engines. As part of “Sørlandet’s Seilend Skoleskibs Institution,” she played a vital role in the education of young seamen from the southern region of Norway, known as Sørlandet.
On her maiden voyage to Oslo in 1927, Sørlandet was inspected by King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav. Later in the same year, she sailed for London with 90 young men on board as trainee crew. She sailed to Chicago to take part in the World Fair in 1933. Being the first Norwegian training ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, she actually served as the Norwegian pavilion during the exhibition “Century of Progress”.
Sørlandet was damaged during World War II and served as an accommodation vessel for German submariners. She was restored and ready to sail in 1948. In 1958 she was equipped with an engine. In 1974 she was no longer used as a public training vessel and was sold to ship owner Staubo. She was registered in Arendal and laid up at anchor in Kilsund for three years. She deteriorated considerably during that time. In 1977 ship owner Skjelbred returned her to the city of Kristiansand. In 1981 a foundation was established; “Stiftelsen Fullriggeren Sørlandet” has been the owner and operator of the vessel since. From 1980 to 1983 Sørlandet was the only operating Norwegian sail training ship, and the first open to men and women of all ages and nationalities. Sørlandet crossed the Atlantic four times in 1981. In addition, she was engaged in a film shoot in New York and made several voyages between Bermuda and Boston..
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