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Investigators clear Gorch Fock commander of allegations

Published: 13 Mar 2011 13:38 GMT+01:00

The Financial Times Deutschland obtained a copy of the 98-page report by an investigative committee led by German Navy Adm. Horst-Dieter Kolletschke. The paper said the allegations against Commander Norbert Schatz had proven themselves to be "largely untenable."

In January, Schatz was relieved of his duties as commander of the training ship by then-German Defence Minister Karl-Theoder zu Guttenberg after officer cadets came forth with claims of gross misconduct on the Gorch Fock leading up to and after the death of a woman cadet in November.

Twenty-five-year-old crew member Sarah S. fell 27 metres to her death during a climbing exercise, sparking an alleged “mutiny" on board the ship.

A report by Hellmut Königshaus, the German parliamentary liaison to the military, highlighted allegations by former cadets who said instructors were involved in heavy drinking and sexual assaults, in addition to subjecting naval trainees to humiliating drills.

Guttenberg was heavily criticised for his decision to suspend Schatz, particularly as the defence minister had cautioned not to draw premature conclusions about the case before examining the claims against the commander.

The investigative commission's report described officer cadets' claims of unreasonable drills following their crew member's death as "individual statements."

"Insofar as these allegations could be confirmed in part, they were not nearly as serious as they were originally made out to be," the report read, according to Financial Times Deutschland.

The committee questioned 221 officer cadets and 192 relatives of the Gorch Fock's permanent crew. However, the investigation did not concern the fatality on board the ship on November 7.

In particular, the commission's findings contradicted several cadets' allegations that instructors had made them climb the ship's rigging following their colleague's death.

The Local/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:18 March 13, 2011 by catjones
Whew! That was close. I was afraid someone might be held responsible. Now, on to Duisburg.
14:56 March 13, 2011 by Al uk
I have heard they are renaming her (the ship) the Bounty.
15:55 March 13, 2011 by maxbrando
All of this was caused by overweight females who allege maltreatment when they actually have to perform.
22:09 March 13, 2011 by derExDeutsche
... that's the good news.

The Bad news is; The Captain wants to go water skiing!
12:28 March 14, 2011 by Gilly58
phew! what a relief....now, where did we stash the Rum?
13:43 March 15, 2011 by hanskarl
"Insofar as these allegations could be confirmed in part, they were not nearly as serious as they were originally made out to be,"

Enough said. If there were issues and for a ship with mainly "trainees" one should want to teach and testify to the highest level of professionalism and standards. Scuttle the whole crew and start over if even one shred of evidence turns up regarding these charges. Everything rises and falls on leadership.
16:03 March 15, 2011 by wenddiver
Wow! Who would have thought sailing a crew full of 18 year old girls to Brazil could ne so embarrassing.
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