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Cruise ship mutiny over Maltese flag

The Local · 28 Jul 2012, 11:18

Published: 28 Jul 2012 11:18 GMT+02:00

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Captain Andreas Jungblut, 59, had captained the luxury cruise ship - made famous as the setting for the long-running Traumschiff television soap opera – for 13 years.

But after he wrote a letter to German President Joachim Gauck on behalf of his crew protesting plans by the German Deilmann shipping company to hoist the Maltese flag in place of the German one, he was told to leave on Thursday evening by the owner, Bild newspaper reported on Friday.

“Dear Mr President … you can’t change a flag like you would an undershirt,” wrote Jungblut, according to the paper. On hearing of the letter, the shipping company asked him to leave the ship and not return, wrote the paper. The shipping company said the captain has been sent on “holiday.”

“This is a uniquely dishonourable case in shipping, a captain being thrown overboard,” Jungblut told the paper.

In 2010 Deilmann was taken over by finance investor Aurelius and now wants to sail the ship under a Maltese flag – in order to save money. “We definitely want to change the ship register,” a shipping company spokesman told the paper.

Ships that are registered with the German flag have a right to sovereign protection in dangerous waters. They are also subject to German crew requirements and German labour law, all of which can push up running costs, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Friday.

“The crew of the Deutschland believe that our ship could sail very economically under the German flag,” wrote the captain in his letter, according to Bild.

The Deutschland is currently moored on the River Thames in London for the Olympic Games, ready to bring German athletes home again on August 13, once the Games are over.

The scandal took place just days before Gauck was due to visit the boat on Saturday morning for an Olympic Reception by the German Embassy in London.

Deilmann had wanted to hoist the Maltese flag earlier this month but had to postpone until August 16 due to protests from the crew – they insisted the German flag be flying when the president stepped aboard.

The mutiny in London has caused outrage and an outpouring of indignant national pride at home in Germany.

Story continues below…

“I don’t think it’s right to damage the image of the MS Deutschland in this way now, when the whole world is looking at our dream ship,” creator of the Traumschiff soap opera Wolfgang Rademann told the paper.

“I appeal to the shipping company’s patriotism and national pride: the dream ship must remain German!” said conservative CSU politician Stephan Mayer.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:20 July 28, 2012 by twisted
Nothing matters but money anymore. I certainly agree with the captain, not that it will do him or the crew any good.
13:47 July 28, 2012 by pepsionice
First, this is the "national" vessel.....so I would anticipate fewer Germans signing up....but the intent by the owners might be to bring on more French and English vacationers.

Second, as for the TV staff of the Traumschiff show.....you'd best retire the show for the next year or two.....or find another vessel to run the show from. It's an insult to the viewers and I would imagine that half the audience will give it up.
20:30 July 28, 2012 by bwjijsdtd
20 Lashes Mr. Christian ...
21:02 July 28, 2012 by wood artist
There is a precident for the solution, which isn't really a solution at all.

Previously a ship christened as Deutschland was re-named. In that case it happened because the government feared the propaganda implications should the ship be sunk. Different times, but in this case, a somewhat similar situation.

So...tell them they can be cheap and flag it as whatever they wish, however they will be required by law to change the name of the ship. After all, the German Government does hold the rights to the use of this name. Two can play the game, and if they want to sail under the German name, they sail under the German flag.

BTW, any good sailor will tell you it's terrible luck to change the name of a ship.

21:58 July 30, 2012 by friedenstempel
Who wants to sail under a Maltese flag and get stripped of all his social protection? Yes, we have no Bananas!
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