Saturday, 25 February 2012

A futuristic car carrier and sea gulls on a windy day in Øresund

The City of St. Petersburg, which carries 2000 automobiles, is owned by Japanese auto maker Nissan. Thanks to its unusual design, which features a semispherical prow that's claimed to reduce wind resistance by up to 50 percent compared to a conventional vessel, the City of St. Petersburg is expected to cut annual fuel usage by 800 tons.

It has been a rather windy day here in Øresund. But the vehicle carrier City of St. Petersburg - on its way from St. Petersburg to Newcastle - did not have any problems with the rough sea this afternoon. Note the futuristic design of the ship, built by Kyokuyo Shipbuilding & Iron Works, Shimonoseki, Japan in 2010.

A somewhat closer look at the City of St. Petersburg

The pier used for bathing in the summer was now occupied by a well ordered group of sea gulls of different size and colour

The same formation of birds a little bit closer

The beach today

A reefer with an interesting destination

This is the reefer Sierra Modoc (former Frio Poseidon) in Øresund this morning. The 134x18 m ship is on its way from Kronstadt in Russia to Nouadhibou in Mauritania.

Let´s hope that the destination was not chosen because of this:

The port of Nouadhibou is the final resting place of over 300 ships and hence the world’s largest ship graveyard. Unlike the arrival en masse of ships at Mallows Bay, here the number of craft has built up over time, as corrupt officials accepted bribes from boat owners to allow them to dump their vessels in the area.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The nuclear icebreaker Lenin on its maiden voyage

While looking at some old postcards in my possession today, I found this 1959 picture of the world´s first nuclear powered surface ship, the Soviet icebreaker NS Lenin (134 x 27,6m). The ship was launched in 1957 and put into operation in 1959. The ship´s maiden voyage was a big event in the Soviet Union at that time.

The Lenin was officially decommissisoned in 1989, two years before the "decommissioning" of the Soviet Union. She is now a museum ship in Murmansk.

The beauty of old postcards

Old postcards from the 1950s often have a nice "Technicolor" glow, which I find rather attractive. Here is small selection of postcards from Paris and Istanbul to illustrate what I mean.

Quai de la Turnelle

Quai de Gesvres et la Conciergerie (Paris)

Fontaine St. Michel

Saint Sofia and Topkapi Palace

The Fortress and the Bosphorus

Saint Sofia

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Viborg - Finland´s second largest city before 1944

In 1293 the Swedish lord Tyrgils Knutsson built the great fortified Viborg castle as an outpost against the Muscovites.

Viipuri (Viborg in Swedish, Выборг in Russian), which was ceded to the Soviet Union in 1944, was Finland´s second largest (pop. 72.680 in 1939) and most cosmopolitan city. In addition to the majority of Finnish speakers, there were also Swedish, German and Russian speaking communities in the city. Economically the city was also of great importance to Finland. It was e.g the country´s largest port for the the country´s main export industry.

A Finnish guard in front of the castle in the late 30s

A map of  the Viborg city centre (1910)

Ships loading in the Viborg harbour in the 1920s.

The American author Hudson Strode, who visited Viipuri just before the Soviet attack on Finland (1939) that led to the Winter War, describes the city in his book "Finland Forever", published in 1941:

"Of all places in Finland Viipuri has suffered most from gunfire. Its blooming gardens and shadowed parks have been more rankly fertilized with human blood than those of almost any other town in Europe. Yet Viipuri was noted for being the gayest of Finland´s cities, and the Karelian Finns who inhabited the surrounding districts were said to be the lightest of heart and the quickest to laugh and forget of any of the Finnish people.

Like Finland´s capital, the second city of importance was set flatteringly in the midst of water. Parts of it were broken off into islands and peninsulas, with bridges grappling the green chunks together. Even more than Helsinki, Viipuri was a city of contrasts. Memorials of a medieval city wall and narrow, secretive streets merged into boulevards with modern shops and modern architecture. Cobbled streets wound purposefully down the separate quays where the harbors were jammed with ships of a hundred different models. For Viipuri did a big export business and was the outlet of wood products for eastern Finland. The city had the look of a seaport to which sailors had brought home the idea of architecture and decoration f rom other lands. Here Russians, Swedes, and Germans as well as Finns had erected structures, and yet iron balconies that belonged to the tradition to none of those nationalities adorned second stories of blocks of houses. Although redolent of many centuries of age and change, Viipuri was happily in repair, and the past and present amiably linked arms together in the shade of flowering chestnuts."

The famous Municipal Library designed by Alvar Aalto

The Viborg southern harbour
The SOK flour mill. "Utilitarian in function, co-operatively turning out the stuff that sustained life at the lowest possible price for Finland´s wage earners, the flour mill of Viipuri was audacious with originality and classical economy. Against the bright Finnish night sky, with the electrical illumination of the town twinkling like the Milky Way behind it, the seven towered flour mill was as startling and impressive as some fantastic monument reared on the plains of India in memory of a maharaja´s dead love." (Hudson Strode)
The magnificent railway station, designed by Eliel Saarinen
An idyllic cobbled street in the Viborg old town

The business and navigation college
The Viborg castle in a festive light show

A view of one part of the harbour area
"For coffee and liquers the townspeople of Viipuri went back to medieval times. In the southwest corner of the market square stood the famous Round Tower, built in 1550 beside the former cattle gate in the city wall. The Tower, later nicknamed Fat Catherine after the full-bodied Russian empress, had been converted into a restaurant in 1923." (Hudson Strode)

The short film "Our Old Viipuri" from 1940 shows life in the former capital of Finnish Karelia (with commentary in Finnish and music - the Karelia suite - by Jean Sibelius):

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The icebreaker Tarmo in the Helsinki harbour in 1925

Here is a nice shot of the famous Finnish icebreaker Tarmo assisting ships in the port of Helsinki in the winter of 1925.

Tarmo was the most powerful Finnish icebreaker in the first decades of the 20th century. Its two coal fired engines produced a combined 3850 hp. In 1951 oil replaced coal as fuel for the ships engines. 

Tarmo, which was launched in 1907, was built by the W.G. Armstrong & Co Ltd. , Walker Shipyard in Newcastle, was in active service until 1970. She is currently moored at Maritime Museum of Finland in Kotka, Finland.

The 67,1 x 14,3m Tarmo has a displacement of 2300 tons. (image by wikipedia)

Tarmo is the second oldest icebreaker surviving in the world. Only the Russian icebreaker Angara, also now serving as a floating museum, is a few years older.


This 1925 picture of a cargo ship in a Finnish harbour shows why Tarmo and the other icebreakes were needed: