14 November 2017

Norge in Helsinki, 2 June 2017

After the entries on books and ship photo locations, we return to the regular programming of ship photos. Last summer, both the Norwegian and Danish royal yachts visited Helsinki as a part of the ongoing 100th anniversary of Finnish independence celebrations (which otherwise seem to consist of shops selling Finland 100 -branded toilet paper and minced meat). Today, we will be looking at Norway's Norge and next time we'll porbably proceed to the Danish counterpart Dannebrog.


Name history: Philante, Norge
Built 1937, Camper and Nicholsons Gosport, United Kingdom
Tonnage 1 625 GT
Length 80,60 m
Width 11,60 m
Draught 4,70 m
12 passengers
2 Bergen diesels, combined 1 312 kW
2 propellers
Speed 17 knots

The Norge started life as the Philante, one of private yachts of Thomas Sopwith, the owner and founder of the Sopwith Aviation Company. The 1937-built ship saw only relatively short service for her original owner, as after the outbreak of World War II she was sold to the British Royal Navy for use as a warship. After cessation of hostilities, the Philante was sold back to Thomas Sopwith - but he had already ordered a replacement yacht and therefore had no long-term need for the Philante.

Meanwhile, interest had grown in Norway for the country to acquire a royal yacht of their own. Indeed, when Prince Carl of Denmark agreed to take on the Norwegian Crown as Haakon VII of Norway in 1905, he had been promised a royal yacht, but the country's precarious economic condition never allowed the acquisition of one. Now, the Norwegian people finally honoured their promise: the Philante was purchased in 1947, given an extensive refit by her original builders and presented to Haakon VII in 1948 as the Norge.

Following the death of Haakon VII in 1957, a 10-year upgrade programme for the ship was instituted by his son Olav V. In 1985, while the Norge was undergoing maintainance at Horten, a fire broke out and destroyed much of the ship. She was repaired by the same shipyard, with the destroyed equipment replaced by more modern ones and the interiors rebuilt in accordance to modern saferty standards.

The Norge remains in use today as one of three remaining European royal yachts (the others being Denmark's Dannebrog and the Netherlands' sailing yacht De Groene Draec). In addition to being used for state visits and other official functions, the ship is also used by King Harald V - a keen sailor who has represented Norway in Olympic Games - when participating on various sail races around the world.

The photo below show the Norge departing Helsinki Eteläsatama (South Harbour) on the afternoon of 2 June 2017, photographed from Ehrenströmintie. Not the ideal location, but I was uncertain of which shipping lane the ships would take out, and this was the only spot where I could photograph them regardless of which route they took. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The Norge (right) and Dannebrog moored at the South Harbour.
Turning in the harbour pool; the yellow building on the right is the Finnish Presidential Palace (or President's Castle, as the name literally translates as - but it's obviously not a castle).
Heading out with a police cutter for escort.
On Kruunuvuorenselkä. The aft views proved a challenge, as the ship is obviously much smaller than what I've usually photographed here.

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