AN impressive tall ship has sailed past Hartlepool again just months after its historic visit.
The Christian Radich is sailing home to Norway after being restored to full glory at A&P Tees ship repair yard on the River Tees.
The three-masted Tall Ships Races favourite was a huge hit with crowds when Hartlepool was the finishing port in the second leg in the races last August and the vessel came second in the Class A category.
She was seen sailing past Hartlepool this week after leaving the Middlesbrough shipyard for Bergen, where she will serve with the Norwegian Navy for the next few months.
The 74-year-old ship, which starred in the BBC TV series The Onedin Line and the movie Windjammer, has spent the last few weeks in dry dock at the repair yard undergoing complex restoration work.
The stylish steel-hulled vessel is part of Norway’s national heritage and the restoration had to be in keeping with its era, which involved riveting large parts of the vessel as opposed to welding.
Einar Corwin, managing director of the ship’s owners, the Christian Radich Trust, said: “It’s a practise that isn’t used now, they stopped riveting ships after the Second World War.
“Riveting is about five times more expensive than welding and a riveted ship is a bit “softer” than a welded ship because the steel plates move somewhat when the ship bends in heavy seas.
“There is greater movement on the riveted part of the ship, with an increased risk of leakage. From a technical point of view, it would be best to remove the rivets and weld it completely but because this is an old ship and we want to preserve her as she was built in 1937, we stick to riveting on large parts of the hull.”
In winter, the Christian Radich reverts to being a “school ship” and takes on board Norwegian naval cadets.
But in the summer the 240ft-long vessel will compete in the Tall Ships Races 2011, starting in Waterford, and taking in Greenock, Lerwick and Stavanger before finishing the final leg in the Swedish port of Halmstad.
It is the most successful ship in the races’ history, having won more victories than any other vessel since the event started in 1956.
The ship has been the centre of attention during her stay on Teesside, sandwiched between a pair of less glamorous dredgers, the yard’s more routine visitors.
A&P Tees commercial director, Ian Douglas, said: “It’s the first tall ship we’ve worked on and everyone at the yard enjoyed it.
“It was a challenging project but a real pleasure to be involved in restoring such a beautiful vessel.”