The gift that became a national cultural treasure
The full rigger Sørlandet is an unique cultural heritage from the maritime Norway under sail. Previously, she was a school ship for sailor training of schoolship boys. Now she is available for upper secondary education and adventure sailing for "youth" of all ages.
Hundred years ago, on February 25, 1918, Marie and Oluf Andreas T. Skjelbred created an endowment: The funds were to be used to build the Fullrigger Sørlandet. The operation of the ship and school activities were organized through Sørlandets Seilende Skoleskibs Institution. The full rigger was built in Kristiansand and launched in May 1927. The purpose of the school ship business was to give young people the best possible education in practical and theoretical skills. The financial framework conditions for operating the full rigger Sørlandet both from a historical perspective and in the present have been demanding. From the start, the ship type was out of date. However, it was realized that a traditionally rigged sailing ship was well suited for introducing young people into maritime skills and thus opening the possibility of a professional career.
Can a sailing cultural treasure be relevant in our time?
Mankind has never experienced a faster technological and economic development than in the last century. Technology development led to the ship being taken out of service as a school ship in the late 1960s. By then, more than 7,500 schoolship boys had completed their maritime basic education on Fullriggeren Sørlandet. In the early 1970s, the ship was sold to a shipowner and used as a sales facility for maritime equipment.
The great-grandson of the original donor bought the ship back from a bankruptcy estate in 1977 and gave it as a gift to Kristiansand municipality the same year. In the following years, new programme offerings were introduced: Cadet program for the Armed Forces. Sørlandet became the first sailing ship in the world that gave women the opportunity to receive a maritime education. Tall Ships Races for Youth. Voyages at home and abroad during the summer months. In the period from 1980 to 2010, approximately 12 000 persons participated as trainees. During the summer Sørlandet participated in a number of harbour festivals at home and abroad, which contributed to millions of visitors experiencing the region's unique sailing heritage. In addition, the ship has had considerable press and media coverage. The ship has been diligently used by Norwegian foreign missions and export companies along the world-exciting sailing route. It can therefore be established that the ship has been a good and important ambassador for Norway for over 90 years.
When establishing the A+ World Academy in 2014, the Foundation has put considerable resources into developing a unique and competitive school program intended for Norwegian and international student at upper secondary school leve. After a challenging start-up phase, the development shows that the initiative was correct. This is best demonstrated by the fact that the number of Norwegian applicants is greater than spare capacity and that the proportion of international students is increasing from year to year. While the school contributes a recognised international curriculum, the ship ensures that students are given introductions to practical skills, mastering experiences, social training and knowledge of different cultures in the many port stays. By combining the best of two worlds, we have succeeded in establishing a high school program that asserts itself well in a fierce international competition. A+ World Academy prepares and encourages all students to take global responsibility and leadership. By adapting the product content through changing times, the Full Rigger Sørlandet able to offer socially useful and relevant assignments all the way back from its inception in 1927.
In 2020, the school year 2020/2021 had to be canceled due to the extensive pandemic - Covid-19. The period up to the spring of 2021 was used for extensive maintenance and upgrading of the ship. The funding came mainly from the state, Agder county municipality and Kristiansand municipality. In the autumn of 2020, the hull was repaired and the engine room emptied to make room for e.g. new engines, sewage treatment plants and ventilation that came into place in the spring of 2021. The school staff used the situation to plan for a better school.
The summer of 2021 was "Summer on Sørlandet "launched". The guests were able to enjoy themselves on board the newly renovated The Ship Sørlandet with good food and drink, and not least; a packed concert menu with some of the country's leading artists. The majestic cultural institution began an offensive effort to get more Norwegians on board.
In the fall of 2021, the school ship Sørlandet sailed out again with 60 students. The pandemic was still active and there was great uncertainty about whether the government would allow vaccination of young people under the age of 18. Kristiansand municipality came to the rescue and vaccinated everyone. The Norwegians were exchange students from the second year of high school, while the international students were mainly of the same age. During the voyage, the ship was infected with tuberculosis on board and 5 of the crew were infected and treated for latent tuberculosis. The source of the infection brought active tuberculosis with him from his home country and was hospitalized for 3 months in Portugal. For much of the school year, The Ship avoided contracting Covid-19 on board, but after "parentport" in Puerto Rico, the infection spread to 35 people during the Atlantic crossing. The young population on board suffered only mild symptoms due to the vaccine and their young age.
Other articles in this series:
- The gift letter that became a national cultural treasure
- A school of a lifetime
- Discipline - order - seamanship
- They came down from the rig and manned our fleet
- School under sail
- "We became men"
- Our youngest Vikings
- "Continuation School" for future sailors
- War, occupation, reconstruction
- Inspiration in art
- Over and out as a training ship
- In 1956, at the age of 14, he took part in the Tall Ships Races