A total overhaul

The rebuild of a classical Baltic Trader

Structural overhaul

After 85 years of service and one big refit in the early 80s, Hawila’s structure needs to get back in proper shape to extend her life by at least another 50 years.

New keelson and side keelsons

The keelson was mounted in 1935, cut & extended in 1938 and patched in the early 80s. This old multi-pieced assembly has been replaced by a stronger and larger assembly of only 4 pieces: the new 11 m keelson scarfed in the forward part to reach the apron at 18 m, and two 11 m long side keelsons

80% new planking

All the battered 40 mm thick oak planks have been replaced with new planks of 65 mm, and 85 mm garboards. All short (4-6 m) lengths were replaced with 11-12 m planks, and up to 14 m for the garboards.

During dismantling, treenails clearly showed better longevity than steel fastenings, where rust promoted rot in the oak. Steamed planks were therefore quickly screwed in position, before finally mounting them with treenails.

300 new frame futtocks

The entire two thirds of the ship are now fully refurbished from keel to deck, including the stanchions for the bulwark.

The bottom futtocks along the hull under the new keelson have been checked and replaced where needed, with additions of 15 floor timbers mainly under the main and mizzen masts and at the locations for the new bulkheads

New ceiling and beam shelves

Accessing the bow frames and stanchions made it necessary to remove the ceiling and beam shelves. This made a good opportunity to replace damaged and patched short beam shelf parts with doubled pieces of 12 m lengths. We also increased the thickness of the ceiling and the stringers.

Rebuilt apron, forward deck beams and samson post

We replaced all the deck beams in the forward deck area by increasing their strength and numbers. The old Samson post was replaced by a doubled piece of nearly twice its original thickness to withstand the enormous forces brought on by the foresails.

New deck openings

The renewal of the deck conveys an opportunity to change the placement of stairwells, to renovate our existing skylights, with the addition of two new ones in the aft section to create new passages and bring more light and air into accommodations.

A new design

Hawila was built as a cargo ship, and later converted into a school ship.

We now combine these two previous purposes in a unique new design, to enable her to cross the Atlantic, a first in her lifetime.

New layout with two convertible cargo holds

Each of the two cargo hold is convertible and can carry either 8 trainees or 30 tons of cargo. This demands a thorough alteration of the ship’s layout, to comply with regulations and accomplish Hawila’s new functions.

The ship is now partitioned by four watertight and fire-retardant bulkheads which drastically improve safety onboard, and keep the fully loaded ship afloat with one compartment flooded.

Four additional bulkheads

Watertightness between compartments is ensured by wooden bulkheads, designed to withstand both fire and water.

The choice of wood as material is due to practical reasons: steel bulkheads can’t cope well with humidity and rolling deformations typical for a wooden hull.

The bulkheads also act as buttresses for the hull, correcting previous deformations of galley and deck back to their original shape.

New tanks and piping

Emergency pumps, fresh water supply, toilets – the entire piping system will be redone- and tanks replaced.

Revised electricity and engines

Electricity network, battery packs, shaft alternator, main engine, and emergency generator, this refit is also the opportunity to review and rethink the entire system.

Our timber

Planted 200 years ago to build a new fleet of wooden ships

The story of our timber starts in 1807 with the Battle of Copenhagen

In 1807, Britain, doubting the neutrality of Denmark during the Napoleonic wars and fearing Napoleon would take control of the Baltic Sea, attacked Denmark. After two weeks of heavy bombardments, for the first time in history with rockets launched from ships, Denmark had to capitulate.

One condition for this capitulation was that Denmark had to hand over its entire fleet. Shipyards were destroyed, and shipbuilding tools were confiscated by the British, to forever cripple Denmark as a maritime force.

Following this disaster, in 1810 King Frederik VI ordered thousands of oaks to be planted for building new ships – 200 years later.

We managed to buy 15 of the last of these historic ship oaks from Naturstyrelsen, the Danish agency administering the State forests of Denmark. These oaks come from Gribskov, the 4th largest forest of Denmark, now a nature reserve.

From ship oak plantation to nature reserve

Naturstyrelsen was founded in 2011 as an agency for the sustainable management of state forests under the Ministry of Environment. Only very few of the oaks planted for shipbuilding in 1810 were ever used for ships. Most of them are sold to the furniture industry and are being shipped to China. Worse even, they end their proud lives as firewood.

We feel privileged to be able to honour the initial purpose of these trees and use them on Hawila. We carefully selected the trees we needed for each purpose of the rebuild, already in the forest, together with Naturstyrelsen’s forester. Our trees were removed to give place for wild growth, since the entire forest has been designated as a nature reserve. This is part of Denmark’s plan to double the percentage of woodland to around 30% of Denmark’s area and to increase biodiversity. No trees will ever be felled again in this part of the Gribskov (Vulture Forest)

Hawila’s oak hull: 160 tons of CO2 equivalent stored for at least 60 years

160 tons is roughly the amount of CO2 stored in one hectare of Danish state-managed oak forest. In these forests, mature trees are extracted and replaced by young trees at a rate of 5,8 m3 per hectare per year. In theory, the wood production of one hectare therefore exceeds the average yearly needs for maintaining a vessel like Hawila forever.