Last week, I had the pleasure to receive a tour of the Norwegian ship, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, as part of a visit by Norwegian students to Shetland. After a chaotic morning in which I helped give an oversized group a tour of our school, it was time for the favour to be returned. We were taken from bow to stern, upper deck to sleeping quarters, all the time gifted with information about how it sails, the work it does, its history, etc. It was also fascinating to meet the Norwegian students who had been sailing it. I was far too shy to actually start a conversation with any of them, but it was fascinating to observe tiny differences in culture and language, etc.
The Statsraad Lehmkuhl has a really interesting history. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the decks I was walking on were originally commissioned for action in the First World War for the German Empire’s merchant navy. It was taken by the UK after the war and gifted to Norway in 1921 (the name translates to “cabinet minister Lehmkuhl”, after Norwegian minister Kristoffer Lehmkuhl). During the Second World War it was captured again by the Germans, during the Nazi invasion of Norway, but has since been used largely as a training and merchant vessel.