German ministry to probe alleged mutiny

Jan. 21, 2011 at 8:16 AM
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BERLIN, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- German defense officials ordered the navy's training ship to halt its circumnavigation of the world and dock in Argentina for an inquiry into a reported mutiny.

A leaked parliamentary report revealed members of the Gorch Fock crew mutinied against ship officers after a female cadet fell 80 feet from a mast and died from her injuries, the British newspaper The Independent reported Friday.

The report by Hellmut Konigshaus, the parliamentary liaison officer to the navy, said after the woman died in November, shipmates refused to obey orders to climb the rigging.

"They did not want to go aloft after the painful loss of their comrade," the report said. "Others did not want to continue on the Gorch Fock."

The Gorch Fock, a three-massed vessel, has been used for training recruits since 1958.

"These are grave allegations," a member of the Defense Ministry's naval staff said Thursday. "We are doing everything humanly possible to clear this matter up."

Ship captain Norbert Schatz reportedly accused four trainees of a "lack of cooperation with the ship's command" and ordered them flown to Germany, claiming they "mutinied and incited the crew," The Independent said.

The alleged mutiny is believed to be the basis for Schatz's decision to fly the ship's 70 officer-cadets back to Germany from Brazil and replace the crew with professional sailors.

The ship was on a return voyage to Germany via Cape Horn, Chile, when it was ordered to turn round and make for port in Argentina.

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