The costs of the renovation of “Gorch Fock” have increased from a planned 10 million to 135 million euros. There are now more than 100 cases of corruption, fraud and breach of trust.

The Osnabrück Public Prosecutor’s Office has greatly expanded its investigation into the rehabilitation of the naval vessel “Gorch Fock”. There are now 105 preliminary investigations, said spokesman Christian Bagung, confirming a report by “Spiegel”.

The procedure concerns corruption, fraud and breach of trust in the area around the Elsflether yard, which was commissioned to overhaul the sailing ship until 2019. In February 2019, the company filed for bankruptcy. The cost of the renovation has increased from a planned EUR 10 million to EUR 135 million.

Multiple trials and accused

The number of proceedings is not the same as the number of suspects, says Bagung of the German news agency. There is a procedure with several suspects, in other summary proceedings there are no suspects yet. According to previous information, investigations are underway against two former board members of the shipyard and a civilian employee of the naval arsenal in Wilhelmshaven.

According to the “Spiegel” report, crew members of another naval vessel are also being investigated. They would have accepted technical devices such as cell phones, laptops and televisions from the shipyard. Bagung confirmed there were such allegations. But even here he did not mention the number of suspects. Elsflether Werft specialized in the maintenance of small naval vessels.

Gorch Fock is scheduled to resume service in 2021

Part of the procedures concern suppliers. In order to get orders, they should have agreed to credit Elsflether Werft 15 percent of the invoice amount. The Bundeswehr estimates the damage due to excessive bills at the “Gorch Fock” at approximately 16 million euros.

In the Elsflether Werft case, a Soko “water” of the Oldenburg police is investigating. Head Josef Schade said in “Spiegel” that a large part of the proceedings should be processed by early April 2021. Bagung said prosecutors have not set a specific date for ending the investigation.

The Lürssen shipyard in Bremen is now working on the “Gorch Fock”. The three-master, on which the Navy trains its officer candidates, is expected to return to service at the end of May 2021.

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