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The R.S. Barbara

The R.S. Barbara

The Rotor ship Barbara caused a sensation in Germany in 1924' the motive power was the wind, which acts on the slowly rotating vertical cylinders as on a sail the cylinders were turned by motors at a speed regulated to that of the wind.

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I hope you do not mind me adding the following information regarding Barbara.
The vessel was a Flettner Rotorship; an experimental German ship owned by the Government and built in 1926. It was based on the Magnus Effect in which a spinning axially symmetric object in an air-stream develops a force at right-angles to the air flow. This is the basis of a ‘Beckham’ free kick in football when the ball ‘bends’ when struck with spin.
In the 1920s the German engineer, Anton Flettner developed a method of ship propulsion based on the Magnus Effect. He built several ships with one, two or three rotating cylinders. The 55 feet tall hollow cylinders installed on Barbara were 13 feet diameter and driven by electric motors. The ship also had a diesel engine for main and/or auxiliary power.
She could sail at a service speed of 13 knots and by rotating the three cylinders in various combinations of directions, the ship could be propelled through the water or turned around on the spot. The vessels proved very stable in all weathers and her sister ship, Baden-Baden, made a successful voyage across the Atlantic to New York.
Finally though, it was decided that this form of propulsion was less efficient than conventional engines and like sailing ships, wind was a necessary element, and so the cylinders were dismantled in 1933 when Barbara was rebuilt as an ordinary motor ship and renamed Birkenau.
After the war she was sold to Denmark and renamed Else Skou in 1947. Sixteen years later in 1963 she became Fotis P before taking her last name, Star of Riyadh, in 1967. During August 1978 she was scuttled off Jeddah in cir***stances of which I am not aware.


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Hi Dick and Stuart,
My first cousin Arnold who died last year at the great age of 95, mentions the Flettner Rotor Ship in his autobiography 'My twentieth Century'. I have a rather poor quality photo, taken in Kiel Harbour 1925 with some text from his book that I will attempt to post.

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I see in Maritime Log that a company in Germany that supplies the offshore wind generators is looking at building one of these.

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Very interesting' many thanks Stuart, Price and Jok its people like you guys make this site grand.
Im very interested in finding out more about the cir***stances of August 1978 around Jeddah of the Scuttling of the Star of Riyadh'
regards Dick.

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She looks very top heavy was this ever a problem ??
Thanks Paul

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