Saturday, January 12, 2013

MV LIEMBA..(the oldest babe in the world)

Every week its beautiful horn wakes me up,at least not every time i have to pass out my waking time.It might be a pollution to others but to me its that beautiful music produced by an old lady that has managed to leave over hundred years.

This lady gets more strong despite the aging,at least many Germans have handled this lady and few Tanzanians have tried to caress her..
This exquisite baroness has many names ,she was titled Graf Goetzen or Graf von Goetzen but my brothers named her Liemba ..yes! MV Liemba..such an adorable African name.

The petticoat was first laid down in 1913 and was officially launched in 1914,The MV Liemba, formerly the Graf Goetzen or Graf von Goetzen, is a passenger and cargo ferry that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika,She is operated by the Marine Services Company Limited of Tanzania and operates between the ports of Kigoma, Tanzania and Mpulungu, Zambia with numerous stops to pick up and set down passengers in between.
Its been quite sometime since i have settled in Kigoma,and among the things i admire in this small town is the arrival of MV Liemba..this is the moment where the town gets busy,marching guys all over the port,Taxi drivers trying to passengers,motorbikes ,bicycles and not forgetting thieves..every one assigns themselves a task,you will be surprised to see bambino's  all over the port.

Graf von Goetzen was built in 1913 in Germany, and was one of three vessels operated by the German Empire to control Lake Tanganyika during the early part of the First World War. Her master had her scuttled on 26 July 1916 off the mouth of the Malagarasi River during the German retreat from the town of Kigoma. In 1924 a British Royal Navy salvage team raised her and in 1927 she was recommissioned as the Liemba. The Liemba is the last vessel of the Kaiserlich Marine still actively sailing anywhere in the world.

 Everyone is surprised on the creation of Meyer-Werft Shipyard in Papenburg ,i am quite sure the young children of the people involved in the creation of Liemba are left in surprises..

With the aid of the Götzen which had been additionally armed with a 105 mm (4.1 in) gun from the SMS Königsberg, the Germans had complete supremacy of the lake in the early stages of the war. The ship was used both to ferry cargo and personnel across the lake, and as a base from which to launch surprise attacks on Allied troops. It therefore became essential for the Allied forces to gain control of the lake themselves. Under the command of Geoffrey Spicer-Simson and the Royal Navy they achieved the monumental task of bringing two armed motor boats Mimi and Toutou from England and via the Belgian Congo to the lake by rail, road and river to Albertville (Kalemie) on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika. The two boats waited until December 1915, then mounted a surprise attack on the Germans, capturing the gunboat Kingani - renamed HMS Fifi. Another German vessel, the Hedwig von Wissman, was sunk in February 1916, leaving the Götzen as the only German vessel remaining on the lake.

As a result of their strengthened position on the lake, the Allies advanced towards Kigoma by land, and the Belgians established an airbase on the western shore at Albertville. From there in June 1916 they launched a bombing raid on German positions in and around Kigoma. It is not clear whether the Götzen was hit (the Belgians claimed to have hit her but the Germans denied it), but German morale suffered and she was subsequently stripped of her gun since  it was needed elsewhere.

The war on the lake had reached a stalemate by this stage, with both sides declining to mount attacks. However, the war on land was progressing, largely to the advantage of the Allies, who cut off the railway link in July 1916 and threatened to isolate Kigoma completely. This led the German naval commander on the lake, Gustav Zimmer, to abandon the town and head south. In order to avoid his ship falling into Allied hands, Zimmer ordered that Götzen be scuttled. The task was given to the three engineers from Meyer Werft who had travelled with the dismantled ship to Lake Tanganyika in order to supervise its assembly. They decided on their own that they would try to enable a later salvage; they loaded the ship with sand and covered all engines with a thick layer of grease before sinking her carefully on 26 July off the mouth of the Malagarasi River.

MV Liemba is still sailing until today,living her being the only  ship in the world that has been operating for hundred for now the Tanzanian Government is are trying to collaborate in renovating it or replacing it...


  1. it was and still is..i wish you could have a closer look..thanks for reading...

  2. Hi Isah

    Thank you for this interesting post! Can you tell me if the boat really runs every week? I thought it leaves Kigoma on wednesday, hidding south. When does it arrives at Kasanga? And the other way around? We would like to take a trip with this lady next summer, but it is very difficult to find correct information about it. Thx!

  3. Can you fill in the years in between...did the Liemba run as a cargo and passenger boat from 1927 onwards? I sailed on her in 1978 when she had been overhauled by East African Railways (I believe) after having been idle for a time. I wondered what had happened before this. Of course in those days there was less information available and I did not appreciate the full history. A memorable trip neverthess, fascinating to read about now with all the photo footage etc.