German ministry concedes serious mistakes in refurbishment of famous Navy tall ship

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BERLIN, March 1 (Xinhua) -- The German Ministry of Defense has conceded serious mistakes in the refurbishment of Germany's most famous tall ship, the Gorch Fock, and confirmed most accusations by the German federal audit office, German media reported on Friday.

In January, the audit office had accused the German defense ministry of serious dereliction in the repair of Gorch Fock, operated by the German Navy as a sailing school ship. The audit office said that there had been neither a comprehensive damage assessment nor a sufficient examination of the economic viability prior to the ship's repair.

The actual cost of the ship's restoration increased more than tenfold from the originally anticipated amount of around 10 million euros (11.4 million U.S. dollars) to 135 million euros.

Although the internal investigations have yet to be completed, the German defense ministry said that it understands "the majority of the statements of the federal audit office as well as its recommendations," the German newspaper Die Welt cited a statement by the defense ministry.

To avoid similar mistakes in the future, the German defense ministry is seeking to strengthen "ministerial supervision when analyzing economic feasibility." In addition, the ministry is planning to monitor such economic decisions more closely, as well as to improve the documentation of such processes, according to the ministry statement.

The German defense ministry, however, did not agree with the audit office's report on all issues and rejected the accusation that conditions aboard Gorch Fock had endangered "the life and limb of the crew and the cadets". Such a danger would not have existed since the completion of previous maintenance work in 2012 and the start of the current maintenance project.

The Gorch Fock is one of the most famous German Navy vessels. It was even depicted on the 10 Deutsche mark banknote, Germany's currency prior to the euro. Built in 1958, the Gorch Fock was used by the German Navy for training purposes until restoration began in 2015. Enditem

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