The Belem, currently undergoing a winter refit, will set sail in the spring
The Belem is currently in Saint-Nazaire undergoing an exceptional winter refit to allow the three-masted vessel to set sail again in the spring.
This renovation work, never carried out on a ship as old as the Belem that was built in 1896, involves entirely replacing a part of the hull situated under the machine room in order to deal with the severely corroded steel sheets from which this part of the ship is made.
After the ship was placed in a dry dock on December 12 last year, the Eiffage Energie Systèmes – Clemessy Services shipyard personnel, the V.Ships France ship management teams, and the sailors from the Belem set to work cutting out the hull at the end of January. After this section has been replaced in mid-March, the reinstallation of the engine room parts and the initial trials are scheduled for mid-April.
The Belem Caisse d'Epargne Foundation* has drawn up a budget of more than €2 million for this major project. To raise this money, it sought financial assistance from the French Ministry of Culture (Pays de la Loire Regional Cultural Affairs Department) as well as from the local authorities. As these grants are subject to a ceiling, the Foundation is also appealing to the generosity of individual donors to top up the budget.
In 2023, the Belem will take part in 4 major events when the general public will be able to visit it:
- the 3rd edition of the Débord de Loire festival from May 31 to June 4 in Nantes, on the river that saw the launch of the Belem 127 years ago,
- The Armada de Rouen from June 10 to 18, the world's largest gathering of tall ships, with some 50 vessels and representatives from more than 30 different countries,
- The Bordeaux Wine Festival running from June 23 to 25,
- The 200th anniversary of Port-Vendres from September 2 to 3.
And, in a long-awaited epic voyage in the spring of 2024, the Belem will be carrying the Olympic flame from Athens to Marseille.
* The Belem Caisse d'Epargne Foundation, an entity set up in 1980 to ensure that the Belem is preserved as a part of France's maritime heritage and that it continues to operate as a training ship open to all, gives expression to 42 years of sponsorship. It has allowed 50,000 people to set sail aboard the three-masted ship, and enabled 2 million people to visit it.