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Historical towboat Šturec to disclose its secrets

The towboat survived US bombs at the cost of 15 metres of its length.

Towboat Šturec in the Winter Port (Source: Jana Liptáková)
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Even though Bratislava is dubbed as a city on the river, it does not have a museum dedicated to its ship-building and river transport history. This may change after the restoration of the historical towboat Šturec is complete and it becomes a museum in its own right. The towboat is currently sitting on the embankment in the Winter Port just next to the Apollo Bridge on the left side of the Danube River.

Read also: Read also:Celebrate Solstice on the Danube

“Even though we are a tiny museum, we own the biggest item of all the museum collections in Slovakia – the towboat Šturec,” said Ernest Huska, the museum director, with pride in his voice. “No other museum has an item almost 60 metres long and 350 tonnes heavy in its collections.”

The 80-year old towboat is a national cultural monument and sits on the upper part of a shift lift from the 1930s. The latter is a national cultural monument too even though it is still in regular operation.

Šturec is one of the last riveted ships (manufactured using the same technology as the doomed Titanic) in Slovakia and the last one suitable for turning into a museum.

Turbulent history

The ship was built in the shipyards of Komárno in 1937 along with two sister ships, to function as tankers to transport crude oil from Romania to the then Apollo refinery in Bratislava, via the Danube. At that time, it was more than 70 metres long and its name was Štúr.

After some years of operation, it was partially sunk during the American bombardment of the Apollo refinery on June 16, 1944.

After the war, it was returned to Komárno, where the damaged part was removed and the remaining ends re-connected. This cost it about 15 metres of its length. It was turned into a classical towboat, 56 metres long and renamed Šturec. It completed its active life around 1985. Since that time, it has been anchored in the Winter Port for almost 30 years.

Later a group of enthusiastic former and current employees of the Slovak Shipping and Ports company, including Juraj Bohunský and Jiří Mándl, initiated its salvation from the traditional fate of old ships – a final voyage to the scrapyard. In 2012 it was declared a national cultural monument and one year later it became the property of the Museum of Transportation. In 2014 it was taken out of the water and now rests on the upper part of the historical ship lift. Restoration will be a gradual process due to its very poor condition.

Nevertheless, on Saturday, June 17, those interested will have the opportunity, to visit this piece of waterway history. This will be the first time its owner, the Museum of Transportation, will open it up to ordinary visitors, offering a rare chance to look into its machine room and below decks but also to see the kitchen and cabins and hear its turbulent story. There will be five guided tours, at 10:00, 11:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00 while an explanation in English will be available too. The event will be part of the Solstice on the Danube programme.

Topic: Bratislava


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