Harald schleicher and klaus hagen are an emergency task force without alarm and blue light. You know: when the dull creak and the destructive crash come close, a ship is churning through the frozen main-danube canal. And that means for the ice tops of the sluice houses: get to the poles and slides – time for the next operation.
"Without the eisstober we had to keep the lock closed in this weather", says klaus ullrich of the nurnberg water and shipping office (WSV), when the "calypso" was being surveyed driving through the sluice. "Otherwise the heavy ice plates could fall from the lock gate and endanger the crew", explains the deputy head of the neuses eagle district, which covers the stretch from bischberg in the bamberg district to erlangen.
Ships print ice in lock
The icebergs are needed for ships coming from erlangen, which travel downstream and are channeled twelve meters downstream in hausen. They push up ice in front of them and push it into the lock chamber. Some plates get stuck at the lower exit gate. Harald schleicher and klaus hagen from wimmelbach and their colleagues take care of them.
They work in two shifts. From 6 a.M. To 2 p.M. And from 2 p.M. To 10 p.M., they ensure that the hausen lock does not become a terminus for the captains on their way from the danube to the main river.
Ice thickness is measured on a daily basis
First they hit from above the rough chunks in the deep. Then the battle of the men against the ice from the side continues. From there, armed with their long tools, they take on some tough ice formations.
"Those who dare can still navigate the canal despite the days of permanent frost", says klaus ullrich from ebern, who drives the 40-kilometer stretch from bischberg to erlangen every morning from 6 a.M. Onward. He measures the ice thickness at various points and uses the values to create an ice report that can be viewed online. Ullrich: "at the moment we are at about 30 centimeters. From 45, at most 50 centimeters, it’s over."
Then the three icebreaker ships – the second winter service of the water and shipping office besides the ice floes – could no longer get through. The consequence: the locks of the aubenbezirk neuses in bamberg, strullendorf, forchheim and hausen were then closed and navigation on the canal was prohibited.
Captains with respect for the ice
At the moment, however, the calm on the canal is largely the voluntary decision of the captains. Only for push boats longer than 165 meters, the channel is already closed. Nevertheless, the "calypso" was on friday the first ship after two days without descent. "And it will also be quiet at the weekend", predicted ullrich.
Many captains were afraid of damaging their ships. After all, the ice layer on the canal, which has a lower flow velocity, is usually thicker than on rivers.
"That’s why many are currently waiting in the harbors, for example in bamberg or nurnberg.", says ullrich. "Usually only those who are under rough time pressure due to their load drive", explains klaus ullrich, as the sluice gate closes again.
For the ice top harald schleicher and klaus hagen the operation is now over. Normally, you are a construction inspector and. Dredger drivers, in winter they become the secret heroes of the canal.
A change from concrete
"A nice change, says schleicher, who usually takes care of damage to locks and buildings. "Something other than concrete around you all day long."
The "calypso meanwhile continues its journey. The crew, the cars standing on the deck – also thanks to the eisstober, everything remained intact. And the dull creaking and the destructive crashing – it’s getting quieter again.