The shipwreck of the Alexander Nevsky
- an exciting exhibition in Kystcenter Thyborøn
The most famous shipwreck along this part of the Westcoast is the Russian naval frigate the Alexander Nevsky, which was wrecked on September 25, 1868 on the isthmus between Harboøre and Thyborøn. The Alexander Nevsky was the pride of the fleet, with one of the tsar’s sons, Grand Duke Alexei, and his teacher Admiral Possiet on board. The ship was on its way home after a visit to Piraeus, where it had participated in the festivities for the Greek King George’s wedding to Grand Duchess Olga of Russia
On September 24 the ship was on its way up through the North Sea. The admiral ordered the boilers shut down so that the ship could use its sails, and on the fatal night he conceived the unfortunate idea that the course should be several points further east. By navigating within sight of Hanstholm lighthouse it was possible to shorten the sailing time and come within sight of Skagen by daylight the next day. A wind blew up, and heavy showers passed overhead. It was necessary to reduce the sails, and as the foresail came down, the captain saw a dark stripe on the starboard side. In the same instant, the ship struck the sandbar. To stop it capsizing, it was necessary to cut away the masts and throw some of the cannons overboard.
The ship’s distress shot was heard on land, and people flocked to the beach together with the crews from the lifesaving stations. Fortunately the wind and the sea became calmer, and the frigate’s entire crew of 724 men was rescued. The only ones to drown were two officers and three sailors who were the first to try to reach land in one of the ship’s own lifeboats. A brief divine service was held on the beach. The whole scenery was drawn at the site for Illustreret Tidende (the Illustrated Times), such drawings being the press photography of the time.
The many Russians were billeted on the farms at Harboøre. They travelled home by train from Struer to Aarhus, and from there on the Danish frigate Jylland to Kronstadt near St. Petersburg. The admiral and the captain were court-martialled for the shipwreck and found guilty of dereliction of duty. But the punishment was waived by the tsar because of their previous services and the zeal which they showed during the wrecking.
In the days after the shipwreck, the ship’s furnishings and fittings were rowed to land in fishing boats and sold at a number of major auctions. The numerous amount of fine furniture and other fittings were thus scattered over a large part of West Jutland.
The Alexander Nevskij exhibition is made in cooperation between Lemvig Museum and the Kystcenter Thyborøn.
Kystcentervej 3, 7680 Thyborøn