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Lock to the New Harbor

The completion of the Neuer Hafen basin in 1851 led also to the construction of a lock to the sea. Unlike the lock of the Alter Hafen basin, it based on a more simple design without a closed chamber. Its gates could be opened only twice a day, when the tidal conditions cared for the same water level both in the basin and on the river.

Because the extreme beam of the paddle boxes of the contemporary steamers had, the lock was 22 meters wide. The special design of the gate was subject to a controversial discussion, but at last a simple gate was created. The lock itself ceased down operation in 1944, the former entrance being filled up and integrated into the nearby dyke structure.

Meanwhile a new lock has been constructed for the price of 50 Million €. A chamber lock with a length of 50 meters and a beam of 14 meters was opened in 2005, when the old junction was thus restored.

The entrance to the port served until September 2003 as a tug berth of the leading local towing company, the Unterweser Reederei GmbH (URAG). Meanwhile, the URAG tugs are moored at a floating jetty (length 254 meters) north of the entrance and are waiting there for daily their towing jobs around the clock.

But the entrance also does tell another, gruesome story: In the 1860s and 1870s, emigrant steamers were dispatched there. On December 11th 1875, a tremendous explosion heavily damaged the transatlantic steamer MOSEL of North German Lloyd and the tug SIMSON. 81 people were killed, more than 50 injured. Insurance fraud was the reason. An unscrupulous criminal, the American William King Thomas (alias William Keith Alexander, ca. 1830-1875) had deposed a bomb in a barrel, which had been specially insured. Thomas hoped for an explosion at sea and for a loss of the whole ship without any trace. But this plan was prevented, because the barrel dropped and untimely exploded, just when being loaded. Thomas himself tried to shoot himself, but was only injured. Before he died five days later, he had admitted his criminal plans.

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