Swiftships donating cradle for historic Danish boat

MORGAN CITY — Swiftships Shipbuilders of Morgan City, is donating a $25,000 boat cradle to preserve a piece of history kept in a Houston museum to remember the Nazi Holocaust.

According to a news release from Swiftships, the cradle will be used for the restoration of a Danish boat used during World War II to save lives during Hitler’s reign in Europe. The boat is being honored by the marine industry to recognize those who risked their lives during the Danish Revolt.

This Holocaust-era artifact tells the story of a three-week period in 1943 when Christians in Denmark risked their own lives and helped 7,200 Jews along with 700 non-Jewish relatives make it safely to Sweden rather than face almost certain execution at the hands of Nazi Germany, the news release said.

The authentic 37-foot fishing boat is of the type used to ferry Jews and others from small towns along the Danish coast to safety in Sweden, according to the website for the Holocaust Museum Houston. It was donated to the museum in 2007.

The boat originally carried the signal letters XP 2853, was once named the “Jørn Finne” but was officially renamed the “Hanne Frank” in January 1985, the museum website said.

The museum points out that the name has no known connection to Anne Frank, the young German girl who hid from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic until she was betrayed and eventually died in the Bergen-Belsen death camp. Her diary subsequently became one of the world’s most widely read books about the Holocaust.

In October of 2012, Holocaust Museum Houston curator Walter Hanson told Swiftships CEO Sheraze Shah that the boat needed a cradle, according to company spokeswoman Morgan Rhoades.

“When the opportunity to preserve a remarkable piece of maritime history arose, we were eager to assist in recognizing heroism from which a greater humanity emerged,” Rhoades said.

Rhoades said the original cradle in which the boat sat, was not designed specifically for the Danish vessel, which caused the hull to deteriorate. This led to the boat’s ongoing renovation.

Texas A&M students got measurements of the boat using laser equipment and used those specifications to design the cradle which Swiftships has built, Rhoades said.

Ten people were involved in the building of the cradle, which was built with 400 man hours. The cost of production was roughly $25,000. Within the industry, the cradle is worth $35,000, according to Rhoades.

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