Built in 1958 by the Rolandwerft GmbH shipbuilders in Bremen, and launched on 6th August of that year, MS Oldenburg operated ferry services between the German mainland and the Friesian Island of Wangerooge and to Helgoland.
When replaced by a larger vessel in 1982 she was sold to an entrepreneur who for a short period operated her as a duty free butter cruiser exploiting a loophole in the German custom laws. The loophole was plugged and in 1985 the ship was purchased by The Landmark Trust as a replacement for the Polar Bear.
MS Oldenburg was ideal not only to take over the supply and mail service but also to ferry large numbers of day visitors to Lundy. After extensive modification and refurbishment at Appledore she entered regular service in May 1986 since when she has become indispensable.
Operating and maintaining MS Oldenburg is a constant battle. Complying with ever-changing safety and environmental regulations has necessitated numerous modifications. However The Landmark Trust has endeavoured to retain the ships original character and poise.
In 1999 with the help of a Lottery Heritage Grant MS Oldenburg had further upgrading including new engines, a new aft canopy, improved fire protection and the interior saloons completely refurbished.
Since MS Oldenburg arrived in 1985 major changes have also taken place at her main ports of call. Ilfracombe has been enhanced with a new pier, Bideford with a refurbished Quay but mostly striking is the construction in 2000 of a jetty at Lundy. Admittedly the Lundy operation has lost a little of its charm but the disembarkation is safer and much quicker.
Besides the passenger service Oldenburg is the main supply ship for Lundy and conveys anything and everything from food, fuel, building materials and even vehicles. On her return trips she transports the Island’s waste for mainland recycling and the farm’s lambs and pigs for butchering. Sporting a three ton crane on the foredeck she is self sufficient in loading and discharging wherever she docks.
Between March and October MS Oldenburg operates a regular service to Lundy from Bideford and Ilfracombe, sailing up to four times a week. During the winter she is based at Bideford and used for essential cargo deliveries.
In addition to the regular Lundy service Oldenburg offers coastal cruises along the North Devon Coast and River cruises for other functions including parties, weddings and charity fund raising events. Other charters include visits to Gloucester, Clovelly, Swansea and Porthcawl.