Sørlandet is a Norwegian heritage vessel and the world’s oldest fully rigged ship still in operation. She was built in 1927 at Høivolds Mek shipyard in the city of Kristiansand on the south coast of Norway. She is the oldest of three Norwegian tall ships, the “Great Trio of Norway”, which besides her includes Statsraad Lehmkuhl and Christian Radich.

In 1927 ship owner O.A.T. Skjelbred built Sørlandet for 25,000 pounds sterling. When she was launched she measured 210 feet in length and 577 gross tons. She had no engines. As part of “Sørlandet’s Seilend Skoleskibs Institution,” she played a vital role in the education of young seamen from the southern region of Norway, known as Sørlandet.

On her maiden voyage to Oslo in 1927, Sørlandet was inspected by King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav. Later in the same year, she sailed for London with 90 young men on board as trainee crew. She sailed to Chicago to take part in the World Fair in 1933. Being the first Norwegian training ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, she actually served as the Norwegian pavilion during the exhibition „Century of Progress“.

Sørlandet was damaged during World War II and served as an accommodation vessel for German submariners. She was restored and ready to sail in 1948. In 1958 she was equipped with an engine. In 1974 she was no longer used as a public training vessel and was sold to ship owner Staubo. She was registered in Arendal and laid up at anchor in Kilsund for three years. She deteriorated considerably during that time. In 1977 ship owner Skjelbred returned her to the city of Kristiansand. In 1981 a foundation was established; „Stiftelsen Fullriggeren Sørlandet“ has been the owner and operator of the vessel since. From 1980 to 1983 Sørlandet was the only operating Norwegian sail training ship, and the first open to men and women of all ages and nationalities. Sørlandet crossed the Atlantic four times in 1981. In addition, she was engaged in a film shoot in New York and made several voyages between Bermuda and Boston.

In 1982, Sørlandet hosted the exhibition „Women of the Coast“ whilst visiting some 60 seaside destinations along Norwegian shoreline, sailing as far north as Kirkenes. A total of 83,000 people visited Sørlandet during this tour. In 1986 she once again crossed the Atlantic to take part in the 100th Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. From 1986 to 1988 about 500 cadets from the Royal Norwegian Navy got their first life-at-sea experience through six-week courses, sailing and training aboard Sørlandet. In the latter half of the 1990s she was affiliated with the Royal Norwegian Navy, Norwegian Ship Owners‘ Association and the local public employment office with which she offered six-week courses in sailing and seamanship to bolster the recruitment of young seafarers.

In keeping with International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules of the 1969 convention that dictate the measurement of vessels of her class, Sørlandet is now 499 gross tons. She is well equipped with air-conditioning but is otherwise in her original condition. The main engine is of 560 HP. In 1980, Sørlandet went through a full restoration. She had extensive repairs in 1988 and again from 2003 to 2007. In the summer of 2012, Sørlandet spent four months in dry-dock at Tuzla, Istanbul, for a major restoration project which included the replacement of many of her riveted steel hull plates, support systems and a complete rebuild of the main ‘Banjer’ area, where students sleep and attend classes. In 2010 the Canadian school West Island College International chartered Sørlandet for its program, „Class Afloat“; it offered high school and university courses in addition to sail training onboard until 2014.

Today the foundation operates the „A+ World Academy“, a unique boarding school on a ship with an exotic itinerary and Advanced Placement curriculum.[Together, Sørlandet and A+ World Academy circumnavigated the world in the school years 2015/2016 and 2017-2018. The ship set sail from her home port of Kristiansand, Norway, August 2015. When she returned home nearly two years later, she and her students had visited more than 44 cities in 22 countries. The foundation oversees the A+ World Academy from its offices in Kristiansand.

Technical data
– Displacement: 891 tons
– Gross tons: 499
– Length: 57 m
– Length inclusive bowsprit: 65 m
– Mast height: 35 m
– Draft: 4,5 m
– Trainee capacity: 70/sailing or 150 passengers in closed waters.
– Fixed crew: 15
– Auxiliary Power: 560KW / 9 knots
– Number of Sails: 27
– Sail Area: 1240 square meters