Last modified: 2008-08-30 by
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image by Eugene Ipavec, 19 Aug 2008
Company website, in English (full name: ‘Harms Bergung Transport & Heavylift GmbH & Co. KG’): Founded in 1851 as Taucher (diving) Beckedorf, being “a world-wide operating independent company, Harms Bergung offer(ing) a broad range of maritime services. The core business focuses on the areas of offshore, sea towage, sea transports on pontoons, heavy lifts, salvage and CORREXTM treatment” (preventive antirust treatment) as stated on in the ‘About us’ section.
The ‘History’ section mentions Ulrich Harms taking a share in the company in 1951, becoming the owner of ‘Harms Bergung’ in 1962; international expansion during the nineteen-sixties, owning all of Beckedorf by 1969. 1972 bought by Smit (NL) but retains name; 1997, named Smit International (DE); bought by business partners Albrecht and Mayer who re-establish the name in 2001.
See this page for an impression of what Harms is able to do: Fleet page (I count nine tugs and three pontoons plus a projected “twin hull submersible barge (…)
intended to be used for dry docking operations and heavy lift transportation of floating and non-floating cargo”).
Jan Mertens, 18 Aug 2008
Dockers would usually carry over their shoulders a long, stout tapered stick with a hook very similar to that depicted on the flag. These hooks were either highly polished brass or black cast iron or steel. The docker would use the pole to tip the packing crate or whatever on its side, where two of his mates would use shorter poles with similar hooks to obtain a purchase or grip. This would enable them to shift the crate onto the shoulders of a third man, who would place it into a cargo net to be lowered into a ship's hold, or else they would manhandle the case out of the net and onto the dockside. I don't know what the hook is called, but there is obviously some sort of technical term. It was amazing to watch a crew of five or six dockers either load or onload a 15,000 ton freighter in the space of four hours. The hook on the flag obviously represents the company's expertise in handling bulky cargo.
Ron Lahav, 18 Aug 2008
Harms’s company history mentions an episode during which Smit (Tak), Dutch towage and salvage specialist, owned Harms 1972-2001 (under its own name till 1997, then – as I understand it - becoming the German branch of Smit International). A German eBay offer recently featured a blue-and-yellow item. This was no. 150278989887 (end 14 Aug 2008), admittedly a table flag, put up by “bundeszentralregister” who explicitly refers to the Smit episode. Dimensions given as approx. 16 cm x 24 cm: There is the familiar object again – “bundeszentrale” says it is an anchor. Now Smit International’s house flag is blue with a yellow symbol near the hoist: so the above is really a variant of Smits still clearly referring to Harms! Nicely done.
No photos of real usage found yet. In the meantime the question remains: when was the blue-and yellow flag introduced, since Loughran [lgr95] shows it – somewhat altered – in 1995?
Jan Mertens, 18 Aug 2008
Harms Bergungs G.m.b.H., Hamburg - blue flag, yellow axe with blade pointing to the bottom. (Bergung = salvage)
Image after Brown's Flags and Funnels Shipping Companies of the World, compiled by J.L. Loughran, Glasgow, 1995 [lgr95]
Jarig Bakker, 23 Nov 2005