One of the most topical restorations in Romania is that of Tudor Vladimirescu, a passenger paddle steamer originally built in 1854. This page includes a selection of photographs, a summary history and vessel plans.
Built in Budapest in 1854 as the tug Croatia for the DDSG, the vessel passed into the hands of Romanian Fluvial Navigation (NFR) in 1919. She was rebuilt as a passenger vessel at Turnu Severin Shipyard (now Severnav), receiving the name Sarmisegetusa - the ancient capital of Dacia. She was used for internal passenger services, mostly between Braila and Sulina. In 1923 she was renamed Grigore Manu in honour of a politician heavily involved in the development of Romanian navigation. She received her present name shortly after the Communist Party took power, referring to the leader of the 1821 Revolution against the Ottomans. Tudor Vladimirescu was completely rebuilt at Orsova Shipyard in the late 1950s. The hull, engine and paddles of the paddle steamer are all original. In latter years Tudor Vladimirescu was used on luxury day-cruises for tourists in the Danube Delta; however she was laid-up with minimal maintenance from the early 1990s. From early 2000 to early 2002 Tudor Vladimirescu was in the Galati Damen Shipyard, where she was gutted in preparation for a refit. However funds dried up and the vessel was laid-up at Chiciu once more. Between September 2002 and August 2003 the vessel was rebuilt both in Galati and at the Aker Shipyard in Braila. The vessel is now primarily employed as a protocol ship for local and national government meetings.
Danube Research would like to point out that we were not directly involved with the redesign of this vessel.
Some people have criticised the new design of this historic vessel for being more "modernisation" than restoration. To counter this, others comment that her post-1959 appearance was more like a bus than a paddle steamer, with her new look something of an improvement on the previous one. Indeed the new design is not as extreme as the proposed "Crystal Palace" design which was previously shown on this webpage. Although we would have preferred restoration to her pre-war appearance, Danube Research is delighted that the world's oldest operating steamship is back where she belongs, sailing on the Lower Danube.
For further information on the history of this and other Romanian Danube paddle steamers Danube Research recommend the following book, available through the Modelism website:
Craciunoiu, C. (1995), Low Danube Paddle Steamers, Modelism International, Bucharest.
Ship plans - post 1959 refit (source: Navrom SA Galati)