Radio London's home,
the mv Galaxy (Page 1)

The following pages of photos, although poignant, are quite incredible. Those on Page 1, were contributed by Tim Schwabedissen, who has kindly written a personal commentary, they tell the story of the Galaxy from when she arrived in Hamburg in 1967, to when she sank in Kiel.

Tim gave the photos to our friend, Dr Martin van der Ven for his own website, (see link at end of feature) but Martin has most generously offered them to us for exclusive use on the Radio London site. Our sincere thanks both to Tim and to Martin.

Tim says:
I have a special relationship to the Galaxy as during her "Kiel-years" I often visited the ship (and later wreck) until it was broken up. The story begins with the oldest photo, showing the ship after having been docked in Hamburg. Work is in progress on cleaning the hull.

I came into contact with the ship in 1976 as a pupil. I was in a rowing club, and the bunker became a famous destination for us. It was a real adventure, not only to make trips through its remains, but also to tour the Galaxy, which was then still mostly intact, though in a bad condition. The studios could still be visited containing the remains of sound systems and discs. Old newspapers and ship documents were to be found in several rooms, and so it was possible to get some idea of what the Galaxy once was. But in the time of dereliction, the ship turned more and more into a rotting hulk. On one occasion, some deeper-situated rooms had become flooded, but were then pumped out again.

No-one had pumped out the aft machine room which became flooded in April 1979, and a short time later the ship sunk into its stony grave. Only the upper structures remained afloat and could still be entered. This ended in 1986, when the city of Kiel bought the whole area, and due to environmental dangers, decided to raise the Galaxy.

In the meantime I had got into contact with pirate radio enthusiast John Burch from England, who had tried to collect money for turning the Galaxy into a museum. In this regard I took a series of photos, some of which are inlcuded here. Unfortunately John only raised a few pounds. But to my mind there was no real chance for this project – who should have been the millionaire to save the rotten wreck which the ship had turned into during the years of neglect?
Above, are two (to my mind) impressive pics of the Galaxy still looking very shipshape in Hamburg dock.Though work is, by this time, no longer really getting ahead.
This is the hulk on her first berth after she was towed to Kiel in the mid-70s, close to the U-boat-bunker, the remains of which can be seen in the foreground behind the crane. This was the place where the Galaxy came to rest a short time later – first still afloat, then sunk.

The next photos show the Galaxy wreck as it appeared from April 1979 until 1986.

I think I took the pics about 1984/5. The first shows the wreck between the ruins of the U-boat-bunker. It came to rest on the former upper structure of the bunker which fell into the basin when the bunker was blown up in 1946, so the Galaxy could not sink completely.

A similar view – the northern basin with scrap of the Howaldt shipyard in the foreground. Howaldt owned the area until the mid-80s and used it for dumping unused material.

To the right, one can see a small bunker which was situated on the top of Kilian, which fell into the water when the structure collapsed.

The rotting starboard side of the ship. When I visited for the last few times in 1984/5, the Galaxy had transformed from a sunken ship into a complete wreck. So the decision was made to raise the ship, because fuel tanks had started to burst due to rust.

Below, the raising of the Galaxy-wreck in summer 1986. Two cranes were necessary, as the hull was lying on concrete ground so it was not easy to get ropes under it, and it was in severe danger of breaking in two. Furthermore, the water was floating in and out as several holes had been burnt into the hull during navy-diver exercises in the recent years.

As the Galaxy was raised, some pirate radio enthusiasts gathered on the bunker ruin to watch the sad end of this once-famous ship. She was towed a few yards away and scrapped on a former slipway during the following months. A friend of mine – I unfortunately, was on holiday then – got into contact with one of the onlookers who later, sadly, died. But he had given my friend a book on pirate radios and some discs containing original tunes and radio broadcasts. This was quite amazing for us, as only now we really realised how exciting the whole thing once was.

I myself only recall that my elder brother in former times listened to Radio Veronica with his first radio (which I still possess). I also collected some radio bulletins, and it was during that time that also the Mi Amigo sank off England, and so the story somehow went on.

The last visits to the Galaxy were shortly after the salvage. The ship was mud-filled and shells and kelp were everywhere and made it difficult to tour the lower parts for a last time. But somehow we managed to do so before the sad remains were cut up. My friend succeeded in getting an isolator before it was destroyed. Some time later, the Galaxy was completely gone. This (and lots of photos) is what I recall of the ship.

I'm glad that I could offer you a little help in enhancing your website and keeping the memory of the Galaxy. And at least, though the pics are somehow sad, especially the wreck photos, they brought me into contact with a really amazing scene. So it has also a good side, like everything has both sides.

Best regards, Tim

Tim Schwabedissen has written a complete history about the so-called Kilian-bunker, which can be found in English on

The beginning of the mine-sweeper's story, John Platt's fascinating photographic record of the Density's construction and launch, can be enjoyed on Martin van der Ven's web site:

Page 2 contains additional items relevant to the Galaxy's last days.

Read about the USS Density bell here...

Back to 'Radio London'
Go to Final Galaxy photos, P2
Density Reunion 2001
Density Reunion 2003