The De Hef defenders in Rotterdam were well prepared. The followers were mobilized via social media and the eggs were ready to be thrown.
The Twitter account Is De Hef Al Weg Vanwege Jeff (Is De Hef already gone because of Jeff?) was used to post daily updates on the condition of the Koningshavenbrug.
But then comes the surprising news. Jeff Bezos’ ship has been towed secretly and in a hurry at night to the Greenport shipyard in Rotterdam these days – without dismantling the legendary De Hef bridge.
“This is very good news,” says Arne Janssen. For the young student from Rotterdam it is also a kind of victory over capitalism. “It can’t be that rich people can afford everything,” emphasizes the 24-year-old, explaining in the same breath that this attitude is very popular in his circle of friends.
The reason for the months of excitement was a ship still without a name, but with the model designation “Y721”. Numerous rumors quickly circulated about the superlative 127 meter luxury yacht. Its construction is said to cost 430 million euros, but the name of the likely owner caused a stir: Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and one of the richest people on the planet.
But on the way from the Rotterdam shipyard to the North Sea, there was a big problem: for the transfer, the historic Koningshavenbrug lifting bridge, popularly known as De Hef, had to be dismantled and then rebuilt because the masts were too high. A historical sacrilege in the eyes of many residents of Rotterdam.
Ton Wesselink described the project as simply “incredible” from the start. He first thought of an April Fool’s joke, says the man who heads a Rotterdam organization for the protection of historic buildings.
Wesselink feared that dismantling the bridge would set a “precedent”. “It’s part of our heritage, we have to take care of it,” he says of the famous lifting bridge, which was badly damaged in a 1940 bombardment by Nazi Germany and was only renovated a few years ago.
After the first calls against the project on social media, the protest quickly gained momentum and the resistance was stylized into a kind of class struggle against the “dictatorship of money”. Finally, the idea was born on Facebook to throw eggs and tomatoes at the three-master if it should pass the Koningshavenbrug.
The shipbuilder Oceanco, which specializes in luxury yachts, did not want to get involved in such a spectacle, which would probably be more damaging to business. In a kind of cloak-and-dagger operation, the glider was finally moved to the Greenport shipyard, without the erected masts, where it is to be fully assembled. Several tugs towed the ship through the canals of Rotterdam in an operation that lasted around three hours.
Rick Wansink, who organizes water transport for the Van der Wees company in Rotterdam, only wants to confirm that the company took care of the transport and that the superyacht did not go under De Hef. “A different route was chosen. We don’t want to say more about it, we are sworn to secrecy towards our customers.”
However, a video of Hanco Bol, who has been out and about in Rotterdam with his camera for years to photograph particularly impressive yachts, is circulating on YouTube.
During the night he recorded how the ship was moved. The man speculates that the longer route was chosen for the flyover for two reasons. On the one hand, joint photos of the controversial yacht and the Koningshavenbrug should be avoided. On the other hand, the longer southwest route is much less well lit, which makes it difficult to take pictures.
Hanco Bol learned firsthand that no pictures of the Bezos yacht were wanted. As he stood on a bridge with his camera, he says, searchlights were aimed at him, making photography almost impossible.
This awakened Hanco Bol’s hunting instinct. During these days, the yacht hunter made his way to the Greenport shipyard again. Since access from land is hardly possible, he took a boat and approached the imposing ship.
He documented that all three masts have now been erected. At least that’s good news for Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, who will soon be able to set sail on his maiden voyage.