The German Maritime Museum (Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum - DSM) extends with the open-air museum as well as the museum harbour in the very centre of Bremerhaven between the Columbus-Centre and the Weserdeichpromenade. The park-like site, with the large maritime objects on land and the ten old-timers of the museum fleet, forms, together with the display collections of the DSM and the historical, maritime surroundings, a unique ensemble of German shipping history. The museum harbour of today gave its name to the first phase of construction for the city of Bremerhaven, which was founded in 1827 by the free Hanseatic city of Bremen on the Northern Geeste shoreline at the mouth of the river Weser. In 1830 the dock harbour could be opened through which Bremen could protect its significance as a seaport and trading centre. Little of historical substance has remained due to varying industrial useages, especially for deep-sea fishing and the fishing industry, a devastating bomb attack on the 18 September 1944 as well as a partial filling-in of the former harbour basin with the lock and the loss of many buildings in the course of the last decades. The museum harbour with the last big wooden sailing trader of Germany (and the last all over the world), the barque SEUTE DEERN, which lies here since 1966, was part of the nucleus opened in 1975 by the DSM.
With the ten vehicles in the museum harbour, four ships on land and many other original large exhibits which stand as exemplary for German maritime history, the open-air museum together with the sea water route Unterweser, the Geeste estuary, the active shipping arrangements as well as the available maritime monuments in immediate proximity, like the lighthouse of 1853/55, offer a unique atmosphere. Besides the windjammer SEUTE DEERN which is also used as a restaurant, the lightship ELBE III, the sailing yacht DIVA which won the Admiral's Cup, as well as the lagoon boat EMMA, the GRÖNLAND, a polar expedition's ship from 1867, belongs to those ships with sailing drive. The GRÖNLAND is the second oldest sailing ship today, registered under the German trading flag and kept sailing by a voluntary crew.
The Pomeranian lagoon boat EMMA is likewise installed as an active museum ship. The inland tug HELMUT of 1923 is also, as opposed to the sea salvage tug SEEFALKE and the harbour tug STIER erected on land, a competently mobile museum ship. The PAUL KOSSEL, a concrete-hull ship that is also used as a tug, complements the wide palette of tugging-vehicles in the open-air museum of the DSM.
The E-boat KRANICH of the national, federal navy, the whaling steamer RAU IX of 1939 and the hydrofoil assembled on land, an experimental vehicle, are all part of the machine-powered vehicles.
The wooden Donau ferry and the "U-Boot" WILHELM BAUER, the only remaining exemplar of type XXI which is run by its own museum association, depict the diverse types of ship with the most varying construction materials and power drives. The original chimney of the OTTO HAHN, the only German trading ship with atomic power, is evidence of the wide range of exhibits presenting German shipping history.
The hand crank crane of 1875 before the barque SEUTE DEERN, the electrical half-portal turn-seesaw crane of 1925 which dominates the northern harbour museum, and the steam-shunter crane on rails of 1939/40 depict the impressive ensemble of cranes in the museum park of the DSM along with the modern portal hoisting launcher of 1968 from the beginning of the time of the container covers.
The lantern of the former lower light Sandstedt, the steamhammer of the yard "Bremer Vulkan", the huge screw of the tanker VARICELLA and the historical water-level indicator, are excellent original exhibits, which the open-air museum combines with the relics of the former old harbour of Bremerhaven and the surrounding shipping and harbour areas of the city. So the past and the present of shipping are seen and experienced in a unique way. The guide through the open-air exhibition ground of the German maritime museum printed in 1997 provides further information.