The German Nord-Ostsee-Kanal internationally known as the Kiel Canal connects the Northsea in the German Bight with the Baltic Sea, running over a length of 98.26 k. The canal begins at the Brunsbüttel locks and ends in the locks at Kiel-Holtenau. Within the canal there only two lock systems, one each at the terminal points. This site publishes an editorial on the Kiel canal with information and photographic images.
This site is an editorial and image gallery on Kiel Canal.
Sailing from Hamburg into the Baltic Sea was a lengthy operation in the 19th centruy. In order to shorten sailing time from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea a solution was needed. A possible option was to built a canal between Brunsbüttel (North Sea) and Kiel Holtenau (Baltic Sea). The plan became reality.
Construction of the Kiel Canal begun in 1887 and after 8 years the canal was completed in 1895. Because of the canal becoming a success story first extension works became necessary between 1907 and 1914. From 1965 onwards a second phase of extension works on the canal followed.
In contrast to inland canals, the locks at Kiel Canal do not have to overcome fall heights but only serve the proctection of the canal bed. Kiel Canal does not have any height differences, though the canal was built without the use of sheet pile walls. Without lock systems the tidal amplitude of the North Sea would create ocean currents towards the North Sea thereby damaging the canal walls. The Baltic Sea on the other side, does not have a significant tidal amplitude, meaning at Kiel level the tidal amplitude hardly measures 20 centimetres. The reason for that is that a marginal sea such as the Baltics are not much affected by tides, whereas the North Sea, at Brunsbüttel, creates an average tidal amplitude of about 3 metres. Without the locks the canal would suffer from substantial trouble.
The maximum depth of the Kiel Canal is 13 metres, with the medium depth being 11 metres. However, the ship's maximum draft dependes on the individual dimensions of the ship, which are given below:
All ships with a draft exceeding 3.10 metres and all ships from traffic group 2 (= barges with a length exceeding 65 metres and all larges ship types) have to take a ship's pilot on board during the passage of the canal.
Leasure and recreational ships and boats, meaning all ships and boats which do not serve commercial purposes, are only allowed to use the Kiel Canal during daylight and on days with clear sight, without a ship's pilot. Boat operator must ensure that berths are reached before sunset.
All commercial ships / seagoing ships are required to take sea pilots on board during the passage of the canal. During the passage the sea pilots take the helm. Sea pilots are usually ship captains or nautical officers, though, during the passage the captain of the ship still reamins the skipper.
Kiel Canal branches off the river Elbe at river kilometre 696.35, which is the end of the Elbe estuary and the beginning of the North Sea. Locks entrance fire at kilometre 0.38.
The new double locks system at Brunsbüttel measures 310 metres in length and 42 metres across, with a permissable draft of 9.50 metres and 10.40 metres respectively.
The old lock measured a length of 125 metres and 22 metres accross with a permissable draft of only 6.00 metres.
In all, Brunsbüttel locks have 4 lock chambers available.
The Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration has ordered another 5th lock chamber to enhance capabilities. The 5th lock is currently under construction. The new chamber is geared to serve an increase in traffic and most of all to accept much larger ships:
Chamber length: 360 metres
Width: 45 metres
Maximum permissable draft: 11 metres
Maximum width of the ship: 44 metres
The flood gates of the lock are built as sliding gates, as is the standard at Brunsbüttel.
The locks are operational for shipping 24/7.
Both road and railway traffic cross the Kiel Canal every day. In order to accommodate ships passing through the canal the bridges have to have a fixed minimum height, which lead to the building ten so-called high bridges. The high bridges are listed as follows in the order of their locations at the canal, starting at Brunsbüttel:
Under all bridges the permissable height for ships passing under the bridges is 40 metres above water level.
Rendsburg Tunnel offers both car drivers and pedestrians alike the option to cross under the canal. The car tunnel was opened in 1961 and measures 1278 metres in length. Since 1965 the pedestrian tunnel is open to the public. Pedestrians can reach the tunnel over lifts and escalators. The pedestrian tunnel measures a length of 130 metres.
In Kiel Canal ferries connect between the banks of the canal and are free of charge for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The decision to make the service free to the public goes back to German Emperor Wilhelm II, and is still remains valid up to our times, much to the delight of the users.
The ferries are listed below in the order of their occurrance in the canal:
There is a lot to see and to discover at Kiel Canal. Where are the best possible vantages points? Actually there are more than enough. Just check the countryside and you will find something high enough to overlook the canal. There are so many places where one can sit down and watch the traffic. However, there some interesting locations which are well worth visiting and widely known to the public:
The locks at Kiel Holtenau consists of two double lock systems, named Little Lock Holtenau (German: Kleine Schleuse) and Large Lock Holtenau (German: Grosse Schleuse). The little is the original lock system at the time of the canal opening in 1895.
Key data on the lock systems:
Kleine Schleuse Kiel Holtenau:
length: 125 metres
width: 22 metres
Locking time between 15 and 30 minutes
Grosse Schleuse Kiel Holtenau
length: 310 metres
width: 32 metres
Locking time from 20 to 25 minutes