The company Aktien-Gesellschaft Ems was formed in 1843, making it one of the oldest companies that is present on this website. The German-based line started off with services between the German port of Emden and the Dutch port of Delfzijl and between the German towns of Emden and Leer. Also a service from Emden to the island of Norderney was carried out, but this one was less frequently. The company used small ships that could ferry passengers and later also cars. Next to these ferryservices, the company also offers short-haul daycruises and leasuretrips mostly in the German/ Dutch Waddenzee area. Next to the maritime services, the company also operates a small heritage railway line connecting the port of Borkum to the town center. This line, named the Borkumer Kleinbahn runs for 7,5 kilometers and is a vital link for the island. Untill the 1970's it was also used for freightservices but nowadays it is more a tourist line although also the islanders use it as it is a true public transport service to the islands port.
In 1976, AG Ems started a new service from the Dutch Eemshaven to the island of Borkum and also they wanted to diversify into larger ferryroutes and researched the possibilities to start lines to the Danish port as Esbjerg as well as the Swedish port of Göteborg.
In 1976, AG Ems was the first company that operated in and from the newly constructed Eemshaven under the banner of Borkumlijn, although they only sailed the route in the summermonths. Eemshaven is a port in the north of The Netherlands that was built to get more employment opportunities and wellfare to the north of the country. A 5000 square meter terminal was built although passengers had to walk on wooden planks across the dike during the first months of operations. The first ship on the route was named Stadt Borkum but the route was soon improved with new ships named Rheinland, Poseidon and Nordlicht. The last of these three ships may ring a bell, as she was originally also sailing for the company Peter Deilmann when this line still sailed the ferryservices to and from the German island of Helgoland. Deilmann later of course diversified as a cruisecompany, sadly failing in 2014. Their most well-known ships are featured on this site being of course Berlin (1980) and Deutschland (1998).
Inside the newest terminal, the former steeringcabin of the AG Ems steamer Rheinland is on display. This ship had been built in 1906 and was scrapped in 1970, although the steeringcabin had been saved from scrap to become a gardenshed on the island of Borkum. It now has been restored to its former form and displays classic steeringgear within. It is a nice touch to see some of the history of a company in a very modern terminal.
In 1985, the company opened a totally new terminal at Eemshaven that was opened by the German president Richard Von Weizsäcker together with Prince Claus of The Netherlands. The terminal also had new possibilities for use by car- and freighttraffic. The company still only sailed in the summer, yearround trips were offered only from 1993 onwards. Due to growing traffic, the terminal proved to be too small and again a new terminal (the current one) was built and opened in 2008. Due to the changed location at Eemshaven, the trip also was shortened by about 10 minutes and now only takes some 50 minutes to complete.
The company now has a fleet of six ships, that can mostly be interchangably used on the route network and two. The oldest ferry is the Westfalen that was built in 1972, then there is the Wappen Von Borkum, which is the former Stadt Borkum of 1976 and the sisterships Ostfriesland (1985) and Munsterland (1986). The new Nordlicht is a high-speed catamaran sailing between Emden and Borkum and was built in 1989. The larger carferry Groningerland sails since 1991 but she only has services in the summermonths. Two other ships are owned by the company but these are not sailing ferryservices as Schreyershoek and Ratsdelft offer only harbourtours in the port of Emden. Of these, Ratsdelft was built in 1971 making her the oldest ship within the AG Ems fleet and Schreyershoek was built in 1999 making her the newest ship within the fleet. Next to these ships, the company also sails two 20-persons former lifeboats built in 1985 named Engelke and Falderndelft.
Above, Ostfriesland is seen sailing on route from Emden to Borkum at the 16th of june in 2022 passing the harbour entrance of Eemshaven.
The ferry Ostfriesland was built at the Jansen Werft in the German town of Leer as yardnumber 186. She is 94,07 meters long, 12 meters wide and her draft reaches 2,45 meters. She can sail with up to 1200 deckpassengers and some 70 cars at a speed of around 16 knots. Her keel had been laid at the 22nd of december of 1983 and she was named at the 12th of january in 1985. Originally, the ship was built with 2 dieselengines, although in 2014 the ships propulsion was rebuilt and she became the first ship in Germany that was fuelled by LNG (Liquified Natural Gas). For this rebuilding, also her whole aftship had to be rebuilt. At the 17th of june in 2015, the ship resumed her services to Borkum from Emden.
Below, Münsterland enters the port of Eemshaven after her afternoon sailing from Borkum at the 16th of june in 2022.
Ostfriesland's sistership Münsterland was also built at the Jansen Werft in Leer and her keel had been laid at the 11th of december in 1985. Named at the 31st of may in 1986, the newer sister has of course the same stats as her older one. In the winter of 2020/ 2021, also Münsterland was rebuilt at the Niestern & Sander Wharf in Delfzijl, The Netherlands from diesel to LNG fuel. Her aftship also was totally replaced making her performance also better then before. Besides her true name that is seen on her bow, the ship is also named Muensterland sometimes.