ODYSSEY OF THE CENTURY. Lithuanian Historical Marine and Cultural Symbols


Aleksandras Užmedis

Barquentine Meridianas

Meridianas, which became the symbol of the Lithuanian port town of Klaipėda, was built in Finland. The barquentine with three masts was one of the 91 ships, built by Finland after the World War II for the USSR as a part of the war reparations. The majority of these vessels were cargo schooners with seventeen (Meridianas included) barquentines, used for training future seamen rather than transporting goods.

Meridianas was completed on 30 August 1948, set sail towards Klaipėda and became the training ship of Klaipėda Maritime School. Throughout the entire period of sailing from 1948 to 1968 the number of seamen training aboard Meridianas could have reached more than 1 000.

However, Meridianas haven’t been sailing for many years now. She is moored in Klaipėda city centre at the embankment of Danė river, serving the city as the symbol of seafaring. This year the ship will celebrate its 70th anniversary together with all citizens, whose life is, in one way or another, closely intertwined with the vessel. Among the most important guests there will be the seamen that worked aboard as sailors, skippers or mechanics, as well as those, who encountered navigation for the first time aboard Meridianas as cadets.

Yacht Lietuva

Another legendary Lithuanian vessel – the yacht Lietuva – has set sail to the Odyssey of the Century, decorated with symbols for Lithuania’s 100th anniversary, at the beginning of July.

The yacht will visit three ports of the Baltic Sea – Gdansk, Tallinn and Riga – meeting Lithuanian communities and introducing the exhibition, dedicated for Lithuania’s 100th anniversary. Throughout the journey, which will last until the end of August, the changing crew will consist of 5 professional sailors and 5 newbies, who were given this unique opportunity by winning a competition.

The great odyssey of Lietuva began on 13 May 1989, when the yacht, together with two other yachts – Dailė and Audra – set sail from the port of Klaipėda to a historical journey ‘For the honour and unity of Lithuania’ across the Atlantic Ocean to New York and back, carrying the not yet legal flag of Lithuania, which was striving for freedom. After completing the symbolic mission of uniting the nation with the Lithuanian émigrées living in America, the yachts returned to Klaipėda on 21 August.

In 1992–1993 Lietuva sailed around the world for the first time in Lithuania’s history.

The yacht Lietuva was built in Gdansk (Poland) in 1976 and she is the only still seaworthy of all of the Lithuanian vessels that took part in the first yacht journeys of such age.

Jūra magazine

Jūra magazine – the predecessor of JŪRA MOPE SEA – is very closely-related to the odyssey of the yacht Lietuva.

In the dawn of the Lithuanian freedom movement, the marine environment had bred various ideas and goals as well, such as the restoration of the Lithuanian Seamen’s Union, the initiative group for commemorating Liudvikas Stulpinas – the first Lithuanian sea captain and the first captain of the port of Klaipėda, as well as other groups and associations. The preparations to cross the Atlantic involved the revival of the Lithuanian Women’s Association to support the national fleet, which helped the sailors to prepare for the long journey.

However, probably the most significant step was the restoration of the marine Jūra magazine, published in 1935–1939. Several enthusiasts worked hard to publish the magazine before the journey “For the honour and unity of Lithuania” under difficult conditions of the economic blockade, implemented by the USSR, when there was not enough paper even for state newspapers. The goal was to introduce the first issue for the departure of the yachts and then continue the publishing. Packages of the magazine, printed on thin paper, were also loaded on board to be carried across the Atlantic Ocean to the American Lithuanians as the awakening free word, with hopes for unity and support.

The revived Jūra was supposed to continue the mission of turning Lithuania into a marine state, started by its Interwar predecessor. However, after the first issue, Jūra magazine ended up in somewhat irresponsible hands, resulting in halted activity for almost the entire decade.

The second revival of Jūra was in 1999. It became a multilingual magazine, but didn’t change the title, supplementing the Lithuanian word ‘Jūra’ with translations into Russian (‘Mope’) and English (‘Sea’) languages. As of 2010 JŪRA MOPE SEA should also be supplemented with Chinese characters (大海), pronounced as ‘Hai’, which also means ‘Sea’.

The modern-day international JŪRA MOPE SEA magazine, celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, continues the mission of the pre-war Lithuanian maritime Jūra magazine.


The magazine SEA has been published since 1935
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been published since 1999
The first magazine in Eurasia in the four languages: English, Chinese, Russian and Lithuanian


International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA
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Ltd. Juru informacijos centras

The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

ISSN 1392-7825

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