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Kiel Canal, Nord Ostsee Kanal

The German Kiel Canal is a 61-mile (98-kilometre) long canal in the German Bundesland, Schleswig-Holstein that links the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau . The canal can make a saving of about 250 miles on a passage to or from the Baltic and help avoid North Sea storms.

The canal was known as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal until 1948, today it is also known as the Nord-Ostsee-Kanal. According to the Kiel Canal web site the canal is the busiest artificial waterway in the world.

The Kiel Canal has its own web site that gives information on regulations, traffic, transit for pleasure craft, tariffs, weather and a lot more. Yachts sailing from and to marinas in Sweden,Germany, PolandDenmark and beyond now have the option of avoiding the Danish Straits and the storms of the North Sea while saving time and fuel.

The first connection between the North and Baltic Seas was the Eider Canal, which used stretches of the Eider River for the link between the two seas. The Eiderkanal was completed in 1784 and was a 27-mile (43-kilometre) part of a 109-mile (175-kilometre) long waterway from Kiel to the Eider River's mouth at Tönning on the west coast. It was only 29 metres (32 yards) wide with a depth of three metres (ten feet), which limited the vessels that could use the canal to 300 tonnes displacement.
Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was interested in a canal that would lead from the new imperial naval harbour of Kiel to the mouth of the Elbe. Basic differences of political opinion with field marshal Helmut Karl Bernhard von Moltke made it impossible to come to an agreement and the North Sea-Baltic Canal project was shelved. In 1878 Hamburg shipowner and businessman Hermann Dahlström presented to the German government a concept for the construction of a canal which took both commercial and military considerations into account. The canal was to go from the mouth of the Elbe to Eckernförde. In 1886 it was announced that a shipping canal that was suitable for the German navy would be made from the mouth of the Elbe via Rendsburg to Kiel Bay.

In order to meet the increasing traffic and the demands of the German Navy, between 1907 and 1914 the canal width was increased. The widening of the canal allowed the passage of a Dreadnought-sized battleship. This meant that these battleships could travel from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea without having to go around Denmark. The enlargement projects were completed by the installation of two larger canal locks in Brunsbüttel and Holtenau.