Friedrich der Grosse/City
1896 - 1922
end of the 19th century saw a massive development in the shipping
business. The Great Eastern – who was an astonishing 19,000 gross
tons large – was built in 1860 and was the fore-runner of an entirely new
breed of ships. This ship was far ahead in size and accommodation compared
to other liners of the time, but she became somewhat of a failure, with
only a small amount of North Atlantic passengers choosing her for a crossing.
People still trusted the old fashioned type of ships like the French Line’s
Washington or Impératrice Éugenie.
for great liners did not come until the late 1880s. The Inman
& International Line’s City of New York was the first liner
to exceed the 10,000 gross ton mark since the Great Eastern. She
and her similar sister City of Paris entered service in 1888 and
the British White Star Line also aimed for size when they put the 9,000
gross ton large Teutonic into service along with her equally large
sister Majestic the next year. These two ships were not the largest
in the world, but they were built with speed in
mind. It would not take long
before both the Teutonic and the Majestic had kept the Blue
Riband for some time.
|The handsome Friedrich
der Grosse - the first German liner to exceed 10,000 gross tons.
her first year of service, the Teutonic attended the Spithead Naval
Review in England to show the world how dominant Britain was on the sea.
Among the guests was the German Kaiser Wilhelm II who eyed the Teutonic
with interest. He was impressed by her size and speed, just as he fancied
the luxurious interiors. He is said to have remarked ‘We must have some
the first things the Kaiser did when he returned to Germany was to urge
the country’s shipping lines to create ships of the Teutonic’s calibre.
The two dominant shipping lines in Germany at the time were the Norddeutscher
Lloyd and the Hamburg-Amerika Linie. Norddeutscher Lloyd took the first
steps in helping Germany to dominate on the seas when they placed an order
for a ship at the Vulcan Shipyards in Stettin in 1895. This ship would
be the largest Germany had ever managed.
1, 1896, the new ship was launched and christened Friedrich der Grosse
in Stettin. The fitting out commenced immediately afterwards and the ship
had her quadruple expansion engines installed which were geared to two
propellers. This combination would make the Friedrich der Grosse
capable of maintaining a service speed of 14.5 knots. This certainly did
not make her the fastest ship on the seas, but the distinction of being
the largest German ship attracted lots of patriotic Germans.
der Grosse was completed on November 11 that year, and was ready for
her maiden voyage about a week later. Her first crossing went to Australia
where many ships were needed during this time due to the massive emigration.
The Friedrich der Grosse did not have a strict schedule on where
her permanent rout was supposed to be, and she was used either on the Australian
run or on the North Atlantic, depending on where she was needed.
of Germany’s answer to the Teutonic came in 1897 when the Kaiser
Wilhelm der Grosse was commissioned. This ship was the fastest and
largest in the world at the time. She had taken the Blue Riband from Cunard
Line’s Lucania with an average speed over the Atlantic of over 22
knots. The British had been totally outmanoeuvred. Not until two years
later did they manage to produce a larger ship. The White Star Line’s Oceanic
was the largest of the time, but she had no chance in acquiring the Blue
Riband from the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse with a service speed limited
to 19.5 knots. Britain continued to produce large liners well into the
20th century, but no ship came close the Kaiser Wilhelm der
these new ships in mind, Norddeutscher Lloyd felt that they needed to update
some of their old liners to keep them attractive for passengers. In 1902
the Friedrich der Grosse went out of service temporarily in order
to be slightly refitted. After the reconstruction, which was completed
the same year, the ship emerged with an impressive 10,696 gross tons compared
to the 10,531 gross tons the ship had had when she entered service.
later, World War I broke out when Germany and Britain finally got into
war with each other after decades of building-up hate. The actual moment
when the war started could not have been worse for Germany. All too many
of the countries merchant ships were in American ports, and most of them
were interned in the United States within short. Among these liners were
achievements – the Imperator
and the Vaterland, both over 50,000 gross tons. The Germans felt
it would be a safe place for their ships since America had not yet entered
the war. Just as her larger country mates, the Friedrich der Grosse
was interned in the US.
|The Huron during
trooping duties in the First World War.
the Germans became worse and worse in their way of handling the war, America
seemed to sympathise with the British-French side more and more. The German
ruthlessness culminated in 1915 when a German U-boat torpedoed and sank
the British passenger vessel Lusitania with a loss of close to 1,200
lives. After two more years of provocation, the United States Senate voted
to go to war against Germany. With this, all the German ships in American
ports were seized by the US Navy.
der Grosse was officially seized on April 6, 1917. She was transformed
into a troop transport and shipped American soldiers to Europe, bearing
her new military name Huron. The Huron continued with this
war duty until the end of the war. Since the Germans had lost, none of
her ships were returned to them. The Huron was taken over by the
US Shipping Board in 1919, who had the ship refitted into an oil-burner
by Morse, Brooklyn. The Shipping Board kept the ship for another three
years, when she was chartered to the Los Angeles Steamship Company, and
renamed City of Honolulu. The ship was put on the Hawaiian service.
12 the same year, the City of Honolulu was 400 miles from Los Angeles
on a return voyage from Honolulu when she suddenly caught fire. The fire
spread so quickly that the passengers and crew had to leave the ship on
to other nearby vessels. The City of Honolulu stayed afloat until
the fire was out, but she was nothing but a burnt-out shell. Five days
later the US transport Thomas arrived at the scene with orders to
sink the ship. The remains of this once so impressive German ship sank
to the bottom after some perfect hits, and there she has remained ever
|The Friedrich der Grosse/City
of Honolulu - Specifications:
||546 feet (166.8 m)
||60 feet (18.3 m)
||10,531 gross tons
||Quadruple expansion engines
powering two propellers.