Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm



Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was completed in Germany in 1908, spent WW1 out of action and was ultimately transferred to the Canadian Pacific Line where she worked the transatlantic route. She was finally broken up in 1930.

Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm
Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm being deployed to repatriate US troops at the end of WW1. [1]

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Passenger/Cargo ship (Ref)
Registered owners, managers and operators Norddeutscher Lloyd
Builders Tecklenborg
Yard Geestemunde
Country Germany
Yard number 211
Registry N/K
Official number 144402
Signal letters N/K
Call sign GGNV (when named Montnairn)
Classification society N/K
Gross tonnage 17,082
Net tonnage N/K
Deadweight N/K
Length 590.1 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth 68.3 Ft.
Depth N/K
Draft 27 Ft. 6 Inches
Engines Quadruple expansion steam engines
Engine builders N/K
Works N/K
Country N/K
Boilers N/K
Power N/K
Propulsion Twin Screw
Speed 17 knots
Cargo capacity N/K
Passengers carried 46 1st class, 338 2nd class, up to 1,726 steerage
Crew 631

Career Highlights

Date Event
1907 (?) Keel laid down as Washington
22 October 1907 Launched as Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm
May 1908 Completed
August 1914 Took refuge at Odda in Norway at the outbreak of WW1
1919 Alloted to the British Government after the armistice ending WW1
1919 Chartered to the US Navy at the end of WW1 after surrender to the British Government
July 1920 Chartered to Canadian Pacific
13 May 1921 Sold to Canadian Pacific Line and rebuilt as Empress of China
1921 Name changed to Empress of India
1922 Name changed to Montlaurier
1925 Name changed to Monteith
1925 Name changed to Montnairn
January 1930 Taken to Genoa to be broken up at Coop Ligure Demolitori Navi
Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm
Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm on an old postcard. [2]

Service Pre WW1

Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was built for Norddeutscher Lloyd Line to serve on the American route. She left Bremen for her maiden voyage to New York on 6 June 1908 and worked on this route until the outbreak of WW1.

Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was one of the ships near Titanic when she struck the iceberg and received the distress signal from her. As far as I can ascertain she took no specific action beyond this.

Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was taking passengers on a pleasure cruise at the outbreak of war and took refuge at Odda in Norway. She seems to have remained there throughout the war and was handed over to the British after the Armistice.

Service in WW1

As far as I have been able to ascertain, Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm remained in port and took no part in the war whatsoever.

Service post WW1

US Government

At the end of the war, the first main task of Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was to be used as a troop carrier to return US serviceman back home and made five trips during which she apparently carried over 15,000 passengers.

Canadian Pacific Line

Her first voyage for Canadian Pacific was on 14 July 1920 on the Liverpool to Quebec route and continued on this route until May 1921.

In 1921 she was refitted at Glasgow and briefly renamed Empress of China - but never sailed under that name as she was renamed again to Empress of India to avoid a name clash with another ship that had been purchased.

After the refit she was chartered to Cunard for whom she did two trips from Southampton to New York. After this she was returned to Canadian Pacific.

She was then rebuilt to provide lower cost passages for cabin class and 3rd class passengers only. Her trip on 4 May 1923 from Liverpool to Quebec was aborted due to boiler problems.

A further voyage from Liverpool to Canada on 24 January 1925 was cut short due to problems with her steering gear just off Ireland. After being towed to Liverpool for repair she was damaged by fire whilst in the Cammell Laird shipyard but was repairable.

She was renamed again on 5 June 1925 to Monteith but never sailed under that name which was changed again on 2 July 1925 to Montnairn and made several voyages on the Liverpool to Quebec route.

Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm
Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm as Montnairn on an old postcard. Note that his has the appearance of a "generic" image of a type of ship and may not be an accurate depiction of the ship at a detailed level. [2]

In July 1926 she underwent further conversion to cater for cabin class, tourist class and 3rd class passengers and made her first voyage on the Antwerp - Southampton - Quebec route on 4 May 1927. She made her final commercial sailing from Antwerp - Southampton - Quebec on 16 September 1928 after which she was laid up.


She was sold for scrapping on 23 December 1929 and taken to Genoa to be broken up.

Image Credits

  1. By courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
  2. Original source unknown