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Norddeutscher Lloyd Line

History

Hermann Heinrich Meier was born in Bremen in 1809 and in 1834 became a partner in the family firm H H Meier & Co, which was a shipping and emigration agency. Twenty years later he joined the Boards of a shipowner operating small coasters; two towing companies and an insurance company. It was Meier’s intention, after generating sufficient funds, to amalgamate these four companies and create an organisation of sufficient size to develop a Bremen based ocean steamship line. He made little progress in this ambition until 1856 when he entered into co-operation with a young Berlin banker, Eduard Crüsemann, who was also planning to create a shipping and trading company. The two agreed to combine their companies and create a new organisation that would raise capital from the public after obtaining a charter from the Bremen Senate. This was achieved in 1857 and Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) or North German Lloyd (NGL) was created, with Meier as chairman and Crüsemann as general manager.

Business started with 6 small steamers operating between London and Bremen. Trade was aggressively expanded to cover New York (1858) Baltimore (1868) New Orleans (1869), Central America (1871) and Brazil (1878). Routes to the Far East and Australia were started in 1886 via the newly opened Suez Canal, and from Italy to New York in 1891. Some of the routes started were abandoned after a while due to lack of business.

The pace of NDL’s expansion caused it severe problems during periodic trade recessions, but the company survived, greatly helped by an 1861 agreement with Hamburg America Line (HAPAG) that the two companies would jointly operate a weekly service to New York. The fear of capture caused all sailings to be cancelled during the Prusso-Danish War of 1864 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

In 1878 the highly ambitious and energetic, T G Lohmann was appointed general manager. He successfully steered the company through the 1870s depression and in the 1880s ordered a series of high-class express steamers in Britain to match the quality of those operated by Cunard and White Star. By the 1890s German shipyards had greatly increased their capabilities were entrusted with all subsequent new-buildings.

The friendly co-operation between NGL and HAPAG was shattered after the appointment of the equally ambitious Albert Ballin to HAPAG. There was intense rivalry between the two German companies from 1889 through to 1930. The company moved to the very top rank of transatlantic shipping companies in 1897 with the delivery of “Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse”, which captured both the west-bound and east-bound speed records. Other record breakers followed and NGL greatly increased its number of British and American First Class passengers at the expense of Cunard, until the delivery of their 'Mauretania' and 'Lusitania'.

In 1913 NDL carried an astonishing 662,385 passengers, in a fleet of 131 ocean-going steamers. When WW1 started many of its ships sought refuge in the USA, but in 1917 they were seized by the authorities. Apart from one 800 ton cargo ship, all of the company’s remaining ships were confiscated as war reparations after the war. However the company continued by chartering ships and gradually rebuilt the fleet, taking delivery of their first passenger ship in 1924. The company’s transatlantic service was so successful that NDL decided to build two large high-speed liners – 'Bremen' and 'Europa', which were delivered in 1929 and 1930. Both were record breakers.

At the end of WW2 NDL again lost almost its entire fleet, being left with 2 cargo vessels. Transatlantic cargo services were restarted in 1950 with chartered ships and by 1952 new deliveries started to arrive. Most of the world-wide services were restarted in partnership with HAPAG. Transatlantic passenger services were restarted in 1954 under an arrangement whereby surplus ships were acquired from Swedish America Line and the French liner Pasteur was bought in 1957 for conversion into NDLs Bremen.

In 1970 the company amalgamated with HAPAG to become HAPAG-Lloyd. Please see the Hamburg America Line notes for further information.

Ships

Berlin

Berlin
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo/Passenger Ship
Original Owners and Managers Norddeutscher Lloyd
Country First Registered Germany
Shipbuilder Bremer Vulkan
Shipyard Vegesack
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 614
Official Number 002986
Call Sign DOCL
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 15,286
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 8.988
Length 549.3 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 69.2 Ft.
Depth 34.8 Ft.
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Two engines each with cylinders of bore 34 1/4", 56 5/16", 65 3/8" and stroke 59 1/16"
Engine Builder Bremer Vulkan
Engine Builder Works Vegesack
Engine Builder Country Germany
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Twin Screw
Power 1,317 NHP
Maximum Speed 16

Additional Construction Information

  • 4 decks
  • Fitted for oil fuel
  • Fitted with submarine signalling, radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment
  • Fitted with gyro compass

Career Highlights

Date Event
24 March 1925 Launched
17 September 1925 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Peacetime)
Service History Information In 1939 the vessel was chartered by the Nazis as a 'worker's cruising ship' and later used her as a hospital ship. The vessel struck a mine off Swinemünde on 31 January 1945 while transporting refugees and soldiers from the Eastern Baltic. She was taken in tow for Kiel but hit another mine and was beached in shallow water at position 54°02.6 N, 14°19 E. She was raised in by the Soviets 1948/9, rebuilt some time between 1951 and 1957, and enlarged to 17,053 GRT. Change of name to Admiral Nakhimov and owner to USSR (Black Sea Sg Co) 1947. She transported Russian soldiers to Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

On 31 August 1986 the vessel collided with bulk carrier Pyotr Vasev 8 nautical miles off Novorossiisk and 423 people lost their lives. Further details about the vessel and her loss can be found on Wikipedia. The captains of both vessels were found guilty of criminal negligence and served 15 years in prison.

Bremen (1929)

Bremen (1929)
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Passenger Ship
Original Owners and Managers Norddeutscher Lloyd
Country First Registered Germany
Shipbuilder Akt. Ges. Weser
Shipyard Bremen
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 872
Official Number 5606989
Call Sign DOAH
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 51,656
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 21,583
Length 898.7 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 101.9 Ft.
Depth 48.2 Ft.
Draught N/K
Engine Type Steam Turbine
Engine Details Four SR geared steam turbines driving 4 shafts
Engine Builder Akt. Ges. Weser
Engine Builder Works Bremen
Engine Builder Country Germany
Boiler Details 11 double-ended and 9 single-ended water tube boilers operating at 338 psi
Propulsion Type Quadruple Screw
Power 135,000 SHP
Maximum Speed 27

Additional Construction Information

  • 5 decks and cruiser stern
  • Fitted for oil fuel
  • Fitted with submarine signalling, radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment
  • Fitted with gyro compass

Career Highlights

Date Event
16 August 1928 Launched
24 June 1929 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew 966
Passengers 811 first class, 500 second class, 300 tourist class, 617 third class
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Caught fire on 16 March 1941 and was gutted as the result of arson by a crew member who had a grudge against the owners. The remains were towed up the River Weser in 1946 and blown up but some parts of the hull remain visible.

Bremen (1939)

Bremen (1939)
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Passenger Ship
Original Owners and Managers Cie de Nav Sud-Atlantique
Country First Registered France
Shipbuilder Ch. & Atel. de St Nazaire (Penhoet) SA
Shipyard St Nazaire
Country where built France
Yard Number R8
Official Number 5051145
Call Sign GNDW
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 29,253
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 12,894
Length 670.7 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 88 FT.
Depth 52.6 Ft.
Draught N/K
Engine Type Steam Turbine
Engine Details 4 steam turbines SR geared to 4 shafts
Engine Builder Ch. & Atel. de St Nazaire (Penhoet) SA
Engine Builder Works St Nazaire
Engine Builder Country France
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Quadruple Screw
Power 50,000 HP (as Pasteur)
Maximum Speed 23

Additional Construction Information

  • 5 decks and cruiser stern
  • Fitted with refrigeration machinery
  • GRT changed over several refits to 32,338 in 1957, 32,360 in 1966 and 23,801 in 1971.

Career Highlights

Date Event
15 February 1938 Launched
August 1939 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew 540 ( as Pasteur)
Passengers 275 in 1st class; 126 in 2nd class; 338 in 3rd class (as Pasteur)
Cargo Capacity 8,700 tons

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Peacetime)
Service History Information Completed for Cie de Nav Sud-Atlantique as Pasteur. Change of owner to British Government 1940 following the fall of France and managed by Cunard-White Star. She was used as a troop ship and hospital ship during the war and it has been estimated that she transported 300,000 soldiers during this period. Change of owner to French Government 1946, change of owner to Norddeutscher Lloyd 1958, change of owner to Bremer Nordatlantikdienst GmbH 1959, change of owner to Norddeutscher Lloyd 1964, change of owner to Hapag-Lloyd AG 1970, change of name to Regina Magna and owner to International Cruises SA 1971, change of name to Saudi Phil I and owner to Philippine Singapore Ports Corp 1977, change of name to Saudi Filipinas I 1980. The vessel cut loose while being towed from Jeddah to Kaohsiung to be scrapped on 8 June 1980 and foundered at position 7°35' N, 60°12' E on 9 June 1980. The Wikipedia entry for the vessel has much more detail and includes images of the loss of the vessel.

Burgenstein

Burgenstein
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship (Ref)
Original Owners and Managers Norddeutscher Lloyd
Country First Registered Germany
Shipbuilder Bremer Vulkan
Shipyard Bremer
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 880
Official Number 5055464
Call Sign N/K
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 8,497
Deadweight (DWT) 10743
Net Tonnage N/K
Length 135 Metres
Overall Length 147 Metres
Breadth or Beam 19.8 Metres
Depth N/K
Draught N/K
Engine Type Diesel Engine
Engine Details N/K
Engine Builder N/K
Engine Builder Works N/K
Engine Builder Country N/K
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power N/K
Maximum Speed 17.5

Career Highlights

Date Event
12 August 1958 Launched
October 1958 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Change of owner to Hapag-Lloyd AG 1970, change of name to Saudi Palm and owner to Saide Palm Maritime Co Ltd 1981. Taken to Lianyungang for breaking 1 June 1984

Columbus

Columbus
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Passenger Ship
Original Owners and Managers Norddeutscher Lloyd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Schichau
Shipyard Danzig
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 929
Official Number 5606230
Call Sign DOBX
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 32,581
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 16,003
Length 749.6 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 83.1 Ft.
Depth 49.1 Ft.
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details No details of original steam engines available. Replacement was 2 steam turbines SR geared to 2 shafts
Engine Builder Blohm & Voss (steam turbines)
Engine Builder Works Hamburg
Engine Builder Country Germany
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Twin Screw
Power N/K
Maximum Speed 18

Additional Construction Information

  • Fitted with steam turbines during a refit in 1929. Max speed increased to 20 knots.
  • 5 decks.
  • Fitted with submarine signalling, radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment
  • Fitted with gyro compass

Career Highlights

Date Event
12 August 1922 Launched
June 1924 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers 1750
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Other
Service History Information The vessel was laid down before the start of WW1 and was to be named Hindenburg. The company decided to rename her Columbus after her namesake that had been handed over to the British Government as part of war reparations. Work was completed after material became available again. At the outbreak of WW2, the vessel was ordered to return to Germany but was intercepted by British Destroyer HMS Hyperion about 400 miles of the coast of Virginia USA. The crew scuttled the ship and she burned and sank with the passengers being picked up by American heavy cruiser USS Tuscaloosa.

Lippe

Lippe
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers Norddeutscher Lloyd
Country First Registered Germany
Shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffab. Ges.
Shipyard Flensburg
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 341
Official Number 143148
Call Sign JWRL
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 6,804
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 4,276
Length 472.5 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 59.3 Ft.
Depth 28.6 Ft.
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 32 3/16", 52 3/4", 86 1/2" and stroke 55"
Engine Builder Flensburger Schiffab. Ges.
Engine Builder Works Flensburg
Engine Builder Country Germany
Boiler Details 4 single-ended boilers operating at 205 psi
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 736 NHP
Maximum Speed 12.5

Additional Construction Information

  • 2 decks and shelter deck
  • Fitted with electric light
  • Fitted with wireless

Career Highlights

Date Event
8 August 1914 Launched
2 February 1915 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information The vessel was handed over to the British Government in 1919 as part of war reparations. Change of name to Tresithney and owner to Hain SS Co Ltd 1921, change of name to Pipiriki and owner to Federal SN Co Ltd 1924. Taken to Genoa 3 December 1933 for breaking by L. Pittaluga

Scharnhorst

Scharnhorst
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Passenger Ship
Original Owners and Managers Hanseatische Schiffahrts u.Betriebs GmbH
Country First Registered Germany
Shipbuilder Deutsche Shu-u-Maschb A.G. Weser
Shipyard Bremen
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 891
Official Number 5608251
Call Sign DOQO
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 18,184
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 10,712
Length 625.6 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 74.1 Ft.
Depth 41 Ft.
Draught N/K
Engine Type Turbo-Electric
Engine Details 2 steam turbines connected to electric motors and sc. shafts
Engine Builder Algemeine Elec. Ges.
Engine Builder Works Berlin
Engine Builder Country Germany
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Twin Screw
Power N/K
Maximum Speed 21

Additional Construction Information

  • 3 decks and cruiser stern
  • Fitted for oil fuel
  • Fitted with refrigeration machinery
  • Fitted with submarine signalling, radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment. Fitted with gyro compass

Career Highlights

Date Event
14 December 1934 Launched
30 April 1935 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Act of War)
Service History Information Completed for Hanseatische Schiffahrts u.Betriebs GmbH. Change of owner to Norddeutscher Lloyd 1936, change of name to Shinyo and owner to Japanese Navy 1942. The Japanese converted the vessel to an escort aircraft carrier and increased its size to 189.3/184.7/25.6 metres and 17,900 DWT. The vessel was sunk on 17 November 1944 by torpedoes fired by American submarine USS Spadefish. Only 70 out of the crew of 1,200 officers and men survived.

Stuttgart

Stuttgart
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Passenger Ship
Original Owners and Managers Norddeutscher Lloyd
Country First Registered Germany
Shipbuilder Vulcan-Werke A.G.
Shipyard Stettin-Bredow
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 670
Official Number 606178
Call Sign DOAK
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 13,387
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 7,796
Length 527 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 65 Ft.
Depth 34.7 Ft.
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Two engines each with cylinders of bore 31 1/2", 51 7/8", 69 3/16" and stroke 55 1/16"
Engine Builder Vulcan-Werke A.G.
Engine Builder Works Stettin
Engine Builder Country Germany
Boiler Details 4 boilers
Propulsion Type Twin Screw
Power 8,500 SHP
Maximum Speed 16

Additional Construction Information

  • 4 decks
  • Fitted with submarine signalling, radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment
  • Fitted with gyro compass

Career Highlights

Date Event
31 july 1923 Launched
January 1924 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Act of War)
Service History Information Change of owner to Deutsche Arbeitsfront GmbH 1938. She was commissioned into the Kriegsmarine in 1939 as hospital ship Lazerettschiffe 'C'. On 9 October 1943 the vessel was bombed in an allied air raid on Gotenhafen (Gdynia). Filled with wounded at the time, she was quickly engulfed in flames; very few survived. The burning wreck was towed out of the harbour and sunk with the bodies on board. The attack was investigated as a war crime but the Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau decided that this was not a war crime as the ship was partially camouflaged when bombed - although Red Cross markings were displayed.

The site of the wreck is regularly monitored to gauge the impact of leaking heavy fuel. Even after over 70 years, the area of the seabed has been categorised as having the status of a 'local ecological catastrophe'. If anything the pollution is getting worse rather than better and the 2015 estimates of the extent of the contaminated area was 350,000 square metres (35 hectares, 86 acres or about 30 times the size of Trafalgar Square). Consideration is being given as to how/whether the site can be cleaned up.

Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse

Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Passenger Ship
Original Owners and Managers Norddeutscher Lloyd
Country First Registered Germany
Shipbuilder Stettiner Vulcan
Shipyard Stettin-Bredow
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 234
Official Number 5600975
Call Sign N/K
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 14,349
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage N/K
Length 655 Ft.
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 65 Ft. 10"
Depth N/K
Draught 27 Ft. 11"
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details N/K
Engine Builder N/K
Engine Builder Works N/K
Engine Builder Country N/K
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Twin Screw
Power 33,000 IHP
Maximum Speed 22

Additional Construction Information

  • Keel laid down 1896
  • Fitted with wireless communications in February 1900
  • The vessel was the first to have four funnels
  • The first liner to have suites with sleeping quarters that included a private parlour and a bath.

Career Highlights

Date Event
4 May 1897 Launched
9 September 1897 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew 488
Passengers 1506
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Act of War)
Service History Information In 1914 the vessel was requisitioned by the German government and turned into an armed cruiser. She sank three ships in the first weeks of the war but on 26 August the ship was coaling at Rio de Oro when discovered by British cruiser HMS Highflyer. KWDG steamed out to engage the enemy but the fierce battle that ensued came to an abrupt end when they ran out of ammunition. The German captain Reymann says he ordered the vessel to be scuttled with dynamite - although the British captain disputed this and said KWDG was already sinking as a result of British gunfire.


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