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Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse

Discussion in 'North German Lloyd - Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL)' started by Nuno Viriato Reis Ramos Cruz, May 6, 2003.

  1. Can any one tell me where did Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse sank and if it has been explored in any time?

  2. You might want to check out This Website for that information. According to thier information, the ship was taking on coal at the bay of Rio de Oro in West Africa when she was confronted by the HMS Highflyer.
  3. I actually saw one of the bells of Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse a mere few hours ago which is on display at the Wissenschaftliches Institut für Schiffahrts- und Marinegeschichte (Scientific Institute of Shipping- and Naval History) in Hamburg. It is quite a piece! Most of the valuable fittings of the ship were dismantled before she was turned into an armed merchant cruiser. The First Class Smoke Room also still exists and is on display at the Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum in Bremerhaven. I have only seen pictures of it though. It is said the wreckage of Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was still visible in the 1950s when her remains were scrapped as she was declared a shipping hazard. You might want to check out the german model ship journal ModellWerft from September 2001 in which is the start of a two part series about the liner that I wrote, which also describes my experiences of building a model of this ship.


  4. Thanks for the info!

    I'm just wondering.. were the 4 german four stackers sort of an Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse class? I mean, built made from the same project?
  5. There were in fact five german four stackers. The first was of course the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. Her sister ship was the Kronprinz Wilhelm. They were more or less identical, though the Kronprinz Wilhelm didn't have bridge wing cabs. I think they were both Blue Ribband holders. Later on the North German Lloyd commissioned two further four stackers the Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Kronprinzessin Cecilie. These were also sisterships but very different to the first two as the later ships had two promenade decks and were larger than the first.
    Hamburg Amerika Line also wanted their share and commissioned the Deutschland which would also capture the Blue Ribband. However she vibrated heavily at high speeds and was taken off the north Atlantic run later and renamed Victoria Luise used as a cruise ship.

  6. Noel F. Jones

    Noel F. Jones Active Member

    The following is largely abstracted from an article in Sea Breezes, October 1996 (the copyright resides with myself):

    Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was launched from the Vulcan yard at Stettin on May 3rd 1897. She was registered at Bremen. Her maiden voyage was from Bremen on September 19th 1897.

    On her third voyage, under the command of Kapitän Engelbart, end of passage at The Needles, 3.10 p.m. November 29th 1897 put her on record as the world's largest and fastest passenger vessel.

    In 1900 an experimental Marconi installation was put aboard.

    On June 30th 1900 she narrowly escaped destruction when fire swept through the Norddeutscher Lloyd appropriated piers at Hoboken, New Jersey.

    On November 23rd 1906 she collided with the Orinoco (Royal Mail Steam Packet Company) off Cherbourg with fatalities on both vessels. KWDG was subsequently held 100% to blame.

    On October 25th 1907 her rudder carried away in heavy weather and she completed the remainder of an eastbound passage steering by her twin screws only.

    On the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 she was requisitioned by the Imperial German Navy as an armed merchant cruiser. She was painted black overall and was fitted out with six 10.5 cm guns and two 3.7 cm cannon.

    Her first and only cruise as a warship commenced from Bremerhaven on August 4th 1914 under the command of Kapitän Reymann. She encountered and sank the steam trawler Tubal Cain. She then encountered the Arlanza (Royal Mail) and the Galician (Union Castle) but allowed these vessels to proceed because they had large passenger complements. She later sank the Kaipara (N.Z.S.Co.) and the Nyanza (Elder Dempster), taking their crews prisoner.

    She later rendezvous'd with four bunkering and provisioning vessels (Duala, Aruca, Magdeburg and Bethania) at Villa Cisneros, Rio de Oro in what were then Spanish colonial waters. She found herself blockaded at her anchorage by the cruiser HMS Highflyer (Captain Buller). Captain Buller held KWDG to be in contravention of the Hague Conventions of 1907 by failing to clear neutral waters within the stipulated time limit.

    His call for surrender was refused. Kapitän Reymann sent away his prisoners in the Aruca and some 400 surplus crew members in the Bethania.

    Highflyer eventually moved in and opened an engagement with gunfire. The German guns had the greater range and initially Highflyer sustained damage to her signal platform with one crew member killed. However, KWDG eventually succumbed to the British cruiser's heavier firepower and she foundered at 5.10 p.m. on August 10th 1914. Some reports say she was scuttled.

    Kapitän Reymann, 9 officers and 71 surviving crew escaped to the shore. Here they took up hostile positions among the dunes, still refusing to surrender. Highflyer withdrew, her commander being mindful of Spanish neutrality and satisfied that he had achieved his principal objective of taking out this threat to Allied shipping.

    The marooned German shore party then petitioned for asylum to the Spanish garrison at the nearby fort. They were interned for the duration, later being transferred to three German vessels already under detention at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Some later escaped and made it back to Germany.

    The Aruca landed her prisoners at Las Palmas. Bethania, with the 400 transferred crew members, got clear but was later brought into Kingston, Jamaica by HMS Essex.

    I understood that the wreck of KWDG was shown on charts 3251 2078 (Nov 1982) (Bahia de Villa Cisneros) and 3134 1690 (May 1993) (Approaches to Ad Dakhla and Ad Dakhla). At the time of my research Ad Dakhla was in Western Sahara, a territory in dispute between Mauritania and Morocco and latterly under the military control of Morocco.

    My research did not extend to whether any salvage work had been done on the wreck and, as I write, I cannot say if it appears on the current charts after the reported salvage work.

    The PRO references are:

    ADM137/799 p.167 Capt. Buller to Admiralty, Secret (account of the engagement) also p.135 (Capt.C.E.Down, Arlanza, Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, to owners August 22nd 1917; forwarded to Admiralty for info.)

  7. Thank you all!

  8. To add to Noel's excellent history of the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse.

    Here is a rare artists impression postcard image of the battle between the HMS Highflyer and the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse.

    S. Anderson Collection, 2003
  9. A postcard image of the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse on her Maiden Voyage in 1897.

    This postcard is one of eight in a series of sepia toned interior images that were issued in 1898.

    Photographic Postcard
    Publisher: Phitigraphie & Verlag v. W. Sander & Sohn, Gessremfine, 1897
    S. Anderson Collection, 2003

  10. A very rare 1898 postcard of the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.

    What makes this card quite rare it the fact that the center of the card holds a small folder of twelve sepia tones interior images of the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse.

    Artist impression / photo booklet postcard
    Publisher: Ver. Kunsranstalten Munchen, 1898
    S. Anderson Collection, 2003
  11. Jim Kalafus

    Jim Kalafus Member

    Here is one of the German 4 stackers, from a collection of old negatives which arrived today. Don't know which of the liners this is.
  12. Tracy Smith

    Tracy Smith Member

    Must be a wartime picture, Jim, considering that its jammed full of people.
  13. I wonder if this ship is the Kronprinz Wilhelm as the U.S transport Von Stueben. Another possiblity is the Kaiser Wilhelm II as the Agamemnon.
  14. Mark Baber

    Mark Baber Moderator Member

  15. Raymond Leggs

    Raymond Leggs Member

    I heard that That The Kaiser wilhelm der grosse II
    colided with another ship does anyone have more info on this as i seen an artistrendering of the incident in a library book called bon voyage
  16. Noel F. Jones

    Noel F. Jones Active Member


    My post of May 8 above refers, viz.:

    On November 23rd 1906 she collided with the Orinoco (Royal Mail Steam Packet Company) off Cherbourg with fatalities on both vessels. KWDG was subsequently held 100% to blame.

  17. Noel:

    Relating to your comments above in this thread:

    "On October 25th 1907 her rudder carried away in heavy weather and she completed the remainder of an eastbound passage steering by her twin screws only."

    I will now state and supply proof that after this the Kiaser Wilhelm Der Grosse returned to the builders yard of Blohm & Voss, Hamburg for repairs. It appears that she didn't go back to her builders yard of Vulcan, Stettin. She was also placed in floating drydock for this repair to be completed.

    S. Anderson Collection, 2003
    Original Photographic Postcard
    Publisher: Unknown C. 1907

    And now for a close up of the rudder repairs underway in 1907

  18. Jeremy Lee

    Jeremy Lee Member

    Anyone knows if the Kronprinzessin Cecilie, Kronprinz Wilhelm and Kaiser Wilhelm II had the same ornamental decoration on the tip of her bow and on the stern (surrounding the name, see above picture) as the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse?
  19. Jeremy:

    As for the Kronprinz Wilhelm she had the ornimention on her stern as shown in this colorized postcard image from my collection

    S. Anderson Collection C. 2003
    Publisher: Ottmar Xieher, Muchen circa 1908


    The Kaiser Wilhelm II had ornamentation on her bow but I don't have any close up images of her stern to determine if there was ornimantation there.

    The Kronprinzessin Cecilie has ornamentation of her stern as shown in the postcard image below of the troopship S.S. Mount Vernon. However I see no ornamentation on her bow.

    S. Anderson Collection C. 2003
    Publisher: Unknown C. 1917


    Also of note the Imperator and Vaterland had this ornimention on there bow's and stern.