Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse

Jan Hendrik
26th September 2005, 10:00
Built by Vulcan Yard in Stettin, GRT 14,350 , 625 ft in length and 2 steam engines in total 32,000 hp gave her an impressive speed of 22.8 knots.
She was the first superliner with 4 funnels.
At the turn of the century the fastest ships crossing the Atlantic carried a German flag.
At the beginning of WW1 this vessel was converted to a cruiser for the German Navy and sank two English freighters in the Atlantic.
Her luck ran out on Aug 16th 1914 on the West African Coast.
She was spotted by a British "highflyer" which ordered the German's out of the port.
In disgust the captain then ordered to sink his own ship so it did not fall in foreign hands.
She held the Blue Riband until 1907.

oil painting by John Gardner
copyright: Hempel A/S, Copenhagen 01/90

Doug Rogers
26th September 2005, 10:33
Another nice one Jan..

ruud
26th September 2005, 10:47
Ahoy Jan,

They all look great, a beautiful collection, those calenders.

Jan Hendrik
26th September 2005, 11:00
photo is somewhat "light", I shall take it again and re-post it in the same thread.
I held the camera at 1 metre distance from the calendar in bright sunlight, so have to fiddle around with it.
Same happened to the previous photos.

thunderd
26th September 2005, 11:08
You are being a bit hard on yourself Jan, it is a photo of a beautiful picture of a beautiful ship taken under difficult circumstances.

fred henderson
26th September 2005, 23:37
May I offer a slightly different view Jan?
Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was bunkering off Rio del Oro, Spanish West Africa, when she was suprised by the small RN cruiser, HMS Highflyer, which demanded her surrender. The German captain refused, whereupon Highflyer opened fire. After a duel of 90 minutes the German ship had been hit but because of her size had not been significantly damaged, but she ran out of ammunition, without hitting Highflyer. The German captain then gave the order to abandon ship, which was then scuttled.
Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was built in 1897. As an armed merchant cruiser she had 24,300 tons displacement. She had a top speed of 22.5 knots and was armed with six 4.1 inch guns.
HMS Highflyer was built by Fairfield in 1897. She had a displacement of 5,650 tons, was armed with 11 X 6 inch guns and had a top speed of 20 knots.
Why did the huge German ship remain at anchor? Why did she not try to escape? Her job was to sink unarmed merchant ships, not to be a target for a warship and then be scuttled while only lightly damaged. It seems to me that the German captain was pretty incompetent.
I attach a photo of little Highflyer's sister Hermes, also built by Fairfield.

Fred

Jan Hendrik
27th September 2005, 00:53
Thanks for the story Fred.
I had similar information but shortened the text a bit.
What I do not understand is that the ship is listed as having a GRT of only 14,350.
The picture suggests she would be much bigger.
She was later converted to an auxiliary cruiser for the German Navy and indeed you now mention the displacement tonnage which bears no correlation with the GRT.

John Rogers
27th September 2005, 00:59
Fred,Jan, what year did this sinking take place, and what was her raider number if you know it. Thanks.
John

Jan Hendrik
27th September 2005, 01:17
16th August, 1914, was mentioned in my initial story.
Fred may have more info??

fred henderson
28th September 2005, 21:34
Sorry John, I cannot find a record of a raider number for Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, but I came upon some information that may interest you and Jan: -

The concept of employing liners as commerce raiders had been around since the American Civil War, but received a boost when it was legitimised by the Second Hague Conference of 1907. Germany paid its leading shipping companies to build or modify liners with strengthened positions for mounting guns. A network of support ships was positioned prior to the outbreak of war and bunkering arrangements made. The entire concept was a failure, however. The ships were so distinctive that they always aroused suspicion and comment, while their superior speed was offset by an immense requirement for coal.
The tonnage question leads to the different methods of classifying ships. The official registration certificate of every merchant ship shows her gross registered tonnage (grt). This tonnage was originally the number of casks, or tuns of wine the ship could carry. Nowadays it is calculated on the basis of the volume of the entire watertight space within the ship, with one ton being equal to 100 cubic feet.
Displacement is the weight of water that the ship displaces. In other words displacement tonnage is the ship’s physical weight. This measurement is normally only used for warships.
When the Germans took over a number of liners as commerce raiders their displacement was used in the naval records. In every case the displacement was about double the grt. I suspect that was because of the shape of the ships, the riveted construction methods used at that time and the weight of the coal bunkers.
Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was 14,349 grt when she was delivered in 1897. She was the largest ship in service. The size of passenger ships has passed through distinct periods of growth. Ignoring the white elephant of the Great Eastern (18,915 grt – 1859) the growth in passenger ship size has been: -

First over 10,000 tons: City of New York – Inman – 10,499 – 1888.
First over 20,000 tons: Celtic – White Star – 20904 – 1901.
First over 30,000 tons: Lusitania – Cunard – 31,550 – 1907.
First over 40,000 tons: Olympic – White Star – 45,324 – 1911.
First over 50,000 tons: Imperator – Hamburg America – 52117 – 1914.
First over 80,000 tons: Normandie – French Line – 79,280 – 1935.
First over 100,000 tons: Carnival Destiny – Carnival – 101,509 – 1996.
First over 130,000 tons: Voyager of the Seas – RCCI – 132,726 – 1999.
First over 140,000 tons: Queen Mary 2 – Cunard – 142,258 – 2003

Fred

Frank P
28th September 2005, 22:11
Hello everybody,

Thanks for a very interesting thread.

Fred what is the reason for ignoring the Great Eastern???

cheers Frank

Jan Hendrik
29th September 2005, 10:15
Fred,
Thanks a lot for the interesting story, especially related to the sizes of the vessels, however, you mentioned NORMANDIE being GRT 79,280 and indeed this was the case when she was built.
They found out that the Queen Mary, one year later, was going to be 1000 Tons bigger, so they quickly managed another part deck on top which then increased her GRT to 83,423.
I will post an oil painting under The Great Ocean Liners.
Further the folllowing website is interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Normandie#Construction_.26_Launch

fred henderson
29th September 2005, 16:15
Hello everybody,

Thanks for a very interesting thread.

Fred what is the reason for ignoring the Great Eastern???

cheers Frank

Only because Great Eastern was a one-off and an operational failure, that had no influence on the development of passenger shipping, other than to remind everyone of the need for practicality.
Great Eastern finally entered service in June 1860. She was neither popular with passengers, nor successful for her owners. She had an extraordinary heavy roll in a seaway that often damaged her paddle-wheels and on one occasion they were damaged completely. In December 1863 her owners, The Great Ship Co, went into liquidation and her passenger liner career was over.

Best regards

Fred

fred henderson
29th September 2005, 16:36
Fred,
Thanks a lot for the interesting story, especially related to the sizes of the vessels, however, you mentioned NORMANDIE being GRT 79,280 and indeed this was the case when she was built.
They found out that the Queen Mary, one year later, was going to be 1000 Tons bigger, so they quickly managed another part deck on top which then increased her GRT to 83,423.
I will post an oil painting under The Great Ocean Liners.
Further the folllowing website is interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Normandie#Construction_.26_Launch

The grt of a ship is obtained by measurement by surveyors, Jan. There is always the possibility of debate and tonnages do change during the life of a ship. I quoted the original measurement at the time the ships entered service, which in the case of Normandie in May 1935 was 79,280 tons. In March 1936 she was remeasured at 82,799, so I listed her as the first passenger ship over 80,000 tons. (Queen Mary at 80,774 tons was delivered in April 1936.) Normandie was refitted later in the year and became 83,423 tons.

Best regards

Fred

Jan Hendrik
3rd October 2005, 05:50
Always good to make the story as complete a possible.
A great era of passenger liners it was indeed and this will never come back.
Mister Qantas and Mister Air France are happy about that of course.....
Thanks Fred for your contribution here.

BeyondCruises
18th February 2006, 23:01
Fred, thanks for listing those stats! Daniel