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Kronprinz Wilhelm

Kronprinz Wilhelm

The former Kronprinz Wilhelm is seen being towed down the James River, as she nears Hampton Roads, while bound for the Philadelphia Navy Yard in the summer of 1916.

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NDL’s former Kronprinz Wilhelm is towed down the James River from Newport News, Virginia, bound for the Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia in the summer of 1916. Looking the worse for wear, the liner is seen after nearly a year of internment in the American Port, following a wartime cruise as a German Commerce Raider that had lasted 251 days. During this historic cruise in the South Atlantic, she had sunk over 53,000 tons of enemy shipping. A look at her bow shows the scars of this deadly effort, as she had often resorted to ramming the ships she’d caught in an effort to conserve ammunition. In April, 1917, the liner was officially seized by the US Government and renamed Von Stuben. Under the American flag, she began another term of wartime service as an auxiliary cruiser. This service lasted until November, 1917, when the demand for transports became greater than the need for cruisers, and she was converted into a troopship in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. As a transport she would collide with her sister Agamemnon, (formerly the Kaiser Wilhelm II) and nearly sink as a result. Only the heroic actions of her crew, which included the pouring of cement into the smashed portion of her bow, succeeded in saving the Von Stuben. Because every American shipyard was already filled to capacity, the ship had to sail through the Panama Canal to Balboa to have her bow repaired. Afterward, the liner would finish her service as a troopship without further incident. After a period of repatriation service, she was laid up on the James River in Virginia, until 1923. She was sold for scrapping at Baltimore that same year.

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