SS Prinz Eitel Friedrich (1904)

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Career Imperial German Navy  Ensign
Name: Prinz Eitel Friedrich
Builder: Vulcan. Stettin
Launched: 1904
Commissioned: 5 August 1914 [1]
Fate: Interned 1915, seized 1917
General characteristics
Displacement: 16,000 tons [2]
(8,797 GRT)
Length: 153.3 m
Beam: 16.9 m
Draught: 7.1 m
Propulsion: 2x4cyl Exp
Speed: 15 kn
Range: 10,000 nm
Complement: 402 [3]
Armament:

4x 10.5 cm SK L/40 naval guns
6x 8.8 cm SK L/40 guns

4x 3.7 cm quick-firing cannon [4]

SS Prinz Eitel Friedrich was a German passenger liner which saw service in the First World War as an auxiliary cruiser of the Imperial German Navy. Though largely overlooked, Prinz Eitel Friedrich was, after SS Kronprinz Wilhelm, the most successful of Germany’s first wave of auxiliary cruisers. She was able to remain at large for seven months, from August 1914 to March 1915, and sank 11 ships, for a total tonnage of 33,000 GRT.

Early career[edit]

Prinz Eitel Friedrich was built for the Norddeutscher Lloyd, a former shipping company of the Hapag-Lloyd, by the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin, in 1904. For the ten years prior to the First World War she served on NDL routes in the Far East. On the eve of war in August 1914 she was at Shanghai, with orders to proceed to the German naval base at Tsingtao for conversion as an auxiliary cruiser (hilfkreuzer).[5]

Service history[edit]

At Tsingtao Prinz Eitel Friedrich was equipped for her role as a commerce raider, transferring the armaments and crews of the aging gunboats Luchs, and Tiger. KK Max Therichens, of Luchs, took command.

She was commissioned on 5 August 1914 and sailed from Tsingtao the same day to join company with Adm Graf von Spee and the German Far East squadron. These were at Pagan in the Caroline Islands, and Prinz Eitel Friedrich arrived there on 12 August.

On 13 August she was detached for independent operations and a remit to attack and destroy allied commerce. She sailed south to start this mission along the coast of Australia.[6]

In the following seven months she operated in the Pacific and South Atlantic, sinking 11 vessels, mostly sailing ships, for a total of 33,423 gross register tons (GRT).

In March 1915, with her bunkers nearly empty and her engines worn out, Prinz Eitel Friedrich headed for the neutral United States, and on 11 March 1915 sailed into Newport News harbour, to be interned.[7]

Later career[edit]

In April 1917, on US entry into the war, Prinz Eitel Friedrich was seized by the US Navy and put in hand for conversion as a troopship. She was commissioned on 7 April 1917. as USS DeKalb (ID-3010) and served for the remainder of the war as a troopship on the trans Atlantic route. After the war she was returned to civilian service, as Mount Clay, before being scrapped and broken up in 1927.

A 10.5 cm SK L/40 naval gun from the Prinz can be seen at the Memorial Park by the Cambridge NY library. Google maps type in Cambridge Library, Cambridge, NY United States. or view using this link http://navweaps.com/Weapons/WNGER_41-40_skc00_pics.htm

Table[edit]

Date Ship Type Nationality Tonnage GRT Fate
5.12.1914 Charcas Freighter British 5,067 Sunk
11.12.1914 Jean Sailing ship French 2,207 Retained as collier
Scuttled 31.12.14
12.12.1914 Kidalton Sailing ship British 1,784 Sunk
26.1.1915 Isabel Browne Sailing ship Russian 1,315 Sunk
27.1.1915 Pierre Lott Sailing ship French 2,196 Sunk
27.1.1915 William P Frye * Sailing ship American 3,374 Sunk
28.1.1915 Jacobsen Sailing ship French 2,195 Sunk
12.2.1915 Invercoe Sailing ship British 1,421 Sunk
18.2.1915 Mary Ada Short Sailing ship British 3,605 Sunk
19.2.1915 Floride Freighter French 6,629 Sunk
20.2.1915 Willerby Freighter British 3,630 Sunk
  • The William P Frye was the first U.S. ship sunk during WWI. Its sinking urged the neutral U.S. to enter the war.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Schmalenbach p46
  2. ^ Schmalenbach p48
  3. ^ Schmalenbach p24
  4. ^ Schmalenbach p 70
  5. ^ Halpern p72
  6. ^ Halpern p72
  7. ^ Halpern p82

References[edit]

  • Halpern, Paul (1994) A Naval History of World War I ISBN 1-85728-295-7 HB
  • Schmalenbach, Paul (1977) German Raiders ISBN 0-85059-351-4