SS Silesia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hammonia class frisia.jpg
A Hammonia class ship, the SS Silesia appeared very much like the ship pictured here, the SS Frisia
North German Confederation
Name: SS Silesia
Namesake: the province of Silesia
Operator: Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Actien Gesellschaft (HAPAG)
Port of registry: North German Confederation (1866–1871) and the German Empire (1871–1899)
Route: HamburgLe HarvreNew York City
Builder: Caird & Co.
Launched: 14 April 1869
Christened: SS Silesia
Maiden voyage: 23 June 1869
Out of service: 1899
Renamed: Pacifica (1887), Citta di Napoli (1888), Montevideo (1891)
Refit: 1877, compound engines
Fate: Transferred to Great Britain
Great Britain
Name: SS Pacifica
Acquired: 1887
Fate: Transferred to Italy
Name: P/fo Citta di Napoli
Owner: Fratelli Lavarello
Acquired: 1888
Fate: Acquired by new Italian owner
Name: P/fo Montevideo
Owner: La Veloce Line
Acquired: 1891
Homeport: Genoa
Fate: Wrecked off Lobos Island on the River Plate in Uruguay, then sold for scrap
General characteristics
Class and type: Hammonia
Tonnage: 3,142
Length: 361 ft (110 m)
Beam: 46 ft (14 m)
Propulsion: Steam expansion (single screw) and two masts; later retrofitted with second screw
Sail plan: Square rigged on both fore and main masts
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h))
Capacity: 600 passengers

The SS Silesia was a late 19th-century Hamburg America Line passenger and cargo ship that ran between the European ports of Hamburg, Germany and Le Havre, France to Castle Garden and later Ellis Island, New York transporting European immigrants, primarily Russian, Prussian, Hungarian, German, Austrian, Italian, and Danish individuals and families. Most passengers on this route were manual laborers, including stonecutters, locksmiths, farmers, millers, upholsterers, confectioners, and tailors, though physicians and other professionals also bought passage on her.[1]


Built by Caird & Company of Greenock, Scotland, the Silesia, along with the SS Germania (I) (1863), SS Germania (II) (1870), SS Frisia (1872), SS Pomerania (1873), SS Hammonia (I) (1855), and SS Hammonia (II) (1866), was a Hammonia class ship. Some sources report her as being 340 feet (100 m) in length and 40 feet (12 m) from side to side[2] though other contemporary sources report her as somewhat larger.[3]

With both a steam engine and a set of traditional masts, she was one of a brief but large category of "transitional" (wind-to-steam) vessels. Like many of these ships, the Silesia had a steel hull, two masts, and one steam funnel. Her two engines drove a single 10 ft (3.0 m) screw with 2,200 horsepower making 54 revolutions per minute. Twelve men shoveling coal continuously from her four coal bunkers kept her engines running around the clock, consuming 75 of her 1,100-ton capacity of coal per day. All of the steam generated in her boilers was recovered and reused during any given length of her journey. The smoke from the burning of coal quickly blackened many of her sails, which were as follows: on her foremast she had two staysails (a fore staysail and a fore topmast staysail), a course, topsail, and topgallant sail; and on her mainmast, the equivalent five sails (a staysail, topmast staysail, course, topsail, and topgallant sail) plus a spanker for a combined total of eleven sails.[3]


She began her maiden voyage from Hamburg to Le Havre and New York on 23 June 1869. Her last voyage on this route began on 24 February 1875. After this she was fitted with a compound engine and supposedly began sailing the route from Hamburg to the West Indies, though passenger manifests continue to show her bringing immigrants to New York for many more years.[4]

Accounts then differ as to the path of her ownership, with some sources claiming she was given to W.G. Armstrong & Mitchell Company in 1887 before being sold to the H.F. Swan Company who renamed her Pacifica, then in 1888 sold to A. Albini of Genoa, then in 1889 sold to Fratelli Lavarello, also of Genoa, and renamed Citta di Napoli, then in 1890 sold to the La Veloce Line, again of Genoa, and renamed Montevideo.[2] Others record that once refitted she went to an unnamed British firm, then to an Italian company called Solari & Schiaffino, then year after that sold to Fratelli Lavarello, and then in 1891 sold to La Veloce.[5]

Sources agree, however, that on 2 December 1899, she ran aground near the island of Lobos in the River Plate between Uruguay and Argentina and was eventually sold for scrap metal.[2]

Other ships[edit]

SS Silesia is also the name of an unrelated Swedish cargo vessel built in 1923 and sunk by the German submarine U-36 off the Norwegian coast near Stavanger on 25 November 1939.[6][7]

SS Silesia is also the name of an Austrian vessel sequestered by the Italian government in 1920 and claimed as a war prize of the Chinese government.[8]


  1. ^ National Archives and Records Administration Film M237, Reel 462
  2. ^ a b c "ss Silesia built by Caird & Company Greenock Clydebuilt Ships Database". Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "The steamship Silesia". The Plantation. 1 (11). Atlanta, Georgia: Plantation Pub. 2 April 1870. p. 167. OCLC 8464853. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  4. ^ National Archives and Records Administration, Film M237, Reel 446
  5. ^ Bonsor, N.R.P. (1975). North Atlantic seaway: an illustrated history of the passenger services linking the Old World with the New in four volumes. 1 (Enlarged and revised ed.). New York: Arco Publishing. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-668-03679-5. OCLC 1891992. 
  6. ^ "SS Silesia (+1939)". WreckSite. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Fairplay: weekly shipping journal. London: Fairplay Publications (152): 472. 1939.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "F 1609/10/20 Seizure at Trieste of Austrian ship condemned in Shanghai Prize Court" (PDF). Confidential British Foreign Office Correspondence. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. p. 38.