Offloading Mail At Plymouth - Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse

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The great naval race prior to WWI did not only entail the battlefleets of the U.K and Germany but also the mercantile ones too. It was Kaiser Wilhelm’s wish to produce passenger ships faster and more luxurious than their British counterparts serving with Cunard and White Star.


Launched in 1897, Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was the epitome of the Kaiser’s wishes and when she was launched at the Vulcan yard in Sterrin took the title as the world’s largest ship, something she would hold until 1899.


Built for North German Lloyd line, the ship made her maiden voyage in September 1897 and became the first German ship to hold the Blue Riband in November of that year. She would go on to hold the title on both east and west crossings and become the first ship fitted with a Marconi wireless in 1900.


With the coming of war, Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was converted into an auxiliary cruiser and, due to her great speed initially proved successful. While at anchor taking on coal, she was sunk (German sources claim scuttled) by the Cadet Training Ship HMS Highflyer.

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