Daily Event for October 12

October 12, On Oct. 12, 1922 the City of Honolulu caught fire on the return leg of her 3rd maiden voyage. It was the maiden voyage under this name...

The story begins on Aug.3,1889 in England. It was the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria's reign as Monarch and Kaiser Wilhelm II was in attendance. He and the Prince of Wales inspected the British Liner Teutonic, (at this time Teutonic was an armed merchant cruiser) the Kaiser was so impressed he is said to have said " we must have some of these", although he may have been talking about the armed version of the ship. And so was born the age of the great German liners.

The great ship was originally built by AG Vulcan in Stettin, Germany for the Norddeutscher Lloyd Line (North German Lloyd) under the name Friedrich der Grosse . At 546' long and over 10,000 tons she was the largest ship built by Germany to date. Launched on Aug.1,1896 Friedrich der Grosse made her 1st maiden voyage (Bremen to Australia) in Nov. 1896. When world war one broke out Friedrich der Grosse was in New York along with several other large German liners. (Imperator and the Vaterland among them) All of these ships were interned where they sat. However Germany felt they would be safe there because America had not entered the war yet.

Then on Apr.6,1917 the U.S. entered the war and the navy officially seized the German ships interned in the U.S. The Friedrich der Grosse was renamed Huron and used as a troop transport for the duration of the war. She was taken over by the U.S. shipping board in 1919 and converted into an oil burner. In 1922 she was chartered to the Los Angeles Steamship Company, refitted and renamed the City of Honolulu. She was put on the California to Hawaii route.

And by now you know that she burned on Oct. 12,1922. There were no casualties as the passengers and crew were rescued by other vessels. But the great ship would not give up so easily. After the fire was out she was a total loss, but stayed afloat for 5 days until she was sunk by the U.S. Army transport Thomas on Oct.17,1922.

In an interesting twist of fate a second ship also called City of Honolulu, also owned by the Los Angeles Steamship Company also burned. (May 25,1930) This ship was originally called Kiautschou. Owned by the Hamburg America Line, later sold to North German Lloyd and renamed Prinzess Alice. She burned in Honolulu but managed to sail back to California. However at 30 years old she was considered to old to repair and was scrapped.

© 2005 Michael W. Pocock

Friedrich der Grosse