Barbarossa Class Ocean Liner - History - World War I

World War I

At the outbreak of World War I, rather than face capture or destruction at the hands of the British Royal Navy, most of the Barbarossa-class ships were interned in neutral ports. König Albert and Moltke were interned at Genoa, while Blücher was interned at Pernambuco, Brazil. Five ships were interned at U.S.-controlled ports: four—Barbarossa, Friedrich der Grosse, Prinzess Irene, and Hamburg—were interned at Hoboken, New Jersey, and Princess Alice was interned at Cebu, Philippine Islands. Only Königin Luise and Bremen were in German ports, where they remained throughout the war. In September 1914, Hamburg was briefly renamed and chartered to the American Red Cross. Sailing under the name Red Cross, she made one roundtrip voyage to Europe before returning to New York, and her previous name.

As Italy, the United States, and Brazil successively joined the war, each seized the interned Barbarossa ships (along with all other German and Austro-Hungarian ships) and renamed them. In Italy, Moltke became Pesaro, while König Albert became hospital ship Ferdinando Palasciano; in Brazil, Blücher became Leopoldina. The five ships interned under U.S. control all became United States Navy transport ships, and were renamed as follows:

  • Barbarossa became USS Mercury (ID-3012)
  • Friedrich der Grosse became USS Huron (ID-1408)
  • Prinzess Irene became USS Pocahontas (ID-3044)
  • Hamburg became USS Powhatan (ID-3013)
  • Princess Alice became USS Princess Matoika (ID-2290)

These five ex-German transports carried over 95,000 American troops to France before the Armistice.

Read more about this topic:  Barbarossa Class Ocean Liner, History

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