Cap Polonio

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Cap Polonio
Cap Polonio in the stamp year 1977 of the Deutsche Bundespost Berlin
Ship data
flag German EmpireGerman Empire (Reichskriegsflagge) German Empire United Kingdom German Empire
United KingdomUnited Kingdom (trade flag) 
German EmpireGerman Empire (trade flag) 
other ship names

SMS Vineta only 2.1915

Ship type Passenger ship
home port Hamburg
Shipping company Hamburg South
Shipyard Blohm & Voss , Hamburg
Build number 221
Launch March 25, 1914
Commissioning February 8, 1915 as
   SMS Vineta
July 20, 1921 as
   Cap Polonio
Decommissioning June 1931
Whereabouts 1935 in Bremerhaven scrapped
Ship dimensions and crew
200.1 m ( Lüa )
193.6 m ( KWL )
width 21.7 m
Draft Max. 8.36 m
displacement 24,500 t
measurement 20,576 GRT
crew 460 men
Machine system
machine 14 boiler
2 vertical 4-cylinder compound machines
1 exhaust steam turbine
16,000 PS (11,768 kW)
16.9 kn (31 km / h)
propeller 3 four-leaf ∅ 6.1 m
Transport capacities
Load capacity 9,000 dw
Permitted number of passengers 1,525 in three classes

as auxiliary cruiser:

  • 4 × 15 cm L / 40 Sk (600 shots)
  • 4 × 8 cm L / 45 Sk

The for the shipping company Hamburg Süd in 1914 at the shipyard Blohm & Voss built as hull number 221 Cap Polonio was the beginning of 1915 to the auxiliary cruiser SMS Vineta converted, but not used as such because of insufficient speed, but as Cap Polonio launched .

In 1921 the ship, which was delivered to Great Britain in 1919, was bought back by Hamburg-Süd and used in South America service and for cruises from 1922. Until the Albert Ballin was commissioned by Hapag in the summer of 1923, the Cap Polonio was the largest ship in the German merchant fleet . From 1931 onwards again in Hamburg it was scrapped in Bremerhaven in 1935 .


The Cap Polonio was the third express steamer planned by the Hamburg-South American Steamship Company (HSDG) after the single ships Cap Finisterre (1911, 14503 GRT) and Cap Trafalgar (1914, 18805 GRT) and was the company's first ship to exceed 20,000 GRT .

The launch took place on March 25, 1914. Work on the equipment pier was temporarily suspended in August 1914 due to the First World War, which began on July 28, 1914. The Imperial Navy was then commissioned to convert the auxiliary cruiser Vineta with four 15 cm and four 8.8 cm guns. The work was completed in February 1915 and testing was carried out in the same month. Due to poor coal and technical problems with the complex steam system, only 16.9 kn were reached instead of the contractual speed of 17 kn. The Vineta was returned to the shipyard after a few days of testing , completed as a passenger ship by August 1916 and then handed over to the shipping company . It was renamed Cap Polonio again and was launched until 1919.

British flag cruises

After the war she was handed over by the Allied Ship Commission to the Shipping Controller , London, in April 1919 and used by the Union Castle Mail Steamship Company , London. Due to incorrect operation of the complex propulsion system, only around 10 knots were reached on the voyage from Plymouth to Cape Town in June 1919 , and the ship was therefore returned as unsuitable. At the Devonport Dockyard shipyard , the propulsion system was revised, among other things. The ship was then managed by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company , London, for a trip to Bombay . However, the crew also did not get along with the propulsion system; due to the unsatisfactory speed (10 to 12 instead of 17 knots) the ship was then laid up in Liverpool . Both trips served to repatriate troops from Europe to their homeland.

Return to Hamburg-Süd

There was a shortage of ships in Germany and many ships in British ports were laid up without employment. John Eggert from Hamburg-Süd went to Great Britain in 1921 and managed to buy back the Cap Polonio (US $ 150,000) and two other former shipping company ships. After a general overhaul and modernization at Blohm & Voss, it was finally able to embark on its maiden voyage to South America on February 16, 1922 and provide the planned service without major technical difficulties. At that time she was the flagship of the German merchant fleet as the largest ship and in the South America service she was the largest and most luxurious ship on this route until the Italian Giulio Cesare appeared on the South Atlantic in 1925. She lost her role as Hamburg Süd's flagship with the commissioning of the express steamer Cap Arcona in autumn 1927.

In addition to the liner service, Hamburg Süd developed a cruise program for the Cap Polonio for the wealthy South American public as early as 1922 . On December 23, 1922, she left Buenos Aires for the first of her three-week Tierra del Fuego voyages, during which she took on the crew of the German four-masted barque Nal , which had been abandoned near Cape Horn on January 16, 1923, in Ushuaia and delivered it to Buenos Aires on February 2. Two more trips followed in the southern summer. In July 1923 he traveled from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro and Santos . This program was repeated in the following years, and from July 18 to October 4, 1926, the longest cruise of the Cap Polonio was carried out as she continued the Rio voyage via Las Palmas , Madeira , San Sebastian , Boulogne to Hamburg, then called Leith on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh and several ports in Norway , then ran to the Baltic Sea to Stockholm , Helsinki and Leningrad and called again to Hamburg via Visby , Copenhagen and Amsterdam . The return journey then took place via Boulogne, La Coruña , Vigo and Lisbon . However, this trip was unique. In 1928 the Cap Polonio made the south-winter voyage to the West Indies , and it was the only time that she called at New York . In 1930 she made another trip from Brazil to the Mediterranean . In addition, in the summers from 1928 to 1930 she also made a 24-day trip from Hamburg to Norway and the Baltic Sea. A shore excursion program was also offered on all trips.

Enamel poster of Hamburg-Süd with the Cap Polonio

Despite a renovation that began in 1930, the Cap Polonio lay in Hamburg like many other ships from 1931 to 1933 due to the global economic crisis . She was used as a trade fair ship for the so-called Braune Messe in autumn 1933 , but was then launched again . The decision to abandon the Cap Polonio was also due to the delivery of the last two diesel-powered ships of the Monte class , which were cheaper to operate, and the almost successful takeover of Hamburg-Süd by Norddeutscher Lloyd .

The Cap Polonio was sold for demolition in June 1935 and then scrapped at the Lloyd shipyard in Bremerhaven .

The furnishings of the first class dining room, much touted at the time, were transported across the Elbe and the Pinnau and then with 65 truckloads into the building of what was then the “Stadt Hamburg” hotel in Pinneberg and installed there. In this hotel with the current name "Hotel Cap Polonio" you can still see the wall paneling made of rosewood, leather wallpaper, lamps and radiator cladding made of brass as well as furniture from the former luxury liner.

Contemporary representation of the Cap Polonio in cross section
Ship's bell of the Cap Polonio


With a total length of 202 meters (Lpp = 194.4 meters), a width of 22.1 meters, a side height of 13.3 meters and a draft of 8.4 meters, it was measured at around 20,000 GRT and had a load capacity of 9,000 tdw. The passenger capacity was around 355 people in 1st class, 250 people in 2nd class, 950 people in 3rd class, with a crew of 460 people. As was common at the time at larger shipyards such as Blohm & Voss, the machinery such as boilers , steam engines and steam turbines were largely manufactured in the company's own boiler and mechanical engineering department. The complex but very economical so-called “mixed” drive system of the Cap Polonio with one central and two outer propellers consisted of two triple expansion machines, each of which acted on an outer propeller. The central propeller was driven by a six-stage steam turbine, which was acted upon by the exhaust steam from the steam engines. The steam was generated by 13 water tube boilers at 15 bar. This resulted in a drive power of around 17,000 PSi. In 1921, after the repurchase by Hamburg Süd, a modern radio system was installed and the boiler system was enlarged to 15 boilers during the shipyard period at Blohm & Voss . The furnace was switched from coal to oil, thus saving around 100 heaters and trimmers and with the increased output of around 20,000 PSi, the Cap Polonio reached a speed of 18.5 knots.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Kludas: The history of the German passenger shipping. Volume 4, p. 118.
  2. a b c d e f g Kludas: The ships of Hamburg-Süd 1871-1951. P. 78 f.
  3. Rothe: German Ocean Passenger Ships 1896 to 1918. P. 149.
  4. melt head, p. 39.
  5. ^ Kludas: The history of the German passenger shipping. Volume 4, p. 110.
  6. ^ Kludas: The history of the German passenger shipping. Volume 4, p. 117.
  7. melt head, p. 52
  8. a b Kludas: The history of the German passenger shipping. Volume 4, p. 203.
  9. ^ Kludas: The history of the German passenger shipping. Volume 4, p. 206.
  10. melt head, p. 164.
  11. ^ Kludas: The history of the German passenger shipping. Volume V, p. 61 f.


  • Ernst Foerster , Georg Sütterlin: The three-screw passenger and cargo steamer “Cap Polonio” of the Hamburg-South American Steamship Company, built by Blohm & Voss. In: shipyard, shipping company, port. Year 1922, p. 16.
  • Clas Broder Hansen: The German passenger ships from 1816–1990. Urbes-Verlag, Graefelfing 1990, ISBN 3-924896-19-4 .
  • Arnold Kludas : The ships of Hamburg-Süd 1871-1951. Verlag Gerhard Stalling, Oldenburg / Hamburg 1976, ISBN 3-7979-1875-5 .
  • Arnold Kludas: The History of German Passenger Shipping. Volume 3, Erratic Growth. 1900 to 1914. Ernst Kabel Verlag, Hamburg 1988, ISBN 3-8225-0039-9 . (= Writings of the German Maritime Museum. Volume 20.)
  • Arnold Kludas: The History of German Passenger Shipping. Volume 4, Annihilation and Rebirth. 1914 to 1930. Ernst Kabel Verlag, Hamburg 1989, ISBN 3-8225-0047-X . (= Writings of the German Maritime Museum. Volume 21.)
  • Arnold Kludas: The History of German Passenger Shipping. Volume 5 An era is coming to an end. 1930 to 1990. Ernst Kabel Verlag, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-8225-0041-0 . (= Writings of the German Maritime Museum. Volume 22.)
  • Hans Georg Prager : Blohm + Voss. Ships and machines for the world. Köhler, Herford 1977, ISBN 3-7822-0127-2 .
  • Claus Rothe: German ocean passenger ships 1896 to 1918 . Steiger Verlag, 1986, ISBN 3-921564-80-8 .
  • Paul Schmalenbach: The German auxiliary cruisers. 1895-1945. Stalling Verlag, Oldenburg et al. 1977, ISBN 3-7979-1877-1 .

Web links

Commons : Cap Polonio  - collection of images, videos and audio files