SS Bremen

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SS Bremen liner launched in 1928, history and images.




AUGUST 16th 1928




51,656 TONS


938 FEET


102 FEET







Bremen was the first of two near identical liners built for the North German Lloyd Line. Her sister ship Europa entered service the following year. After losing all their large ships at the end of World War One, it had taken the North German Lloyd Line ten years to recover enough to build these two record breaking ships. Bremen and Europa joined the 32,000-ton Columbus that entered service in 1924 to compete against Cunard’s Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengaria and the White Star Line’s Olympic, Majestic and Homeric.

SS Bremen liner image

Bremen was one of the first liners to be welded rather than of a riveted construction. Her innovative design also featured a bulbous bow. As well as reducing drag, this helped keep the bow from plunging in heavy seas, which in turn prevented the propellers from lifting out of the water. Bremen’s steam turbines were so well muffled they couldn’t be heard from any of the passenger accommodations. Also, there were no vibrations from her shafts or propellers, unlike ships built before that time.

Bremen could carry 800 1st, 500 2nd and 900 3rd class passengers. She set out on her maiden voyage from Bremerhaven - New York July 16th 1929. With a crossing of 4 days, 17 hours and 42 minutes, she took the Blue Riband from Cunard’s Mauretania by increasing the average speed from 26.25 to 27.83 knots. Bremen soon took the eastbound record as well and held that honor for the next six years with her best average being 28.51 knots.

As Bremen made several world cruises that saw her transit the Panama and Suez canals, she held the title of the largest ship to use the canals until Cunard’s liner QE2 took that record in the early 1970s.

SS Bremen leaving port image

Bremen was docked in New York at the outbreak of World War Two. In the early hours September 1st 1939, with all her windows blacked out and unannounced, she steamed out of New York bound for Germany. To avoid British cruisers and submarines that were known to be in the area, her captain devised a northern route that took them to the Russian navel port of Murmansk, before completing the voyage to Bremerhaven.

Bremen was dazzle painted for camouflage in 1940 before being moved to Hamburg for conversion to a transport ship. All available German ships were undergoing similar work at that time in order to take part in Hitler's ‘Operation Sea Lion’ (the invasion of England).

As the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) were unable to defeat the British Royal Air Force in what became known as the Battle of Britain, the invasion had to be postponed, this leading to Bremen being returned to Bremerhaven.

Bremen caught fire while berthed at Bremerhaven March 16th 1942. It is believed this was an act of sabotage carried out by an unhappy crew member or anti Hitler Germans. The military had the burned out hulk of Bremen dismantled to the waterline so the steel could be used for munitions. Her remains were then towed to the River Weser to be destroyed by explosives.

Bremen on fire at Bremerhaven
Bremen liner on fire image

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