The SS Kronprinz Wilhelm of North German Lloyd (NGL) sailed in the early 1900's and served on both sides during WWI. As part of the German Four Flyers - SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, SS Kronprinz Wilhelm, SS Kaiser Wilhelm II, and SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie - the Kronprinz Wilhelm enjoyed a successful career prior to WWI. One of the largest and fastest ships of his time, the ship was a sight to see from shore or passing on another vessel.
In the beginning of the Great War, the Kronprinze had initial success for the German forces. Although his size and speed helped in that early success, keeping the ship fueled and stocked ended up becoming a challenge, and ultimately the ship landed in the US, becoming the SS Von Steuben.
One of the German Four Flyers
Capturing the Blue Riband several times throughout his career, the Kronprinz Wilhelm was a formidable and fast ship.
Several notable collisions occurred, all without significant damage. On the Kronprinz's maiden voyage, the ship encountered a rogue wave, collided with a cargo ship and a British naval vessel, and also an iceberg.
Until the introduction of the Lusitania in 1907, the Kronprinz was the zenith of transatlantic travel, which attracted many renown and famous passengers. The opulent atmosphere paired with the fastest speed of the time marked the ship's place in the history books.
World War One Mystery Ship
Using her size and speed, the SS Kronprinz Wilhelm started WWI as an auxiliary cruiser sinking countless Allied ships without any loss of life. After exhausting her supplies, the ship headed to the nearest neutral port to refuel with coal and supplies. After landing in Newport News, VA, the United States interned the ship for their upcoming war effort.
On the April 11, 1915 the crew laid anchor off the coast of Newport News where American authorities boarded the ship and claimed it for the US, renaming it the USS Von Steuben.
USS Von Steuben
One of the ways the Allied Forces won WWII was the success of the troop transport ships successfully carrying allied forces between theaters. The Von Steuben carried thousands of soldiers safely throughout the war.
The ship was painted in a dazzle pattern in order to help protect the ships from submarine attack by confusing the periscope sight rather than recognizing a ship silhouette.
Life after WWI
Continuing as a troop transport the Von Steuben, the ship was eventually scrapped in 1923 without much fanfare.