SS Vaterland / SS Leviathan

Launched in 1913, the SS Vaterland of the Hamburg America Line not only became the largest ship to sail, the Vaterland highlighted luxury of the era. Holland America (HAPAG) sailed the SS Deutschland of the previous decade with varying success against the Four Flyers of NGL. Taking a similar course as White Star, HAPAG commissioned three super liners, ships to be the largest and most grand, in lieu of speed. The SS Vaterland was the second ship of Albert Ballin's trio of luxury liners for HAPAG.

After sailing for a year under the German flag, war broke out and erupted into WWI. The Vaterland was stranded in New York, a neutral port. However, the decision was made to keep the ships in safe harbor until further notice. Upon the United States entry into the war, the US Navy seized the ship and sailed it as a troop ship during the remainder of the war as the USS Leviathan. After the war, the United States lines was awarded the Leviathan as reparations from Germany due to the Treaty of Versailles. The SS Leviathan sailed dry throughout the majority of her career, serving as the flagship of the United States Lines.

SS Vaterland picture at sea

Larger Than The Titanic

The SS Imperator, SS Vaterland, and SS Bismarck were to be the worlds largest and most luxurious passenger liners, the largest ships to ever sail. Larger than the RMS Titanic and Olympic, these three ships were the pride of Germany. 

picture of SS Leviathan into port

SS Vaterland to SS Leviathan in WWI

After only a years time, WWI broke out and ensnared the civilian maritime trade. The seas were a dangerous place. Some ships were able to outrun any enemy threat. Other ships became hospital ships, and others were hunters. As the war continued on, Britain's naval advantage caused the SS Vaterland to stay berthed in Newark, NJ for the majority of the war.

After the United States entered WWI, the US government seized the Vaterland and renamed the ship the Leviathan. Stripped and fitted for naval use, the ship primarily transported troops. The dazzle paint scheme below made the ships harder to see on the horizon from the periscope of a hunting submarine. 

SS Leviathan shortly after WWI
picture of SS Vaterland pulling into port
Journey on to Hollywood

During the service of the USS Leviathan, the ship carried nearly 119,000 soldiers to their destination. On several troop transport missions, Humphrey Bogart was on duty as Chief Quartermaster. Humphrey Bogart was at the helm whenever arriving or departing, in real life.

SS Leviathan of the
United States Lines

After a major overhaul at the end of the War, the SS Leviathan was equipped with new oil fired boilers, newly designed layout, and new plumbing and electrical systems. 

Looked at as the pride of American shipping, the Leviathan sailed through the roaring twenties, without alcohol, due to prohibition regulations. Consequently, the ship was not profitable. As the effects of the stock market crash and great depression rippled throughout the world, the Leviathan was older and expensive, and finally no longer subsidized. After sitting for several years, the ship was sent to Scotland for breaking.

picture of SS Leviathan during WWI painted in camoflauge
 

SS Vaterland / SS Leviathan Ship Facts

Tonnage:
54282
Length:
900'
Beam:
100' - 4"
Draft:
37' - 9"
Number of Decks:
12
Cruising Speed:
26 Knots (30 mph or 48.2 km/hr)
Max Speed:
26 Knots (30 mph or 48.2 km/hr)
Line:
Shipyard:
Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, Germany
Port of Registry:
New York
Maiden Voyage:
May 14, 1914
Years in Service:
1914-1933
Current Status:
Scrapped in Rosyth in 1938
RMS Queen Mary Elevaton Drawing

© 2019 by Great Ocean Liners