She was built as a four-masted schooner in 1913 by the Danish shipyard Frederikshavns Værft og Flydedok (Frederikshavner Werft und Schwimmdock) under her original name Morten Jensen and initially sailed as a freighter for F. L. Knakkegaard in Nykøbing. In 1916 she was sold to Norway and renamed Tyholm.
Later that year, while carrying mine timber to England, she was captured by a German Kaiserliche Marine submarine and sold to private German owners. Following several intermediate phases under various names (Aldebaran, Niobe, and Schwalbe), including one as a charter ship for a film company, she was purchased in 1922 by the German navy which selected her name Niobe, after the mythological daughter of Tantalus, and converted her into a three-mast barque to train future officers and non-commissioned officers. The previous training vessels, Grossherzog Friedrich August and Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, had been seized by the Allies as war reparations.
The ship had a steel hull and displaced 675 tons. After her conversion into a training ship she measured 57.8 m in overall length, 46 m without the bowsprit, and 9.15 m in width. The height of the main mast was 34.8 m, and she carried 15 sails with about 960 m² of total sail area. She had an auxiliary diesel engine with 240 hp. Her crew comprised 35 plus 65-80 cadets.
In a sudden squall on 26 July 1932, the ship capsized near the German island of Fehmarn in the Baltic Sea (Pos.: 54° 35,7´ N; 11° 11,2’ O) and sank within minutes as due to the hot weather, all hatches and portholes were open. 40 of her crew were rescued by the cargo ship Theresia L M Russ, but 69 died. The ship was raised on 21 August 1932, towed to Kiel and inspected while the bodies were buried. On 18 September 1933 the wreck was ceremonially sunk by a torpedo boat, attended by much of the then-small German navy.
At Gammendorfer Strand on Fehmarn island, within view of the site of the sinking, the Niobe-Denkmal monument was erected.
- Gerhard Koop: Die deutschen Segelschulschiffe, Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 1998
- Fritz Otto Busch: Niobe. Ein deutsches Schicksal, Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1932
- Walter Bölk und Erich Landschof: Schiffe in Not. Strandungen und Seeunfälle um Fehmarn 1857-1987, Verlag Heinrich Möller Söhne, Rendsburg 1988 ISBN 3-87550-090-3