SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie

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Kronprinzessin Cecilie at Bar Harbor, Maine with black funnel tops
Kronprinzessin Cecilie at Bar Harbor, Maine with black funnel tops at the start of World War I, in an effort to disguise the ship as the Olympic.
Career (Germany)
Name: SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie
Namesake: Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the Crown Princess of Prussia
Owner: North German Lloyd
Port of registry: Bremen
Route: Bremen – New York
Builder: AG Vulcan
Stettin, Germany
Launched: 1 December 1906
Maiden voyage: 14 July 1907, Bremen – New York
Fate: Interned, 1914; Seized by U.S., 1917
Career (United States) 100x35px
Name: USS Mount Vernon
Namesake: Mount Vernon, home of George Washington
Acquired: 3 February 1917
Commissioned: 28 July 1917
Decommissioned: 29 September 1919
Fate: Scrapped 1940
General characteristics
Type: ocean liner
Tonnage: 19,400 GT (gross tonnage)
Length: 208.89 m (685 ft 4 in) LBP
Beam: 22.00 m (72 ft 2 in)
Draft: 31 ft 1 in (9.47 m)
Propulsion: four quadruple-expansion steam engines
four screw propellors
Speed: 23–24 knots (43–44 km/h)

Passengers (as built):

  • 617 first class
  • 326 second class
  • 798 third class
Complement: 1,030 (as USS Mount Vernon)
Crew: 602–686 (as Kronprinzessin Cecilie)
Armament: 4 × 5-inch (130 mm) guns
2 × 1-pounder guns
2 × machine guns
Notes: four steamship funnels, three masts

SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie was an ocean liner built in Germany in 1906 for North German Lloyd. She was engaged in transatlantic service between her homeport of Bremen and New York until the outbreak of World War I. At sea after departing New York, she turned around and put into Bar Harbor, Maine on August 4, 1914, where she later was interned by the neutral United States. After that country entered the war in April 1917, the ship was seized and turned over to the United States Navy, and renamed USS Mount Vernon (ID-4508). While serving as a troop transport, Mount Vernon was torpedoed in September 1918. Though damaged, she was able to make port for repairs and returned to service. In 1919, after the end of the war, she was laid up until 1940 when she was scrapped at Baltimore.


Kronprinzessin Cecilie, built at Stettin, Germany, in 1906 by AG Vulcan Stettin, was the last of a set four liners built for North German Lloyd, and the last German liner to carry four smokestacks. The liner was 19,400 GT (gross tonnage) and was 208.89 metres (685 ft 4 in) long by 22.00 metres (72 ft 2 in) abeam. She had four reciprocating, quadruple-expansion steam engines the powered four screw propellers. The Kronprinzessin sailed at a comfortable 23 knots (43 km/h).

The liner operated on North German Lloyd's Bremen – New York route, with occasional calls at other ports, including Boston, and New Orleans. While steaming toward Germany from America carrying some $10,000,000 in gold and $3,400,000 in silver, she received word of the outbreak of war, headed back to the United States to avoid capture by the British Navy, and was interned at Bar Harbor, Maine. While at sea, her captain had ordered her funnels repainted as a form of disguise, so as to resemble the Olympic.

Commandeered by the United States 3 February 1917, the ship was transferred from the United States Shipping Board (USSB) to the U.S. Navy when America entered the war. She was renamed USS Mount Vernon, after George Washington's Virginia home. She was fitted out at Boston to carry troops and war materiel to Europe, and commissioned on 28 July 1917.

File:USS Mount Vernon ID-4508.jpg
USS Mount Vernon ID-4508 at Boston, Massachusetts in February 7, 1919.
File:USAT Mount Vernon.jpg
USAT Mount Vernon at Mare Island Naval Shipyard California in September, 1920.

Mount Vernon departed New York for Brest on 31 October 1917 for her first U.S. Navy crossing, and during the war made nine successful voyages carrying American troops to fight in Europe. However, early on the morning of 5 September 1918, as the transport steamed homeward in convoy some 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the French coast, her No. 1 gun crew spotted a periscope some 500 yards (460 m) off her starboard bow. Mount Vernon immediately fired one round at German U-boat U‑82. The U‑boat simultaneously submerged, but managed to launch a torpedo at the transport. Mount Vernon's officer of the deck promptly ordered right full rudder, but the ship could not turn in time to avoid the missile, which struck her amidships, knocking out half of her boilers, flooding the midsection, killing 36 sailors, and wounding 13. Mount Vernon's guns kept firing ahead of the U‑boat’s wake and her crew launched a pattern of depth charges. Damage control teams worked to save the ship, and their efforts paid off when the transport was able to return to Brest under her own power. Repaired temporarily at Brest, she proceeded to Boston for complete repairs.

Mount Vernon rejoined the Cruiser and Transport Service in February 1919 and sailed on George Washington’s birthday for France to begin returning veterans to the United States. Some of her notable passengers during her naval service were: Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations; General Tasker H. Bliss, Chief of Staff of the United States Army; Col. Edward M. House, Special Adviser to President Wilson; and Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War.

Following the war, the Mount Vernon was laid up in the James River Reserve Fleet, before being scrapped in Baltimore, Maryland in 1940.


External links

de:Kronprinzessin Cecilie (Schiff) fr:SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie