USS Pocahontas (ID-3044)

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Underway in 1919, while transporting U.S. service personnel home from Europe.
Career (Germany) Imperial Germany Ensign
Name: Prinzessin Irene
Owner: Norddeutscher Lloyd
Route: BremenNew York City
Builder: AG Vulkan, Stettin
Launched: 19 June 1900
Fate: Seized by the United States, 1917
Career (USA) 100x35px
Name: USS Pocahontas
Namesake: Pocahontas
Acquired: Seized, 1917
Commissioned: 25 July 1917
Decommissioned: 7 November 1919
Fate: Returned to owner, 1919
General characteristics
Class and type: Barbarossa-class ocean liner
Displacement: 18,000 long tons (18,289 t)
Length: 564 ft (172 m)
Beam: 62 ft 2 in (18.95 m)
Draft: 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Complement: 610 officers and enlisted
Armament: • 4 × 6 in (150 mm) guns
• 2 × 3 in (76 mm) guns
• 3 × 1-pounder guns
• 1 × machine gun

USS Pocahontas (SP-3044) was a transport ship for the United States Navy during World War I. She was originally the SS Prinzess Irene, a Barbarossa-class ocean liner built in 1899 by AG Vulcan Stettin of Stettin, Germany, for the North German Lloyd line.[1]

At the outset of World War I the ship was interned by the United States and, when that country entered the conflict in 1917, was seized and converted to a troop transport. During the war, she carried 24,573 servicemen to Europe and, following the Armistice in 1918, returned 23,296 servicemen to the United States.

After decommissioning by the U.S. Navy, the ship was turned over to the United States Shipping Board, and sold back to the North German Lloyd line, where she saw mercantile service until broken up in 1932.


SS Prinzess Irene

She was launched as Prinzess Irene on 19 June 1900 by Aktiengesellschaft Vulkan, Stettin, Germany for North German Lloyd Lines.On 9 September 1900 she startet her maiden voyage to New York. On 30 October 1900 she made her first out of seven runs on the German Empire mail run to the Far East up to Yokohama, the route she was built for. On 30 April 1903 she went to the Genoa - Naples - New York run and stayed mainly on this service together with her sistership SS König Albert and sometimes other ships of the Barbarossa class ocean liners until commencing her last voyage to New York on 9 July 1914.

Due to British Royal Navy control of the seas she was caught in New York at the outbreak of World War I and remained there from August 1914, until seized by the United States under authority of the Presidential Proclamation of 6 April 1917.

USS Pocohantas

After refitting and training with the Atlantic Fleet, she commissioned as Princess Irene on 25 July 1917, Commander Junius F. Hellweg in command. She was assigned to the Cruiser-Transport Force under Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves and was renamed Pocahontas (after the Algonquin princess) on 1 September 1917.

Throughout World War I, and for nearly a year after the Armistice, Pocahontas served as a troop transport, completing eighteen round trips to Europe. She carried 24,573 servicemen to Brest and St. Nazaire and returned 23,296 servicemen to the United States.

Although Pocahontas managed to convey all of her passengers safely, she faced numerous dangers. The most serious incident occurred in the forenoon of 2 May 1918 when a German submarine surfaced in her path and straddled her with 5.9 in (150 mm) shells. Captain Edward C. Kalbfus ordered the crew to battle stations and gave the signal to open fire. Unfortunately the submarine was not within range of Pocahontas' guns. Although fragments of enemy shells fell on the ship, she was not directly hit and suffered no casualties. The transport commenced zig-zag courses, and then at full speed drew away from the submarine, probably U–151, twenty minutes after the attack began. Making a record of 16.2 knots, she kept the enemy astern. For saving the ship Captain Kalfbus was awarded the Navy Cross.

Pocahontas decommissioned at Brooklyn, New York on 7 November 1919 and handed over to the United States Shipping Board.

SS Pocohantas

In 1920, the SS Pocahantas was chartered to the United States Mail Steamship Company of New York and began commercial services between the United States and Italy in 1921.[2]

Events of 1921-1922

The Pocahantas was the subject of widespread media coverage between May and July 1921 due to mechanical problems, sabotage and mutiny. The vessel left New York on 23 May 1921 on route to Naples. On 25 May, it was anchored off Nobska Point in Vineyard Sound in need of repair.[3] A gang of boilermakers and mechanics boarded the ship to make repairs on route to Boston.[3] Further repairs were undertaken in the Azores in June.[4] The vessel did not arrive in Naples until 4 July, spending 43 days at sea. It was later reported that the vessel had been subject to sabotage and that some of the crew "began to threaten the commander and to damage the machinery and the electric light apparatus and even sink the steamer"[5] Just before entering Naples, the assistant engineer drowned when he jumped overboard.[6][7] On arrival in Naples, the ship's captain submitted a full report to the American consul, who conducted an investigation.[6] The crew, in turn, filed charges of cruelty against the captain with the Italian authorities.[6] While the crew were returned to the United States,[8][9] the ship was repaired in Naples. A "great deal" of cotton waste was found in the steamer's pumps, but otherwise it suffered only minor damage.[10] Although she was due to sail for New York on 31 July,[10] the ship was ordered to stay in port pending payment of debts incurred in relation to the repair work.[11] The total repair bill amounted to 2,700,000 lire.[12] Despite intervention from the American consul,[13] the ship did not sail until 8 September.[14] Due to frequent bunker fires, however, the ship was considered to be in worse condition "than when it was in drydock".[15] The vessel was again laid up on 22 September, this time in Gibraltar, having suffered further damage to her machinery.[16] Passengers were transferred to other vessels.[16] The ship then remained inactive until it was sold in 1922.[2]

The then future Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, was on board the Pocahontas in May 1921, while emigrating from the United States to Palestine. She writes about the events of the journey in her autobiography, My Life.[17]

Sale to North German Lloyd

In April 1922, the United States Shipping Board received an offer of £17,000 for the purchase of the Pocahontas, which was then laid up in Malta.[18] When the United States Mail Steamship Company went into liquidation in 1922, the ship was sold back to its original owners, North German Lloyd and renamed Bremen.[2]

SS Bremen and SS Karlsruhe

After repair and refit, the SS Bremen made her first voyage from Bremen to New York in April 1923. She continued in service until 1932, being renamed SS Karlsruhe in 1928, before being scrapped in Germany.[19]


  1. Arnold Kludas. Great Passenger Ships of the World Vol 1 1858-1912. Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 18. ISBN 0-85059-174-0. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Online Library of Selected Images: USS Pocahontas (ID # 3044), 1917-1919". Department of the Navy. 28 October 2005. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "To Repair Pocahontas En Route". The New York Times (New York). 26 May 1921. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  4. "Liner Pocahontas Again in Trouble". The New York Times (New York). 19 June 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  5. "Mutiny on board American ship is investigated". Miami Daily Metropolis (Miami, Florida): p. 13. 7 July 1921.,5101047&dq=pocahontas&hl=en. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Accuses Ship Crew of Sabotage at Sea". The New York Times (New York). 10 July 1921. Retrieved 19 Mat 2010. 
  7. "Passengers at Sea 43 Days With Mutinous Crew". The Lewiston Daily Sun (Lewiston, Maine): p. 11. 8 July 2010.,417517&dq=pocahontas&hl=en. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  8. "Pocahontas Crew to Be Sent Back". The New York Times (New York). 11 July 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  9. "Death, Fire, Flood Mark Liner's Trip". The New York Times (New York). 26 December 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Pocahontas is Repaired". The New York Times (New York). 25 July 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  11. "Courts Hold Pocahontas at Naples". The New York Times (New York). 7 August 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  12. "Pocahontas May Sail Next Week". The New York Times (New York). 3 September 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  13. "Pocahontas Sails Tuesday". The New York Times (New York). 20 August 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  14. "Pocahontas Allowed to Leave Naples". The New York Times (New York). 9 September 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  15. "Pocahontas Case Worse". The New York Times (New York). 31 August 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "The Pocahontas Again Laid Up". The New York Times (New York). 23 September 1921. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  17. Meir, Golda (1975). My Life. New York: G.P. Putman's & Sons. pp. 71-72. ISBN 399-11669-9. 
  18. "Gets Bid for Pocahontas". The New York Times (New York). 12 April 1922. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  19. Arnold Kludas. Great Passenger Ships of the World Vol 1 1858-1912. Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 28. ISBN 0-85059-174-0. 
  • Prinzess Irene, on a list of ships of the North German Lloyd Line at

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

External links

  • Photographs of Prinzess Irene/Pocahontas can be seen here [1] and here [2] (under the "Friday May 17, 1918" diary of George A. Morrice of the 107th Regiment.)

de:Prinzess Irene (1900)