Gold Ribbon Banner
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Schiller In the period of optimism that followed the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, trade between the new German Empire and America boomed. However, some Hamburg merchants argued that the Hamburg-America line had too few ships to cope with this increasing demand. Fearful that competitors from outside Germany would muscle-in, they resolved to set up another Hamburg-based steamship line.

Two groups sprang up at first. One aimed to set up a new line that would be called the ‘German Atlantic Steamship Company;’ the other was to form the ‘Hamburger-Lloyd Line.’ Prominent among those with an interest in the former group was Rob M Sloman junior, owner of a transatlantic sailing packet line. He had strong reasons to set up in competition with Hamburg-America.

The Sloman line had been founded in Hamburg by William P Sloman, who in 1793 left his native Wales for Germany. When he died in 1800 the line passed to his son, Robert Miles Sloman – or Rob M Sloman, as he preferred to be called. In 1836 three of Sloman’s sailing packets began regular services between Hamburg and New York and by 1846 this fleet had grown to seven.

But the Sloman Line soon gained a formidable local competitor in the Hamburg- Amerikanische Packenfahrt Aktien-Gessellschaft – known from its initials as HAPAG or the Hamburg-America Line – which was formed in May 1847. When their first sailing packet, Deutschland, left Hamburg on her maiden voyage in October 1848, they started a long and fierce rivalry in which the Sloman Line eventually came off worst.

Sloman senior responded in 1850 with a bid to upstage his rivals and change from sail to steam. However, his new, British-built, 800 grt, iron-hulled screw steamship, Helena Sloman, was lost on only her third transatlantic voyage. Another iron screw ship was ordered by Sloman in 1853, but no sooner was this announced in the press than Hamburg- America decided to switch from sail to steam. Sloman immediately offered to run a joint service with his rival’s steamships, but they rejected his proposal.

Hamburg-America’s transatlantic steamship service began on the 1st of June 1856, when the 2,349 grt Borussia set off for New York with sister-ship Hammonia following a month later. They never looked back; and while Sloman gave up on steamships and remained a sailing packet line, Hamburg-America’s steamship venture went from strength to strength – so much so that they had sold off all their sailing packets by 1867. In that same year Rob M Sloman senior died, passing on to his son the sailing packet line and some very bitter feelings towards Hamburg-America.

Four years later, Rob M Sloman junior leapt at the opportunity to set up in opposition to his father’s old rivals. But there was not sufficient trade for the proposed two additional steamship lines. Realising this the two groups met on 16th January 1872 and amalgamated to form the Deutsche Transatlantische Dampfshiffahrts Gessellschaft (German Transatlantic Steamship Company) – thereafter known as the Adler Linie (Eagle Line) from the symbol on its house flag. Appointed as chairman of their Board of Directors was Rob M Sloman junior.

On the 28th March 1872 the Eagle Line directors placed orders for nine new ships with three Clydeside shipbuilders. Three were to be built by Robert Napier & Sons, five by Alexander Stephen & Son and one more by J&G Thomson. Eight of these new vessels were to be iron-hulled screw steamships of over 3,400 grt; 375 feet in length, 40 feet in beam and with a depth of 33 feet from spar deck to keel. Each would carry a crew of 120 and accommodate up to 90 first class, 100 second and 800 steerage passengers – for emigration, as with most German lines, was to be the mainstay of their business. These ships were to be almost identical, except that the Napier-built vessels would have two funnels and the others just one. It was aimed that they would be superior in all respects to the ships of their German competitors on the North Atlantic run. For increased speed they would each have four double-ended scotch boilers and a 550 nhp compound engine delivering an effective 3,000 hp. Their passenger cabins and steerage quarters were to be unmatched for comfort and convenience.

The third Eagle Line ship to come into service was Schiller, 3,421 grt, which like its Napier built sister Goethe sported twin funnels. Her launch at Napier’s yard on the 26th August 1873 took place during a violent thunderstorm. Many who witnessed the event thought the ship was actually struck by lightning as she entered the waters of the Clyde. After this ominous beginning Schiller sailed on her maiden voyage on the 5th February 1874 under the command of Captain George Thomas, who had served eleven years as an officer on P&O ships. His passengers numbered just two in cabin class and 67 in steerage, and the outward passage took fifteen days.

Wrecking of the SchillerSchiller sailed from Hoboken on the afternoon of the 27th, but as the pilot refused to take her over the bar at Sandy Hook because of low water she then lay off Long Island until noon next day. This delay proved fatal. Approaching the Isles of Scilly at 14 knots in thick fog on the night of the 7th May, Schiller’s captain, George Thomas, belatedly had her speed cut to dead slow and her course changed from easterly to southerly in an attempt to position her in mid- Channel. It was too late: after three days of dead-reckoning, where errors were compounded, the ship had over-run her charted position by many miles. Without warning Schiller ran onto the Retarrier Ledges – semi-submerged reefs close by Bishop Rock lighthouse. Her lookouts had neither seen its light nor heard its fog bell. The wreck was horrific and the third worst in casualty terms of any transatlantic steamship at that time. Over 340 people died, including Captain Thomas, while a mere 43 survived. A Board of Trade Inquiry blamed Thomas’s “entire neglect.”

Rob M Sloman’s rivalry with Hamburg-America was resumed in the 1880’s, when he joined forces with his nephew Edward Carr to form the Can-Union Line. But when Carr was bought out by Hamburg-America in 1888 the rivalry ceased and they ran joint services with Sloman’s Union line until his death in 1900. However, during the years 1872-5, when Sloman directed the Eagle Line, it was a rivalry so bitter and intense that pressure to keep to the timetable may have induced their captains to take unnecessary risks. Several contemporary shipping pundits attributed the wreck of the Schiller as more a result of cut-throat competitiveness than bad seamanship or neglect.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - September 2010 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Boudicca

Most Popular

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • RNLI to Cut 135 Jobs +

    RNLI TO CUT 135 JOBS AS GREATER ‘EFFICIENCY NEEDS FEWER PEOPLE’ Read More
  • Twenty Years of Cruise Ships +

    Twenty Years of Cruise Ships ON AUG 30, the Port of Tyne celebrated 20 years of cruise ship travel. Read More
  • Race Through Horrendous Seas to Aid Fishing Vessel +

    Race Through Horrendous Seas to Aid Fishing Vessel ON THE afternoon of Aug 30, a fishing vessel reported to the Coastguard that she had lost power near Peterhead, Read More
  • RAF Chinooks Arrive by Sea From us and Fly to Their Base From Quayside +

    RAF Chinooks Arrive by Sea THE Atlantic Container Line (ACL) won a contract from Boeing Defence UK to transport seven Chinook helicopters across the Atlantic Read More
  • Launch of a Unique Memorial to a Memory +

    Launch of a Unique Memorial to a Memory THE NEW Invergordon Shannon class lifeboat which enters service next spring will feature the names of thousands of people in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Tanker Returns to Shipyard After Hurricane +

    Tanker Returns to Shipyard After Hurricane The Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) officially resumed operations and welcomed back its first commercial vessel following Hurricane Dorian. Read More
  • Boost for Area's Exports and Jobs Forecast +

    Port of Morrow in Oregon THE EXTENSION of the barge service at the port of Morrow, in Oregon, is one of only three projects on Read More
  • USCG Cutter and Two Life Boats Ensure Damaged Vessel Reached Post +

    USCG Life Boat In a four-day operation off the coast of Oregon, three separate vessels of the US Coast Guard towed a 50ft Read More
  • Operation to Salvage Three Tugs +

    Tug Salvage THE US Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the sinking of three vessels in the Illinois River near Hardin, Read More
  • Terminal Being Made 'Big Ship Ready' for 2021 +

    Terminal Being Made Big Ship Ready WORK has started on the expansion of Seattle’s Terminal 5 so it can handle container ships of up to 18,000 Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Next Generation of Bulk Carrier Handed Over +

    Next Generation of Bulk Carrier Handed Over THE JAPANESE shipbuilder Japan Marine United has delivered what it described as “a next-generation energy-saving bulk carrier” to Nissen Kaiun, Read More
  • Coal Carrier to Serve Japanese Power Stations +

    Coal Carrier to Serve Japanese Power Stations THE Japanese shipping line, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), have taken delivery of the coal carrier Corona Citrus, 88,000dwt, built Read More
  • Network Demands Recovery of the Second VDR +

    Stellar Daisy A new search has been demanded to recover the second Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) from the wreck of the South Read More
  • First of Giant New Container Ships is Handed Over +

    MSC Gulsun THE SWISS-based Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) has taken delivery of one of the world’s largest container ships, the MSC Gulsun, Read More
  • The Last New Magnolia Ship in Series +

    The Last New Magnolia Ship THE Singapore-based container shipping company Ocean Network Express (ONE) has taken delivery of the 14,000 teu capacity ONE Cygnus, 138,611dwt, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • US Navy Orders Another Two Expeditionary Sea Base Ships +

    US Navy Orders Another Two Expeditionary Sea Base Ships American News The expansion of the US Navy’s amphibious capability continues with the announcement that General Dynamics NASSCO has received Read More
  • RFA Tideforce is Welcomed into Service +

    RFA Tideforce BRITISH News THE FOURTH and last of the new Tide class tankers, RFA Tideforce, was offi cially accepted into service Read More
  • USS Cincinnati to be Delivered to US Navy +

    USS Cincinnati US News USS CINCINNATI is the latest member of the expanding littoral combat ship fl eet to be delivered to Read More
  • Scorpene Sub Snags +

    INS Khanderi indian News The troubled Scorpene class submarine program hit another snag in June. Read More
  • US Navy’s Frigate Program Passes Significant Hurdle +

    USS Minneapolis-St Paul US News The US Navy has unveiled its plans for the purchase of a new frigate known as FFG(X). Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • DFDS and Moby +

    DFDS and Moby PROPOSED FERRY EXCHANGE ‘AND A TALE OF TWO STEAMERS...’ Read More
  • From Port Glasgow Nationalisation to Philip & Son, Dartmouth +

    Red Eagle So, not many months ago, nationalisation was unfashionable and unlikely ever to return, especially within the EU where that institution’s Read More
  • Alan Sinclair to Nova Star +

    Glen Sannox Those in management positions must dread the retirement of those characters who retire from their life’s work with a wealth Read More
  • Fragile Future for Calmac +

    Isle of Arran TMore and more, I am reading reports that say the media, and the public too, are well aware of the Read More
  • Oscar Goes to Italy +

    Oscar Wilde Irish Continental Group has entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of its 1987-built Oscar Wilde to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Visits to Brixham and the Pin Mill Race +

    Visits to Brixham and the Pin Mill Race In July, the brigantine Tres Hombres called at Brixham on passage from the Caribbean to Amsterdam with 35 tonnes of Read More
  • From Gloucester Tall Ships to Kenyan Sailing Dhows +

    Royalist Gloucester Dock is linked to the River Severn at Sharpness by a 16 mile canal. Read More
  • The Zea Servant +

    Zea Servant The Hong Kong registered Zea Servant arrived late June from Hull. She was in Campbeltown to load wind turbines for Read More
  • The Green Band of Marstal +

    Bessie Ellen The Danish Maritime Museum had the schooner Bonavista built on the island of Aero at Marstal and this year they Read More
  • Norweigan National Day +

    Thorodd I was in Montrose on the Norwegian National Day, 17 May, when its independent constitution from Sweden was confirmed in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Flying Focus Calendar 2020 +

    Flying Focus Calendar 2020 FOR MORE THAN 30 years, Flying Focus, based in the Netherlands, has specialised in maritime aerial photography.. Read More
  • Seized Stena Impero Leaves Oran, Owner Confirms +

    Seized Stena Impero Leaves Oran, Owner Confirms It was good news to hear in late September that, according to the ship’s owner, Stena Bulk, the detained tanker Read More
  • Gulf Tensions Result in Cruise Cancellations +

    Oceana IN THE ‘MESSAGE FROM THE BRIDGE’ I referred to the tensions with Iran in the Gulf, following the seizure in Read More
  • Waverley Appeal Reaches Half Million Milestone +

    Waverley Appeal THE WAVERLEY – the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world – had to be withdrawn from service in May this year Read More
  • Welcome to 'Spirit Of Discovery' - Farewell to 'Oriana' +

    Spirit of Discovery WITHIN the last two months the British cruise industry has welcomed the arrival of Saga Cruises, 58,250gt, Spirit of Discovery, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Silversea Cruises has Partnered with French Luxury Glassmaker Lalique +

    Silver Shadow SILVERSEA CRUISES has partnered with French luxury glassmaker Lalique to enhance the dining experience onboard Silver Shadow and Silver Moon. Read More
  • Billionaire Arthur Blank has his own Dreamboat +

    Billionaire Arthur Blank's Dreamboat ARTHUR BLANK helped create the American home improvement store chain, Home Depot, and it seems that now, his new fl Read More
  • Boudicca Pays Tribute to D-Day Veterans +

    Boudicca Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines were proud to have played its part in hosting 250 D-Day veterans. Read More
  • Captain of a Modern Passenger Carrying Sail Ship +

    Sea Cloud 2 If you have ever wondered what qualities a Captain of a cruise vessel might need to have listed on his Read More
  • Every Ash Cloud Has A Silver Lining +

    The ash cloud crisis continues to cause uncertainty as we see sporadic closures of airspace and cancelled flights, and this Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

Cuba

An Unexpected Job in Cuba

In 1948, I joined the MV Yamaska Park as an EDH and, over the first few days aboard, I became Read More
Suez Canal

The Creation of the Suez Canal - Part Two

IAt the end of 1858, the company’s Works Committee convened for the first time. It included an impressive assembly of Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Seventy-Five Years On

Seventy-Five Years On

In 1944, Tom Bradbury was serving as a 22-year-old Royal Navy lieutenant in the DIDO class cruiser HMS Scylla. Having Read More
The Falkland Robinson Crusoe

The Falkland Robinson Crusoe

During the 1982 South Atlantic conflict between Britain and Argentina over control of the archipelago known to the British as Read More
  • 1
  • 2