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German North Sea Coast and Islands
Hamburg-Amerikanischen Packetfahrt (HAPAG)

Founded in May 1847, this Hamburg based company was to become one of the largest operators of ocean liners, especially famous in the heyday of German shipping up until the First World War and are recognised as offering the first dedicated cruises under the visionary management of Albert Ballin. After the decline of ocean passenger shipping, the company became a major cargo transporting conglomerate. In the passenger shipping field, the company, now known as HAPAG-Lloyd, operate a large number of cruise liners worldwide as well as river cruisers in Europe.
The company decided to enter the Helgoland business in 1866 when an almost new paddle steamer became available for sale in Scotland. A second vessel was bought in 1870 and a third in 1872, with the second purchase being relegated to estuarine service. 

In 1875, HAPAG absorbed the failing transatlantic Adler-Linie   (and disposed of the paddle steamer Hoboken  to the GSN in London)
In 1904, HAPAG absorbed Ballin's Company (later the Nordsee-Linie).

Paddle Steamers
Cuxhaven (1866-1884) 
Helgoland (1870-1912)  Renamed Blankenese in 1872
Helgoland (1872-1875 and sold in 1879)
Willkommen (1899-1924)

Cobra (1904-1919 and 1920-1921)
Prinzessin Heinrich

Above : Willkommen - the last paddle steamer in service on the Helgoland route for HAPAG


Launched on August 17th 1864 by Caird & Co at Greenock, Scotland
Dimensions : 67.6 m x 6.8 m
402 Gross Registered Tons

Built as Herald for blockade running for the Confederate States in the American Civil War but not delivered
Sold to local interests in Glasgow and renamed Hattie

Sold to HAPAG in 1866 to injaugurate their Helgoland service and renamed  Cuxhaven
Sold in 1884 to the Cuxhaven-Unterelbesche-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (Cuxhaven-Lower Elbe Railway Co)
Sold in 1890 to the Ballin steamship company of Hamburg, but operated on the Baltic Sea out of Stettin
Stranded and sank off the north German coast on July 24th 1891 with the loss of three lives

Helgoland (later Blankensee)

Built in 1866 by Aitken & Mansel at Glasgow, Scotland
Length : 69.92 m (231.2 ft)
398 GRT

Built as Albert Victor for service on the River Thames by the London & Margate Saloon Steam Packet Co
Purchased by HAPAG in 1869 and renamed Helgoland.
Renamed Blankenese in 1872 as the vessel was used on Elbe estuary services
Scrapped in France in 1912

Helgoland (ex - Ixion, ex - Svea)

Built in 1858 by Motala Mekaniska Verkstad, Motala, Sweden
Dimensions : 68.6 m x 8.4 m
618 Gross Registered Tons

Built for operation in Sweden as  Svea
Sold for use out of London, England in 1860 and renamed  Ixion
Purchased by HAPAG in August 1872, being placed on the Hamburg-Helgoland route and taking the name of the Helgoland of 1866.
She was laid up in 1875
Sold in May 1879 to Schweffel & Howaldt, shipowners at Kiel
Heavily rebuilt in 1884 (gaining a second funnel and a new GRT of 729)
Sold in 1886 for use at Trieste as Cattaro
From 1897 was in operation at Naples, Italy
Scrapped in 1913


Launched in April 1895 by J Scott & Co at Kinghorn, Fife
Engines : Compound Diagonal
31 x 60 in x 60 in 
Dimensions : 67.2 x 7.9 metres
654 Gross Registered Tons

Ordered by the Plymouth Belle Steamship Co for cruising out of Plymouth, South Devon, England as Plymouth Belle
Spent her first season on long cruises to the Channel Isles and Isles of Scilly with little financial success.
On charter to Mr R Collard, sailing from the Sussex piers on England's South Coast
Purchased by the Hamburg-Amerika line (HAPAG) of Germany in October 1899.
Renamed Willkommen and put on the Hamburg to Helgoland route.
Ferried tourists to the North Sea island beach resorts for HAPAG until 1924
From October 13th 1924 she sailed for the Hamburg-Stade-Altlander linie on the lower River Elbe as Cuxhaven
Latterly owned by the Hafen-Dampfschiffahrsts-AG (HADAG), she was withdrawn in 1929 and scrapped

Former Ballin / Nordsee Linie vessels


Above : Cobra was to be seen on numerous post cards of Nice, France, where she spent several off-seasons

Launched on March 2nd 1889 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering at Glasgow, Scotland
Dimensions: 80.7 m x 10.1 m :  847 GRT
Engine : Compound diagonal 50 and 92 in x 66 in

Ordered by the well-known Burns Line of Glasgow which dominated the Glasgow to Northern Ireland trade
Not taken into the Burns fleet she was briefly owned by North Wales interests and named  St Tudno
Sold almost immediately during 1890 to the Ballin company at Hamburg and named Cobra
From 1897 her owners traded as Nordsee-Linie before being taken over by HAPAG in 1905
Served her summers on the Hamburg to Helgoland and Sylt service
In the winter of 1902-1903 she sailed under charter out of Genoa, Italy
Also spent winters at Nice, France
Reboilered and refurbished in 1919 but passed to French owners as war reparations
HAPAG repurchased the vessel in 1920 but her time was short, being sold in December 1921 to breakers.

Prinzessin Heinrich

Launched on April 11th 1896 by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg
Engines : Triple Expansion
Dimensions: 76.3 x 8.3 m
919 Gross Registered Tons

Built for Ballin's Steamship Company of Hamburg which in the next year became the Nordsee-Linie GmbH
Chartered to HAPAG in 1904 for whom she spent winter months on the French & Italian Riviera
HAPAG took over the Nordsee-Linie in 1905
Laid up and used as a hospital ship at Hamburg during World War I
Reactivated for a short period in 1919
and in 1920 was moved to East Prussia to sail for Seedienst Ostpreussen
Sold for scrapping in 1923

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German North Sea Coast and Islands : Hamburg operators