Captain Hans Ruser of the Hamburg-America Line
Captains of the Hamburg America Line
(A series of biographical sketches and photographs, one appearing on this page every month, giving the characteristics and interesting events in the careers of the commanders of the various ships of the Hamburg-American
CAPTAIN HANS RUSER of the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria
To voluntarily leave the convenience, the comfort and the luxury of the modern transatlantic liner, and to navigate into port a leaking and disabled sailing vessel, abandoned by her captain and crew, is a task that stands almost unique in the annals of ships and tales of the sea.
This, however, is precisely what Captain Ruser did—now in command of the magnificent Hamburg America Line steamship Kaiserin Auguste Victoria—when he was second officer of the Fürst Bismarck, in 1894.
In May of that year the Fürst Bismarck. Captain Albers, eastbound. collided with the French barkeutine Louise. A thick fog and a rough sea prevailed at the time. The Louise was considerably damaged. Her jib boom was carried away, her bow scams were opened, and her rudder was disabled.
he crew of the barkeutine immediately manned the pumps, but the water gained so rapidly that they become panic-stricken; and, when a boat from the Fürst Bismarck came along-side, offering assistance, they deserted their vessel by jumping into the steamer's boat.
Second Officer Ruser made a hasty survey of the barkentine. and gave his opinion that she was still navigable. The French officers and sailors, however, decided to abandon their ship, and were taken aboard the liner.
Ruser then asked and received permission to sail the barkeutine to port, and took with him to assist in navigating her eight men from the steamer's crew in place of the thirteen sailors originally on board.
Making temporary repairs, and rigging a jury rudder, he started for port, but after a few days realized that the store of provision and fresh water was running very short and would not last long.
He kept the barkeutine in the regular steamer track, however, and, just as the provisions were nearly exhausted, the Fürst Bismarck, this time outward bound, again appeared on the horizon.
Ruser and his volunteer crew were plentifully supplied with provisions and water from their own steamer, and proceeded on their voyage to an English port, which they reached nineteen days after boarding the French vessel.
For this notable performance Captain Ruser received the highest praise and commendation for bravery and skilled seamanship.
Captain Ruser was born in 1862 on the Island of Fehmarn, in the Baltic Sea, and his first sea voyage was made when he was fourteen years of age. He served his apprenticeship aboard deep-sea merchant sailing ships, and also in the German Navy.
He received his master's papers in 1886, and thereupon entered the steamship service. He entered the employ of the Hamburg America Line in 1890 as fourth officer, and gradually advanced until he was made captain in 1900.
On his first voyage as captain of the steamship Teutonia, he picked up the shipwrecked German bark Weser. whose crew were entirely disabled by scurvy, and towed the vessel under great difficulties into the harbor of Fayal in the Azores.
In 1900 obtained leave of absence for four years to take part in the South Pole Expedition as commander of the steamer UUSS. Since his return from that expedition he has commanded in turn the following Hamburg America Line steamships: Prinzessin Victoria Luise. Moltke, Blucher and Kaiserin Auguste Victoria.
Captain Ruser has received various decorations, among them being the Order of the Red Eagle. Fourth Class, which was bestowed in recognition of his efforts in the South Pole Expedition.
He is also the possessor of the Turkish Medjidji Order, as well as the Grand Prize Diploma and Bronze Medal from the St. Louis Exposition, and a Diploma for Oceanography presented by the Colonial Exhibition in Marseilles.
Source: Captains of the Hamburg America Line: Captain Hans Ruser of the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, Hamburg-American Gazette, Volume XVI, No. 6, March 1909, Page 8.