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SS Vaterland: the Largest Vessel in the World (1914)

For the Present This New Hamburg America Liner is the Largest Vessel in the World

The steamship Vaterland of the Hamburg America Line, which arrived in New York May 21, is the largest steamer in the world. While closely resembling her famous sister ship the Imperator in construction and equipment the Vaterland is of greater dimensions and presents many original features.

The Vaterland measures 950 ft. in length, 100 ft. in beam and has a tonnage of 58.000. In her trial trip the Vaterland developed a speed of 26.3 knots per hour.

Construction commenced in September 1911 on the Vaterland at the yards of Blohm & Voss of Hamburg, and launched on 3 April 1913. Prince Rupprccht of Batavia christened the ship Vaterland before a notable gathering.

The Vaterland is built of the best Siemens Martin steel and conforms in every detail of her construction and equipment to the latest rulings of the German, English and American laws governing ship building. She is constructed with a double bottom and a double skin extending well above the water-line.

Entrance to Grand Salon, SS Vaterland (1914)

Entrance to Grand Salon, SS Vaterland (1914)

Steel bulkheads, both longitudinal and transverse, of exceptional strength, divide her hull. The hull contains five steel decks, which with four superimposed, gives her nine decks above the water line. The Vaterland is equipped with Frahm anti-rolling tanks, which with her natural stability render her one of the steadiest boats afloat.

The unusual position of the funnels of the Vaterland made it possible for an entirely new arrangement of the public cabins. The funnels pass through the decks at a point near the side instead of through the center of the ship. Ry removing this obstruction it has been possible to have one great cabin open directly into another, thus giving the ship a remarkable effect of artistic spaciousness.

This vista extends from the Ritz Carlton restaurant through the winter or palm garden and the grand hallways to the main lounge or ballroom. The grand staircase, which is one of the most attractive features of the Vaterland, extends through six decks.

The several staircases are supplemented by three passenger elevators in the first, and one in the second cabin, running through six decks.

A crew of 1,234 men operates the Vaterland. A commodore, four captains and seven officers command her. There is a chief engineer, three first engineers and thirty-five assistants and electricians. The boilers are operated by 12 chief firemen, 15 oilers, 187 stokers and 189 trimmers, The Vaterland has eight kitchens which are presided over by three chefs, fifty-two cooks, five pastry bakers, 36 waiters and 350 stewards.

Dining Room of the Vaterland

Dining Room of the Vaterland

The crew also includes three physicians and three physician assistants, one female nurse, three telegraphers and three telephone operators, one stenographer and typewriter, a master of the bath, a bookseller, cabinetmaker, masseurs and a gardener. The Vaterland has a social director as on the Imperator.

The Vaterland is illuminated by about 15,000 electric lights. In no other ship probably is electricity so generally employed. Both passenger and freight elevators, the hoists, derricks, operating machinery, and kitchens, are all operated electrically.

The cabins and staterooms of the first cabin are heated by electricity. An abundance of fresh air is forced to every part of the ship by electric ventilating system. The Vaterland carries no ventilating funnels, common to most ships, thus economizing valuable deck space.

A complete system of telephones, call bells and electric indicating devices assures perfect service in every cabin and stateroom of the Vaterland. At every bell call for instance, a tiny white or red light gleams in the corridor and is not extinguished until the serving steward or stewardess presses the discontinuing button at the door of the cabin from which the call has come.

Grand Salon of the Vaterland

Grand Salon of the Vaterland

The supply of linen, to mention a single detail of the supply service comprises of 160,000 pieces representing a weight of 85,000 lbs. On a single trip, the laundry list contains 10.000 pillowcases, 5,000 bed sheets, as many counterpanes, 30.000 towels and 45,000 napkins.

The Vaterland carries only a few more passengers than ships of half her size. Her public cabins are the largest ever constructed. The main lounge of the Vaterland, the largest and most sumptuous of these cabins, is provided with a concert stage and a dancing door. The smoking room, located forward, directly beneath the bridge, is open on three sides thus affording an uninterrupted view of the sea and assuring perfect light and ventilation.

The main dining room seats upwards of 800 guests. The Ritz Carlton restaurant of the Vaterland is oval in form exactly reproducing the restaurant under the same management in New York. A special feature has been made of the palm garden, which is decorated with a wealth of tropical foliage. The ladies’ writing rooms, library and lounges are especially large and attractive.

A new attraction is lent to ocean travel by the luxurious baths, enjoyed in such variety on the Vaterland, which rival those of a great spa or bathing resort. The sumptuous Roman bath, which has proven so popular on the Imperator, has its counterpart on the Vaterland. The pool of the bath measures 20 x 40 feet and has a depth of 10 feet. The bath is carried out with massive columns, Pompeiian frescoes, and is furnished with marble benches.

The water is constantly renewed, and special provision has been made to keep the water of a uniform temperature. Grouped about the pool are a variety of therapeutic baths. In this group will be found the ship's barbershop, manicurists, Masseurs, hairdressers, etc.

Four great screws driven by turbine engines propel the S. S. Vaterland. Each of these propellers measures 19 ft. 7 in. in diameter and weighs 15 tons. When going at full speed the propellers make more than 150 revolutions per minute. The engine plant driving these propellers consists of four main turbines hitched in series.

The Hamburg America Line Ocean Liner SS Vaterland (1914)

The Hamburg America Line Ocean Liner SS Vaterland (1914)

For driving the great steamer astern, two special high-pressure and two low-pressure turbines are provided. All the turbine engines may be used singly. The Vaterland has four firing rooms, with 46 water-tube boilers. As a special precautionary measure the forward engine room is divided into three water-tight compartments, and the aft room into two compartments.

Every conceivable precaution has been taken in the construction and equipment of the Vaterland to assure safety. She carries submarine sounding signals and electrically driven lead heavers. A searchlight of great candlepower is placed high on the tore mast. Loud speaking telephones keep all parts of the ship in instant communication with the bridge.

The Vaterland carries life belts for every passenger and member of the crew, with many life buoys and illuminated night buoys. Her lifeboat equipment includes 83 life boats accommodating about 5,300 persons. Two of these are motor boats carrying special wireless apparatus. Welin davits are used to lower them.

The wireless telegraph equipment of the Vaterland is the most powerful ever installed on shipboard. It comprises three separate sending instruments and includes six antennae. The special long distance service equipment will keep the vessel continuously in touch with land throughout the Atlantic crossing.

A second system will operate over 400 miles a day and 1,200 miles at night, while a third emergency outfit, operated by storage batteries is kept in reserve. The wireless station is in charge of three operators, one of whom is constantly on duty.

“Steamship Vaterland,” in The Marine Review, Volume 46, No. 6, Cleveland/New York, June 1914, P. 220-222

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