SS Pennsylvania (1896)

SS Pennsylvania was a cargo liner built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast[1] and launched in 1896 for the German Hamburg America Line for the transatlantic trade, particularly German emigration to the United States. She took refuge in the United States upon the outbreak of the First World War and upon the U.S. joining hostilities was seized and renamed the SS Nansemond. She was briefly commissioned as USS Nansemond in 1919,[2] and used by the U.S. military to transport American troops and supplies to Europe. After the war ended, the SS Nansemond transported over 20,000 troops back across the Atlantic. She was then laid up in the Hudson River before scrapping in 1924.

SS Pennsylvania (1896)
Name: SS Pennsylvania
Owner: Hamburg America Line
Builder: Harland and Wolff
Yard number: 302
Launched: 10 September 1896
Completed: 30 January 1897
Maiden voyage: January 30, 1897 (Belfast to New York)
Fate: Scrapped, 1924
General characteristics
Tonnage: 13,726 GRT
Length: 558.5 ft (170.2 m)
Beam: 62 ft (19 m)
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
  • Passengers:
  • (as built) 162 - 1st Class, 197 - 2nd, 2,382 - 3rd
  • (as modified) 404 - 2nd, 2,200 - 3rd
Crew: 250
Notes: Straight bow, one funnel, four masts, steel construction, twin-screw propulsion

Pennsylvania was the first in a four-ship "P class" built for the Hamburg America Line; the other ships were SS Pretoria, SS Graf Waldersee and SS Patricia.


Rescue and accidentEdit

The Pennsylvania rescued the 13-man crew of the sinking barque Bothnia on September 24, 1902, while on March 8, 1910, near the mouth of the Elbe river, SS Pennsylvania rammed and sank the Hamburg-registered schooner Gertrud, with the loss of five of the schooner's crew of six.[1][3]


U.S. Navy serviceEdit

SS Nansemond was commissioned on January 20, 1919, as USS Nansemond, ID # 1395. She made several voyages to Europe as a cargo carrier and troop transport, returning many servicemen to U.S. soil. The ship was decommissioned on September 16, 1919, and returned to the U.S. Shipping Board.[2]

Laid up and scrappedEdit

Following its service, the SS Nansemond was laid up in the lower Hudson River along with many other vessels of the U.S. Shipping Board; over 250 ships were laid up in Eastern estuary waters. Many of these ships were found to have been extensively vandalized during this period. The vessel was broken up in 1924, having seen no further service.[4]


  1. ^ a b Swiggum, S. "Ship Descriptions: P-Q". The Ships List. Archived from the original on 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  2. ^ a b Department of the Navy - Navy Historical Center. "Nansemond (American Passenger-Cargo Ship). Formerly the German steamship Pennsylvania, 1896". Archived from the original on 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  3. ^ "SS Pennsylvania". RootsWeb. Retrieved 2007-11-06.[dead link]
  4. ^ Putnam, William Lowell (2001). The Kaiser's Merchant Ships in World War I. McFarland & Company.