‘North-German Lloyd’ (NDL) was founded in Bremen in 1857 and contributed enormously to the development of the region. Having operated a steady transatlantic service for decades, it was NDL that Kaiser Wilhelm II approached to challenge the British naval power at the turn of the 19th century. From that challenge was born Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, the first liner to boast four funnels. This truly ushered in a new era of transatlantic service and Cunard, White Star Line and the rest were at a disadvantage thanks to NDL’s daring. Having survived the First World War, NDL would launch yet more elegant ships; Europa (1928) and Bremen (1929) were cutting-edge at the time of their debut. The line suffered heavily during the Second World War but was again able to re-build, offering passenger services well into the 1960s. Eventually the Company merged with long-time rival HAPAG and shifted focus entirely to cargo-carrying.
The last of the ‘Four Flyers’ and the final German ship to carry four funnels, Kronprinzessin Cecilie had a relatively brief career as a transatlantic liner before world events were to outrun her. Captured by the forces of the United States, Cecilie was re-named ‘USS Mount Vernon’ and put to work as a troop transport before being indefinitely mothballed.