“Explosive Torpedoes Found under the interned German ships Prinz Eitel Friedrich and Kronprinz Wilhelm after they were seized by the United States in April 1917. These devices, shown here disassembled with components labeled, were placed by the ships’ German crewmembers in anticipation of the seizure, in hopes of disabling the ships and thus rendering them useless to the U.S. ”
A 16,000-ton passenger liner turned German auxiliary cruiser (Hilfskreuzer) with the help of 14 small deck guns, SMS Prinz Eitel Friedrich had claimed 11 Allied ships over the winter of 1914-15 before she escaped destruction at the hands of the Warship Wednesday alumni, Royal Canadian Naval Service’s HMCS Niobe, by presenting herself to the captain of the port at Hampton Roads. She was later moved to Philadelphia Naval Yard and interned alongside Kronprinz Wilhelm. She was renamed USS DeKalb (ID-3010) and placed in commission on 12 May 1917 to serve as a troopship to carry Doughboys “over there.” She was later used as the liner Mount Clay, scrapping in 1927.
The 24,000-ton liner/hilfskreuzer SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm had much the same story as Friedrich and renamed USS Von Steuben after her seizure in 1917 in honor of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, of Valley Forge fame. She put into Halifax on the afternoon of 6 December 1917 to respond to the terrific explosion at the port– which also damaged HMCS Niobe, giving her and Friedrich another connection.
Postwar, she continued to sail for the U.S. Shipping Board simply as Von Steuben until 1923.
In a final tie-in between the two German liners and Niobe, the Canadian vessel was scrapped in Philadelphia in 1923.