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Book Review, NRJ 60.4

November 15, 2015 12:00 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

The Ships of Howaldt and HDM, Volume 1: New and Converted Vessels Built by Kieler Howaldtswerke AG between 1945 and 1967

Hans H. Meyer

Howaldtswerke in Kiel is one of the oldest German shipyards building iron and steel vessels; its first commercial ship was constructed in 1865 although the company had operated from 1838 as a manufacturer of steam engines and boilers. It also has the distinction of having built the first German submarine (Brandtaucher) in 1850, and is still in this business today.

This first volume devoted to Howaldt ships covers the company’s “golden” post-World War II years, when it was among the most productive of German shipbuilding enterprises. Between the end of the war and 1967 (when the company merged with Deutsche Werft AG of Hamburg) the Kiel yard built almost 300 new ships and undertook around 100 more major conversion projects. Meyer’s book details them all.

The first part of the book, which covers the history of the yard during this period, is presented in both German and English. The rest of the book is in German exclusively, but, thanks to extensive use of tabulation (for which there are translations into English of headings and technical terminology), most readers with minimal knowledge of the language should be able to understand much of the information presented.

Meyer presents a potted biography of every ship built or converted during this period—the use of tabular data, in fact, makes these very comprehensive. Most of the biographies also benefit from photographic coverage. These ship descriptions are arranged by date order, but there is a comprehensive index of ship names, which enables one to quickly locate any particular vessel’s biography.

During this period, Howaldtswerke delivered some quite notable vessels. Among the early conversions were several for the whaling industry, both factory ships (from tankers) and catchers (from surplus British corvettes—themselves built to a design derived from a pre-war whale catcher). Possibly the most famous of its conversions was Aristotle Onassis’s yacht Christina, which started life as a Canadian River class frigate. Significant new construction types included a large series of tankers, many for Onassis, and the first new U-boats for the Federal German Navy.

The final section of the book presents a large number of 1:1250 scale side views (all drawn by the author) of many of the yard’s products, both new builds and conversions. These are organized by type, and also are accessible via the index of ship names.

This first volume of The Ships of Howaldt and HDM is an absolute trove of information for researchers and shipping enthusiasts, covering an important period in the history of one of the most significant German shipyards. It is highly recommended.

  •  Bremerhaven: Oceanum Verlag, 2013
  • 8-1/2” x 10-1/2”, hardcover, 446 pages
  • Photographs, diagrams, maps, tables, bibliography, index of ships. €49.90
  • ISBN: 9783869270715

Reviewed by Paul E. Fontenoy, North Carolina Maritime Museum

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