Count Dohna and His SeaGull ©
Ships - Seeadler
Pass of Balmaha
Pass of Balmaha, built by Robert Duncan Company, Glasgow, Scotland in 1888, was a 1,571-ton steel-hulled sailing bark 245 feet in length. The American ship was owned by the Harby Steamship Company and operated by Harriss, Irby and Vose cotton brokers.
Under Captain John Lenard, she sailed from New York on June 24, 1915 for Archangel, Russia with a crew of 19 and a cargo of Texas grown cotton in bales. On July 23 she was stopped by the British auxiliary cruiser, Victorian off the northwest coast of Scotland and sent to Kirkwall, Scotland with a British prize crew of a lieutenant and four men. The British suspected the cargo was destined for Germany. While sailing to Kirkwall, Pass of Balmaha was captured by the German submarine U-36 and sailed to Cuxhaven, Germany arriving on August 3rd.
She was renamed Walter, equipped with two auxiliary engines, two 105-mm naval cannons, machine guns and a wireless set. On December 21, 1916 she sailed as Seeadler under command of Kapitanleutnant Felix von Luckner to act as a commerce raider. During the next 225 days she captured 15 ships in the Atlantic and Pacific.
Luckner had served as Artillery Officer on SMS SeaGull from June through August 1916.
On August 2, 1917 while anchored at Mopelia Island, French Society Islands, Seeadler washed onto a coral reef and was destroyed. With a crew of five, Luckner set sail in an 32-foot launch for the Fiji Islands. On arrival at Wakaya Island, the six German sailors were captured and interned as prisoners of war.
Back at Mopelia Island, on September 5, 1917, the 58 German crewmen from Seeadler captured the French schooner Lutece when she arrived at the island. Renamed Fortuna, under command of Lieutenant Alfred Kling, she sailed to Easter Island arriving on October 4th. The ship went aground at Hanga Roa two days later and could not be sailed further. On February 13, 1918 the crew sailed to Talcahuano, Chile arriving March 4, aboard the Chilean schooner Falcon. Here they were housed on the German merchant ship Memphis anchored in the harbor. The Chilean Government interned the crew under the rules of international law intended to prevent belligerents, after having sought refuge in a neutral country, from again taking part in the war. On August 9, 1919 they were released from internment.
Easter Island is a Chilean possession. Chile was neutral during the war.
Meanwhile on Mopelia Island the captain of the schooner R. C. Slade, Hador Smith, set sail in a small lifeboat on September 19, 1917. With a crew of three, he sailed 980 nautical miles to Pago-Pago, American Samoa, arriving on September 29. A French relief ship, Tiare Taporo, reached Mopelia on October 6 and carried the 41 marooned sailors to Papeete, Tahiti, arriving on October 10.
Late in the war the owners of Pass of Balmaha, Harriss, Irby and Vose, investigated if the ship could be recovered. It was determined to be impractical to refloat the ship and so the wreck was not disturbed.
The wreck of Seeadler at Molpelia Island has been explored by scuba divers.
List of 16 ships, totaling 30,129 tons, captured by the crew of Seeadler from December 21, 1916 to September 5, 1917. All vessels are British steamships unless otherwise noted.
Gladis Royle, 3,268 tons, captured and sunk January 9, 1917.
Lundy Island, 3,095 tons, captured and sunk on January 10, 1917.
Charles Gounod, 2,199 tons, French barque captured and sunk on January 21, 1917.
Perce, 364 tons, schooner captured and sunk on January 24, 1917.
Antonin, 3,071 tons, French barque captured and sunk on February 3, 1917.
Buenos Ayres, 1,811 tons, Italian sailing vessel captured and sunk on February 9, 1917.
Pinmore, 2,431 tons, schooner captured and sunk on February 19, 1917.
British Yeoman, 1,953 tons, sailing bark captured and sunk on February 26, 1917.
La Rochefoucauld, 2,200 tons, French barque captured and sunk on February 27, 1917.
Dupleix, 2,206 tons, French barque captured and sunk on March 5, 1917.
Horngarth, 3,609 tons, captured and sunk on March 11, 1917.
Cambronne, 1,863 tons, French barque captured and released March 21, arrived at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 30, 1917.
A. B. Johnson, 529 tons, United States schooner captured on June 14, and sunk the next day.
R. C. Slade, 673 tons, United States schooner captured and sunk on June 18, 1917.
Manila, 731 tons, United States schooner captured and sunk on July 8, 1917.
Lutece, 126 tons, French schooner captured on September 5, 1917 after Seeadler was wrecked. Sailed to Easter Island as Fortuna arrived October 4.
Following World War I, the Torpedo Boat Seeadler was built for the Germany Navy. She was launched July 15, 1926 and Christened by the wife of Alfred Kling, second in command of the WWI raider.
On April 13, 1942, the Torpedo Boat Seeadler and the auxiliary cruiser Stier were torpedoed and sunk in the English Channel off the coast of Northern France, with the loss of 85 souls.
Timandra, Sister Ship to Pass of Balmaha.
RELATED WEB SITES:
Ellis Island Captain Lennard is listed on his return to the USA. Requires free registration.
Luckner Society A fan site, quite good.
THE GERMAN SUBMARINE WAR 1914-1918, by R. H. Gibson and Maurice Prendergast.
KRIEGSFAHRTEN DEUTSCHER HANDELSSCHIFFE, by Carl Herbert.
COUNT VON LUCKNER, by Edwin P. Hoyt Jr.
SEETEUFEL ABENTEUER AUS MEINEN LEBEN, by Felix Count von Luckner.
Felix Luckner served on Seeadler.
NUESTRAS AVENTURAS A BORDO DEL CRUCERO AUXILIAR ALEMAN, by Alfred Klng.
Alfred Klng served on Seeadler.
THE CRUISE OF THE SEA EAGLE, by Blaine Lee Pardoe, most excellent.
GERMAN AUXILIARY CRUISERS OF WORLD WAR I, by George Ransome.
GRAF LUCKNER'S SEEADLER, by Hans D. Schenk.
AUF KAPERKURS, by Walter von Schoen.
DIE DEUTSCHEN KRIEGSSCHIFFE, Hans Otto Steinmetz.
Last Revision: March 4, 2007.
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