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Captain Schülke of the Hamburg American Line

Captain Schülke of the Hamburg-Amerika Linie

Captain Schülke of the SS Cincinnati. GGA Image ID # 1297858edf


A series of biographical sketches and photographs, one appearing on this page every month, giving the characteristics and interesting events in the careers of the commanders of the various ships of the Hamburg America Line.

Captain Schülke OF S. S. CINCINNATI

It is difficult to discover distinguishing characteristics among the various captains of the Hamburg America Line, or to find something new to say in these columns regarding them. That they are all men of strong individuality everyone who has met them or traveled upon the ships which they command will instantly admit, but their antecedents, their training, their experiences even, have been those of their employment rather than their personality.

It takes years of education, both ashore and afloat, much experience in navigation of all sorts and many cruises, and above all a steady determination to advance in one's profession, to produce a Hamburg-American captain. That an officer has attained such a position is prima-facie evidence that he is fully qualified and his career therefore is generally a record of continuous service and advancement.

The subject of the present sketch is much in the public eye at present because of the recent completion, under his command, of the - remarkable Oriental cruise of the S. S. Cincinnati, one of the longest and most successful vacation cruises ever undertaken.

Captain Schulke was born on September 16th, 1857, in New Zippnow, in the Province of West Prussia, Germany, and first went to sea when he was fifteen and a half years old. His sea-faring career has since been practically continuous, except for short periods ashore when he was studying for advancement. Until 1876 he sailed on various sailing vessels, in the latter year going to a nautical school at Dantzig.

He passed his first examination in 1877, after which he served in the German Navy. During this part of his career he witnessed the sinking of the man-o'war Grosser Kurfurst in which 27o young sailors lost their lives. The Grosser Kurfurst collided with the man-o'war König Wilhelm and sank in seven minutes.

In 1879 he shipped as quartermaster on a sailing vessel and made a voyage to South America, returning to school in Dantzig in 188!. In 1882 he took the examination for and received his captain's certificates.

As officer he sailed on various Hamburg sailing vessels until 1887, in which year he entered the service of the Hamburg America Line as fourth officer of the S. S. Moravia. He became first officer in 189o. In 1891 he was made first officer of the new flyer Fürst Bismarck, in 1893 first officer of the S. S. Auguste Victoria, and in 1894 first officer of the S. S. Normannia.

He was appointed captain in the fall of 1894. and his first ship was the S. S. Bavaria, plying between Hamburg and the West Indies. While in the West Indies service he commanded various ships until 1899, when he was transferred to the Italian Line between New York and Stettin. From 1903 to 1905 he commanded the freight steamships Brisgavia and Sicilia in the Asiatic service.

During the war between Russia and Japan he was again transferred to the North Atlantic service and commanded the S. S. Silvia and Graf Waldersee. Later he was in command of the Kronprinzessin Cecilie, and took her on a cruise to Iceland and Spitzbergen with the King of Saxony as a passenger.

The King made Captain Schulke a knight of the Albrecht Order. Last year Captain Schulke was appointed to command the new S. S. Cincinnati, which ship has just returned from her first grand tour of the Orient.


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The GG Archives is the work and passion of two people, Paul Gjenvick, a professional archivist, and Evelyne Gjenvick, a curator. Paul earned a Masters of Archival Studies - a terminal degree from Clayton State University in Georgia, where he studied under renowned archivist Richard Pearce-Moses. Our research into the RMS Laconia and SS Bergensfjord, the ships that brought two members of the Gjønvik family from Norway to the United States in the early 20th century, has helped us design our site for other genealogists. The extent of original materials at the GG Archives can be very beneficial when researching your family's migration from Europe.