MAXIM GORKIY (ex HAMBURG, HANSEATIC) Retro-Triple Decked! Part One

First Posted on October 30, 2008 when the newly re-formed Orient Lines planned to operate this gorgeous steamship as MARCO POLO II.  With the economic collapse, the plans were shelved and MAXIM GORKIY’s owners opted to sell her for scrap at Alang, India.

Built 1969

24,962 (23,500 as built) gt
642 by 90 feet (195 by 27 meters)
840 passengers (790 maximum as built)
340 crew
20 knots (23 maximum as built)

Fully air conditioned and stabilized

Propulsion Machinery: AEG steam turbines supplied by Foster-Wheeler boilers (23,000 shp), twin screws

Builders: Howaldstwerke Deutsche Werft, Hamburg

Registry: Nassau, Bahamas

 


German Atlantic Lines SS HAMBURG, “The Space Ship”


 

Builder’s plate.
Builder’s plate.
HAMBURG elevation. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG elevation. Peter Knego collection.

In 1969, German Atlantic Lines introduced the HAMBURG, which will wind up an incredible intermediate career next month as the Soviet-owned, German-chartered MAXIM GORKIY. One of the last turbine-powered steamships ever built, the MAXIM GORKIY was readying for her next role as newly-reformed Orient Lines’ MARCO POLO II when the world economic downturn put an end to the company before it even had a chance to start.

 

German Atlantic Lines flag. Peter Knego collection.
German Atlantic Lines flag. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG on the stocks at Deutsche Werft. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG on the stocks at Deutsche Werft. Peter Knego collection.

The German-Atlantic Line was formed in 1958 with the purchase of Canadian Pacific Line’s EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND (1930), which was transformed into the stylish HANSEATIC for service between Hamburg and New York. Demand was such that a second liner was conceived in the early 1960s with funding raised via $25,000 USD shares from the company’s core of wealthy passengers. Some thirty offers from several different yards were considered until a decision was made in late 1966 to go with the Deutsche Werft yard at Hamburg and a near 23,500 gt vessel designed by noted German architect Georg Manner. As a complement to the traditional HANSEATIC (which sadly caught fire in New York on 7 September 1967 and was sold for scrap), the HAMBURG would be a very forward-thinking ship.

HAMBURG early funnel concept: BRASIL/ARGENTINA meets KUNGSHOLM. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG early funnel concept: BRASIL/ARGENTINA meets KUNGSHOLM. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG early funnel concept: ACHILLE LAURO meets MICHELANGELO/RAFFAELLO. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG early funnel concept: ACHILLE LAURO meets MICHELANGELO/RAFFAELLO. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG funnel realized. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG funnel realized. Peter Knego collection.

The HAMBURG was a dual-purpose liner, designed to both cross and cruise, with just three grades of accommodation accessed via wide central passageways in cabins that all featured private facilities (96% with full bath tubs) and closed circuit television; a unique tween-decks construction that allowed extra ceiling height in key public rooms; vast open deck spaces and indoor as well as outdoor swimming pools. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the handsome vessel was her futuristic, saucer-capped hourglass funnel, which, along with a very high passenger space ratio earned her the nickname of “The Space Ship”.

HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.

The HAMBURG was extremely attractive, despite, or, perhaps, enhanced by her unconventional funnel, sporting a long raked, knuckled bow atop a pronounced bulb, angular forward superstructure, well-proportioned radio mast, gradually tiered aft superstructure, and rounded cruiser stern. Aft of her bow, she lacked any notable sheer.

HAMBURG midships pool area. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG midships pool area. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG funnel from midships pool area. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG funnel from midships pool area. Peter Knego collection.

The sheltered midships pool area bore more than just a casual resemblance to that of the 1966-built Swedish American liner KUNGSHOLM, which exists today as the Omani hotel ship VERONICA.

Shuffleboard on board HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.
Shuffleboard on board HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.

For a ship of her size, HAMBURG boasted a generous 9,000-square-feet of open deck space. She had a total of twelve decks, beginning with the Top of the House, descending via Bridge Deck, Sun Deck, Lido Deck, Promenade Deck, Orion Deck, Saturn Deck, Hamburg Deck, Restaurant Deck, Deck 3 and Sauna Deck to Deck 1.

HAMBURG wheelhouse. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG wheelhouse. Peter Knego collection.

In lieu of traditional, free-standing telegraphs, the wheelhouse featured a large console, in sorts an early version of what is found on most of today’s passenger ships.

HAMBURG, Lido Bar. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG, Lido Bar. Peter Knego collection.

The white-tiled Lido Bar was the uppermost public room, situated in a ‘tween deck nook just forward of the sheltered midships pool on Sun Deck. It remained unchanged until early last decade when it was modified to serve as a casual buffet-style dining room.

HAMBURG Atlantik Club. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Atlantik Club. Peter Knego collection.

The 132-seat Atlantik Club was located on forward Lido Deck with expansive views over the bow and to either side via full length windows. It featured a circular brass dance floor.

Tween Deck Bar, SS HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.
Tween Deck Bar, SS HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.

The 182-seat Tween Deck Bar was aft and down a half set of stairs from the Atlantic Club on forward Lido Deck. Quite amazingly, it remained unchanged through the ship’s forty years.

HAMBURG Children’s Playroom.
HAMBURG Children’s Playroom.

A kindergarten/playroom once existed on starboard Lido Deck but has since been allocated to officers’ accommodation. A chapel and sports center rounded out the public spaces on the port side of Lido Deck.

HAMBURG Hanseatic Salon. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Hanseatic Salon. Peter Knego collection.

Promenade Deck began with the 272 seat Hanseatic Salon, the ship’s largest ballroom.

HAMBURG Alster Club. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Alster Club. Peter Knego collection.

The handsome, 112-seat Alster Club followed the Hanseatic Salon on port Promenade Deck.  It’s main focal point were hand-crafted hide panels by artist Kristin Koschade-Hotz.

HAMBURG Galerie, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Galerie, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.

A wide central passageway called the Galerie linked the forward and midships stairtower foyers on Promenade Deck. The inner bulkhead was lined in granite and many of its handsome original furnishings and fixtures survived to the end of the ship’s career.  Note the Aubusson tapestries “Hambourg I” and “Hambourg II” by Louis-Marie Jullien and the Yaacov Agam-style “sun” panel in the backdrop.  These items were later rescued from the shipbreakers by the author.

HAMBURG Club Helgoland, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Club Helgoland, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Club Helgoland, facing forward. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Club Helgoland, facing forward. Peter Knego collection.

On the starboard side, just aft of the Hanseatic Salon, a handsome wood paneled Library/Card Room led to the exquisite Club Helgoland, a room distinguished by its hollowed elliptical wooden wall and circular settee. Aside from some minor fixtures and vivdly-patterned soft fittings, it remained mostly intact. On both sides of the ship, long enclosed promenades originally stretched aft to an open platform at the stern. These promenades were broken up with the insertion of new owner’s suite accommodation in the early 1970s, creating a pair of winter gardens forward and a pair of enclosed game deck spaces aft.

HAMBURG Beauty Salon, facing forward/port. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Beauty Salon, facing forward/port. Peter Knego collection.

The Beauty Salon was located on the port side of the midships Shopping Center.

HAMBURG Hansa Theater, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Hansa Theater, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.

The 290 seat Hansa Theater benefitted from the ship’s ‘tween deck design with extra ceiling height to allow for gradually terraced seating. It remained virtually as-built to the end.

HAMBURG Restaurant Hamburg (with Rolf and Richard). Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Restaurant Hamburg (with Rolf and Richard). Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Restaurant Hamburg. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Restaurant Hamburg. Peter Knego collection.

Located on midships Hamburg Deck, Restaurant Hamburg seated 294 passengers and was the largest of the ship’s three dining rooms. It was also the only one with natural lighting and sea views via portholes on either side.

HAMBURG Grill Restaurant. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Grill Restaurant. Peter Knego collection.

The 128-seat Grill Restaurant was a very chic eatery as built, located on forward Restaurant Deck.

HAMBURG Munich Restaurant. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Munich Restaurant. Peter Knego collection.

The Restaurant Munich seated 192 and was located aft of the galley adjoining the Grill Restaurant on midships Restaurant Deck.

HAMBURG deluxe suite. Peter Knego collection
HAMBURG deluxe suite. Peter Knego collection
Fritz, the butler, in a HAMBURG suite. Peter Knego collection
Fritz, the butler, in a HAMBURG suite. Peter Knego collection

Of the three original accommodation grades on HAMBURG, the deluxe suites with their separate sitting areas, were, of course, at the top. There were twelve on midships Orion Deck.

HAMBURG Cabin type A. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Cabin type A. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Cabin type A. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Cabin type A. Peter Knego collection.

Every cabin featured individual air conditioning controls, two-channel radio, telephone, closed-circuit television and wall-to-wall carpeting and all but 18 cabins were equipped with a full bath. Studio beds and pullman beds converted to full-sized beds at night. Some cabins featured a third, upper berth pullman. Orion Deck category A outsides had twin picture windows while those on Saturn and Hamburg Deck had portholes.

HAMBURG Cabin type B. Peter Knego collection.
HAMBURG Cabin type B. Peter Knego collection.

Category B insides were the least expensive accommodation on the ship, but still relatively spacious at an average of 135 square feet.

Brochure image of HAMBURG in a South Pacific locale. Peter Knego collection.
Brochure image of HAMBURG in a South Pacific locale. Peter Knego collection.

HAMBURG entered service in March of 1969, joining the “new” 1964-built HANSEATIC (ex SHALOM), the replacement for the twin funneled liner that introduced German Atlantic Lines. After two “shakedown” cruises to South America, HAMBURG sailed on her maiden Atlantic crossing from Hamburg to New York on June 19. HAMBURG and HANSEATIC joined an elite group of mid-sized Northern European liner/cruise ships that included Hapag-Lloyd’s BREMEN and EUROPA, Swedish American Lines’ GRIPSHOLM and KUNGSHOLM and Norwegian America Lines’ SAGAFJORD and BERGENSFJORD in the deluxe cruise market, primarily on long, globe-trotting voyages from the U.S. East Coast.


Momentarily HANSEATIC

In 1972, HAMBURG moved to the U.S. West Coast for cruise service from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Unfortunately, German Atlantic Line was unable to make a profit and the situation was compounded by the fuel crisis, which was especially unkind to steamships. In the summer of 1973, HANSEATIC was sold to Home Lines. That September, HAMBURG was renamed HANSEATIC but only operated on one cruise under that name. In December, German Atlantic Lines folded and HANSEATIC was offered for sale. The winning bid came from the Soviets, who renamed the ship MAXIM GORKIY upon taking delivery in January of 2004.


Movie Star

Los Angeles Times advertisement for “Juggernaut”. Peter Knego collection.
Los Angeles Times advertisement for “Juggernaut”. Peter Knego collection.

Before joining the Black Sea Shipping Company’s fleet, the GORKIY was featured in the Sir Lew Grade-produced bomb thriller, “Juggernaut”. In her first dramatic starring role, she plunged about in the North Sea as the fictitious BRITANNIC with Richard Harris and Omar Sharif on board. The film was actually quite good, despite a lukewarm box office reception, and was shown in the ship’s cinema throughout her subsequent career.


MAXIM GORKIY

MAXIM GORKIY in BLASCO "hammer and sickle" livery. Peter Knego collection.
MAXIM GORKIY in BLASCO “hammer and sickle” livery. Peter Knego collection.

MAXIM GORKIY was by far the most deluxe passenger ship in the vast Soviet fleet, eclipsing the sturdy, Vismar-built IVAN FRANKO quintet and even the pleasant little 1973-built ODESSA (ex COPENHAGEN). In November 1975, two bombs were planted below her waterline while she was berthed at San Juan, and detonated later that month when the ship was off New York. Following this real-life “Juggernaut” experience, which fortunately did not result in any loss of life, MAXIM GORKIY was repaired at the Hoboken, New Jersey-based division of Bethlehem Steel Corporation

She enjoyed a brief career in U.S.-based cruising during the mid-to-late 1970s before the U.S. banned all Soviet ships following the invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. It is around this time that she undertook a long-term charter to German-based Neckermann Seireisen. In 1988, MAXIM GORKIY began another long-term charter with Bonn, Germany-based Phoenix Seereisen, who put the ship on globe-trotting itineraries not unlike many she made as the HAMBURG.

Late at night on 19 June 1989, MAXIM GORKIY struck an iceberg off Spitsbergen, holing her bow and taking on water. The ship was abandoned of all passengers and most of her crew and towed two days later to Svalbard for temporary patching. She sailed to Lloyd Werft at Bremerhaven for permanent repairs and the replacement of some water-damaged accommodation and the two lower restaurants. Interestingly, a video of this incident is often played on the ship’s television.

President George H. W. Bush boards MAXIM GORKIY.
President George H. W. Bush boards MAXIM GORKIY.
Mikhail Gorbachev addresses Malta Summit delegates in MAXIM GORKIY's Odessa Restaurant.
Mikhail Gorbachev addresses Malta Summit delegates in MAXIM GORKIY’s Odessa Restaurant.

On December 2-3, 1989, U.S. president George H.W. Bush and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev met on board MAXIM GORKIY off Malta’s Marsaxlokk Harbour to attend the Malta Summit and signed the pact that symbolized the end of the Cold War.

Night time view of funnel with Sovcomflot livery.
Night time view of funnel with Sovcomflot livery.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle were replaced with the blue and red Sovcomflot livery and a stylized “SCF” logo.

MAXIM GORKIY departs Los Angeles in 1993.
MAXIM GORKIY departs Los Angeles in 1993.

For the first time in many years, the MAXIM GORKIY visited the U.S. West Coast in 1993. Aside from the lower restaurants, the ship was virtually original. Even the deck nomenclature remained unchanged, save for the Hamburg Deck, which was renamed Neptune Deck.

Lido Restaurant in 1993.
Lido Restaurant in 1993.

The Lido Bar was structurally and decoratively unchanged, although it had taken on a new role as buffet style restaurant.

Music Salon, facing forward prior to most recent refit.
Music Salon, facing forward prior to most recent refit.

The Hanseatic Salon had been renamed Musiksalon and retained its original layout, furnishings and artwork, although it was looking a bit grim in the dreary Soviet color scheme.

Reception, facing starboard, prior to most recent refit.
Reception, facing starboard, prior to most recent refit.

The Reception area was still quite dynamic and attractive with its white tiled surfaces and swank leather settees, which tied in nicely with the rigidly industrial stairtower railings and the blood red carpet.

Odessa Restaurant in 1993.
Odessa Restaurant in 1993.

The Odessa Restaurant was possibly, along with the Volga Bar and Zhiguli Club, the most magnificent of the GORKIY’s vintage HAMBURG spaces. It had wonderful textured ceilings, “space ship” lighting sconces and a modern painting on the bulkhead forward of the well. And, of course, it was filled with the original HAMBURG chairs, once found throughout the ship.

MAXIM GORKIY at San Francisco in 2004.
MAXIM GORKIY at San Francisco in 2004.

The gorgeous GORKIY made her final visit to the U.S. West Coast in 2004, departing San Francisco on a glorious winter afternoon.

MAXIM GORKIY at Flam, Norway.
MAXIM GORKIY at Flam, Norway.

In late 2004, the ship was given Phoenix Seereisen’s turquoise livery. After a proposed charter for newly-reformed Orient Lines as the MARCO POLO II fell through, dashing any last minute efforts to land the ship another charter in time for the 2009 season, the MAXIM GORKIY was laid up at Piraeus after disembarking her final Phoenix passengers on 30 October 2008.

November 18, 2008 Update: Orient Lines announced today that it will not return with the SS MARCO POLO II in early 2009. The fate of the ship remains uncertain at this time.

December 2, 2008 update: A movement to bring MAXIM GORKIY to Hamburg for preservation as an hotel and attraction is now underway, with support of Hamburg shipping officials and possible financial backing from German investors.

January 8, 2009 update: After a week of speculative reports that Indian scrap merchants have been inspecting the ship at her anchorage off Piraeus, it was announced today in a German newspaper that the MAXIM GORKIY has been sold for Euro 4.2 million to a scrap merchant. Although it was also announced the ship departed today for India, she remains at her anchorage.

February 27, 2009 update: MAXIM GORKIY was beached under the delivery name MAXIM M at Alang at 04:12 AM February 25, 2009

End of MAXIM GORKIY (ex HAMBURG, HANSEATIC) Retro-Triple Decked!, Part One…

Much More To Come…

Very special thanks to Bianca Le Mouel and Martin Cox

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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