Originally named Munchen (III), this ship was built for NDL by Vulkan of
Stettin. Launched in 1922, she made her maiden voyage from Bremen to
New York on 21 June 1923.
On 11 February 1930, while at New York, Munchen was badly damaged by
fire and sank in the Hudson River. After being refloated, she underwent
temporary repairs in Brooklyn, and returned home in May. She was then
rebuilt, converted from coal to oil fuel, and renamed General von Steuben,
before returning to Bremen-New York service in February 1931. She made her
last voyage on that service in November 1934. From 1935 on, she was used
only for cruising. Renamed Steuben in 1938, she was converted into a
German Navy accommodation ship in 1939.
As the war drew to a close, Steuben, like many other German ships, was
pressed into service to evacuate troops and civilians from the Eastern
Front. On 9 February 1945, Steuben left Baltiysk, Russia, bound for Kiel,
Germany, with 2,500 wounded soldiers, 2,000 refugees and a crew of 450. On
10 February, shortly before midnight, she was torpedoed twice by the Soviet
submarine S.13 and sank with the loss of about 3,000 lives.
Sources: Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Kludas' Great Passenger Ships
of the World; Williams' Wartime Disasters at Sea.