Stettin, the capital of Pomerania, situated on the west bank of the River Oder, became the state's largest and most important city. Its geographical position on the Oder led to it being developed as an important trading and shipping centre. With 8.4 million tons of freight per year, Stettin was in 1936 second only to Hamburg as a major German port.
The cold winters in the east led to ice forming well before the end of December. Sea passages in winter without ice-breaker assistance would thus have been hardly possible. With the technical development of ice-breakers, Stettin was destined therefore to become the leading Baltic sea port. The city became the home-port of a privately owned ice-breaker fleet, and in 1933 Stettin gave its name to the ice-breaker which was until1945 the flag-ship of the afore mentioned fleet. Fortunately, the ice-breaker "Stettin" survived the diversities of war and is now a museum ship.
Ice-breaker STETTIN 1934 at the Hakenterrasse in Stettin.
Click to enlarge
As an ice-breaker, the "Stettin" provided employment in winter for many seamen, and by securing an ice-free corridor for countless ships ensured an all-year round advantage for the city's merchants. Good fortune was with her throughout her service. The "Stettin" became a symbol of the past, the present, as well as the future, i.e.- never to give up hope.
The ship was built by the Stettiner Oderwerke AG; was launched on the 7th September 1933 and commissioned on the 16th November 1933; then the largest ice-breaker to serve under the German flag.
The Chamber of Commerce , Stettin, owned and maintained its own ice-breaker fleet in order to provide an ice-free approach in wintertime to the harbour of Stettin and thus supported the economy and well-being of the city. The most modern and largest of this fleet was the "Stettin"; the other four ice-breakers were the "Preussen", "Pommern", "Berlin" and the "Swinemuende".
The operational area of the "Stettin" included the River Oder and the Bay of Stettin. Until 1945, she was actively engaged assisting cargo vessels as well as naval ships. Finally in March 1945, under attack from the enemy, she carried more than 500 war refugees from Stettin to safety in Copenhagen.
After this last war-time engagement, "Stettin" came under the administration of the Hamburg Water and Shipping Office, the W.S.A, although the Chamber of Commerce, Stettin, remained the owners. Her new berth was in the Buoy Yard in Wedel near Hamburg. She remained in service until 1981 and was often engaged in wintertime on the Elbe, Kiel Canal, Kiel Bay and the Baltic.
When the Federal Waterways took over the administration of the ship, she was painted in the traditional colours, - black hull, grey and white superstructure and yellow funnel with a black top. The "Stettin" Association is obliged not to alter these traditional colours. There is a painting in the salon on board "Stettin" showing the ship in its original shipping company colours.
Ice-breaker STETTIN in the
winter 1934 near Swinemuende.
Click to enlarge
Because of high personnel and maintenance costs, it became uneconomic to keep the "Stettin" in service as an ice-breaker.
Finding the necessary trimmers and firemen also presented a problem. The Water and Navigation Management, North, therefore decided in 1981 to lay up the "Stettin".
It seemed inevitable that the scrap-yard would be its last resting-place
But even then good fortune smiled on the 'old-lady' and decided her fate. The Ice-Breaker "Stettin" Association was founded with the sole aim of preserving the ship as a technological and cultural monument for future generations. Thanks to the endeavours of the Association's original members and the many- (some anonymous)- donors and sponsors, the Association was able in 1982 to purchase the ship from its owners, and Luebeck, the twin-town of Stettin, became its new home-port. Since 2001, Hamburg has however been its base.
For further information, refer to the book, "Dampf-Eisbrecher STETTIN und die Eisbrecher der Welt" by Christian Ostersehlte and Hans-Georg Prager, the former Chairman of the Association.