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The Schichau-Werke was a German engineering works and shipyard based in Elbing, formerly part of the German Empire, and which is today the town of Elbląg in northern Poland. It also had a subsidiary shipyard in Danzig (now: Gdańsk). Due to the Soviet conquest Schichau moved the company to Bremerhaven in March 1945, continuing production until 1996.

Early years

Ferdinand Schichau had studied engineering in Berlin, the Rheinland and Great Britain. In 1837, he founded the engineering institution, later known as F. Schichau GmbH, Maschinen- und Lokfabrik, Elbing (F. Schichau engineering and locomotive factory, Elbing). It started with the production of hydraulic presses and diggers; in 1860, it began to produce the first locomotives for the Prussian Eastern Railway. From 1867 locomotive construction began in earnest and, three years later, the factory was connected to the railway network. In the early 20th century, the firm was one of several that delivered the Prussian P 8, the most numerous passenger train steam locomotive of its day.


From 1847, Schichau produced steam engines for ships, starting with the engine for the first entirely Prussian-built steamer James Watt (of neighbor Mitzlaff shipyard). In 1854, Schichau built the shipyard at Elbing,[1] known as the Elbinger Dampfschiffs-Reederei F. Schichau ('Elbing Steamship Shipping Company F. Schichau'). The first ship launched was the small steamer Borussia in 1855 (she was the first Prussian iron screw ship).[1] The shipyard was subsequently expanded, and in 1872 Schichau bought Mitzlaff's shipyard in Elbing.

From 1877 the shipyard produced ships for the Prussian Navy and export, becoming specialized in torpedo boats and later destroyers. It became a major manufacturer of torpedo boats for the Prussian Navy.[1] The engine of S 1, which was built by Schichau in 1884 as one of Germany’s first torpedo boats, is shown on display in the Deutsches Museum in Munich today.

Since the shipyard's location on the Elbing River limited the size of ships that could be constructed, in 1892 Schichau built a second shipyard in Danzig, which was capable of producing bigger warships, up to battleship size, as well as freighters and passenger ships. Both shipyards also built ships for export worldwide, especially torpedo boats. In 1889 Schichau built a small repair shipyard in Pillau (present-day Baltijsk) near Königsberg (Prussia) (today Kaliningrad). Schichau's son-in-law, Carl Heinz Ziese, worked at Schichau-Werke and continued to run the business after Schichau's death in 1896, until 1917.

Inter-war years

When Ziese died in 1917, the management of the company passed to the husband of his only daughter, Hildegard, the Swede, Carl Carlson. After his death, Hildegard Carlson ran the firm. After World War I, the shipyard was threatened with bankruptcy and in 1929 it was bought by the German government.[1] In 1930, the company bought also a small yard in Königsberg (now: Yantar Shipyard).

Following the separation of East Prussia from Germany after the First World War, the Schichau works, together with the Union-Giesserei in Königsberg (that they later took over), was encouraged to focus on locomotive building with the aid of eastern European aid (Ostlandhilfe). During the Second World War, the firm of Borsig placed several contracts with the Schichau-Werke in Elbing, that continued production until January 1945.

U-boat production

In World War I, Schichau entered production of U-boats conctructing two Ms Type U-boats, U-115 and U-116. Both boats had not been completed when the war ended and were eventually broken up. During World War II, Schichau built 94 U-boats for the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) at its Danzig shipyard. The yard in Elbing produced engines and submarines of the Seehund class. In addition to the manufacture of Type VII C submarines, the shipyard in Danzig also built the new Type XXI U-boats. Up to 1944, 62 Type VII C U-boats (and two Type VII C/41s) were built, before production was switched to the Type XXI. A total of 30 submarines of this latter class were built and launched at Danzig by the end of the war.

Locomotive Production

Up to the end of the war in 1945, the Schichau-Werke had supplied about 4,300 locomotives of several classes to customers that included the Deutsche Reichsbahn and the Polish State Railways. These included the DRG and DRB standard steam locomotive (Einheitsdampflokomotive) classes 23, 41, 52 and 86. The Schichau-Werke also designed the Class 24 and delivered the first two batches [2] The factory sites were dismantled by Russian occupying forces after the war.

Recent History

At the end of the war the original factory sites went into Polish ownership with the loss of East Prussia to Poland and the Soviet Union. They no longer build locomotives, instead building ships, wagons, and boilers. The Schichau shipyard at Danzig was included into the Lenin shipyard in 1950 and, in 1980, attracted world-wide media coverage as a result of protests led by the Solidarność trades union.

In early 1945 a floating dock was transferred to Flender Werke in Lübeck, in March the same year Hermann Noë, the chief executive, and some employees fled Danzig with uncompleted ships to Bremerhaven. In April Noë founded there a new company named F. Schichau Aktiengesellschaft, however, the uncompleted rumps and u-boats, tugged from Danzig, could not be finished anymore. With employees from the old premises machinery, agricultural engines, locomotives and trams were repaired after the war. Furthermore Schichau developed a new welding torch with a photo-electric steering. After on 26 May 1951 the western Allies lifted the ban on shipbuilding in West Germany Schichau reopened its shipyard in Bremerhaven. In 1953 Schichau was restituted its floating dock which had been taken as a British reparation in the meantime.

Schichau was later merged into the Schichau Seebeck Shipyard Company, which went into bankruptcy in 1996 following the demise of Bremer Vulkan. Its successor company was the SSW Schichau Seebeck Shipyard, closed down on 31 July 2009, based at Bremerhaven.

Ships built by Schichau (selection)

Civilian ships

  • Columbus (1922), then Homeric
  • Üsküdar (1927), Turkish passenger ferry, sank in 1958

Naval ships



Submarines (U-boats)

Großes Torpedoboot 1913 class Torpedo Boats

Großes Torpedoboot 1916 class Torpedo Boats

Elbing class torpedo boat

Schichau made ships still afloat

  • Stralsund (built in 1890), small railway ferry, Wolgast, Germany
  • Jacob Langeberg, ex von Bötticher (built in 1902), tug and icebreaker, originally used one Kiel Canal, today in Wormerveer, Netherlands

Sabine, formerly Berby, formerly Aegir, built Elbing 1895 yard no, 562 . Inspection vessel for Kaiserliche Canalbau-Commission 90hp single


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 (Polish) Andrzej Nitka: Przedsiębiorstwo stoczniowe F. Schichau. Elbląg-Piława-Gdańsk-Ryga-Królewiec. Zarys dziejów 1837-1945 in: Morze, Statki i Okręty nr 6/2007. p. 62-71
  2. Eisenbahn Journal Band No. 1, Typenblätter, Baureihen 01-59, Archiv 1/2002, Horst J. Obermeyer, p. 101


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