Bremer Vulkan
Bremer Vulkan AG was a great German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Shipbuilding is the construction of ships and floating vessels. It normally takes place in a specialized facility known as a shipyard. Shipbuilders, also called shipwrights, follow a specialized occupation that traces its roots to before recorded history.Shipbuilding and ship repairs, both...

 company located at the Weser river in Bremen-Vegesack. It was founded in 1893 and closed in 1997 because of financial problems and mismanagement.

Altogether the Bremer Vulkan built about 1100 ships - including the ships of the predecessor Johann Lange Shipyard - of different types. It is remarkable that the Bremer Vulkan with the exception of both World Wars only built civilian ships; production of navel ships except war times started first in the 1980th.


Bremer Vulkan AG was founded 1893 in Vegesack - a suburb of the city of Bremen – by a group of investors and Bremen merchants and by overtaking the 1805 founded Johann Lange Shipyard. Two years later the Bremer Vulkan bought the Bremer Schiffbaugesellschaft – former H. F. Ulrichs Shipyard - including all its modern shipbuilding facilities. First director of the Bremer Vulkan became the engineer Victor Nawatzki (1855 - 1940).

In the following years the Bremer Vulkan increased rapidly. By 1908 it already had an area of about 80 acres and a water frontage of 1500 meters. Six slips equipped with modern electric travelling cranes were capable of building the largest vessels of that time. With an average annual delivery of about 40000 BRT it became the greatest civilian shipbuilding company in the German Kaiserreich, followed by Flensburger Schiffbaubetriebe in Flensburg, Tecklenborg in Bremerhaven and Vulcan Stettin in Stettin. The number of co-workers had increased from about 60 at the beginning up to about 3300 in 1912.

During World War I the Bremer Vulkan also had to build warships. Altogether 11 minesweepers (M 39 – M42 and M 54 – M 56, M71 – M 74) and in cooperation with the Germaniawerft in Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 some submarine hulls and 6 complete submarines (U 160 – U 163) were built for the Kaiserliche Marine (German Inperial Navy).

After the world war Bremer Vulkan continued its successful development. Different types of ships were built first mainly for German ship owners and with an increasing amount also for foreign ship owners later. An important progress was the change of ship propulsion from steam engines to diesel engines. In cooperation and under licence from MAN the Bremer Vulkan started the production of Diesel ship-engines.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 74 different VII U-boats were constructed for the Kriegsmarine.
The Vulkan facility was several times target of the bombing of Bremen in World War II
Bombing of Bremen in World War II
The Bombing of Bremen in World War II by the Royal Air Force and the Eighth Air Force targeted strategic targets in the state of Bremen, which had heavy anti-aircraft artillery but only 35 fighter aircraft in the area. In addition to Wesermünde/Bremerhaven, targets were also in Farge and...

. The greatest bombing attack happened in March 1943 by the US Air Force. By the so called “precise bombing” many buildings and u-boats under construction as well as surrounding private buildings were destroyed or damaged. Unfortunately 116 people were killed and additional 118 hurt. Despite the great destruction production of u-boats could be continued within a few weeks.

During the war about 10 km downstream from the BV-shipyard in the Bremen suburb Rekum the submarine bunker Valentin was under construction. Here under management of the BV and beginning end of 1945 monthly 15 u-boats should be assembled from prefabricated sections. Those were delivered from the following shipyards Bremer Vulkan AG, Deschimag AG Weser in Bremen, Deschimag Seebeck AG in Bremerhaven and Blohm + Voß in Hamburg. However, the bunker was not finished before the end of the war and never u-boats were built there. The building itself is still existing today and partly used as a memorial to the many forced labourers from near by concentration camps who worked and died there during the building of the bunker.

Dr. Robert Kabelac – director of the BV from 1935 to 1960 – managed to avoid the dismantling of the BV after war as this happened to most other German shipyards. The company was allowed to resume shipbuilding already in 1949. Production could soon be continued, starting with repair of ships and locomotives and the construction of fishing vessel
Fishing vessel
A fishing vessel is a boat or ship used to catch fish in the sea, or on a lake or river. Many different kinds of vessels are used in commercial, artisanal and recreational fishing....

s. Soon later the shipbuilding programme was enlarged and various types of ships were offered to the market as container/multi purpose cargo ships, passenger liners
Passenger ship
A passenger ship is a ship whose primary function is to carry passengers. The category does not include cargo vessels which have accommodations for limited numbers of passengers, such as the ubiquitous twelve-passenger freighters once common on the seas in which the transport of passengers is...

, passenger-cargo vessels, roll-on/roll-off ships, LNG and LPG tankers, supply ships, special-purpose ships, reefer vessels and others.

Beginning in the 1980th for the first time except wartimes of course also naval ships were built. As the general contractor the BV started in cooperation with other German shipbuilding companies the construction of frigates for the Deutsche Bundesmarine (German Navy).

In the 1980s the BV merged with other German shipbuilding companies and became the largest shipbuilding company in Germany. The new Bremer Vulkan Verbund AG or the so called Vulkan Group consisted of the following divisions at that time:

Division Shipbuilding, including the seven German shipyards Bremer Vulkan Werft (Bremen-Vegesack), Geeste Metallbau GmbH (Bremen), Flender Werft (Lübeck), Lloyd Werft, Rickmers Lloyd Dockbetrieb GmbH, Schichau Seebeckwerft (all in Bremerhaven) and Neue Jadewerft (Wilhelmshaven)

Division Naval Shipbuilding

Division Industry

Division Electronic and Systems Technology

Division Services

After the German reunification in 1990 the Vulkan Group was enlarged by the Division Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, including the east German shipyards Matthias-Thesen Werft in Wismar and Volkswerft Stralsund in Stralsund.

At that time Vulkan Group included alltogether about 22000 co-workers in Germany, of that about 18000 in the shipbuilding divisions.

After 1996 bankruptcy because of financial problems and mismanagement, Bremer Vulkan closed the shipyard in Vegesack in 1997. Some of the affiliated shipyards as the Lloyd Shipyard in Bremerhaven and the shipyards in Eastern Germany survived this bankruptcy.

List of ships built

  • 1816, First German steamship Die Weser, built by Johann Lange´s shipyard
  • 1872, First steel-hull ship built at Ulrich´s shipyard
  • 1893, Sailing Fishing Vessel BV2 Vegesack; still existing today in Vegesacker Hafen (Vegesack Museum Harbour)
  • 1915, Passenger ship Graf Zeppelin; greatest ship of the BV at that time
  • 1925, Passenger ship Berlin; later Russian ship Admiral Nahhimov, sunk 1986
  • 1928, BV builds the world´s biggest tanker C.O. Stillmann
  • 1939, Cargo ship Goldenfels; in WW II reconstructed as auxiliary cruiser Atlantis; sunk by British cruiser HMS Devonshire in 1941
  • 1982, First F122 type NATO-frigate for the German Navy
  • 1996, Luxory Passenger Cruiser Costa Victoria (in collaboration with Lloyd Shipyard Bremerhaven)
  • 1996, Hull of Luxory Passenger Cruiser, after BV-bancruptcy the ship was 1999 finished as Norwegian Sky by Lloyd Shipyard Bremerhaven
  • 1997, 2.700 TEU container ships Hansa Century and Hansa Constitution were the last ships built by Bremer Vulkan

See also

  • Empire Kamal
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