Number of employees
|About 7,800 when it closed|
The Schichau-Werke (F. Schichau, Maschinen- und Lokomotivfabrik, Schiffswerft und Eisengießerei GmbH) was a German engineering works and shipyard based in Elbing, Germany (now Elbląg, Poland) on the Frisches Haff (Vistula Lagoon) of then-East Prussia. It also had a subsidiary shipyard in nearby Danzig (now: Gdańsk, Poland). Due to the Soviet conquest of eastern Germany, Schichau moved to Bremerhaven in March 1945, and its successors continued in business until 2009.
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 Lokomotivfabrik (F. Schichau engineering and locomotive factory) in Elbing. It started with the production of hydraulic presses and diggers; in 1860, it began to produce 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 built the Prussian P 8, the most numerous 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 (built by nearby Mitzlaff shipyard). In 1854, Schichau built the shipyard at Elbing, 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 – the first Prussian iron propellor ship. The shipyard was subsequently expanded, and in 1872 Schichau acquired Mitzlaff's yard.
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. 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 (now Baltijsk, Russia) near Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). 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.
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. In 1930, the company bought a small yard in Königsberg.
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 government subsidies known as Osthilfe ("Eastern Aid"). During the Second World War, the firm of Borsig placed several contracts with the Schichau-Werke in Elbing, that continued production until January 1945.
During World War II, Schichau built 94 U-boats for the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) at its Danzig shipyard. The yard in Elbing produced midget submarines of the Seehund class. In addition to the manufacture of Type VII C submarines, the shipyard in Danzig also built the revolutionary 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, but never saw combat.
During World War II prisoners from Poland, France, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany and Hungary were transported from satellite camps of Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig to work at Schichau. The prisoners received inadequate rations: half a litre of thin soup and 250 grams of bread per day. There was no winter clothing. Many of these forced laborers died as a result of epidemics, accidents, and beatings by the guards. Bodies were burned in a crematorium but also buried in mass graves at the cemetery in Saspe (now the Zaspa district of Gdańsk).
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 GEDOB formed from disbanded Polish State Railways. These included the DRG and DRB standard steam locomotive (Einheitsdampflokomotive) classes 23, 41, and DRB Class 52 Kriegslokomotive. as well as DRG Class 86. The Schichau-Werke also designed the Class 24 and delivered its first two orders.
After the war, the shipyards were acquired by Poland – to which the region was assigned by border changes promulgated at the Potsdam Conference. Postwar production included ships, railcars and boilers. The Schichau shipyard at Danzig was subsumed into the Lenin shipyard in 1950 and, in 1980, attracted worldwide media coverage as a result of protests led by the Solidarność trade union.
In early 1945, Schichau transferred a floating dock Flender Werke in Lübeck. In March 1945, as Soviet forces approached, Hermann Noë, the chief executive, and some employees fled Danzig with uncompleted ships to Bremerhaven. In April Noë founded there a new Schichau company. In the early postwar years, the company repaired machinery, agricultural engines, locomotives and trams. After the Western Allies lifted the ban on shipbuilding in West Germany in 1951, Schichau reopened its shipyard in Bremerhaven.
Sabine, formerly Berby, formerly Aegir, built Elbing 1895 yard no, 562 . Inspection vessel for Kaiserliche Canalbau-Commission 90 hp single. Today berthed in Deptford Creek, London.
Book excerpts from Enghelberg.com.