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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

CS Stephan
by Bill Glover


Built 1901 by Stettiner Vulkan

Length 391.8 ft. Breadth 48.3 ft. Depth 29.8 ft. Gross tonnage 4630

Twin screw. Triple expansion engines of 2,400 ihp, speed 14 knots.

Kabeldampfer “Stephan” vor Yap (Karolinen), 1905
Cable steamer Stephan off Yap (Caroline Islands)
Postcard after the Oil on canvas by Alexander Kircher (1867 - 1939)

Built for Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke. Launched on 29 December 1902 and commissioned on 1 March 1903. Four cable tanks with a coiling capacity of 98,000 cubic feet. Fitted with a double duplex machine forward, a paying out machine aft, triple bow sheaves, single stern sheave, twin dynamometers forward and a single one aft, all manufactured by Achgelis of Bremerhaven.

Kabeldampfer "Stephan" der Nordd. Seekabelwerke, Nordenham
Postcard dated 1904, courtesy of The Postcard Album

The following two postcards are part of a series of six cards showing various aspects of cable laying, produced for Norddeutsche by the prolific German publisher Peter Luhn.

See below for descriptions of all six postcards, each with a link for further information at the German Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation.

Peter Luhn postcard Serie 3 No. 4
Cable Laying from CS Stephan May 1903

Peter Luhn postcard Serie 3 No. 5
Landing of the second German-Atlantic cable Fayal (Azores) 1903

Although the scenes on the cards are dated 1903, both of the above postcards have this divided back, with a vertical line separating the message and address sections. Helmfried Luers, author of the Peter Luhn article linked above, notes that divided back postcards were not introduced in Germany until March 1905, so these cards must have been published after that, most likely in 1907/8.

The original artist is Erwin Carl Wilhelm Günter (1864 - 1927) and the six cards in the series are as follows. Links on each postcard are to the catalogue entries at the German telecomms museum, which have more information and images of each card.

1 Kriegsschiff "Agamemnon" ladet atlantisches Kabel 1857 in Greenwich
  Warship Agamemnon loading Atlantic cable 1857 in Greenwich
2 "Great Eastern" sucht 1866 das im Vorjahre verloren atlantische Kabel
  Great Eastern searches in 1866 for the Atlantic cable that was lost the previous year
3 Heranziehen des zweiten deutsch-atlantischen Kabels, Borkum, Mai 1903
  Landing of the second German-Atlantic cable, Borkum, May 1903
4 Kablelegung durch den Kabeldampfer 'Stephan' Mai 1903
  Cable Laying from cable steamer Stephan May 1903
5 Landung des zweiten deutsch-atlantischen Kabels Fayal (Azoren) 1903
  Landing of the second German-Atlantic cable Fayal (Azores) 1903
6 Emden, Ansicht vom Hafen
  Emden, view of the harbor, with imprint on the back "Telegrams to South America via Emden - Vigo"

Stephan was handed over to the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company as war reparations at the end of WWI. Sold for scrap in 1926.



1903 Emden, Germany - Azores
1904 Azores - New York, USA
1904 Menado, Dutch East Indies - Yap - Guam - Shanghai
1906 Cuxhaven, Germany - Arendal, Norway
1907 Moen, Denmark - Liepaja & Petersburg, Russia
1908 Trieste - Pola - Sebenike
1910 Trieste - Pola - Split
1910-11 French Guinea - Liberia - Ivory Coast
Mundesley, England - Norderney, Germany
1913 Balboa - San Elena
1913 Balikpapan - Soerabaja, Dutch East Indies
Kema - Ternato, Dutch East Indies


1919 Porthcurno, England - Gibraltar
1920 USA - Barbados - Maranham
1920 Aden - Bombay
1920 Malta - Alexandria 5
1921 USA - Cuba Three separate cables were laid on this route
1922 Malta - Alexandria 6
1922 Aden - Seychelles
1922 Aden - Suez
1923 Waterville - Havre
1923 Suva, Fiji - Auckland, New Zealand
1923 Sydney - Southport, Australia
1923 UK - Ireland

CS Stephan and CS Electra (1) at Malta, in February 1920,
prior to the laying of the Malta - Alexandria Cable No 5.


Last revised: 8 March, 2024

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