How often do you see a British-built ship named after an American president flying the German flag? Twice! The President Lincoln and President Grant were ordered in 1903 from Harland and Wolff of Belfast for British lines but the orders were cancelled. HAPAG bought them, and they began sailing in 1907. These were mainly immigrant ships with small cabin populations and 1,000 steerage berths.
They were seized by the US Navy in 1914, and the Lincoln was sunk in 1917. The Grant survived the war and remained in American hands until she was scrapped in 1951.
The Abraham Lincoln was previously the name of a frigate in Jules Verne’s classic novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1870). It is also the name of the US naval officer Pinkerton’s ship in Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, which premiered in 1904, just three years before the SS President Lincoln’s maiden voyage.