How it all began
Rickmer Clasen Rickmers is born in 1807 as the son of fisherman Peter Andreas and his wife Deike on the North Sea island of Helgoland. His parents arrange for him to attend school on the mainland for several years.
When Rickmer Clasen Rickmers is denied permission to marry the love of his life, Etha Reimers, the two of them leave the island of Helgoland and get married on the mainland. They settle down in Bremerhaven, where RC lays the foundation for the successful ship-owning and shipbuilding dynasty.
Rickmers opens a shipbuilding workshop in Bremerhaven on the Lower Weser. This small business develops into Rickmers’ shipyard – and, later on, into a shipping and trading company with operations worldwide. “Fear God – act justly and dread no one” is RC Rickmers’ motto in life when he goes into business for himself as a young shipbuilder. In 1836 the vessel named “CATHARINA” with its 23 GRT is the first newbuilding order for the still young Rickmers shipyard.
In order to use his yard to full capacity Rickmers acquires shares in newbuildings. The shares in ships like the “ATHENE” and the “WESER” are very lucrative. Rickmers’ exertion as co-owner turns out to be profitable in more than one way – it guarantees orders for his shipbuilding business and secures a successful, long-term investment.
Rickmers launches the brig BASSERMANN, a ship built in his shipyard for his own account. This lays the foundations for his shipping company, which he expands by building other ships for his own account in his shipyard. The BASSERMANN is the first ship to fly the green-red-white Rickmers flag carrying the white “R”. This flag soon becomes the trademark of RC Rickmers’ enterprise and makes him and the company famous throughout the world.
The quality of vessels constructed at Rickmers’ yard is soon known far beyond Bremerhaven.
The yard is working to full capacity and becoming too small for the ambitious shipbuilding enterprise. RC Rickmers buys some land in Geestemünde, Prussia. A modern shipbuilding yard with new workshops, accommodation for workers, a park and a school are opened in 1857. More than 1,000 people find work and a new home here.
The DEIKE RICKMERS is launched in Geestemünde. At 1840 GRT, this full-rigged ship is Germany's largest wooden sailing vessel at the time. With his newly built ships, Rickmers acquires a reputation as a specialist for sailing vessels of highest architectural standards.
1872 - 1878
Rice has great significance as return cargo on routes from East Asia to Europe and becomes the most valued good on transports in the 1870s. In order to ensure its distribution in Europe, RC Rickmers takes a share in the Bremen-based milling company Ichon & Co. When his associate Eduart Ichon decides to leave the business, RC Rickmers takes the opportunity to take over the mill. In 1878 the mill’s name is changed from “Ichon und Rickmers” to “Rickmers Reismühlen”. After taking over all shares in the company, Rickmers quickly expands his rice milling operation, making it the largest rice mill operation in Germany. By this time, his business contacts extend beyond Europe all the way to East Asia.
R. C. Rickmers dies, age 79, in Bremerhaven. He leaves his sons the mission to continue the business and convert the shipyard to the building of steam and ironclad vessels.