Full steam ahead into a new era
The first ship with a steel hull is added to the Rickmers fleet. With modernisation of the Rickmers shipyard still on-going, the shipbuilding order for the bark RENÉE RICKMERS is awarded to Russell & Co. of Scotland.
Andreas, Peter and Willy Rickmers amalgamate their father’s companies to create Rickmers Reismühlen, Rhederei und Schiffbau AG, with headquarters in Bremen. The Rickmers shipyard in Geestemünde becomes a subsidiary of the limited company (AG). In the same year HELENE RICKMERS - the Rickmers Rhederei’s first steam ship - is built with a hulk of steel and a steam engine. In order to prepare for failure of the new technology, the ship is also fitted with two masts with square rigging for additional sails. Due to her steam engine the HELENE RICKMERS reaches an average speed of 10 knots.
The Rickmers shipyard delivers the largest wooden full-rigged ship in its history, the ETHA RICKMERS, with a capacity of 1860 GRT. Blueprints for the ship had been drawn up according to the company founder’s instructions.
Wilhelm Heinrich Rickmers dies after a long illness. The youngest son of Rickmer Clasen Rickmers, born in 1844, had run the Union starch plant in Hannoversch Münden, a business that has been in family hands for some time.
Andreas and Peter Rickmers’ dream comes true: by putting five newly built cargo steamers into service with the Rickmers fleet, a regular service to East Asia is opened in 1895. Ships now travel regularly from Bremerhaven and Hamburg to Japan via Antwerp, Shanghai and Hong Kong under the Rickmers flag. This service is soon established under the name of “Rickmers-Linie”.
Rickmers opens the first German service on the upper Yangtze River together with retailers “Melchers & Co”. While that area of the upper Yangtze is regarded as extremely economically advantageous, it is also difficult territory for shipping since the river is not only shallow but also has a strong current with many rapids. In order to be prepared for these challenges, the Rickmers shipyard designs and builds a new type of river steamship that has very little draught and is equipped with a very powerful engine. The steamship SUI HSIANG opens the new service under great public attention in 1900. Two additional vessels, the SUI AN and the SUI TSAI are built in Shanghai.
At the beginning of the 20th century German rice importers and rice mills face increasing competition from British companies. On initiation from Andreas Rickmers all German rice mills form a joint venture to keep up with the new competition. The Rickmers AG brings its rice mills to the “Reis und Handels AG” and thus becomes the biggest shareholder of the internationally operating business. Andreas Rickmers becomes the first supervisory board chairman of the “Reis und Handels AG”.
In December, Peter Rickmers dies of a typhoid infection. Following his death, his older brother Andreas assumes sole management responsibilities at Rickmers Reismühlen, Rhederei und Schiffbau AG.