A brief history of the (AU) shipping line: Johann Andreas Burmester, a merchantman from Hamburg specialized in the trade of corn, wool, cotton, coffee, tobacco and natural rubber, had established in the second half of the XIXth century a shipping company with two partners, one of which of Danish origin, Jens Stavenhagen and the other one being a banker of Hamburg with activities in the commerce in the entire area of Northern Germany. With sailing barks they made essentially the route to South America and to the southern US states. They named the company Reederei Burmester & Stavenhagen AG
(shipping company B&S plc). They grew consistently due to the immigration flow mainly from German immigrants to the USA as well as to southern Brazil. On the return trip to Hamburg, they carried the goods they traded with in Germany and from there also to Sweden and Finland.
With the years, the shipping company grew to a size of having 46 ships, from 1874 on coal fired steamships. The last built four mast saling barque named then Louise Burmester
, now Artemis
exists today in the port of Kiel, as well as other units of the sail era, as will be described further on.
By the end of the XIXthy century people transportation from Europe to the Americas had grown to such an extent, that Burmester & Stavenhagen
owned eight ships with a capacity to carry over 300 passenger together with the transported merchandise. On the South America line these ships transported also often citizen of Portuguese origin from Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahia to Lisbon and back, if place was available. This fact led to a flourishing trade with South American goods to Germany, after merchant ships with refrigerated cargo holds became available, meat from Argentina and from Brazil became an important good to be transported, as well as several types of fruits.
Travel became such an important part of the shipping company, that they began to compete with HAPAG as well as with "Hamburg - South America Steam Shipping Company", now known as "Hamburg-Süd". Thinking of the many wealthy citizen living in Braziol, Uruguay and Argentina, the shipping company (aware of the fact that HAPG ordered three mega ships at "AG Vulcan" in Hamburg, Burmester & Stavenhagen
took the step forward to order at "Blohm & Voss" a luxurious ocean liner for some 2.500 passenger (in the usual three classes) and with a complement of some 1.700 in steerage, making the total some 4.200 passenger.
The dimension should be around the following figures: LxWxB 270/274m x 33/35m x 11/12 m. Total displacement was calculated to be around 50 to 52.000 GRT. Installed power was decided to be through very high pressure steam generated by 46 watertube boilers of Vulcan Yarrow design, originally coal burning, later to be converted to oil fired, when this technology would become available for such big liners. The propulsion was decided to be through 4 AEG-Vulcan / Parsons geared steam turbines on four shafts, delivering a total total of some 55 to 60,000 shp. Speed at full load was calculated to be at some 22 to 24 knots cruise speed.
The ship's general plans were designed throughout the year of 1909, being its stability in the often rough seas of the North Atlantic a most important factor, the keel was laid down in mid 1910 and the hull with the general superstructure and complete propulsion was launched in early 1912 being christened "Bonaventura
" meaning "Good Luck" in Latin. The finished ship was handed over to its customers at the yards - after six successful sea trials in the stormy North Sea - with a simple cerimony in January 1913. On March 21, 1913 the ocean liner stated her maiden voyage headed to Buenos Âires, making stop overs at Southampton, Vigo, Lisbon, Salvador da Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo. Except for the passage of the Channel and the Biscay Sea, it was an uneventful first voyage.