The PRINZ HEINRICH was built in 1909 for the Borkumer Kleinbahn- und DampfschiffahrtsAktiengesellschaft in Emden as a twin screw steamer for passenger and mail traffic between Emden and the North Sea island of Borkum, and entered service with a capacity for 350 people. The reason for the order was the expansion of Borkum into a coastal fortress in the course the military rearmament in the German Empire. In addition, the number of Seaside resort guests was rising.
Due to the increasing material and troop transports as well rising tourism, the Papenburg shipyard Josef L. Meyer received the order to build the vessel (construction no. 240) for 104,500 Reichsmarks.
The length is 41.76 m, the width 7.04 m and the draft with a measurement of 212 GRT is 1.80 m. The two steam engines were 150 HP each and she reached a speed of 10 knots.
In 1953 the ship was renamed 'HESSEN' and from 1958 she sailed for the 'Ems' shipping company inc. in Emden. The change of owner was also connected with the renovation to a motor ship at the C. Cassens shipyard in Emden.
The two six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz diesel engines developed 215 hp each and she reached a speed of 11 knots. The passenger ship could now carry 390 people. The crew was 11 men.
From 1909 to 1969 the HESSEN ex PRINZ HEINRICH sailed in the seaside resorts and supply traffic between Emden and the North Sea island of Borkum. In 1969 the ship was sold to the Hildesheim couple Mady and Reinhold Kasten, who owned her as a museum ship under the name MISSISSIPPI with a overseas exhibition. The berth was now the Holstenhafen on the edge of old town Lübeck near the Holsten Gate.
In 2002 the museum ship was sold and moved to Rostock-Warnemünde. Since then, the overseas exhibition has been moved to the "Teepott" in Warnemünde shown next to the lighthouse.
The association “Traditionsschiff PRINZ HEINRICH "eV in Leer bought the ship from the Rostock owner and left the former seaside bathing steamer from Rostock harbor to Leer.
In 2003 the PRINZ HEINRICH became a movable memorial from the Lower Saxony State Office for Preservation of monuments placed under protection in Hanover.
After restoration to its original state at the historic berth on the banks of the Leda River in Leer as a museum ship to house an exhibition on Ems-Dollart shipping and Leeraner herring fishing as well as for representative events when available.
The PRINZ HEINRICH, built in 1909, is one of the oldest German passenger ships of this type, which in the mail, cargo and supply traffic between Emden and the North Sea island of Borkum was in use for sixty years. She is in her original condition with the exception of the diesel engines installed in 1958. A monumental testimony from the Wilhelmine era, which is characterized by its elegant shipbuilding shapes. The only other ship that is comparable is the saloon and delivery steamer ALEXANDRA, built in 1908 in Flensburg.
Restoration took 14 years , but now the 'steamer' passed all the necessary tests and received all safety certificates, it steamed in May 2018 on its first trip after the restoration to Borkum and from there on to the port festival in Bremerhaven. In June 2018, the official "rebirth celebration" took place in a dignified setting at the Meyer shipyard. The ship was able to dock at the exact spot where it first entered the water in 1909.