The Seeadler (German for "Sea Eagle") was built in 1878 and christened the "Pass of Balmaha." She was a steel, three masted, square rigged Bark.

In 1915 The Pass of Balmaha was seized by the German navy and was outfitted with a diesel motor and deck guns. The plan was to run the English blockade and break out into the Atlantic to raid merchant shipping. In order to do this the ship would have to be disguised and the crew would pose as Norwegians, some logbooks were faked and conveniently damaged and sea stained as if the Seeadler had just come through a stormy sea. The crew learned to chew tobacco and speak Norwegian. The guns were cleverly disguised by stacking a "load" of lumber around them, the lumber could be lowered and raised to redisguise the ship. She was rechristened the "Seeadler," but sailed under the Norwegian flag as the "Hero," with Captain Felix Von Luckner commanding.

The ruse was successful and the Seeadler passed an inspection by British officers and was sent on her way. She made her way across the Atlantic capturing and sinking merchant ships as she went along. Luckner would board the ship and capture her crew, then scuttle the ship. Her route would take her around Cape Horn and toward Australia. Nearing South America her supplies were running low, and her prisoners' quarters were nearly full. It could often take months to make it around Cape Horn, so Captain Luckner decided to put his crew to the test once more. They headed for Rio De Janiero, disguised again as the "Hero," to purchase supplies. The prisoners were put aboard yet another captured ship to make their own way to Rio. The topmasts were cut to slow them down and ensure that the Seeadler would make it there first.

After Leaving Rio the Seeadler navigated around the horn and began raiding ships in the Pacific. On July 31st 1917 she anchored at Mopelia, French Society Islands. Unbeknownst to Captain Luckner she had begun to drag her anchor and two days later she went aground on a coral reef and was destroyed. Captain Luckner and five others set out to find another ship to capture and continue their raids. The prisoners were marooned on Mopelia and were later rescued. The German crew succeeded in capturing another ship and named it "Fortuna." Captain Luckner and his crew were eventually captured near Fiji and spent the remainder of the war in an internment camp.

During their time at sea, Luckner and the Seeadler managed to capture and sink 16 allied ships totalling over 30,000 tons without a single allied death.

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