The Kaiser Friedrich, a twin-screw steamship, plied Berlin’s waters for almost 80 years before it was decommissioned in 1967 and converted into offices and residential space. In 1986, the German Museum of Technology purchased the 100-ton boat and restored it to its original appearance.

For several years, the Kaiser Friedrich once again delighted guests with historical city tours until its engines, which used over 150 liters of diesel per hour, made operation both ecologically and economically unviable. The museum reclaimed the boat in 2012 and started the search for Kaiser Friedrich’s next chapter.

In 2022, Volker Marhold and Julius Dahmen, who both have experience converting historic boats to electric propulsion, purchased the Kaiser Friedrich. In close collaboration with Torqeedo’s Customized Solutions team, the conversion to an ultra-efficient electric drive system with twin Deep Blue 50 kW inboard motors and a 400 kWh Deep Blue battery bank was expertly completed by the Tangermünde Shipbuilding and Development Company in Genthin, Germany.

Starting on 13 May, visitors to the “Athens on the Spree” can enjoy an eco-friendly city tour on board this legendary passenger vessel. At night, the city’s most famous boat transforms into a floating beer garden during the 3.5-hour Old Berlin Beer Evening.

Dahmen, co-owner of the 138-year-old vessel and operator of Berliner Welle, a company that provides a variety of historic boats for excursions and events, said that “whisper-quiet, environmentally conscious and free of local emissions, the Kaiser Friedrich will again be available to the people of Berlin. This is the third Berliner Welle excursion boat that we have converted to Torqeedo electric drives, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration."

“The Kaiser Friedrich is a longtime maritime landmark of the city”, Marhold added. “And now it is also a symbol of transformation towards the mobility of the future. And what a wonderful future for Berlin’s oldest passenger vessel, which can now once again welcome passengers to celebrate life with them while enjoying breathtaking views of our beautiful city."

“Torqeedo’s electric drive and energy management systems for commercial vessels are transforming the world’s waterways,” said Fabian Bez, CEO of Torqeedo GmbH. “Major cities like Berlin are taking measures to reduce boating and shipping’s ecological, health and climate impacts. But it’s not just happening in urban areas: Lake Constance is working toward a holistic decarbonization strategy, and we see similar efforts implemented around the globe.”

“An electrification project of this size and historical significance is an important step forward,” continued Bez. “Commercial vessels of all sizes can be cleaner, quieter, and healthier for our natural and human environments. The technology is here today. It’s time to go electric.”