Barbarossa was one of Prinzess Irene's sister ships.
The North German Lloyd shipping company launched the Barbarossa on May 9, 1896. The ship began its maiden voyage to Australia on August 1, 1897.
Built by the Blohm & Voss company in Hamburg, the Barbarossa had these specifications when launched:
Weight: 10,769 Gross Registered Tons (GRT)
Dimensions: 167.1 meters length overall by 18.3 meters (548 feet X 60 feet)
Propulsion: Quadruple (IV) steam (expansion) engines, twin screw
Power: 7,000 Indicated Horsepower (IHP)
Speed: 14.5 knots
First class: 230
Second class: 227
Third class (steerage or ‘tween): 1,935
Barbarossa’s passenger capacity was too great for year-round use on the Australian service, so it ran in the high season Bremen-to-New York and Mediterranean-to-New York (where Barbarossa often joined Prinzess Irene).
At the start of World War I, Barbarossa sheltered with Prinzess Irene at the North German Lloyd docks in Hoboken. The United States seized the ship on June 4, 1917, renamed it Mercury and used it for troop transport.