This was a German commercial programme to improve the supervision of the mercantile shipbuilding effort in the latter half of World War II (23 June 1943/8 May 1945).
On 23 June 1942 the Bremen- and Hamburg-based shipping companies Bock, Godeffroy & Co., DDG 'Hansa', Deutsche Afrika Linien, John T. Essberger, Hamburg Amerika Linie, Hamburg Süd, Norddeutscher Lloyd, Schulte & Bruns and Rob. M. Sloman established the Schiffahrtstreuhand G.m.b.H. with the object of developing the financial, contractual and logistic framework of the programme. The effort required a mass of increasingly scarce materials, such as 420,000 tons of steel, and the untangling of the difficult question of supervisory control.
The 'Hansa-Bauprogramm' was based on three types of ships (Typ A, Typ B and Typ C) for use primarily on what was left of German trade in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. There was a lead yard for each type, these yards being determined on the basis of the draught of the three types: for the shallow-draught 2,000-ton Type A with a 3,000-ton payload, the lead yard was Deutsche Werft of Hamburg; for the medium-draught 2,800-ton Type B with a 5,000-ton payload, the lead yard was Bremer-Vulkan; and for the deep-draught 5,300-ton Type C with a 9,000-ton payload, the lead yard for design was F. Schichau of Danzig and for construction Deutsche Weft.
A total of 65 such general cargo ships was completed between 1942 and 1945, this comparatively small number being the result of the altogether greater priority enjoyed in high-quality materials and labour by the current warship (and especially U-boat) programmes, a fact which meant that the Type A, Type B and Type C vessels were limited to the use of poor quality steel, coal-fired steam boilers and reciprocating steam engines for a speed of between 10 and 11.5 kt.