The Danish iron screw steamer Hekla (I) was ordered by the newly-formed Thingvalla Line for their North Atlantic service in 1881. Built at Malmo (Sweden), she was registered at 2,788 tons and measured 313 feet in length with a 39 foot beam. Intended primarily for immigrant traffic, she had accommodation for 600 steerage passengers with only a small number of First and Second class cabins, and could make a steady 11 knots under full steam. Her inaugural voyage on what became her regular run from Copenhagen to New York, with calls at the Norwegian ports of Christiania and Christiansand, was in March 1882 and she had completed six round trips by the end of that year. On her first passage of the next year, she foundered off Faerder Fyr, Norway, when outward bound for New York on 17th February 1883 although no loss of life was involved.