Maritime Monday for April 22nd, 2013: Dämmerung des Königs

Monkey Fist
Total Views: 38
April 21, 2013


Sailors in Munich


SMS Seydlitz
25,000 ton battlecruiser of the Imperial German Navy
built Blohm & Voß, Hamburg, commissioned May 1913

At the Battle of Dogger Bank, 24 January 1915, Seydlitz was hit by a 13.5-inch shell from HMS Lion which penetrated the working chamber of her after turret. The resulting explosion knocked out the rear turret and, due to an open door to the adjacent turret, knocked out that one as well, with the loss of the 160 men of the two turrets’ crews. Only the prompt action of her executive officer in flooding the magazines saved Seydlitz from a magazine explosion that would have destroyed the ship.

Sank HMS Queen Mary at Battle of Jutland heavily damaged herself, being hit by twenty-one heavy shells and one torpedo and suffering 98 men killed and 55 injured – interned at Scapa Flow where she was scuttled by her crew with the rest of the High Seas Fleet on 21 June 1919. She was salvaged in 1928 and scrapped. +

SMS Seydlitz on wikipeda

see also: Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby


SMS Hindenburg Launch Day – August 1, 1915
more photos

SMS Hindenburg third ship of the Derfflinger class battlecruisers, named in honor of Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, Supreme Commander of the German armies from 1916.

Hindenburg was commissioned late in the war and as a result had a brief service career and saw no major action.

She was the last capital ship of any type built by the German navy during World War I.


She ended up on the sea floor with the rest of the German fleet scuttled at Scapa Flow in November 1918. Hindenburg holds the distinction of being the last of the ships to sink. +

Die Letzten der Amazone
(The last of the Amazone)
1405 x 896

SMS Amazone was the sixth member of the ten-ship Gazelle class; light cruisers and coastal defense ships. The ten ships of the Gazelle class were built between 1897 and 1904, at various German dockyards, including private firms and government shipyards.

Built by the Germaniawerft dockyard in Kiel, laid down in 1899, launched in October 1900, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in November 1901. Top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph).

imageIn 1916, she was disarmed and used as a training ship, then converted into a barracks in 1917. She was retained by the Reichsmarine after the end of the war and served on active duty with the new German Navy through the 1920s. She was reduced to secondary duties after 1931, and remained in service as a barracks ship into the 1950s; Amazone was ultimately broken up for scrap in 1954.

inset: Kleiner Kreuzer Amazone


Undine at her launching
torpedoed in the Baltic by a British submarine in November 1915

The Gazelle class cruiser Ariadne was sunk at the Battle of the Bight, Aug. 28, 1914. Emerging from a fog bank suicidally close to Adm. David Beatty’s battlecruiser squadron, she attempted to make off zigzag fashion and hide in the mist; but her luck had run out. Beatty ordered his gunnery control to sink the target “before she could torpedo us.” Three 13.5″ salvos from HMS Lion and Princess Royal set the cruiser afire and disabled her; she staggered from the fray.

Her crew escaped from the flames and stood on the forecastle, singing “Deutschland Ãœber Alles” as they awaited rescue; SMS Danzig put out to assist them. Ariadne’s skipper had hopes of saving the ship, but she capsized and sank with her ensign still flying. +


built by AG Weser shipyard, Bremen. Laid down 1910, launched 13 May, 1911, commissioned 20 August 1912. Top speed: 27 knots. Complement: 355. +

SMS Magdeburg –  lead ship of the Magdeburg class of light cruisers; sister ships: Breslau, Strassburg, and Stralsund.

In the Baltic, Magdeburg fired the first shots of the war against the Russians on 2 August, when she shelled the port of Libau (western Latvia).

While steaming off the Estonian coast, she ran aground off the island of Odensholm and could not be freed. A pair of Russian cruisers appeared and seized the ship. Fifteen crew members were killed in the brief engagement.

The Russians partially scrapped Magdeburg while she remained grounded before completely destroying the wreck. +

image rt


Magdeburg aground off Odensholm
‎(1,502 × 1,102 pixels)

The Magdeburg unintentionally caused grave harm to the German cause: in the first days of hostilities, she ran aground in the Baltic; during the hasty evacuation before Russian warships turned up, 2 copies of the Germans’ secret cipher were somehow overlooked and a clean copy made its way to the Admiralty in London, where it became the cornerstone of a very successful code-breaking operation in Room 40, overseen by Director of Naval Education (DNE) in Greenwich, Sir Alfred Ewing.

James Alfred EwingFrom Dec. 1914 on, whenever the loquacious Germans (seduced by the excellent quality of their transmitters) planned an attack, their chit-chat was read by the British — and a British flotilla was usually waiting to intercept. +

Ewing achieved considerable fame in the popular press when Room 40 deciphered the Zimmermann Telegram in 1917, which described a German conspiracy to assist Mexico in annexing the southwestern United States.

The publication of the Zimmermann Telegram is generally credited as the trigger event which brought (the United States) into the Great War. +

more: Loss of the Magdeburg and capture of the SKM codebook

inset abv rt: Notable Figures, University of Dundee: Sir James Alfred Ewing


Dinner Menu – SS FRIEDRICH DER GROSSE; c. 1901


Huron (ID 1408) ex-Friedrich Der Grosse (ID 1408)
NavSource; more photos

SS Friedrich der Grosse (or Friedrich der Große) was built in 1896 by Vulcan, Stettin, Germany, and sailed the Atlantic for North German Lloyd until being interned in New York Harbor in 1914.

The United States Government interned German and Austro-Hungarian ships wherever they had put into port, and upon the entrance of the United States into the hostilities on the side of the Allied and Associated Powers — on 6 April 1917 — took them over and assigned them to the United States Shipping Board (USSB).

U.S. Customs agents boarded Friedrich der Grosse in the port of New York, along with 30 other German and Austro-Hungarian vessels, and sent their crews to an internment camp on Ellis Island. However, before these sailors left their ships, they carried out a program of systematic destruction calculated to take the longest possible time to repair.


USS Huron (ID-1408)
formerly the Norddeutscher Lloyd liner SS Friedrich der Grosse

Huron transported 20,871 men to the European battlefront in her eight voyages as a troop transport. In the postwar months, Huron conducted a further seven turn-around voyages, bringing back some 20,582 healthy veterans, and some 1,546 wounded and sick.

Huron operated on Atlantic South American routes for the United States Mail Steamship Company from 1920-1922. +


USS Amerika

more views, including interiors on NavSource


ex-German passenger vessel Amerika, at the Boston Navy Yard, 14 August 1917
shortly after seizure by USSB undergoing conversion for Naval service

USS America (ID-3006)  launched in 1905 as SS Amerika by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the Hamburg America Line of Germany. As a passenger liner, she sailed primarily between Hamburg and New York.

imageAt the outset of World War I, Amerika was docked at Boston; rather than risk seizure by the British Royal Navy, she remained in port for the next three years.

She sank at her mooring in New York in 1918, but was soon raised and reconditioned. After the Armistice, America transported over 51,000 troops back home from Europe. In 1919, she was handed over to the War Department for use by the United States Army as USAT America, under whose control she remained until 1920.

Returned to the USSB in 1920, America was initially assigned to the United States Mail Steamship Company, and later, after that company’s demise, to United States Lines, for whom she plied the North Atlantic on Bremen to New York routes.

Edmund B Alexander

USAT Edmund B. Alexander berthing at Swansea Docks

In March 1926, due to a tragic oil leak from inside the ship, America suffered a fire that raged for seven hours and burned nearly all of her passenger cabins.   The ship was rebuilt and back in service by the following year. In April 1931, she ended her service for the United States Lines and was laid up for almost nine years.

In October 1940, America was reactivated for the U.S. Army and renamed USAT Edmund B. Alexander. After a stint as a barracks ship at St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Alexander was refitted for use as a troopship for World War II duty.

At the end of the war, Edmund B. Alexander was converted to carry military dependents, and remained in that service until 1949. She was placed in reserve until sold for scrapping in January of 1957. +


SS Pennsylvania (1896)
(900 x 581)


Pennsylvania; built for the Hamburg America Line in 1896

In 1917 Pennsylvania was seized by US Government, and renamed Nansemond

SS Pennsylvania (1896) was a combination ocean liner and merchant ship built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast;  launched in 1896 for the German Hamburg America Line for the transatlantic trade, particularly German emigration to the United States.

She took refuge in the United States upon the outbreak of the First World War, and was briefly commissioned as USS Nansemond in 1919. She made several voyages to Europe as a cargo carrier and troop transport, returning many servicemen to U.S. soil.

Laid up in the Hudson River with over 250 other vessels in Eastern estuary waters. Many of these ships were found to have been extensively vandalized during this period.

Scrapped 1924.


heavy battle cruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim, ex. SMS Goeben

imageThis ship, together with her escort, light cruiser SMS Breslau, later renamed Midilli (Mytilene), played a crucial role in the history of the First World War when they accelerated the entry of the Ottoman Empire as an ally of Germany.

On the 10th of August, 1914 both ships, after being chased by Entente’s Navy Fleet, arrived at Dardanelles where their Commander, Wilhelm Anton Souchon (1864 – 1946), voluntarily turned them over to the Ottoman Navy.

These 2 ships thus entered history in a way few others could, or did.+

right: Admiral Souchon

Wilhelm Souchon


German Imperial Navy Postcards, Set 15


British postcard featuring the Goeben: “All Bottled Up”

Following the gathering of Entente’s naval forces just outside the Hellespont on March 18th 1915, the first battle attempting to seize the Dardanelles was fought but the operation failed. Subsequently on April 25th 1915, five Ally divisions consisting of more than 75,000 men landed on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula.

This was the beginning of the Dardanelles Campaign or as it is better known the Gallipoli Campaign, which during the one year that it was fought would cost more than 250,000 lives from both warring sides.

Pursuit of Goeben and Breslau


Stern Turrets on Goeben


Goeben – Portside Amidships

SMS Goeben (1909) – built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg; launched in 1911, commissioned 2 July 1912. Second of two Moltke-class battlecruisers – Compared to their British rivals in the Indefatigable class, Goeben and her sister Moltke were significantly larger and better armored.


SMS Breslau
on MaritimeQuest

Magdeburg –class cruiser built in1910 at AG Vulcan, Stettin; launched 16 May 1911, commissioned  10 May 1912.; transferred to the Ottoman Empire in August 1914 and renamed Midilli.

Top speed of 27.5 knots;  carried 1,200 tonnes of coal, and an additional 106 tonnes of oil that gave her a range of approximately 5,820 nautical miles. Crew: 18 officers and 336 enlisted men.

The ship was mined and sunk in January 1918 during the Battle of Imbros, with the loss of the vast majority of her crew.


SMS Breslau in Turkish waters

Several months after her commissioning in 1912, Goeben, with the light cruiser Breslau, formed the German Mediterranean Division and patrolled there during the Balkan Wars.

The two ships were transferred to the Ottoman Empire on 16 August 1914, and Goeben became the flagship of the Ottoman Navy as Yavuz Sultan Selim (officially renamed TCG Yavuz), where she remained the flagship of the Turkish Navy until she was decommissioned in 1950. Scrapped, 1973.

She was the last surviving ship built by the Imperial German Navy, and the longest-serving battlecruiser or dreadnought-type ship in any navy. +

more images: The Twins – SMS Moltke and Goeben

see also

German Light Cruisers (1896 – 1914)


(full size)

The German crews remained with the ships and donned Ottoman uniforms and fezzes. The command of the ships remained under Souchon, who was given the honor of becoming Ottoman Navy’s Admiral.

On 29th and 30th October 1914 these two ships, sailing under the Ottoman flag, bombed the Russian Naval Bases at Sevastopol and Odessa. These attacks had led to Russia’s declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire on November 2nd 1914 and consequently to Ottomans’ declaration of war against the Entante on November 12th of the same year. +

In the words of Winston Churchill, they broughtmore slaughter, more misery, and more ruin than has ever before been borne within the compass of a ship.+

Although not a widely known historical event now, the escape of Goeben to Constantinople ultimately precipitated some of the most dramatic events of the 20th century.



Kaiser Wilhelm II visiting Yavuz in October 1917


‘We served at the North Sea and the beaches of Turkey,
three years true to the Fatherland’

Kaiserliche Marine bis 1918


Postkarte SMS Thüringen

SMS Thüringen (1909) – third vessel of the Helgoland class of battleships; built by AG Weser in Bremen, launched on 27 November 1909 and commissioned into the fleet on 1 July 1911. Top speed of 21 knots, three sister ships, Helgoland, Ostfriesland, and Oldenburg.

Thüringen participated in the heavy night fighting at Jutland, assisting in the destruction of the armored cruiser HMS Black Prince.

On the night of 29 October, sailors on Thüringen and several other battleships mutinied. Stokers turned off the boilers and refused to work. The following day, torpedo boats came alongside with U-boat U-135, who pointed her guns at the ship. A significant portion of the crew, 314 sailors and 124 stokers, were arrested and taken off. This was not enough to stop the mutiny, which quickly spread throughout the rest of the fleet.


Postkarte Deutsches Kriegsschiff,SMS Thüringen, Frachtboote; c. 1915

Interned in Scapa Flow during the peace negotiations; the four Helgoland-class ships were allowed to remain in Germany and were therefore spared from the the destruction of the fleet.

Eventually ceded to the victorious Allied powers as war reparations; Thüringen was transferred to France in April 1920 and used as a target ship for the French Navy. She was sunk off Gavres and broken up in situ in 1923–1933. +


6 Famous Naval Mutinies

The Kiel mutiny was a major revolt by sailors of the German High Seas Fleet on 3 November 1918. The revolt triggered the German revolution which was to sweep aside the monarchy within a few days. It ultimately led to the end of the German Empire and to the establishment of the Weimar Republic.


VIDEO: November 1918 – Kieler Matrosenaufstand

“The end of the First World War is in sight. Nevertheless, the naval command issued without consultation with the government to command the last naval battle. But this time, the war-weary sailors disobey. The Soviet model now form soldier and worker councils. They call for the end of the war, the abdication of the Emperor and the democratization of society.”


In der Nacht vom 29. auf den 30. Oktober 1918 lag die deutsche Hochseeflotte vor Wilhelmshaven – und meuterte. Es hatte sich herumgesprochen, dass sie in einem letzten sinnlosen Kampf geopfert werden sollte.
(Das Foto zeigt Flotteneinheiten im November 1918.)

“On the night of 29 to 30 October 1918 was the German High Seas Fleet off Wilhelmshaven – and mutinied. Word had spread that she was to be sacrificed in a last futile struggle. (The photo shows fleet units in November 1918)”


“After 24 October 1918 – the war had been lost – the fleet management received orders  (an appeal from authorities) to “one last battle”, the sailors refused in Kiel the duty.”


“Rebellious sailors of the People’s Naval Division participated in the street fighting at the Berlin castle.”

“The naval command stopped the company and captured several dozen sailors who were interned in Kiel. Then rose the unions … … and took the city in early November under their control. Workers solidarity with the sailors.”


“Alles für das Volk, alles durch das Volk!”
“Everything for the people, by the people, everything!”
Philipp Scheidemann proclaims in a window of the Reich Chancellery

“Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden and Secretary Philipp Scheidemann issued a call for calm, but the insurgency quickly jumped to other port cities  and led to the revolution.”


Once informed of the situation, the Kaiser stated,
“I no longer have a navy”

Im Oktober 1918 löste der Matrosenaufstand die Revolution aus
auf Die Welt

The Kiel Mutiny
on wikipedia

The Kiel Mutiny

Time Line of the Sailors’ Mutiny (Sailors’ Revolt) in Kiel, Germany 1918


 Kieler Matrosenaufstand 1918 – 1978 Sturmvögel der Revolution
Sixtieth Anniversary Observance


The MV Liemba
photo by Peter Holst

The MV Liemba, formerly the Graf Goetzen (or Graf von Goetzen) is a passenger and cargo ferry that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika.

Built in 1913 at the Meyer-Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, she was named to honor Count Gustav Adolf Graf von Götzen, the former governor of German East Africa, (modern day Burundi, Rwanda and Tanganyika).

After preliminary assembly, she was taken apart and shipped in pieces to Dar es Salaam, then by rail to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika, where she was re-assembled in 1914.


SS Graf von Götzen; October 1916
North-Western side of Lake Tanganyika near Uvira
(983 × 604 pixels)

SS Graf von Götzen was one of three vessels designated by the German Navy to control Lake Tanganyika during the early part of the First World War.  The Germans had complete supremacy of the lake in the early stages, and the ship was used both to ferry cargo and personnel across the lake, and as a base from which to launch surprise attacks on Allied troops.

image_thumb11The war on the lake had reached a stalemate by the summer of 1916.  To prevent his ship falling into Allied hands during the German retreat from the town of Kigoma, the German naval commander on the lake, Gustav Zimmer, ordered that Götzen be scuttled on 26 July 1916.

The task was given to the three engineers from Meyer Werft who had travelled with the dismantled ship to Lake Tanganyika initially to supervise its assembly.

They decided on their own that they would try to enable a later salvage so they loaded the ship with sand and covered all engines with a thick layer of grease before sinking her carefully off the mouth of the Malagarasi River

rt: Lake Tanganyika Ferry


The Battle of Lake Tanganyika, How the War on the Lake Was Won
(grossen gemachen 2375 x 898)

In 1924 a British Royal Navy salvage team raised her, found that the engines and boilers were still usable, and re-commissioned her in 1927 as the Liemba.

She went on to become the inspiration for the German gunboat Luisa in C. S. Forester’s 1935 novel The African Queen, and John Huston’s subsequent film of the same name.

In 1992, the ship featured in the BBC Television travel series Pole to Pole; host Michael Palin stayed in one of her cabins.

She is the last vessel of the Kaiserlich Marine still actively sailing anywhere in the world. +


Kaiserliche Marine Sailors of SMS Uranus – Mürwik; 1915

more: Kaiserliche Marine & Colonial (Set: 27) on Flickr

Adventures of the Blackgang on tumblr
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