Auxiliary cruiser SMS Möve

The SMS Möve was originally a freighter, which was used at the beginning of the First World War by the Imperial Navy as an auxiliary cruiser for the cruiser war, and with 39 applied merchant ships was one of the most successful auxiliary vessels of the war.


Launching and design:

The SMS Möve was initially under the name Pungo on May 9, 1914 launched and was used as a banana freighter between the German colony of Cameroon and the homeland. The client was the African Fruit Company, whereby the ship was managed by F. Laeisz from Hamburg.


Auxiliary cruiser SMS Möve

Auxiliary cruiser SMS Möve




Use in the war:

At the beginning of the First World War, only large passenger ships were used as auxiliary cruisers. However, these were not very effective and were raised early by the Allies, sunk or had to intern for lack of supplies in neutral ports.

Only in the spring of 1915, the freighter SMS Meteor was converted for the cruiser and mine war, greater success could be achieved. The Marineleitung decided therefore to use another steamer instead of a passenger ship. The future commander of the ship Lieutenant Commander Burggraf and Count Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien had got a free hand in the selection of the ship from the line. After some time, Dohna found the perfect ship for his project with the Pungo. This was at the time in Bremen and could not run because of the war.

The ship was subsequently drafted by the Imperial Navy and started the conversion. Four 15cm rapid-fire guns, one 10.5cm rapid-fire gun, two (later four) 50cm torpedo tubes and 500 sea mines were installed and the ship was renamed SMS Möve.

On December 29, 1915, the reconstruction work was completed and the ship could leave Wilhelmshaven. The first mission was in northern Scotland at Cape Wrath, where several mine barriers were laid. On January 6, 1916, the British standard-line HMS King Edward VII sailed on one of the mines and sank.

In mid-January, the ship began the cruiser war in the Atlantic. By the beginning of March, the ship managed to raise 14 enemy steamers and 1 sailing ship.

In the period from 6 March to 6 May 1916, the ship was repaired in the Imperial Shipyard in Wilhelmshaven and renamed for reasons of camouflage in Vineta. From June 12 to July 29, 1916 operated the Vineta in the Baltic Sea, where the British steamer Eskimo could be applied east of Denmark. The rest of the time no enemy ships could be mustered, not even on a final trip from 20 to 23 August 1916.

From 22 November 1916, the Möve was used again for the cruiser war in the Atlantic. Before the Brazilian and South African coast 21 steamer and 3 sailing ships were applied until the ship met on March 10, 1917 on the armed British steamer Otaki, who shot at the German auxiliary cruiser with his 10.2 cm cannon. After a short battle, the Otaki was sunk, the gull had 5 deaths.

On March 14, 1917, there was another fight with an armed British steamer. The governor fired on the gull while escaping with its rear gun, but could still be upset and the crew captured. As at that time already about 800 prisoners were on board, Lieutenant Commander decided to return to Dohna Kiel, where the ship came on March 22, 1917.

Until the end of the war, the ship was then used as Sperrbrecherin the Baltic Sea.


Corvette Captain Burggraf und Graf Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien

Corvette Captain Burggraf und Graf Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien


Crew members of SMS Möve in March 1916


Auxiliary cruiser SMS Möve. Field Postcard 1916 by Georg Cording





After the war, the gull had to be handed over to Britain. There, the ship was renamed Greenbrier and operated by a London shipping company.

1923 was the sale to the German maritime transport A.G. Midgard in Nordenham and renamed Oldenburg.

During the Second World War, the Oldenburg was drafted by the Kriegsmarine and used in Norway. There, the ship was sunk on 7 April 1945 during an air raid in the Sognefjord at Vadheim.


Transport ship Oldenburg in Gdingen (1939) unloading an artillery unit




Ship data:


SMS Möve


German Empire

Ship Type:  

cargo ship
From November 1st, 1915 auxiliary cruiser


Cargo ship


Joh. C. Tecklenborg, Geestemünde




May 9th, 1914


November 1st, 1915


Sunk on April 7th, 1945 at Vadheim


123,7 meters


14,4 meters


Max. 7,2 meters


Max. 9.800 Tons


235 Men


5 steam boilers

1 x 3-cylinder compound steam engine



3.200 PSi

Maximum speed:  

13,3 kn


4 × 15 cm rapid-fire gun

1 × 10,5 cm rapid-fire gun

2 torpedo tubes 50 cm, from 1916 4 torpedo tubes

500 mines









You can find the right literature here:


German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard)

German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard) Paperback – February 23, 2010

Supported by official documents, personal accounts, official drawings and specially commissioned artwork, this volume is an enlightening history of the Deutschland to Osfriesland classes. Detailing the last of the pre-dreadnaught battleship classes, this book goes on to explain the revolutionary developments that took place within the German Imperial Navy as they readied themselves for war. This included creating vessels with vast increases in size and armament. This account of design and technology is supplemented by individual ship histories detailing combat experience complete with first-hand accounts. The specially commissioned artwork also brings this history to life with recreations of the battleship Pommern fighting at Jutland and ships of the Osfriesland class destroying HMS Black Prince in a dramatic night-time engagement.

Click here!



The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces

The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces Hardcover – December 28, 2016

The Imperial German Navy of WWI is a series of books (Warships, Campaigns, & Uniforms) that provide a broad view of the Kaiser's naval forces through the extensive use of photographs. Every effort has been made to cover all significant areas during the war period. In addition to the primary use of photographs, technical information is provided for each warship along with its corresponding service history; with a special emphasis being placed on those warships that participated in the Battle of Skagerrak (Jutland). Countless sources have been used to establish individual case studies for each warship; multiple photos of each warship are provided. The entire series itself is unprecedented in its coverage of the Kaiser's navy.

Click here!



German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations

German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations Hardcover – November 4, 2014

This is the most comprehensive, English-language study of the German Imperial Navy's battlecruisers that served in the First World War. Known as Panzerkreuzer, literally "armored cruiser," the eight ships of the class were to be involved in several early North Sea skirmishes before the great pitched battle of Jutland where they inflicted devastating damage on the Royal Navy's battlecruiser fleet. This book details their design and construction, and traces the full service history of each ship, recounting their actions, drawing largely from first-hand German sources and official documents, many previously unpublished in English.

Click here!



The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918

The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918 Hardcover – March 15, 2016

The battleships of the Third Reich have been written about exhaustively, but there is little in English devoted to their Second Reich predecessors. This new book fills an important gap in the literature of the period by covering these German capital ships in detail and studying the full span of battleship development during this period. The book is arranged as a chronological narrative, with technical details, construction schedules, and ultimate fates tabulated throughout, thus avoiding the sometimes disjointed structure that can result from a class-by-class approach. Heavily illustrated with line drawings and photographs, many from German sources, the book offers readers a fresh visual look at these ships. A key objective of the book is to make available a full synthesis of the published fruits of archival research by German writers found in the pre-World War II books of Koop & Schmolke, Großmer's on the construction program of the dreadnaught era, Forstmeier & Breyer on World War I projects, and Schenk & Nottelmann's papers in Warship International. As well as providing data not available in English-language books, these sources correct significant errors in standard English sources.

Click here!






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