Battleship SMS Helgoland

The battleship SMS Helgoland belonged to the same class of ships and was the first warship in the Imperial Navy, whose main armament was 30.5-cm for the first time. It was one of the most advanced warships in the navy, but was used as the largest part of the fleet predominantly defensive.


Launching and design:

Between 1907 and 1908 drafts were submitted to replace older armored ships against modern large-scale ships, which appeared at least equal to the caliber size of the British ships. These included the Helgoland class with a total of 4 ships were planned. Unlike the British ships, the Helgoland class placed great emphasis on armor, which was more pronounced than other ships.

At the time of ship planning, the designers were already known the principle of overburdening gun turrets, in the Helgoland class, however, the main artillery was divided into 6 twin towers, each with 1 tower on the midship line and two towers each on port and starboard stood.

The launch of the SMS Helgoland took place on 25 September 1909, the commissioning on 23 August 1911.


SMS Helgoland


Battleship SMS Helgoland in the dock

Battleship SMS Helgoland in the dock




History of SMS Helgoland:

At the time of commissioning, there were political tensions between the German Empire, France and Great Britain due to the Moroccan crisis. In order not to aggravate the situation even further, especially with the naval competition with Great Britain, the commissioning of the ship was initially kept secret. Only after the crisis was resolved diplomatically, the ship was officially put into service.

After completion of the test drives the Heligoland was assigned to the 1st Squadron. Further exercises in the North Sea and Baltic Sea took place between 1912 and 1914.




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the ship participated in several operations in the Baltic Sea against the Russian fleet. In May 1916, the transfer to the North Sea, where Helgoland on the night of 31 May on 1 June 1916 at the Battle of the Skagerrak took part. Although the ship got a hit on the foredeck, injured or dead did not exist. From the 3rd to the 16th of June the damage was repaired.

Later in 1916, Helgoland was entrusted with securing tasks in the North Sea. There were still some attempts, but remained without enemy contact.

In April 1917, the Helgoland lay for overhaul in the shipyard. In October, the mine cruisers SMS Brummer and SMS Bremse were accompanied back at Amrumbank, returning from a mining operation.

1918, the ship was mainly divided for security tasks. Heligoland was also to take part in the great decisive battle, which was scheduled by the naval leadership at the end of October 1918. Before the scheduled expiry on 30 October 1918, however, it came in addition to the SMS Thüringen on Helgoland to mutinies of the team. Although these were quickly crushed, the entire operation was canceled and ordered the ships to their respective home ports.





After the capitulation, Helgoland was decommissioned on 16 December. Since the ship was considered outdated for the victorious powers, Heligoland did not have to be interned in Scapa Flow like most other ships. Only with the provisions of the Versailles Treaty had to be delivered, with a few exceptions, the remaining capital ships.

The Helgoland was therefore deleted on November 5, 1919 from the list of warships and delivered on 5 August 1920 to Britain. The British then tried a few tests with the ship until they sold it in 1924 and it was scrapped.


Seal of the SMS Helgoland

Seal of the SMS Helgoland




Ship data:


SMS Helgoland


German Empire

Ship Type:  





Howaldtswerke, Kiel


46.196.000 Mark


September 25th, 1909


August 23rd, 1911


Delivered to Britain and scrapped in 1924


167,2 meters


28,5 meters


Max. 8,94 meters


Max. 24.700 Tons


1.113 Men


15 Marine Boiler
3 4-cylinder compound machines


31.258 PS (22.990 kW)

Maximum speed:  

20,8 kn (39 km/h)


12 × 30,5 cm L / 50 Rapid Fire Gun (1.020 rounds)

14 × 15 cm L / 45 Rapid Fire Gun (2.100 rounds)

14 × 8,8 cm L / 45 Rapid Fire Gun (of which 2 Anti-aircraft guns, 2.800 rounds)

6 × torpedo tube ∅ 50 cm
(4 sides, 1 bow, 1 stern under water, 16 shots)



Waterline: 120-300 mm
Deck: 55-80 mm
Torpedo bulkhead: 30 mm
Towers: 100-300 mm
Casemates: 170 mm
Front control station: 100-400 mm
Aft control console: 50-200 mm






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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