Battleship SMS Nassau

The battleship SMS Nassau belonged to the same ship class and was the beginning of the battleships of the Imperial Navy. Despite the technical advances already known in the design, the ship class lagged behind its potential.


Launching and design:

The construction of the Nassau class is based on the experience of the predecessor ships of the Deutschland class. At the beginning of the 20th century, the naval command of the largest naval powers was increasingly concerned with the construction of battleships. In the German Empire, the plans for such a ship class began around 1904, after which the ships of the Nassau class were developed. A little earlier, the HMS Dreadnought launched in the UK, which was the first battleship in the world.

Especially in the field of fire control great progress was made, since the planning already assumed that future naval battles would take place at a greater distance and therefore the target acquisition to a large distance was crucial. In addition, the interaction of the weapons of a ship should be improved.

Furthermore, measures have been taken in the field of protection. Thus, the building material wood for the interior decoration was replaced mainly by metal and metal to give fire hardly any possibilities for propagation.

Due to the ever increasing explosive power of torpedoes, a new type of construction was introduced in the Nassau class to clearly absorb the energy of a detonation. The outer wall was kept relatively thin, behind it a several meters long empty passage was created which was completed with another wall. Behind them, in turn, were coal and oil storage.

During the planning of the ships of the Nassau class, it was already possible to set up the main guns in one line and firing on top of each other. However, since no turbine systems could be built for ships in Germany, the ships of the Nassau class still had to be equipped with piston steam engines, which consumed a corresponding space inside the ship and thus the main guns were installed in hexagonal layout.

The launching of the SMS Nassau took place on March 7, 1908, the commissioning on October 1, 1909.


Upper view of the Nassau class


SMS Nassau at the equipment pier in Kiel


Port gun of SMS Nassau during the construction phase


Battleship SMS Nassau

Battleship SMS Nassau




Use in the war:

After the outbreak of the First World War, Nassau was first involved in the Baltic Sea from 6 to 20 August 1915 on the thrust into the Riga Bay to protect the local interpretation of mine barriers.

From March 5 to 26, 1916 operations were carried out on the east coast of Britain, including the bombardment of the airship halls of Tønder. On April 24, 1916, the ship accompanied some large cruisers of the Imperial Navy, which fired at the British coastal cities of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Also on the Skagerrakschlacht from 31 May to 1 June 1916 Nassau was involved, suffered by 2 hits and the collision with the British destroyer HMS Spitfire some damage and had 11 dead team members. The repair work lasted until July 10, 1916.

By the end of 1917, there were still some attempts in the North Sea, but remained uneventful.

At the beginning of December 1917, under the leadership of the stoker Joseph Götz, there was a rebellion on the Nassau, but it was quickly put down. Götz was sentenced on 6 December 1917 to six years in prison.

The last foray on April 23, 1918 on Stavanger in Norway, then remained the ship, like most other capital ships until the war in the ports.


Damage to the Nassau after the collision with the HMS Spitfire


Battleship SMS Nassau

Battleship SMS Nassau


Battleship SMS Nassau

Battleship SMS Nassau


Battleship SMS Nassau

Battleship SMS Nassau





According to the provisions of the Versailles Treaty, SMS Nassau had to be delivered to Japan as a reparation service. So the ship was deleted from the list of warships on 5 November 1919 and transferred on 7 April 1920 to Japan.

Since these had no use for the German ship, it was already sold in June 1920 to a scrapping company in Scotland and scrapped in Dordrecht.




Ship data:


SMS Nassau


German Empire

Ship Type:  





Imperial Shipyard, Wilhelmshaven


37.400.000 Mark


March 7th, 1908


October 1st, 1909


Delivered to Japan on April 7th, 1920, sold and scrapped in June 1920


146,1 meters


26,9 meters


Max. 8,76 meters


Max. 20.535 Tons


1008 Men


12 coal / oil fired steam boilers

3 upright 3-cylinder triple expansion steam engines



26.244 PSi

Maximum speed:  

20 kn


12 × 28 cm Rapid Fire Gun L / 45

12 × 15 cm Rapid Fire Gun L / 45

14 × 8,8 cm Rapid Fire Gun L / 45 (sea target until 1916)

2 × 8,8 cm L / 45 (Anti-aircraft guns since 1915)

6 × torpedo tube 45 cm



Belt: 80-300 mm
Side armor: 100-170 mm
Deck: 55-80 mm
Casemates: 160 mm
Towers: 90-280 mm
Control rooms: 50-400 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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