Big cruiser SMS Hansa

The big cruiser SMS Hansa belonged to the Victoria Louise class and was one of the last armored cruisers built for the imperial navy before this ship was replaced by more modern classes.


Launching and design:

The Victoria Louise class was a type of cruiser II. Class and thus not directly designed for conflict with other major naval forces. Main tasks of this class were mainly overseas services and the training of sailors.

The development of the ship class begins at the beginning of the 90s of the 20th century. During this time, there was a controversial dispute between the High Command of the Navy and the Imperial Navy Office on the new direction of the imperial navy. Although it was agreed beforehand to dispense with coastal defense and to build an imperial deep-sea fleet. However, the offices could not agree on a ship type, which can take over the corresponding tasks. Under Rear Admiral Wilhelm Büchsel, who temporarily led the Reichsmarineamt from March 31 to June 15, 1897, came the plan for the expansion of a large cruiser fleet. This should also include a total of 30 ships of the Victoria Louise class, with the first ships were already launched from the stack. After Alfred Tirpitz took office in June 1897, he promptly deleted this plan, but could no longer prevent the commissioning of the already almost finished ships of the Victoria Louise class.

The development came from the insights that the designers had gained from the single ship SMS Kaiserin Augusta. There was only minimal change in length and armament.

Initially, the drive system at Hansa consisted of 18 transverse Belleville boilers. Only after the fundamental modernization in this ship, the uniform marine boiler were installed.

The heavy guns consisted of two 21-cm rapid-fire cannons, which were supplemented with eight 15-cm fast-charging cannons.

The launch of the SMS Hansa took place on March 12, 1898, the commissioning on April 20, 1899.


SMS Hansa


SMS Hansa


SMS Hansa in the dock




History of SMS Hansa:

After commissioning on April 20, 1899, the usual test drives the ship. On one of these trips, the ship landed on 6 June east of Denmark and had to be towed free by the coastal armored ships Aegir and Odin. Subsequently, the Hansa was assigned to the East Asia Squadron to replace the local, completely obsolete ships.

The journey to Asia began on August 16, 1899, where at the beginning of September gifts of Emperor Wilhelm II were brought to Jerusalem and Haifa and surveying work was carried out on the Maldives Islands. On the trip, the inadequate machinery quickly became apparent, which partially failed. Due to the resulting rapid exhaustion of the boiler crew Hansa had to start on September 29, Colombo (capital of Sri Lanka) to stay there for a few days.

On October 7, the ship was able to sail out again in the direction of Singapore, where it arrived 6 days later and was there for some time at anchor. After sailing to continue the voyage, one of the ships' kettles exploded, fatally scalding 2 men and forcing the ship to return to Singapore to take necessary repairs.

On the later onward journey, due to the continuing boiler problems, Xiamen had to be called on 26th October. On 2 November, the two German ships SMS Hertha and SMS Deutschland arrived in the harbor. The onward journey of the German ships began on 11 November in the direction of Shanghai. On the way, however, the Hansa had to call Hong Kong to let the machinery overhaul. Only on December 28, 1899, the ship was ready for use again.

On March 15, 1900, the Hansa reached the German colony Tsingtau from where the ship still carried out some visits in the area.


At the beginning of 1900, the discontent of the Chinese in the region continued to widen over the Europeans and Japanese and finally ended in the Boxer Rebellion. At breakout, the Hansa moved to Tanggu, where there were already other warships from Great Britain, the United States, Russia, Australia, British India, France, Italy and Japan. British Vice-Admiral Edward Hobart Seymour ordered the immediate landing of soldiers to protect the Legation in Beijing from the uprising. He also asked for the support of the Germans. Due to the unexpectedly large resistance of the insurgents, the landed soldiers had to pull back, with Vice Admiral Seymour had brought the famous saying:
"The germans to the front!" and thus meant the assumption of the foremost battle line by the German landing corps. When it became known that the adjacent Taku forts would receive reinforcements, it was decided to bring the remaining soldiers ashore and storm the forts. After an ultimatum to the surrender, the Chinese crew of the forts began to open the fire on the nearby gunboats, whereupon they returned the fire. Gradually, so the forts could be taken.

The Hansa was also involved in some such operations. Due to enemy fire the crew lost 13 men.


After the Boxer Rebellion and the repair work the Hansa ran in October 1900 in Nagasaki on a visit. From December 30 to March 5, 1901, the ship was overhauled and then returned to Tsingtau to attend the ceremony to found the Commonwealth of Australia on behalf of the German Empire.

Until mid-1906, the Hansa was mainly commissioned with visiting trips on July 4, 1906 then took place the relocation to the German Reich, where it was placed on 26 October in Danzig as a warship out of service. From April 1907 to March 1909, a comprehensive modernization was to use the Hansa as a training ship, since the previously used ships of the Bismarck class were completely outdated and no financial means for new buildings were available. The re-commissioning took place on April 1, 1909 as a midshipman and shipboy training ship and until the outbreak of the First World War, training trips were made to the Mediterranean, the US and the Caribbean.


SMS Hansa after the conversion as a training ship




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the SMS Hansa was again assigned to the military service and transferred to the newly formed V. reconnaissance group. The missions were limited only to security tasks in the Baltic Sea. Due to the early shortage of personnel on larger and more modern warships, the reconnaissance group was dissolved on 16 November 1914 and the Hansa decommissioned. For the remainder of the war, the ship served only in Kiel as a dwelling for torpedo boat crews.





After the war, the Hansa was deleted on December 6, 1919 from the list of warships and scrapped in Rendsburg.




Ship data:


SMS Hansa


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Big cruiser




AG Vulcan, Stettin


10.270.000 Mark


March 12th, 1898


April 20th, 1899


On December 6, 1919 deleted from military list and scrapped


110,5 meters


17,6 meters


Max. 7,34 meters


Max. 6.705 Tons


477 Men


18 transverse Belleville steam boilers
3 stationary 4-cylinder compound machines


10.388 PS (7.640 kW)

Maximum speed:  

18,7 kn (35 km/h)


2 × Rapid Fire Gun 21,0 cm L / 40 (116 shots)

8 × Rapid Fire Gun 15,0 cm L / 40 (960 rounds)

10 × Rapid Fire Gun 8,8 cm L / 30 (2.500 rounds)

10 × Revolver cannon 3,7 cm

3 × torpedo tube ø 45 cm (2 sides, 1 bow, under water, 8 shots)



Deck: 40 mm
Slopes: 100 mm
Tower fronts: 100 mm
Tower ceilings: 30 mm
Casemates: 100 mm
Control station: 150 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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