Big cruiser SMS Yorck

The big cruiser SMS Yorck belonged to the Roon class, which consisted of only two ships and were built shortly after the turn of the century. These ships provided the transition from the class of battleship to the big cruiser.


Launching and design:

At the beginning of the 20th century, a draft was required by the German naval office to replace the two ships of the Kaiser class of 1874. End of 1901, the design was firmly established, which was strongly based on the just recently designed Prinz Adalbert class. The most striking differentiator was instead of 3, now 4 chimneys. Due to the installation of 16 water tube boiler another chimney was needed. The Prinz Adalbert class, on the other hand, was designed with 14 Dürr steam boilers, which required less space in the ship.

The launch of the SMS Yorck took place on May 14, 1904, the commissioning on November 21, 1905.


Big cruiser SMS Yorck

Big cruiser SMS Yorck



Big cruiser SMS Yorck

Big cruiser SMS Yorck




History of SMS Yorck:

After commissioning and the successful test drives, the ship was assigned to the reconnaissance forces.

Until May 21, 1913, the Yorck took part in the annual maneuvers and made several trips through the Atlantic. Also, the ship was brought in between time and again in the Werfrt to perform reparation work or conversions.

On March 4, 1913, one of the maneuvers resulted in a serious accident when the torpedo boat S178 was rammed by Yorck in an attempt to sail through the lines of the ships and broke in two. This 69 crew members were killed.

On May 21, 1913, the SMS Yorck was decommissioned and assigned to the reserve fleet.




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the SMS Yorck was reactivated and assigned to the IV. reconnaissance group.

In the first weeks of the war, the ship mainly took over security duties in the North Sea and in the Baltic Sea.

After an advance on the British East Coast and the completion of the company, the SMS Yorck ran back in early November 1914 in the direction of Wilhelmshaven. In the night of 3 to 4 November, however, the outer jade outside Wilhelmshaven was covered with thick fog. Captain Waldemar Pieper first left the Yorck anchored, as the onward journey would be too dangerous. However, since he feared that the drinking water on the ship could be loaded with paratyphus (a typhus species), he read the anchor at a better view and decided against the will of the pilot for the onward journey.





Due to the still poor visibility, the SMS Yorck ran against 4.10 clock on a sea mine, which was actually designed against invading British ships. In an attempt to bring the ship on a different course, it ran to a second mine.

The ship began to capsize immediately and then sink. From the crew died 336 men.

In 1926, 1936 and 1937 parts of the wreck were blown up to keep the shipping lane free. From July 27 to October 4, 1983, the soil was sucked under the wreckage so that the rest of the wreck could lie deeper.




Ship data:


SMS Yorck


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Big cruiser




Blohm & Voss, Hamburg


16.241.000 Mark


May 14th, 1904


November 21st, 1905


Sunk on November 4th, 1914


127,8 meters


20,2 meters


Max. 7,76 meters


Max. 10.266 Tons


633 Men


16 water tube boiler type Dürr
3 × 3-cylinder compound machine


20.031 PS (14.733 kW)

Maximum speed:  

21,4 kn (40 km/h)




4 × Rapid Fire Gun 21,0 cm L / 40 (380 shots)

10 × Rapid Fire Gun 15,0 cm L / 40 (1.600 shots)

14 × Rapid Fire Gun 8,8 cm L / 35 (2.100 shots)

4 × torpedo tube ø 45,0 cm (under water, 11 shots)


Belt: 80-100 mm on 55 mm teak
Deck: 40-60 mm
Casemate: 100 mm
Citadel: 100 mm
Front command tower: 30-150 mm
Aft command tower: 20-80 mm
Towers heavy artillery: 30-150 mm
Towers Medium Artillery: 100 mm
Shields Medium Artillery: 80 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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