Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried

The SMS Siegfried was as a Coastal Defense Ship part of Leo von Caprivis targeted pure coastal defense pronounced imperial naval tactics at the end of the 19th century, which provided only the protection of the German coast and especially the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal.


Launching and design:

The ships of the Siegfried class emerged from the naval concept of Lieutenant General Leo von Caprivi as chief of the Imperial Admiralty from 1883. The concept saw the focus of warfare still in the land forces, the Navy should only serve to protect the German coastal waters and the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, whose construction was already decided. For this purpose, the coastal armored ships were designed, the main focus was on the shallow draft, a strong armor and sufficient firepower, with a direct confrontation with enemy ships was not provided. Attacks should mainly serve those in the concept planned torpedo boats.

The first design for the ship class was made in 1885. 1887 and 1889 made slight changes. In 1888, the keel laid the first ship. The SMS Odin was laid as the last ship of this class on keel.

The launching took place on 10 August 1889, the commissioning on 29 April 1890.

The namesake from the Germanic legend was Siegfried the dragon slayer, who was especially known from the Nibelungen saga.


Siegfried in the Ring of the Nibelung, Act of the Twilight of the Gods




History of SMS Siegfried:

After the commissioning first some test drives were made until the ship was put out of service on 3 October 1890 again. The testing was then carried out from 16 April 1891 again.

After a major maneuver the Siegfried was used as a guard ship in Wilhelmshaven, when on 18 March 1892 the main steam pipe burst, 5 crew members died and the ship had to be repaired by mid-June.

Until the renewed out of service on February 23, 1893 still some maneuvers and foreign trips were performed. Subsequently, some modernization measures were carried out while the drive system was switched to oil firing.

From the spring of 1895 the SMS Siegfried was assigned to the Reserve Division with which she again participated in some maneuvers that reached into the year 1902. At that time, all ships were subjected to the Siegfried class comprehensive modernization, the ships were extended, inter alia, by 8 meters. Since the drive with the oil firing was significantly more expensive than with coal, a coal drive was also installed again. In the autumn of 1903, the reconstruction work was completed and the ship was again allocated to the reserve.

1909 was the last commissioning to a maneuver with the subsequent out of service.


Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried

Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried


Side view of the German Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried in the condition of 1890 from starboard


Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried

Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried


Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried

Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried


The German Coastal Defense Ship SMS Siegfried in the floating dock of the Imperial shipyard Danzig




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the ships of the Siegfried class from the reserve status were brought into active service and in the VI. Squadron put together.

After a few exercises, the squadron was moved to the North Sea to perform security tasks there.

On 31 August 1915, the squadron was disbanded again, since the imperial navy needed the staff of ships on the more modern ships and the Siegfried class was already considered completely outdated.

Initially allocated to the material reserve, the Siegfried was used by the II. Sailor Division as a residential ship from 1 January 1917. In November 1917, the ship was relocated to Emden to serve there as a reserve ship for the SMS Heimdall, which was used as Beischiff the IV Submarine Flotilla.

The last months of the war, the Siegfried still served as Beischiff the outpost flotilla of the Ems.





After the capitulation of the German Empire, the SMS Siegfried did not have to be delivered to the victorious powers. It was removed from the list of warships on 17 June 1919 and scrapped in Kiel in 1920.




Ship data:


SMS Siegfried


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Coastal Defense Ship




Germaniawerft, Kiel


4.770.000 Mark


August 10th, 1889


April 29th, 1890


Scrapped in Kiel in 1920


79 meters


14,9 meters


Max. 5,74 meters


Max. 3.741 Tons


276 Men


4 steam locomotive boilers
2 standing 3-cylinder compound machines

From 1903:
8 Marine Boiler
2 standing 3-cylinder compound machines


5.022 PS (3.694 kW)

Maximum speed:  

14,9 kn (28 km/h)


3 × Ring Cannon 24,0 cm L / 35 (204 shots)

6 × Rapid Fire Gun 8,8 cm L / 30 (1.500 shots)

6 × Machine Cannon 3,7 cm

4 × Torpedo tube ⌀ 35 cm (1 stern, 2 sides above water, 1 bow under water, 10 shots)

From 1903:
3 × Ring Cannon 24,0 cm L / 35 (204 shots)

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

3 × Torpedo tube ⌀ 45 cm (1 stern over water, 2 sides under water, 8 shots)

1 × Torpedo tube ⌀ 35 cm (bow, under water, 3 rounds)



Waterline: 100-240 mm
Deck: 30 mm
Towers: 30 mm
Barbettes: 200 mm
Command tower: 30-80 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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