Frigate SMS Gefion (SMS Eckernförde)

The frigate Gefion was a ship first used in the Danish Navy, which was used during the German-Danish War and after its end sailed under the Prussian flag.


Launching and design:

The launching took place on May 6, 1844 under the Danish flag. The ship was built on the new Royal Shipyard Copenhagen.


SMS Gefion

SMS Gefion




The history of the Gefion:

In its first voyages the ship carried the Danish Crown Prince Friedrich, where it anchored in Livorno in Tuscany, among other things, to take artworks of the deceased sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen on board and bring them to Copenhagen. 1846 made further trips with the Crown Prince to Madeira and Cádiz in Spain.

In May, the Schleswig-Holstein War was inflamed, for whose use the Gefion was equipped accordingly. Her first war effort she had with the blockade of the Elbe estuary.

After the truce was lifted in April 1849 by the Danish side, the Gefion belonged to an association whose mission was to combat the gun batteries at Eckernförde and turn off. Together with the Christian VIII, the ship attacked the batteries on April 5, because of unfavorable winds, the ships drifted towards the coast and the anchorage of the Gefion would be destroyed. Towards evening, Danish ambassadors tried to demand the free withdrawal of the ships, otherwise the city would be bombarded directly. This demand was rejected and both ships shot incapacitated, so that they surrendered. The Christian VIII exploded inexplicably at the disembarkation of the crew, the Gefion, however, was repaired, christened on SMS Eckernförde and added to the fleet of the still neutral at that time Prussian fleet, to the clarification of the final ownership question.


Die Schlepptrosse zwischen Gefion und Geiser wird zerschossen. Gemälde von Wilhelm Petersen

The towboat between Gefion and Geiser is shot. Painting by Wilhelm Petersen


On September 12, 1850, an attempt was made by the Danes to reconquer the repaired ship lying in the port of Eckernförde. When the attack failed, they tried to set the ship on fire, but by refusing to give up the ship by the first officer Thaulow and the second officer Neynaber, with the help of the crew, the ship could also be saved from this attempt.

In a separate peace between France and Denmark, the whereabouts of the Gefion were clarified and awarded Prussia and included in the Navy of the German Confederation.

In 1852, the entire German Navy was dissolved and the Gefion bought together with the Barbarossa of Prussia and renamed SMS Eckernförde again in SMS Gefion.




The end of the Gefion:

From 1870 the ship was used as a barge in Kiel, before it was deleted on April 5, 1880 from the list of warships and put on May 5, 1880 out of service.

The hull was used as a coalhulk in the end and in the summer of 1891 at the Imperial shipyard in Kiel, the ship was scrapped. The figurehead is still in the new town hall of Eckernförde, a replica can be discovered in the spa gardens of the Gefion Fountain. There is also the original anchor.




Ship data:

Ship type Sailing frigate
Country Denmark, later Prussia
Launching September 27, 1843
Whereabouts Scrapped in 1891
Number of masts 3
Sails Vollship
Length 59 meters
Width 13,5 meters
Draft 5,68 meters
Displacement 1390 metric tons
Speed Up to 15 knots
Arming 2 x 60 pounder
26 x 24 pounder long
20 x 24 Pounder short
Crew Around 400 men



Die Nachbildung der Galionsfigur in Eckernförde

The replica of the figurehead in Eckernförde






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