Liner SMS Kaiser Barbarossa

The SMS Kaiser Barbarossa was the last ship of the Kaiser Friedrich III.-class ships that were still built as a unit line ships and indienst. For the first time German warships were equipped with the new fast-charging cannons as the main armament and the middle artillery began to gain in importance.


Launching and design:

The ships of the Kaiser Friedrich III class originated from the experiences of the preceding Brandenburg class. The vast difference was in the armament, which consisted for the first time of fast charging guns and replaced the previously installed casing ring guns. Although the caliber was reduced from 28cm to 24cm, the better shooting performance in cadence, range and penetration, the downgrading could be more than offset. The medium artillery was also significantly strengthened, as the Naval Office recognized the benefits that it had in shelling the less armored areas of enemy ships. For this purpose, the middle artillery fire should be specially focused on the bridge and other less armored structures.

Further improvements were the integration of continuous ammunition lifts the new towers of heavy artillery, the first two ships of the Kaiser Friedrich III class still had the old turrets C / 1897 and only later the new C / 1898 towers were installed. So the shot order could be increased from 2 to 5 per minute.

In addition, the improved KC steel (Krupp cemented) with a depth of up to 300mm was used to increase the armor.

The launch of the SMS Kaiser Barbarossa took place on 21 April 1900, the commissioning on 10 June 1901.


Emperor Friedrich I, called Barbarossa

Emperor Friedrich I, called Barbarossa




History of SMS Kaiser Barbarossa:

After commissioning and test drives, the ship was assigned to the 1st Squadron. From 22 August to 21 September 1901, the ship took part in the annual fall maneuvers.

From December to mid-1903, some rides took place around the British Isles and Spain, where the ship suffered damage at the helm and had to be provisionally repaired in Kiel for three weeks to participate in the autumn maneuver. From 15 December 1903 to January 1904, the Kaiser Barbarossa was decommissioned and the provisionally repaired damage thoroughly overhauled.

During the period of the reparation work the Marineamt decided on a modernization measure for the ships of the Kaiser Friedrich III. Class. The Kaiser Barbarossa was the first ship in the class that was immediately modernized after the reparations work. For this purpose, the foremast was replaced by a string pole and removed 4 of the four of the 15-cm guns and the torpedo tube at the rear. On October 1, 1907, the reconstruction work was completed and the ship was again assigned to the 1st Squadron.

After several maneuvers and round trips, the Naval Office began in September 1909 with the exchange of ships of the Kaiser Friedrich III.-Class in the 1st Squadron by the new ships of the Nassau class. On September 17, 1909, the departure for the Kaiser Barbarossa was followed by the reserve formation of the Baltic Sea was assigned.

On 13 October 1910, the ship was decommissioned, as new refurbishment measures should be carried out. Although the ships of the Kaiser Friedrich III class were already completely outdated at this time, money for new ships was missing to the navy however. Until July 31, 1911, the reconstruction measures continued, although neither the clout nor other militarily significant increases could be carried out. Until September 15, 1911, the ship was again assigned to active duty until it was finally assigned to the reserve and was no longer actively used until the war.


Liner SMS Kaiser Barbarossa




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the ships of the reserve were again assigned to the active service. However, the obsolete ships of the Kaiser Friedrich III. Class remained entrusted with security tasks in the newly erected 5th Squadron in the North Sea. Only from 19 to 26 September and from 26 to 30 December 1914, the Kaiser Barbarossa was involved in operations in the Baltic Sea.

In February 1915, the navy was instructed to use the ships of the Kaiser Friedrich III class only for security purposes, as they were no longer used by their low combat value for naval battles. Partly, parts of the crew were subsequently removed on some ships in order to use them on more modern ships. From March to April 1915, the Kaiser Barbarossa was also affected. Although the target strength was again reached on April 11, the ship subsequently served as a target ship in the Baltic Sea for torpedo inspection.

On 19 November 1915, the final out of service then took place.





1916 was begun with the expansion of arming on the Kaiser Barbarossa, the guns of heavy and medium artillery were mainly used on the Western Front. Until the end of the war, the ship remained in Wilhelmshaven and was used as a housing ship for prisoners of war.

Since the ship was uninteresting after the capitulation because of the age and the disarmament for the victorious powers, it remained in Germany, was deleted on December 6, 1919 from the list of warships and scrapped 1920 in Rüstringen.




Ship data:


SMS Kaiser Barbarossa


German Empire

Ship Type:  





Ferdinand Schichau, Danzig


20.301.000 Mark


April 21st, 1900


June 10th, 1901


On December 6, 1919 painted as a warship and scrapped in 1920


125,3 meters


20,4 meters


Max. 8,25 meters


Max. 11.785 Tons


628 to 681 Men


4 Thornycroft water tube boilers
6 cylinder boiler
3 standing 3-cylinder compound machines


13.949 PS (10.259 kW)

Maximum speed:  

17,8 kn (33 km/h)


4 × Rapid Fire Gun 24,0 cm L / 40 (300 shots)

18 × Rapid Fire Gun 15,0 cm L / 40 (2.160 rounds)

12 × Rapid Fire Gun 8,8 cm L / 30 (3.000 rounds)

12 × Revolver cannon 3.7 cm

6 × torpedo tube ∅ 45 cm (4 sides, 1 bow, under water, 1 stern over water, 16 shots)



Waterline: 100-300 mm on 250 mm teak
Deck: 65 mm
Heavy Artillery:
Tower fronts: 250 mm
Tower ceilings: 50 mm
Medium artillery:
Towers: 150 mm
Shields: 70 mm
Casemates: 150 mm
Front control station: 250 mm
Aft 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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