Liner SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm

The Liner SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm belonged to the ships of the Brandenburg class, which were considered the high point in imperial tanker shipbuilding, before these ship class were replaced by more modern types. In the imperial navy, the ship mainly traveled abroad and was sent to Asia to suppress the Boxer Rebellion. His first war effort, the ship, however, only when it was sold to the Ottoman Empire.


Launching and design:

The construction of the ships of the Brandenburg class began in the early 90s of the 19th century, even before Alfred Tirpitz took office as Secretary of State of the Reichsmarineamt. At the time of construction these ships were considered the pinnacle of the construction of armored ships, only in the later years, the ships were classified as ships of the line.

The development of armored ships went back to the memorandum of Lieutenant General Leo von Caprivi, who in 1884 demanded that the naval line demand that the core of the imperial fleet be sustainable in the long term only with these new ships. The turnaround of the years of practiced use of the ships as pure coastal defense in a deep-sea fleet was thus laid.

After the start of construction of the 4 ships of the Brandenburg class, there were some delays. Reason were supply problems of Krupp in the steel delivery as well as short-term changes of the medium artillery of 8.7cm guns on the new 10.5cm rapid-fire gun. Although the SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm was then the type ship of the new class, it was named after the second ship, the SMS Brandenburg.

The launching of the SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm took place on June 30, 1891, the commissioning on April 29, 1894.


Launch of the SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm

Launch of the SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm


Liner SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm

Liner SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm




History of the SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm:

After the commissioning and the test drives the SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm was used as flagship of the I. Division.

By the turn of 1899 to 1900, the ship was mainly involved in foreign travel in the European area, including Sweden, England, the Netherlands and Portugal were started. The last trip abroad was in May 1900 and led to the Shetlands, the Sognefjord and Bergen.

When the Boxer Rebellion began in Beijing in the spring of 1900 in East Asia, the imperial naval leadership, contrary to Alfred von Tirpitz's objections, decided to send more ships and troops into the area around the uprising. However, the imperial East Asian Cruiser Squadron, which already consisted of 7 ships, was already on site. In support, however, 5 more ships, including all ships of the Brandenburg class sent. From Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, the ships ran out on 9 and 11 July. On August 30, 1900, the ships arrived at the roadstead of Wusung near Shanghai and began to block the Yangtze River in order to prevent the Chinese Navy from leaving the country. At the time of the blockade, the uprising had already been ended by the troops of the eight states of the Alliance. On June 1, 1901, the four Schiffer of the Brandenburg class together with the SMS Hela on the way back.

In the following years, some rebuilding measures were carried out on the SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm, but already in 1906, the naval leadership came to the conclusion that the ships of the Brandenburg class were already outdated. They were accordingly assigned to the reserve fleet and served only for training purposes.

On 12 September 1910, the two ships SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm and SMS Weißenburg were then sold to the Ottoman Empire, where they were renamed Barbaros Hayreddin and Turgut Reis and accepted into the Ottoman navy.


Liner SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm

Liner SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm


Liner SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm

Liner SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm




Operation in the Balkan War:

With the outbreak of the Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913, the Barbaros Hayreddin was first used in a war. On November 17, 1912, the ship fired at Bulgarian troops advancing at Catalca to prevent the advance to Constantinople.

On 16 December 1912, the first attempt was made by Ottoman warships to break the Dardanelles. During the battle of Elli the Barbaros Hayreddin was damaged, had to complain 7 dead and 14 wounded and the Ottoman ships were forced to retreat to the Greek ships.

The second outbreak attempt on 18 January 1913 failed because of the defense of the Greek ships. In the battle of Lemnos fell almost the entire artillery of Barbaros Hayreddin from, were also 32 dead and 45 wounded to complain.

The next mission was on February 8, 1913 during shelling of the coastal region near Tekirdag to support the local landing operation of the Ottoman troops. The company failed, however, by the artillery shelling of Barbaros Hayreddin and other ships, the Ottoman troops, however, could withdraw without major losses.


Ottoman fleet flagship Barbaros Hayreddin


Ottoman fleet flagship Barbaros Hayreddin





With the outbreak of the First World War, the ship had to deliver some of their guns to the coastal defense of the Dardanelles to protect them from attacks by the British. Thus, the Barbaros Hayreddin was no longer to use for a war effort. On August 8, 1915, the ship was still driving through the Dardanelles when it was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS E11 at the northern end of the Gallipoli peninsula.

The hit damaged the ship so badly that it began to sink. The sinking cost 253 crew members the life.




Ship data:


SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm


German Empire

From September 12th, 1910 Ottoman Empire

Ship Type:  





Imperial Shipyard, Wilhelmshaven


16.054.000 Mark


June 30th, 1891


April 29th, 1894


Sunk on August 8th, 1915


115,7 meters


19,5 meters


Max. 7,4 meters


Max. 10.670 Tons


568-591 Men


12 cylinders boiler
2 standing 3-cylinder compound machines


9.686 PS (7.124 kW)

Maximum speed:  

16,9 kn (31 km/h)


4 × Ring Cannon 28,0 cm L / 40

2 × Ring Cannon 28,0 cm L / 35 (total 352 rounds)

6 × Rapid Fire Gun 10,5 cm L / 35 (600 shots)

8 × Rapid Fire Gun 8,8 cm L / 30 (2.000 rounds)

12 × Revolver Cannon 3,7 cm

6 × torpedo tube ø 45 cm (2 in the bow, 4 in the sides, over water, 16 shots)



Belt over waterline: 300-400 mm
Belt under waterline: 180-200 mm
Deck: 60 mm
Command tower: 30-300 mm
Barbettes: 300 mm
Domes: 50-120 mm
Battery: 42 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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