Small cruiser SMS Hamburg

The small cruiser SMS Hamburg belonged to the Bremen class, which were built shortly after the turn of the century and should serve with 7 ships as fleet reinforcement.


Launching and design:

The Bremen class emerged from the Gazelle class, but had a much more powerful drive system whereupon the number of chimneys had to be increased from 2 to 3. In addition, 10 3.7 cm machine guns were installed to increase the firepower as well.

The launching took place on July 25, 1903, the commissioning on March 8, 1904.




History of SMS Hamburg:

After commissioning on March 8, 1904, the usual test drives were made. When these were completed, the ship was parked as escort ship for the imperial yacht Hohenzollern. After the return of the Nordland trip, comparative trips between Hamburg and the sister ship Lübeck were also carried out. The Lübeck had as the first imperial warship a steam turbine drive which should be compared with the usual marine boilers.

In 1908 Hamburg again accompanied the Hohenzollern on their travels to Venice and to the island of Corfu.

In the next year riots erupted in Anatolia, with Hamburg deposed a German landing party there on April 21, 1909. When the disturbances were resolved, the ship returned to Kiel on May 28, 1909.

On September 15, 1909, Hamburg was decommissioned and assigned to the Fleet Reserve.

With the establishment of a submarine flotilla in 1912, the Hamburg was put back into active service and served from 6 August 1912 as a guide ship.


Small cruiser SMS Hamburg

Small cruiser SMS Hamburg




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, Hamburg was divided into the High Seas Fleet and carried out some operations in the North Sea. It came to a few skirmishes with British ships, which, however, went out for Hamburg without damage.

During a patrol north of Wilhelmshaven came on 21 May 1915 to a collision with the large torpedo boat S21, the Hamburg drove behind the bridge on the torpedo boat and cut it in two parts. The accident cost 36 lives.

From May 31 to June 1, 1916 Hamburg was involved in the Battle of the Skagerrak. By 2 hits 14 crew members died and the Hamburg had until July 26, 1916 in the yard for repair.

Due to the age and the outdated technology, the Hamburg 1917 was deducted from service and brought to Wilhelmshaven where it served as a barge of the leader of the submarines.

After the capitulation, the Hamburg, unlike the modern warships, did not have to be delivered to Scapa Flow. 1919 was the out of service.




Use in the Navy of the Weimar Republic:

As one of the few ships Hamburg remained in post-war Germany. On 7 September 1920, the ship was officially put back into service and served as the flagship of securing the North Sea.

From July 1921, Hamburg accompanied a mine clearance association into the northern Arctic Ocean to clear the local mines laid by the auxiliary cruiser Meteor.

From February 14, 1926 to March 20, 1927, Hamburg was traveling the world. She ran among other things

- West Indies
- Central America
- the Panama Canal
- North America
- Hawaii
- Japan
- Philippines
- Indonesia
- the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean

After arriving in Hamburg, the ship was decommissioned on June 30, 1927.





After the Hamburg was assigned to the reserve fleet, the ship was deleted on February 24, 1931 from the list of warships and served initially from 1936 as a barge for the new navy in Kiel until it was relocated to Hamburg.

When Hamburg was bombed again in 1944, the Hamburg was also hit and sank as a result of the hits in the port of Hamburg. In 1949 the wreck was salvaged and scrapped in 1956.




Ship data:


SMS Hamburg


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Small cruiser




AG Vulcan, Szczecin


4.706.000 Mark


July 25th, 1903


March 8th, 1904


Scrapped in 1956


111,1 meters


13,3 meters


Max. 5,46 meters


Max. 3.651 Tons


288 to 349 Men


10 Marine Boiler
2 3-cylinder compound machines


11.582 PS (8.519 kW)

Maximum speed:  

23,3 kn (43 km/h)


10 × Rapid fire gun 10,5 cm L/40 (1.500 rounds)

10 × Rapid fire gun 5,3 cm L/55

2 × torpedo tube ⌀ 45,0 cm (5 shots)



Deck: 20 - 80 mm
Sole: 100 mm
Command tower: 20 - 100 mm
Shields: 50 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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