Small cruiser SMS Lübeck

The small cruiser SMS Lübeck belonged to the Bremen class, which were regarded as an addition to the imperial navy. The construction of the Bremen class contributed to the beginning of the German tradition to name their warships by cities, which continues today. The Lübeck continued to make a big technical leap because it was the first German warship with a turbine drive.


Launching and design:

The construction of the ships of the Bremen class dates back to the year 1901 and resulted from the experiences that were made from the Gazelle class. In the design, the newer ships were only slightly larger in size, the special value was now placed on a stronger propulsion system. The SMS Lübeck made a significant progress because this ship was the first to receive one of the newly developed turbine engines (in addition to the small torpedo boat S125, the first ship of the imperial navy).

The launching of the SMS Lübeck took place on March 26, 1904, the commissioning on April 26, 1905.


Small cruiser SMS Lübeck

Small cruiser SMS Lübeck




History of SMS Lübeck:

Already during the construction phase, the launch was delayed by the installation of the new turbine drive. Even after the commissioning more test drives had to be carried out in order to test the drive system extensively.

During the first test phase, these had to be canceled and the ship was relocated together with 7 torpedo boats in the eastern Baltic since riots broke out in Russia. The torpedo boats support the Russian administration by maintaining the postal service to Saint Petersburg, which came to a standstill because of a railroad strike. The SMS Lübeck, however, took on the safety of the Russian Tsar family, so that they were protected on the ship from encroachments. After about two weeks, the riots went out and the German ships could be withdrawn. Afterwards, the test drives of Lübeck were again recorded.

On August 22, 1906, the testing phase was completed, the ship was assigned to the Association of reconnaissance ships and carried out some trips abroad.

On October 10, 1911, the SMS Lübeck was decommissioned and assigned to the reserve fleet.


SMS Lübeck visiting Lübeck in 1905


The mayor of Lübeck, Johann Georg Eschenburg, goes aboard the cruiser on the occasion of a visit to Lübeck in 1905

The mayor of Lübeck, Johann Georg Eschenburg, goes aboard the cruiser on the occasion of a visit to Lübeck in 1905


Small cruiser SMS Lübeck

Small cruiser SMS Lübeck




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the Lübeck was put back into active service on 12 August 1914 and used in the Baltic Sea for coastal protection.

During the advance to Gotland from June 30 to July 2, 1915, there was a battle between the Lübeck and some Russian cruisers, with the Lübeck received no results for the armored cruiser Rurik severely damaged.

During the trip to Kiel, the ship received a mine hit on January 13, 1916, which severely damaged the rudder and the screws. Even the command tower was badly damaged by the broken foremast, which also cost the lives of 2 crew members. The ship then had to be towed first to Gdansk, later to Szczecin to carry out the necessary repairs. In addition to the repair work, rebuilding measures were carried out at the same time. This resulted in the exchange of 4 of the 10.5cm guns against 2 15cm guns. The bow and the bridge superstructures were also modernized. On December 15, 1916, the ship was able to set sail again, remained due to the tense staff situation of the Imperial Navy in the reserve fleet.

In March 1917, the conversion to a submarine school and target ship began, until the ship was put out of service on March 8, 1918 again.





Due to the age and the already at the end of the war clear technical backlog, the SMS Lübeck was not one of the ships that had to be delivered under the terms of the truce.

The ship was removed on November 5, 1919 from the list of warships to then on September 3, 1920 but still be delivered as a repair service to the UK. These finally had the ship scrapped in Germany from 1922 to 1923.




Ship data:


SMS Lübeck


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Small cruiser




AG Vulcan, Stettin


5.436.000 Mark


March 26th, 1904


April 26th, 1905


Scrapped 1922-1923


111,14 meters


13,3 meters


Max. 5,43 meters


Max. 3.661 Tons


288 to 349 Men


10 Marine Boiler
2 Parsons turbines


14.035 PS (10.323 kW)

Maximum speed:  

23,1 kn (43 km/h)


10 × rapid fire contactor 10,5 cm L / 40 (1.500 rounds)

10 × machine gun 3,7 cm

2 × torpedo tube ⌀ 45,0 cm (5 rounds)



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.

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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