Small cruiser SMS Thetis

The small cruiser SMS Thetis belonged to the Gazelle class built around the turn of the century. The Thetis was one of the few ships to serve in both the First World War and the Weimar Republic Navy.


Launching and design:

The designs of the Gazelle class originated in 1895 and 1896 and were the first modern small cruiser of the imperial navy. Since the ships were multiplier constructions, there were no predecessors, the experience for the construction was therefore from the Meteor class. Up to the Kolberg class of 1910, all small cruisers constructed so far took from the experience and construction of the Gazelle class.

Unlike ships of one class, the ships of the Gazelle class were planned in two phases. The first phase was based on designs from 1895 and 1896, the second phase on designs from 1897 and 1900, with the second series of ships provided a slightly larger variant.

The launching of the SMS Thetis took place on 3 July 1900, the commissioning on 14 September 1901.


Small cruiser SMS Thetis

Small cruiser SMS Thetis


Small cruiser SMS Thetis

Small cruiser SMS Thetis




History of SMS Thetis:

After commissioning and completion of the test drives the ship was equipped for the trip to Asia and ran from Kiel on December 1, 1901.

Along the way, the Thetis had the task to spy the Farasan Islands off the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula for a possible coal base.

In Tsingtao arrived the ship made several trips abroad to represent the German interests in the area.

During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 and 1905, SMS Thetis was entrusted with monitoring the parties to the conflict and evacuating German citizens from the endangered areas.

As in July 1905 in the German colony of German East Africa, an uprising of the population broke out, the Thetis was sent together with the small cruiser SMS sea eagle in the affected area. When the two ships arrived on September 26, 1905 in Dar es Salaam, the uprising was already over. The Thetis remained still until 29 March 1906 on site. Then the ship went to Danzig, where it was overhauled from June 18, 1906 and assigned to the reserve fleet.


Small cruiser SMS Thetis in the port of Dar es Salaam, German East Africa

Small cruiser SMS Thetis in the port of Dar es Salaam, German East Africa




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the SMS Thetis was assigned to the Coastal Protection Division of the Baltic Sea and entrusted with security tasks.

In the years 1914 and 1915, the ship carried out several operations in the Baltic Sea. In the process, mine barriers were laid and attacks on the coasts were supported. On 8 September 1915, during a foray into the Riga Bay, the ship ran on a mine and had to be towed first to Libau, then to Kiel.

On 21 September 1915, the ship was decommissioned, reactivated on 19 October 1917 as artillery training ship again.

After the war, the SMS Thetis was decommissioned on 19 December 1918 again.




Use in the Navy of the Weimar Republic:

Since the SMS Thetis was completely outdated, the ship had to be delivered after surrender neither interned nor as reparation.

On 2 April 1922, after some modernisation measures in the navy of the Weimar Republic, it was put back into service.

Until 1924, the ship ran to the states on the Baltic until it was finally decommissioned on 30 November 1924 and was used until 1929 as a residential ship.





On March 27, 1929, the Thetis was removed from the list of warships and scrapped in Hamburg.




Ship data:


SMS Thetis


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Small cruiser




Imperial shipyard, Gdansk


4.487.000 Mark


July 3rd, 1900


September 14th, 1901


Scrapped in Hamburg from 1929 to 1930


105,1 meters


12,2 meters


Max. 5,39 meters


Max. 3.005 Tons


257 Men


9 Marine Boiler
2 x 4-cylinder compound machines


8.888 PS (6.537 kW)

Maximum speed:  

21,8 kn (40 km/h)




10 × 10,5 cm L / 40 Rapid Fire Gun (1000 shots)

2 × Torpedo tube ∅ 45 cm (under water, 5 shots)


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