Small cruiser SMS Undine

The small cruiser SMS Undine belonged to the Gazelle class, which were built at the turn of the century. The Undine was one of the few German ships that were sunk by an enemy submarine.


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 namesake was the mythological figure Undine, a female, virgin water spirit, which derives from the legend of the Stauffenberg family.


Undine by John William Waterhouse, 1872


The launch of SMS Undine took place on 11 December 1902, the commissioning on 5 January 1904.


The launch of the SMS Undine




History of SMS Undine:

After commissioning the ship replaced the SMS Carola as an artillery training ship. In this function, it participated with several torpedo boats on November 17, 1905 in a night maneuver. Because of the poor visibility, there was a serious accident when the torpedo boat S126 drove directly in front of the Undine and was rammed by this and broke in two. When the boiler system of the torpedo boat exploded, 33 crew members died and 17 were saved.

Until September 1910, the ship took part in the annual maneuvers. Then it had to be in the Imperial shipyard Danzig to be overhauled because of heavy wear.

On July 12, 1912, the SMS Undine was finally decommissioned and assigned to the reserve fleet. The crew changed to the new small cruiser SMS Augsburg.


Small cruiser SMS Undine

Small cruiser SMS Undine


Small cruiser SMS Undine

Small cruiser SMS Undine




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the SMS Undine was put back into service and assigned to the Coastal Defense Division of the Baltic Sea.

In the period from 3 to 9 September 1914, the ship took part in the advance into the Gulf of Finland, it came on 8 September 1914 to a serious damage to the propulsion system, after which the ship to Danzig had to repair.

From 18 October 1914, the Undine was, with interim interruption, almost exclusively used for the backup service of the ferry line between Saßnitz and Trelleborg.





On November 7, 1915, the SMS Undine was hit while escorting the ferry Preussen by the British submarine E19 of 2 torpedoes.

The Undine was damaged so badly that the ship went down immediately. From the crew only 24 men could be rescued.

In 1999, the wreck of the Undine was accidentally rediscovered by the Swedish Navy during a maneuver.




Ship data:


SMS Undine


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Small cruiser




Howaldtswerke, Kiel


4.653.000 Mark


December 11th, 1902


January 5th, 1904


Sunk by British submarine on November 7th, 1915


105 meters


12,4 meters


Max. 5,63 meters


Max. 3.112 Tons


270 Men


9 Marine Boiler
2 x 3-cylinder compound machines


8.696 PS (6.396 kW)

Maximum speed:  

21,5 kn (40 km/h)




10 × 10,5 cm L / 40 Rapid Fire Gun (1.500 rounds)

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!






This post is also available in: Deutsch (German) Français (French) Italiano (Italian) 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) Русский (Russian) Español (Spanish) العربية (Arabic)

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!