SMS Karlsruhe

  • Type: Light Cruiser
  • Class: Königsberg
  • Length: 112m
  • Beam: 12m
  • The only Königsberg class cruiser to be successfully scuttled in Scapa Flow. Sister ships SMS Nürnberg and Emden, also interned, were beached by the British before they could sink.

History of SMS Karlsruhe

SMS Karlsruhe was a Königsberg class light cruiser, laid down in May 1915. She was named Karlsruhe after her namesake sank in the Caribbean in 1914 following an internal explosion.

SMS Karlsruhe and her three sister ships – SMS Emden, Königsberg and Nürnberg – were vast improvements on their predecessors. Coal was carried in longitudinal side-bunkers, which added extra protection against attack to the internal areas of ship. Oil was stored in tanks within the double-bottom of the ships.

Karlsruhe was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in November 1916. She served in the II Scouting Group alongside SMS Königsberg and Nürnberg. The ships patrolled the Heligoland Bight in the North Sea, protecting minesweepers against British light forces.

Between September and October 1917 SMS Karlsruhe was involved in Operation Albion, planned to eliminate the Russian naval forces holding the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea.

During the operation SMS Karlsruhe was one of five cruisers of the II Scouting Group commanded by Kontreadmiral (Rear Admiral) von Reuter, who would later give the order to scuttle the German Fleet in Scapa Flow.

She led the transport of German troops during the operation, including a bicycle brigade. For the remainder of Operation Albion the cruiser acted as a scout and protector for the IV Battle Squadron as its battleships destroyed the Russian shore batteries.

SMS Karlsruhe undertook a sortie to protect the light cruisers SMS Bremse and Arcona in April 1918 when they laid offensive mines off the Norwegian coast in advance of an operation to intercept Allied convoys. This
operation was called off when the battlecruiser Moltke lost a propeller.

She guarded the coast of Flanders in October 1918 as the Germans evacuated the U-boat and destroyer bases at Zeebrugge and Bruges.

The ship was the only one of the class the Germans managed to scuttle in Scapa Flow as SMS Nürnberg and Emden were both beached by the British.

The wreck was sold in 1962 and partially broken up underwater between 1963 and 1965.

  • Nationality: German
  • Launched: 31 January 1916
  • Commissioned: 15 November 1916
  • Builder: Kaiserliche Werft, Kiel (Imperial Dockyard, Kiel)
  • Construction No: 41
  • Type: Light Cruiser
  • Subtype/class: Königsberg Class
  • Displacement (Standard): 5,440 tonnes
  • Displacement (Full Load): 7,125 tonnes
  • Length Overall: 112m *
  • Beam: 12m
  • Draught: 6.32-5.96m
  • Complement: 475
  • Material: Steel
  • Cause Lost: Scuttled
  • Date lost: 21st June 1919. 1550 hrs
  • Casualties: 0
  • Propulsion: Ten coal-fired and two oil-fired double-ended marine-type boilers. Two sets marine-type turbines (high-pressure turbines worked by geared transmission). Two propellers
  • Fuel: 1,340 tonnes coal, 500 tonnes oil
  • Power: 55,700 shp** maximum
  • Speed: 27.7 knots maximum
  • Armour: ranges from 20-60mm (position dependent), control tower 100mm (on the sides)
  • Armament: 8 x 15cm guns, 2 x 8.8cm guns, 2 x 50cm deck-mounted torpedo tubes, 2 x 50cm lateral submerged torpedo tubes, 200 deck-mounted mines

* Measurements taken from ship's plans
**shp - shaft horsepower

NB: Horsepower is generally given in maximum and design. The former indicates the maximum output of the individual ship under trial conditions and the latter the design output (generally common to all ships of the class).