|Scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow|
Bayern sinking by the stern
|Commanders and leaders|
|First Battle Squadron||High Seas Fleet|
|Casualties and losses|
The scuttling of the German fleet took place at the Royal Navy's base at Scapa Flow, in Scotland, after the First World War. The High Seas Fleet was interned there under the terms of the Armistice whilst negotiations took place over the fate of the ships. Fearing that all of the ships would be seized and divided amongst the allied powers Admiral Ludwig von Reuter decided to scuttle the fleet.
The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.
Scapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. Its sheltered waters have been used by ships since prehistory and it has played an important role in travel, trade and conflict throughout the centuries – especially during both World Wars.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The scuttling was carried out on 21 June 1919. Intervening British guard ships were able to beach a number of the ships, but 52 of the 74 interned vessels sank. Many of the wrecks were salvaged over the next two decades and were towed away for scrapping. Those that remain are popular diving sites.
Scuttling is the deliberate sinking of a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull. This can be achieved in several ways—seacocks or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives. Scuttling may be performed to dispose of an abandoned, old, or captured vessel; to prevent the vessel from becoming a navigation hazard; as an act of self-destruction to prevent the ship from being captured by an enemy force ; as a blockship to restrict navigation through a channel or within a harbor; to provide an artificial reef for divers and marine life; or to alter the flow of rivers.
A guard ship is a warship assigned as a stationary guard in a port or harbour, as opposed to a coastal patrol boat which serves its protective role at sea.
Marine salvage is the process of recovering a ship and its cargo after a shipwreck or other maritime casualty. Salvage may encompass towing, re-floating a vessel, or effecting repairs to a ship. Today, protecting the coastal environment from spillage of oil or other contaminants is a high priority. Before the invention of radio, salvage services would be given to a stricken vessel by any ship that happened to be passing by. Nowadays, most salvage is carried out by specialist salvage firms with dedicated crew and equipment.
The signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, at Compiègne, France, effectively ended the First World War. The Allied powers agreed that Germany's U-boat fleet should be surrendered without the possibility of return, but were unable to agree upon a course of action regarding the German surface fleet. The Americans suggested that the ships be interned in a neutral port until a final decision was reached, but the two countries that were approached – Norway and Spain – both refused. Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss suggested that the fleet be interned at Scapa Flow with a skeleton crew of German sailors, and guarded in the interim by the Grand Fleet.
Compiègne is a commune in the Oise department in northern France. It is located on the Oise River. Its inhabitants are called Compiégnois.
The Allies of World War I or Entente Powers is the term commonly used for the coalition that opposed the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria during the First World War (1914–1918).
U-boat is an anglicised version of the German word U-Boot[ˈuːboːt](
The terms were transmitted to Germany on 12 November 1918, instructing them to make the High Seas Fleet ready to sail by 18 November, or the Allies would occupy Heligoland.
The High Seas Fleet (Hochseeflotte) was the battle fleet of the German Imperial Navy and saw action during the First World War. The formation was created in February 1907, when the Home Fleet (Heimatflotte) was renamed as the High Seas Fleet. Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz was the architect of the fleet; he envisioned a force powerful enough to challenge the Royal Navy's predominance. Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German Emperor, championed the fleet as the instrument by which he would seize overseas possessions and make Germany a global power. By concentrating a powerful battle fleet in the North Sea while the Royal Navy was required to disperse its forces around the British Empire, Tirpitz believed Germany could achieve a balance of force that could seriously damage British naval hegemony. This was the heart of Tirpitz's "Risk Theory," which held that Britain would not challenge Germany if the latter's fleet posed such a significant threat to its own.
Heligoland is a small archipelago in the North Sea. Today a part of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, the islands have historically been possessions of Denmark and later the United Kingdom.
On the night of 15 November, Rear-Admiral Hugo Meurer, the representative of Admiral Franz von Hipper, met Admiral David Beatty aboard Beatty's flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Beatty presented Meurer with the terms, which were expanded at a second meeting the following day. The U-boats were to surrender to Rear-Admiral Reginald Tyrwhitt at Harwich, under the supervision of the Harwich Force. The surface fleet was to sail to the Firth of Forth and surrender to Beatty. They would then be led to Scapa Flow and interned, pending the outcome of the peace negotiations. Meurer asked for an extension to the deadline, aware that the sailors were still in a mutinous mood (which earlier led to the Wilhelmshaven mutiny), and that the officers might have difficulty in getting them to obey orders. Meurer eventually signed the terms after midnight.
Hugo Meurer was a vice-admiral of the Kaiserliche Marine. Meurer was the German naval officer who handled the negotiations of the internment of the German fleet in November 1918 at the end of the First World War.
Franz Ritter von Hipper was an admiral in the German Imperial Navy. Franz von Hipper joined the German Navy in 1881 as an officer cadet. He commanded several torpedo boat units and served as watch officer aboard several warships, as well as Kaiser Wilhelm II's yacht SMY Hohenzollern. Hipper commanded several cruisers in the reconnaissance forces before being appointed commander of the I Scouting Group in October 1913. He held this position until 1918, when he succeeded Admiral Reinhard Scheer as commander of the High Seas Fleet.
Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty was a Royal Navy officer. After serving in the Mahdist War and then the response to the Boxer Rebellion, he commanded the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, a tactically indecisive engagement after which his aggressive approach was contrasted with the caution of his commander Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. He is remembered for his comment at Jutland that "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today", after two of his ships exploded. Later in the war he succeeded Jellicoe as Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet, in which capacity he received the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet at the end of the war. He then followed Jellicoe's path a second time, serving as First Sea Lord—a position that Beatty held longer than any other First Sea Lord. While First Sea Lord, he was involved in negotiating the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 in which it was agreed that the United States, Britain and Japan should set their navies in a ratio of 5:5:3, with France and Italy maintaining smaller ratio fleets of 1.75 each.
The first craft to be surrendered were the U-boats, which began to arrive at Harwich on 20 November 1918; 176 were eventually handed over. Hipper refused to lead his fleet to the surrender, delegating the task to Rear-Admiral Ludwig von Reuter.The German fleet was met by the light cruiser Cardiff on the morning of 21 November, and led to the rendezvous with over 370 ships of the Grand Fleet and other allied navies. There were 70 German ships in total; the battleship König and the light cruiser Dresden had engine trouble and had to be left behind. The destroyer V30 struck a mine while crossing, and sank.
Hans Hermann Ludwig von Reuter was a German admiral who commanded the High Seas Fleet when it was interned at Scapa Flow at the end of World War I. On 21 June 1919 he ordered the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow to prevent the British from seizing the ships.
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck. Prior to this smaller cruisers had been of the protected cruiser model, possessing armored decks only. While lighter and smaller than other contemporary ships they were still true cruisers, retaining the extended radius of action and self-sufficiency to act independently across the world. Through their history they served in a variety of roles, primarily as convoy escorts and destroyer command ships, but also as scouts and fleet support vessels for battle fleets.
HMS Cardiff was a C-class light cruiser built for the Royal Navy during World War I. She was one of the five ships of the Ceres sub-class and spent most of her career as a flagship. Assigned to the Grand Fleet during the war, the ship participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in late 1917. Cardiff was briefly deployed to the Baltic in late 1918 supporting anti-Bolshevik forces during the British campaign in the Baltic during the Russian Civil War.
The German ships were escorted into the Firth of Forth, where they anchored. Beatty signalled them:
The German flag will be hauled down at sunset today and will not be hoisted again without permission.
The fleet was then moved between 25 and 27 November to Scapa Flow; the destroyers to Gutter Sound and the battleships and cruisers to the north and west of the island of Cava.Eventually, a total of 74 ships were interned there, König and Dresden having arrived on 6 December accompanied by the destroyer V129, which replaced the sunken V30. The last ship to arrive was the battleship Baden on 9 January 1919. Initially, the interned ships were guarded by the Battle Cruiser Force (later reduced to the Battle Cruiser Squadron), commanded in succession by Vice-Admiral Pakenham, Rear-Admiral Oliver and Rear-Admiral Keyes. On 1 May 1919, Vice-Admiral Leveson and the Second Battle Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet took over guard duties, and were succeeded on 18 May by Vice-Admiral Sir Sydney Fremantle and the First Battle Squadron.
The naval historian Arthur Marder described the state of affairs in the German ships during the internment as "one of complete demoralization". He identified four reasons that exacerbated the situation: lack of discipline, poor food, lack of recreation and slow postal service. The cumulative result of these problems created "indescribable filth in some of the ships".On 29 November the Second-in-Command of the Grand Fleet, Admiral Sir Charles Madden, wrote to his brother-in-law and former superior Lord Jellicoe that, "All proposed orders are considered and counter-signed by the men's committee before they are executed and then they are carried out as convenient". When visiting an interned ship the German officers were reported to have been "dumb with shame". Food was sent from Germany twice a month but was monotonous and not of good quality. Catching fish and seagulls provided a dietary supplement and some recreation. A large amount of brandy was also sent over. Recreation for the men was limited to their ships, as the British refused to allow any of the interned sailors to go ashore or visit any other German ships. British officers and men were only allowed to visit on official business. Outgoing post to Germany was censored from the beginning, and later incoming post also. German seamen were granted 300 cigarettes a month or 75 cigars. There were German doctors in the interned fleet but no dentists, and the British refused to provide dental care.
Command of the interned ships was exercised through Rear-Admiral Reuter, flying his flag in the battleship Friedrich der Grosse. He had a British drifter at his disposal for visiting ships and issuing written orders on urgent business, and his staff was occasionally allowed to visit other ships to arrange repatriation of officers and men.Reuter, whose health was poor, requested that his flag be transferred to the light cruiser Emden on 25 March after he was repeatedly prevented from sleeping by the stomping on his cabin roof by a group of revolutionary sailors called the "Red Guard". Over seven months the number of men in his command was continually reduced from the 20,000 men who had sailed the ships over in November. 4,000 returned to Germany on 3 December, 6,000 on 6 December and 5,000 on 12 December, leaving 4,815, of whom approximately 100 were repatriated a month.
Negotiations over the fate of the ships were under way at the Paris Peace Conference. The French and Italians each wanted a quarter of the ships. The British wanted them destroyed, since they knew that any redistribution would be detrimental to the proportional advantage in numbers they had compared to other navies.Under Article XXXI of the Armistice the Germans were not permitted to destroy their ships. Both Admirals Beatty and Madden had approved plans to seize the German ships in case scuttling was attempted; Admirals Keyes and Leveson recommended that the ships be seized anyway and the crews interned ashore at Nigg Island, but their suggestions were not taken up. Their concern was not without justification, for as early as January 1919, Reuter mentioned the possibility of scuttling the fleet to his chief of staff. Having learned of the possible terms of the Treaty of Versailles in May 1919, he began to prepare detailed plans to scuttle his ships. Admiral Erich Raeder later wrote that Reuter was informed that the fleet was to be scuttled at all costs. A further reduction of crews with the departure of two transports to Germany on 18 June 1919 meant that Reuter was left with reliable men to carry out preparations. On that day he sent out orders, paragraph 11 of which stated: "It is my intention to sink the ships only if the enemy should attempt to obtain possession of them without the assent of our government. Should our government agree in the peace to terms to the surrender of the ships, then the ships will be handed over, to the lasting disgrace of those who have placed us in this position." His orders were sent to the interned ships on 18 June.
In the meantime the signing of the Treaty of Versailles was scheduled for noon on 21 June 1919.The First Battle Squadron prepared to board the German ships in force to check for signs that the fleet was preparing to scuttle. On 13 June Admiral Madden requested in person at the Admiralty a daily political appreciation from 17 June onwards so as to be prepared to take action, but as Madden related to Beatty shortly afterwards, "they had no reliable indication of the German attitude towards the peace terms". Admiral Fremantle submitted to Madden on 16 June a scheme for seizing the German ships at midnight of 21/22 June, after the treaty was meant to be signed. Madden approved the plan on 19 June, but only after he was informed that the deadline for signing the treaty was extended to 19:00 on 23 June and he neglected to officially inform Fremantle. News of the extension was seen by Fremantle in a newspaper on the same day and he assumed it to be true. He had been under orders from Madden for some time to exercise his battleships against torpedo attacks, which required good weather in order to recover the torpedoes. The weather on the night of 20 June was favourable so Fremantle ordered the First Battle Squadron to sea at 09:00 the next morning, 21 June. The operation to seize the German ships was postponed until the night of his squadron's return to Scapa Flow on 23 June, after the deadline to sign the treaty had expired. Fremantle later claimed that before he left Scapa he had unofficially informed Reuter that the armistice was still in effect.
Around 10:00 a.m. on 21 June 1919, Reuter sent a flag signal ordering the fleet to stand by for the signal to scuttle. At about 11:20 the flag signal was sent: "To all Commanding Officers and the Leader of the Torpedo Boats. Paragraph Eleven of to-day's date. Acknowledge. Chief of the Interned Squadron." The signal was repeated by semaphore and searchlights. Scuttling began immediately: seacocks and flood valves were opened and internal water pipes smashed. Portholes had already been loosened, watertight doors and condenser covers left open, and in some ships holes had been bored through bulkheads, all to facilitate the spread of water once scuttling began. One German ship commander recorded that prior to 21 June, seacocks had been set on a hair turning and heavily lubricated, while large hammers had been placed besides valves.
There was no noticeable effect until noon, when Friedrich der Grosse began to list heavily to starboard and all the ships hoisted the Imperial German Ensign at their mainmasts. The crews then began to abandon ship.The British naval forces left at Scapa Flow comprised three destroyers, one of which was under repair, seven trawlers and a number of drifters. Fremantle started receiving news of the scuttling at 12:20 and cancelled his squadron's exercise at 12:35, steaming at full speed back to Scapa Flow. He and a division of ships arrived at 14:30 in time to see only the large ships still afloat. He had radioed ahead to order all available craft to prevent the German ships sinking or beach them. The last German ship to sink was the battlecruiser Hindenburg at 17:00, by which time fifteen capital ships were sunk, and only Baden survived. Four light cruisers and thirty-two destroyers were sunk. Nine Germans were shot and killed and about sixteen wounded aboard their lifeboats rowing towards land.
During the afternoon, 1,774 Germans were picked up and transported by battleships of the First Battle Squadron to Invergordon. Revenge, where Fremantle – through an interpreter – denounced their actions as dishonourable while Reuter and his men looked on "with expressionless faces." Admiral Fremantle subsequently remarked privately, "I could not resist feeling some sympathy for von Reuter, who had preserved his dignity when placed against his will in a highly unpleasant and invidious position."Fremantle had sent out a general order declaring that the Germans were to be treated as prisoners-of-war for having broken the armistice and they were destined for the prisoner-of-war camps at Nigg. Reuter and a number of his officers were brought onto the quarterdeck of HMS
The French were disappointed that the German fleet was gone, having hoped to acquire at least some of the ships.Admiral Wemyss privately remarked:
I look upon the sinking of the German fleet as a real blessing. It disposes, once and for all, the thorny question of the redistribution of these ships.
Admiral Reinhard Scheer declared:
I rejoice. The stain of surrender has been wiped from the escutcheon of the German Fleet. The sinking of these ships has proved that the spirit of the fleet is not dead. This last act is true to the best traditions of the German Navy.
Of the 74 German ships at Scapa Flow, 15 of the 16 capital ships, 5 of the 8 cruisers, and 32 of the 50 destroyers were sunk.The remainder either remained afloat, or were towed to shallower waters and beached. The beached ships were later dispersed to the allied navies, but most of the sunken ships were initially left at the bottom of Scapa Flow, the cost of salvaging them being deemed to be not worth the potential returns, owing to the glut of scrap metal left after the end of the war, with plenty of obsolete warships having been broken up. After complaints from locals that the wrecks were a hazard to navigation, a salvage company was formed in 1923, which raised four of the sunken destroyers.
At about this time, the entrepreneur Ernest Cox became involved. He bought 26 destroyers from the Admiralty for £250, as well as Seydlitz and Hindenburg.He began operations to refloat the destroyers using an old German dry dock he purchased and subsequently modified. He was able to lift 24 of his 26 destroyers over the next year and a half, after which he began work on the larger vessels. He developed a new salvage technique whereby divers patched the holes in the submerged hulls, and then pumped air into them so they would rise to the surface, where they could then be towed to the breakers. Using this technique, he refloated several of the ships. His methods were costly, however, and the final cost of raising Hindenburg ran to some £30,000. Industrial action and a coal strike in 1926 nearly brought operations to a halt, but Cox instead dug out the coal in the submerged Seydlitz, using it to power his machines until the end of the strike. Salvaging Seydlitz also proved difficult, as the ship sank again during the first attempt to raise her, wrecking most of the salvage equipment. Undaunted, Cox tried again, ordering that when she was next raised, news cameras would be there to capture him witnessing the moment. The plan nearly backfired when Seydlitz was accidentally refloated while Cox was holidaying in Switzerland. Cox told the workers to sink her again, then returned to Scotland to be present as Seydlitz was duly refloated a third time. Cox's company eventually raised 26 destroyers, two battlecruisers and five battleships.
Cox sold his remaining interests to the Alloa Shipbreaking Company (later Metal Industries Group) and retired as the "man who bought a navy". 47 metres (154 ft), and there has been no economic incentive to attempt to raise them since. Minor salvage is still carried out to recover small pieces of steel. This low-background steel is used in the manufacture of radiation-sensitive devices, such as Geiger counters, as it is not contaminated with radioisotopes, having been produced prior to any chance of nuclear contamination.The latter company went on to raise a further five cruisers, battlecruisers, and battleships, before the outbreak of the Second World War brought operations to a halt. The remaining wrecks lie in deeper waters, in depths up to
The seven wrecks that remain are scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. Divers are allowed to visit them but need a permit to do so.
While the rebuilding of the German Army in the 1930s was based upon the combined myths of "invincibility on the battlefield" and the "stab in the back", the attitude and actions of the High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow became a symbol of defiance for the new recruits and officers of the Kriegsmarine.
The last living military witness to the scuttling of the fleet was Claude Choules, who died on 5 May 2011 aged 110. Choules was the last known living combat veteran of the First World War.
An eyewitness account of the scuttling and the subsequent angry meeting between Reuter and Fremantle was published in 2015 by the family of Hugh David, who died in 1957.
|Baden||Battleship||Beached||Transferred to British control, sunk as a target in 1921|
|Bayern||Battleship||Sunk 14:30||Salvaged September 1933|
|Friedrich der Grosse||Battleship||Sunk 12:16||Salvaged 1937|
|Grosser Kurfürst||Battleship||Sunk 13:30||Salvaged April 1938|
|Kaiser||Battleship||Sunk 13:15||Salvaged March 1929|
|Kaiserin||Battleship||Sunk 14:00||Salvaged May 1936|
|König Albert||Battleship||Sunk 12:54||Salvaged July 1935|
|Kronprinz Wilhelm||Battleship||Sunk 13:15||Unsalvaged|
|Prinzregent Luitpold||Battleship||Sunk 13:15||Salvaged March 1929|
|Derfflinger||Battlecruiser||Sunk 14:45||Salvaged August 1939|
|Hindenburg||Battlecruiser||Sunk 17:00||Salvaged July 1930|
|Moltke||Battlecruiser||Sunk 13:10||Salvaged June 1927|
|Seydlitz||Battlecruiser||Sunk 13:50||Salvaged November 1929|
|Von der Tann||Battlecruiser||Sunk 14:15||Salvaged December 1930|
|Bremse||Cruiser||Sunk 14:30||Salvaged November 1929|
|Emden||Cruiser||Beached||Transferred to French control, broken up in 1926|
|Frankfurt||Cruiser||Beached||Transferred to American control, sunk as a target in 1921|
|Nürnberg||Cruiser||Beached||Transferred to British control, sunk as a target in 1922|
|S32||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged June 1925|
|S36||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged April 1925|
|G38||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged September 1924|
|G39||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged July 1925|
|G40||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged July 1925|
|V43||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to American control, sunk as a target in 1921|
|V44||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to British control, broken up in 1922|
|V46||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to French control, broken up in 1924|
|S49||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged December 1924|
|S50||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged October 1924|
|S51||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to British control, broken up in 1922|
|S52||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged October 1924|
|S53||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged August 1924|
|S55||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged August 1924|
|S56||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged June 1925|
|S60||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to Japanese control, broken up in 1922|
|S65||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged May 1922|
|V70||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged August 1924|
|V73||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to British control, broken up in 1922|
|V78||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged September 1925|
|V80||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to Japanese control, broken up in 1922|
|V81||Destroyer||Beached||Sunk on the way to the breakers|
|V82||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to British control, broken up in 1922|
|V86||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged July 1925|
|V89||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged December 1922|
|V91||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged September 1924|
|G92||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to British control, broken up in 1922|
|V100||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to French control, broken up in 1921|
|G101||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged April 1926|
|G102||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to American control, sunk as a target in 1921|
|G103||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged September 1925|
|G104||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged April 1926|
|B109||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged March 1926|
|B110||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged December 1925|
|B111||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged March 1926|
|B112||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged February 1926|
|V125||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to British control, broken up in 1922|
|V126||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to French control, broken up in 1925|
|V127||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to Japanese control, broken up in 1922|
|V128||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to British control, broken up in 1922|
|V129||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged August 1925|
|S131||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged August 1924|
|S132||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to American control, sunk in 1921|
|S136||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged April 1925|
|S137||Destroyer||Beached||Transferred to British control, broken up in 1922|
|S138||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged May 1925|
|H145||Destroyer||Sunk||Salvaged March 1925|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow .|
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle fought between Britain's Royal Navy Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet, under Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, during the First World War. The battle unfolded in extensive manoeuvring and three main engagements, from 31 May to 1 June 1916, off the North Sea coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. Jutland was the third fleet action between steel battleships, following the smaller but more decisive battles of the Yellow Sea (1904) and Tsushima (1905) during the Russo-Japanese War. Jutland was the last major battle in world history fought primarily by battleships.
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SMS Von der Tann was the first battlecruiser built for the German Kaiserliche Marine, as well as Germany's first major turbine-powered warship. At the time of her construction, Von der Tann was the fastest dreadnought-type warship afloat, capable of reaching speeds in excess of 27 knots. She was designed in response to the British Invincible class. While the German design had slightly lighter guns—28 cm (11 in), compared to the 30.5 cm (12 in) Mark X mounted on the British ships—Von der Tann was faster and significantly better-armored. She set the precedent of German battlecruisers carrying much heavier armor than their British equivalents, albeit at the cost of smaller guns.
SMS Kronprinz was the last battleship of the four-ship König class of the German Imperial Navy. The battleship was laid down in November 1911 and launched on 21 February 1914. She was formally commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 8 November 1914, just over 4 months after the start of World War I. The name Kronprinz refers to Crown Prince Wilhelm, and in June 1918, the ship was renamed Kronprinz Wilhelm in his honor. The battleship was armed with ten 30.5-centimeter (12.0 in) guns in five twin turrets and could steam at a top speed of 21 knots.
The König class was a group of four battleships built for the German Kaiserliche Marine on the eve of World War I. The class was composed of König, Grosser Kurfürst, Markgraf, and Kronprinz. The most powerful warships of the German High Seas Fleet at the outbreak of war in 1914, the class operated as a unit throughout World War I—the V Division of the III Battle Squadron. The ships took part in a number of fleet operations during the war, including the Battle of Jutland, where they acted as the vanguard of the German line. They survived the war and were interned at Scapa Flow in November 1918. All four ships were scuttled on 21 June 1919 when Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter ordered the sinking of the entire High Seas Fleet. Three remain on the seafloor there; the Grosser Kurfürst was raised, towed off, and broken up for scrap.
SMS Cöln was a light cruiser in the German Kaiserliche Marine, the second to bear this name, after her predecessor SMS Cöln had been lost in the Battle of Heligoland Bight. Cöln, first of her class, was launched on 5 October 1916 at Blohm & Voss in Hamburg and completed over a year later in January 1918. She and her sister Dresden were the last two light cruisers built by the Kaiserliche Marine; eight of her sisters were scrapped before they could be completed. The ships were an incremental improvement over the preceding Königsberg-class cruisers.
The Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby on 16 December 1914, was an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British ports of Scarborough, Hartlepool, West Hartlepool and Whitby. The attack resulted in 592 casualties, many of them civilians, of whom 137 died. The attack caused public outrage towards the German Navy for the attack, and against the Royal Navy for its failure to prevent the raid.
SMS Rheinland was one of four Nassau-class battleships, the first dreadnoughts built for the German Imperial Navy. Rheinland mounted twelve 28 cm (11 in) main guns in six twin turrets in an unusual hexagonal arrangement. The navy built Rheinland and her sister ships in response to the revolutionary British HMS Dreadnought, which had been launched in 1906. Rheinland was laid down in June 1907, launched the following year in October, and commissioned in April 1910.
The Bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft, often referred to as the Lowestoft Raid, was a naval battle fought during the First World War between the German Empire and the British Empire in the North Sea.
The 3rd Battle Squadron was a naval squadron of the British Royal Navy consisting of battleships and other vessels, active from at least 1914 to 1945. The 3rd Battle Squadron was initially part of the Royal Navy's Home Fleet. During the First World War, the Home Fleet was renamed the Grand Fleet. During the Second World War, the squadron covered Atlantic convoys.
The Raid on Yarmouth, which took place on 3 November 1914, was an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British North Sea port and town of Great Yarmouth. Little damage was done to the town since shells only landed on the beach, after German ships laying mines offshore were interrupted by British destroyers. HMS D5, a submarine, was sunk by a German mine as it attempted to leave harbour and attack the German ships. A German armoured cruiser was sunk after striking two German mines outside its home port.
Admiral Sir Sydney Robert Fremantle, was an officer of the Royal Navy, who served during the Victorian era and had risen to the rank of rear-admiral by the outbreak of the First World War. He played a role in developing fleet communications and signalling methods prior to the war, but was hampered in effectively implementing them due to the disruption caused by the conflict. He had an active seagoing career during the war, commanding several of the cruiser squadrons, and later taking command of the British fleet in the Aegean. Promoted to vice-admiral after the end of the war and given command of the First Battle Squadron, Fremantle oversaw the interned German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow, and was away on exercises when the sailors began to scuttle their ships in June 1919. He attempted to salvage what he could, later accusing the German commander, Vice-Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, of a shameful breach of honour. Fremantle rose to full admiral and commanded the naval base at Portsmouth, retiring in 1928. He wrote his memoirs, publishing them after the Second World War, and donated many of his papers to institutions before his death in 1958.
SMS König Albert was the fourth vessel of the Kaiser class of battleships of the Imperial German Navy. König Albert's keel was laid on 17 July 1910 at the Schichau-Werke dockyard in Danzig. She was launched on 27 April 1912 and was commissioned into the fleet on 31 July 1913. The ship was equipped with ten 30.5-centimeter (12.0 in) guns in five twin turrets, and had a top speed of 22.1 knots. König Albert was assigned to the III Battle Squadron and later the IV Battle Squadron of the High Seas Fleet for the majority of her career, including World War I.