Austrian Navy

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Flag of the Austrian Marine 1786-1869 and the imperial navy 1869-1918
Coat of arms of the Austro-Hungarian Navy 1915–1918

The Austrian Navy was the entirety of Austria's naval forces . The Austrian merchant navy also existed . The navy had its origins in the Danube flotilla, which had existed since the 16th century, and the Mediterranean fleet, which had existed since the end of the 18th century. Until the compromise between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in 1867 , it was referred to as the Austrian Navy or Imperial and Royal Navy . Afterwards it operated as an Austro-Hungarian Navy until 1918 . At its height before the outbreak of World War I , it was considered the sixth largest navy in the world.

The most important sea ports were Trieste (now Italy ) and Pola (now Croatia ) on the coast . Important Danube ports were Linz and Korneuburg .

With the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918, the fate of the Navy was sealed. The ships of the Mediterranean fleet and parts of the Danube flotilla passed into the possession of the victorious powers. The parts of the fleet not claimed by the victorious powers were handed over to the new South Slav National Council at the end of the war . The Republic of Austria only had a few patrol boats left on the Danube. The last two patrol boats went out of service in autumn 2006.

Beginnings of the Austrian Navy

In the foreground a so-called half-Chaike, and in the background a gunner barge or a Ganz-Chaike in the Army History Museum

Although the first stretches of coastal land on the Croatian Adriatic coast came into Habsburg possession as early as the 14th century , Vienna left the sea ​​trade and its defense against Moorish and Ottoman privateers to the initiative of the coastal inhabitants for a long time . In the wars against the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century onwards, an imperial Danube flotilla was founded to counter the Ottoman river forces and to support land operations. Based on the idea that ship types that had proven themselves on the seas would also have to be suitable for the Danube, ships that were much too large were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Danube regattas (such as the Theresia ), which were built with considerable effort, could hardly maneuver on the Danube and kept running aground because of their great draft.

This sea power was not enough to safeguard Austrian colonial plans. Under Emperor Joseph II , an Austrian navy was founded, but due to lack of financial resources, it comprised only a few warships. With the Peace of Campo Formio in 1797, Venice , Istria and Dalmatia came under Austrian ownership, including the Venetian Navy . Venice remained the main port of the navy during the first half of the 19th century; later it was replaced by its own war ports in Pola and Cattaro .

This navy, founded in 1797, was called the "Austrian-Venetian Navy" (kk Veneta Navy). Almost all of the crews and officers came from Veneto, spoke Venetian and were shaped by the nautical, military, cultural and historical tradition of Venice.

Bombardment of Akko (Acre) in 1840 by British, Ottoman and Austrian (left) warships

In 1829 Austrian warships bombed Moroccan ports on the Atlantic coast that were suspected of piracy. Archduke Friedrich and the crews of Austrian warships had their first “real” military experience alongside British warships in 1840 off the Syrian coast, where, as part of the Quadruple Alliance, they bombed port cities (e.g. Saida, Akko, Beirut) and helped the Ottomans to push back the Egyptian viceroy.

The importance of the warship fleet for Austria was shown in 1864 by Wilhelm von Tegetthoff's victories at Heligoland in the German-Danish War . During his time as Supreme Admiral of the Navy, urgently needed reforms began, such as the introduction of a uniform service language to end communication problems among Croatian, Italian and Austrian seafarers on the high seas, and the sustainable modernization of the fleet. Until then, the Italian Navy was still clearly superior to the Austrian. The decisive turning point, however, was the naval battle of Lissa , in which Austria defeated the numerically superior Italians by ramming tactics in 1866 . These first major successes of the Austrian Navy also guaranteed the necessary financial means to modernize the fleet. Wood as a building material was increasingly being replaced by iron, and the sea battle of Lissa was also to remain the last battle decided by the use of pile-driving cruisers .

From this point on, Austria's navy in the Adriatic was a sea force to be taken seriously. In addition to military tasks, the navy was also of economic and scientific importance, which manifested itself in numerous research trips by Austrian warships. Last but not least, these trips to all continents served to train the team, with the "showing the flag" on the oceans for prestige purposes was a desired side effect.

Ocean Shipping: The Mediterranean Fleet

Established as the Austrian Navy

Although the Kriegsmarine, which had existed since the end of the 18th century, was flying the Austrian flag, it was originally dominated by the Venetian authorities, as the once Venetian fleet, which came into Austrian possession in the Peace of Campo Formio in 1797 , was the heart of the Austrian Navy. At first there were hardly any naval officers and seamen of German origin, they all came from the Venetian part of the monarchy.

Austrian Navy around 1820
Members of the Austrian Navy around 1840 Marine Sailor Corps, Marine Infantry and Marine Artillery . Contemporary representation

In 1848, in the course of the revolution in Austria and Hungary , Venice , along with other Italian provinces, wanted to break away from Austria and join the Italian Risorgimento . The Austrian soldiers and seamen of Venetian descent also joined this uprising, so that the Imperial and Royal Navy lost a large part of its ships to Venice, which was initially successful in its independence movement.

While there was unrest all over Austria and Radetzky withdrew the Austrian troops , the loyal crews gathered with their warships in Trieste , Pola and Fiume . After Radetzky's victory over the Italians at Novara in 1849 and the peace that followed, the Sardinian fleet withdrew from the Adriatic , enabling the Austrian navy to take part in the blockade of Venice for the purpose of reconquering it.

In order to rebuild the Austrian Navy, the search for a suitable commander-in-chief was started . This was found in the person of the Danish commodore 1st class Hans Birch Dahlerup . He was received personally by the young Emperor Franz Joseph I in Olomouc in February 1849 , appointed naval commander and at the same time promoted to vice admiral and lieutenant field marshal . When he arrived on the Adriatic, he was faced with the difficult task of building a new naval power out of the remnants of the Austrian fleet that had not passed over to the Italian insurgents. Due to his determined demeanor and his superior knowledge, he soon succeeded in gaining respect and getting the job started. More efforts were made to recruit Austrian seamen, the commands were increasingly given in German and Venetian, and the Italian names of the ships were translated into German. The construction of new ships has started.

After the reconquest of Venice, the seat of the naval command remained temporarily in Trieste. Voices in favor of Pola were already loud then, but Dahlerup refused. Nevertheless, on November 20, 1850, the order came to establish a naval arsenal in Pola . For training purposes, the ships of the Kriegsmarine operated between the Austrian Adriatic ports and also secured the Greek and Turkish waters against pirates.

In 1850 German was introduced as the general official language. In August 1850, Dahlerup asked to leave and he was followed by Lieutenant Field Marshal Count Franz von Wimpffen , an officer in the land army. During his command time the previous naval college was converted into a naval academy and the expansion of Pola accelerated. In 1854 Count Wimpffen resigned from command.

On September 10, 1854, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian was appointed the new Supreme Commander of the Austrian Navy by Emperor Franz Joseph I , his brother.

In 1859 there was another war with Italy in the Sardinian War . This saw Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian in the double function as Commander in Chief of the Navy and as Governor General of Lombardy-Veneto . The fact that the fleet had not yet reached the necessary strength did not allow it to be used offensively against the enemy. Rather, it was a matter of repelling possible enemy attacks. In the Treaty of Zurich concluded on November 10, 1859, access to the Adriatic was retained and with it the navy.

The year 1860 saw the incorporation of the flotilla corps into the navy: the lagoons -, the Lake Garda - and the Danube flotilla were no longer under the command of the army.

The first tank frigates in Austria were launched in 1861 ( Salamander and Drache , Kaiser Max in 1862 ).

In 1864 Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian followed the call from Mexico and became Emperor of Mexico . His successor was Viceadmiral Ludwig von Fautz as chief of the marine section (1865–1868). Archduke Leopold was from 1865 to February 25, 1868 inspector of the naval troops and the fleet, actually an officer of the land army.

Sea battle off Heligoland

In 1864 Austria and Prussia went together against Denmark in the war for Schleswig-Holstein, in the course of which there was a naval battle off Heligoland . Initially, Wilhelm von Tegetthoff received the order to capture Danish merchant ships in the Mediterranean and to make it impossible for Danish warships to stay in the Mediterranean.

Later he was ordered to go to the North Sea with Austrian warships . His mission remained the same: capture Danish merchant ships, drive out Danish warships and protect German trade by all means.

On May 9, 1864, the first naval battle between the Danish and the Austro- Prussian navy broke out . The Austrian ships finally returned to Cuxhaven , badly damaged , but the Danish fleet also withdrew to home waters. There was no clear winner.

Conflict with Prussia

Despite the joint Austro-Prussian victory over Denmark, tensions over supremacy in Germany persisted. In 1866 Prussia allied itself with Italy, the price for Italian arms aid against Austria was Venice.

The internal German conflict over the “ Greater German Solution ” or the “ Small German Solution ” plunged Austria into a two-front war: Prussia and some small allied German states in the north and south of Italy, which saw the opportunity to remove the remaining “unredeemed” areas under Austrian rule to free". The price that Prussia paid for Italian arms aid was Veneto - at Austria's expense.

In order not to turn the two-front war into a three-front war, Austria signed a non-aggression pact with France .

On July 3, 1866, the battle of Königgrätz was a disaster for Austria, and after the victory at Custozza , the Austrian southern army had to move quickly north to protect Vienna from the approaching Prussians. The only thing left to protect the Austrian Adriatic coast from further attacks by the Italians was the fleet.

Battle of Lissa

Anton Romako : Admiral Tegetthoff in the naval battle of Lissa, 1878–1880
The sea battle at Lissa. Monumental painting by Alexander Kircher ( Heeresgeschichtliches Museum , Vienna )

One of the Italian goals was the conquest of the island of Lissa (today: Vis ) in order to secure rule over the eastern Adriatic coast.

While the Italian fleet (mainly Sicilian, Sardinian and Neapolitan teams) was considered to be one of the largest and most modern in the world and shortly before the battle the unsinkable Affondatore received a nine-meter-long ram, Wilhelm von Tegetthoff had his hands full, to create a halfway serious opponent out of the outdated and inferior Austrian ships.

The Novara , which had been converted into a screw frigate, was badly damaged by fire. Archduke Ferdinand Max and Habsburg were not finished yet, but they were requested anyway. The Kaiser , the largest Austrian wooden ship, was considered hopelessly out of date and unusable. However, this ship and other frigates and corvettes were makeshift reinforced with railroad tracks and anchor chains on the bow and side walls.

On July 17, 1866, the Italian fleet, divided by the deep enmity of the commanders ( Admiral Persano , Vice-Admiral Albini, Admiral Vacca) appeared and began to bombard the Austrian fortifications, and after Tegetthoff had received permission to sail , reached the on July 20 Austrian fleet the waters of Lissa, where the battle of Lissa took place.

Wilhelm von Tegetthoff knew about the inferiority of his ships and so he did not rely on long artillery duels with broadside shooting, but on hand-to-hand combat using ramming spurs. The Archduke Ferdinand Max with Tegetthoff on board rammed the Re d'Italia . The Italian armored cruiser sank within a few minutes. The Palestro was hit in the ammunition chamber, exploded and sank. The decrepit Kaiser tried to ram the Re di Portogallo , but was badly damaged. While trying to ram the Kaiser , the Affondatore was so badly damaged by Austrian fire that it sank a few days later in the port of Ancona . At the sight of the victory, the predominantly Venetian crews of the Habsburg ships threw their caps in the air and shouted “Viva San Marco”.

In the two-hour battle, Italy lost three ironclads, Austria not a single ship. The Kaiser was badly damaged, the worst damage was repaired in the port of Lissa. The Austrian personnel losses were also far less than those of the Italians.

This naval battle was the last major naval battle of the 19th century with the participation of wooden ships with rigging and the only major battle of the century in which ramming spurs were used as a weapon in ship combat .

On the evening of the same day, Tegetthoff informed Emperor Franz Joseph I of the victory. A steamer of the Austrian Lloyd brought his answer, in which Tegetthoff was appointed Vice-Admiral.

The Italians had their own way of dealing with defeat. They spread victory reports. Above all , there were wild fantasy reports about the alleged sinking of the emperors .

In order to counter the false reports spread by the British and French press, Tegetthoff invited foreign officers and press representatives to take a look at the supposedly sunken ship. The Navy Ministry, which existed for only a few years, refused to pay for the hospitality of these guests and criticized Tegetthoff for his unauthorized approach. The well-wishers for the victory also included Emperor Maximilian of Mexico and Admiral Dahlerup.

kuk Kriegsmarine

Reform of the Navy

Oesterreichs Illustrierte Zeitung: Festschrift “Die kuk Flotte” for the 60th anniversary of Franz Joseph I's throne (1908), triptych by Alexander Kircher .
Former naval section of the Austro-Hungarian War Ministry in Vienna 3rd, Vordere Zollamtsstraße 9; on the facade between the 1st and 2nd floor coats of arms of Austrian port cities in color

While the Navy and public opinion awaited Tegetthoff's appointment as Minister of the Navy, the War Department sent him on a study trip to England and the USA . After his return to Austria he received the order to transfer the body of the executed Emperor Maximilian of Mexico with the Novara to Austria. Subsequently, Tegetthoff was asked to present his proposals for the establishment of an Austro-Hungarian navy in writing. The Navy Ministry proposed by him would have become a fourth joint Reich Ministry of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. The Hungarians would then have insisted on dividing the seats of the joint Reich ministries equally between Vienna and Budapest. Neither the imperial court nor the Austrian (cisleithan) government wanted that. As a compromise proposal, the marine section was created as part of the Reich War Ministry . Vienna remained the seat of all joint ministries.

Emperor Franz Joseph I approved the proposals and appointed Tegetthoff on February 25, 1868 as naval commander and head of the Reich Ministry of War, naval section. In the next few years the training concept created by Tegetthoff (team training courses, courses for naval officers and naval engineers (machinists)) was implemented. The idea of ​​“mission trips” , which Archduke (Emperor) Maximilian had already devised for educational purposes , was also realized . Every year at least one ship of the Navy should be on a “mission abroad” in order to establish economic contacts, to deepen nautical training and to “show the flag”, ie to represent.

Emperor Franz Joseph I and the Navy

In 1869 - on the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal - Emperor Franz Joseph I undertook an extended cruise. On this occasion he returned a state visit from the Ottoman sultan . He also visited the holy places in Jerusalem - among other things he was entitled “ King of Jerusalem ”, where he stayed in the Austrian hospice . Due to the tight schedule, the Kaiser had to be rowed onto the Imperial private yacht Greif on November 14th, despite the stormy weather . With great difficulty he got on board soaked and frozen. Since that day the emperor is said to have had a disturbed relationship with seafaring.

Tegetthoff died in Graz on April 7, 1871 . He was buried with great military honors in Vienna in the Matzleinsdorf cemetery ; Emperor Franz Joseph I stayed away from the ceremony. On October 31, 1872, his body was transferred to the Sankt-Leonhard-Friedhof in Graz.

Other missions of the navy

Warasdiner 1914

The following years were mainly characterized by scientific trips. The Balkans, however, repeatedly caused diplomatic and military problems. In 1868 a new military law was passed that provided for a service period of several years for all conscripts. The population of the Krivošije region near Cattaro resisted this plan, and fighting broke out between insurgents and army units supported by the navy.

In 1878 the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck invited them to the Berlin Congress , as a result of which the Balkans were divided up at the expense of Turkey. Austria-Hungary was entrusted with the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina .

In 1882 there was another uprising in the Krivošije, which made the intervention of the navy necessary. In 1908, in the course of the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was another crisis in the Cattaro area, in which the navy was deployed.

Intervene in the Chinese Boxer Rebellion

At the beginning of the Boxer Rebellion in China in April 1900, Austria-Hungary was represented by the SMS Zenta , which was in China, and so the Danube Monarchy was involved in the events from the beginning and, through sailors and officers sent to the embassy in Beijing , too involved in the fighting. The reinforcements sent to China, consisting of SMS Kaiserin and Queen Maria Theresia , SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth and SMS Aspern , came too late to intervene in the fighting.

In the first World War

Launch of the Szent István at the Danubius shipyard in Fiume (Rijeka)
Model of the Viribus Unitis
August von Ramberg : SMS Viribus Unitis at the head of the 1st kuk battleship squadron

Under the naval commanders Hermann von Spaun , Rudolf Montecuccoli and Anton Haus , the modern fleet emerged with which the Austro-Hungarian monarchy entered the First World War . The Archduke heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand , who was assassinated in 1914, played a major role in the expansion of the fleet. He was able to implement numerous new buildings and was also responsible for the introduction of submarines from 1908. On June 24, 1911, the SMS Viribus Unitis ("with united forces"), the first Austrian battleship built on the model of the British dreadnoughts , was launched. This largest class of warships was combined in Austria in the Tegetthoff class , which included three other ships in addition to the Viribus Unitis with the SMS Tegetthoff (1912), the SMS Prinz Eugen (1912) and the SMS Szent István (1914). The Viribus Unitis was the first ship in the world whose main artillery was arranged in four triplet towers .

The cruiser SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth was surprised by the First World War while on station duty at Tsingtau (main port of the German colony Kiautschau ) and submitted to the authority of the German governor. Japan claimed this colony and declared war on the German Empire and Austria-Hungary. While German units (including the famous Emden ) left, the Austrian ship was left with a German gunboat for defense. After two months of fighting , Tsingtau surrendered . In order not to have to hand over the SMS to Empress Elisabeth , she was sunk by her own crew on the night of November 2, 1914. The German and Austrian defenders remained in Japanese captivity until 1920 .

The plans of the Triple Alliance (Austria-Hungary, German Empire, Italy) had provided a naval base in Messina ( Sicily ) for the Mediterranean . With Italy's initial declaration of neutrality , the Austro-Hungarian fleet lost its central base in the Mediterranean and was locked up in the Adriatic after Italy entered the war. All that remained was to keep the Adriatic Sea free from enemy units, to protect the coast and islands from enemy attacks, to protect merchant shipping along the coast, and to support the Austro-Hungarian army in the coastal area or on the southern front with supplies.

One of the tasks of the fleet was also to block the coast of Montenegro , which was hostile to the Danube Monarchy, and thus also to cut off Serbia from the supplies of the Entente , which ran through the port of Antivari .

On August 16, 1914, the bulk of the French Mediterranean fleet appeared in front of Antivari to attack the two ships in the blockade service, the cruiser Zenta and the destroyer Ulan . The Ulan went to the naval base in the Bay of Cattaro to safety. The Zenta faced the unequal battle and was sunk as the first warship of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. 130 of the approximately 320 crew members survived, but ended up in Montenegrin captivity, from which they were liberated in 1916.

Drawing of the
Radetzky- class battleships

On the territory of Montenegro there was the Lovćen Pass above Cattaro , from which Austrian activities on land and on the water could be observed and shot at. This position was expanded by French batteries. The SMS Radetzky and other ships managed to destroy these positions. In January 1916, Austro-Hungarian army and naval units were able to capture the pass. This enabled the expansion of the Austrian facilities in the now secured port, which also developed into the most important submarine base for the Navy. From here the enemy ships were pushed back through the Strait of Otranto .

After Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary (23 May 1915), the entire Austro-Hungarian fleet left the ports of Pola , Sebenico and Cattaro at 7 p.m. to attack the east coast of Italy between Venice and Barletta . The main target of the attack was Ancona (see attack on Ancona ), but Rimini , Vieste , Manfredonia , Barletta as well as bridges and railway systems on the coast were also shot at. Venice was attacked from the air because of its location in the lagoon. Bombs hit the Venice arsenal and caused fires. Italy's fleet was taken by surprise and hardly defended itself, the Austrian ships returned without losses.

After Italy failed to reciprocate this defeat in the next few months ( airship Cittá di Ferrara shot down by naval aviators, airship Cittá di Jesi shot down, flagship Giuseppe Garibaldi sunk by U 4 ), Italy and France no longer took any major actions Ships. Small ships, submarines, and naval aviators took the lead on both sides.

In January 1917, the Austro-Hungarian and German foreign ministers and naval commanders decided to initiate unrestricted submarine warfare in response to Entente ships disguised as ships of neutral states transporting supplies .

Shortly after this decision (on February 8, 1917) the Austrian Grand Admiral Anton Haus died . From the emperor downwards, numerous high-ranking military officials were present at the funeral in Pola. In 1925 his remains were exhumed and transferred to the Hütteldorfer Friedhof in Vienna. His successor was the Croatian Admiral Maximilian Njegovan , who asked for his retirement after the sailors mutiny in Cattaro. The last fleet commander was, somewhat unexpectedly, Nikolaus von Horthy .

In response to the Italian attempt to make the Strait of Otranto impassable ( Otranto Barrier ), the summer of 1917 saw the largest naval battle between the Austro-Hungarian fleet and warships from Italy, France and Great Britain. Although the Austro-Hungarian fleet did not suffer any significant damage in the fight against the stronger enemies, while the Entente lost two destroyers, 14 blocking ships and one seaplane, the blockage remained.

In October 1917 the torpedo boat XI ran over to Italy after the officers and the German-speaking crew had been overwhelmed.

The battleship Wien was torpedoed in December in the port of Trieste by night and fog by an Italian ship that had approached unnoticed. The Vienna sank in a few minutes, around 40 men drowned.

In June 1918, the fleet command under Horthy planned another major offensive against the blockade of Otrantostraße. With the participation of the capital ships, the attack should be in two groups. However, the second group was sighted and attacked by a torpedo boat en route. The SMS Szent István sank from a torpedo hit. The planned offensive was canceled because the element of surprise no longer existed.

On October 31, 1918 handed Admiral Nicholas Horthy on order of Emperor Charles I , the Austro-Hungarian fleet to the newly formed South Slav National Council . The red-white-red war flag was brought down for the last time with a ceremonial ceremony in the central port of Pola at 4:45 p.m. and the Croatian flag was hoisted. In the Boche di Cattaro , the flag change did not take place until November 1st, also with a solemn military ceremony. The emperor's hope that the new South Slav nation-state would merge into a federal Habsburg empire remained unfulfilled.

The command of the fleet took over the previous kuk liner captain Janko Vuković , who was promoted to Rear Admiral by the South Slav National Council. The flagship remained the SMS Viribus Unitis , whose commander LSK Janko Vuković had previously been. A renaming of the ship to Jugoslavia , which is often mentioned in the literature, did not take place in reality. Admiral Janko Vuković died just twelve hours later together with hundreds of sailors in the port of Pola, the death of a sailor on board his ship, when on November 1, 1918 a mine installed by Italian combat swimmers exploded.

Cattaro Sailors Uprising February 1918

Main article of the Cattaro Sailors Rebellion

In Austria-Hungary, as in Germany shortly afterwards, a large wave of strikes broke out in January 1918 under the influence of the Russian Revolution and the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk. Large parts of the workforce saw the excessive demands of the German Supreme Army Command ( OHL ) as an attempt to enforce a violent peace. The workers went on strike for an annexless peace. This wave of strikes also reached the shipyard workers and sailors in Pola. Finally, the sailors from Cattaro wanted to join. In the meantime, however, the strike had ended without this news reaching them. With their action planned at the beginning of February, the sailors wanted to give the signal for a general uprising. Plaschka came to the conclusion that the actions in Cattaro had been designed as a revolutionary demonstration.


On February 1, 1918, the crews of the units of the Austro-Hungarian fleet lying in Cattaro began to raise red flags, to partially disarm the officers and to prevent them from exercising their command. In the meantime, 6,000 sailors on 40 ships took part in the unrest. The sailors formed ship committees and a central committee on the flagship SMS SANKT GEORG. After the operation remained isolated and the military leadership brought in loyal troops, it was canceled on February 3. Forty men were considered the chief ringleaders and were brought before a court martial . Four people were shot dead a few days later, two others were sentenced to prison sentences and two men were acquitted. The rest were handed over to court martial . Some of the rest of the arrested were tried on September 16, 1918. In October the charges against 348 men were withdrawn, and 31 men were on trial. Due to the collapse of the Danube Monarchy, the trial before the court martial was not officially ended, but only postponed.

The whereabouts of the Mediterranean fleet

Some of the ships and submarines located in Pola and Cattaro were brought from Italy to Venice on March 23, 1919 and presented there at the Victory Parade held on March 25, and then moored to make the ownership clear.

In fact, the coastal and deep sea torpedo boats as well as other ships and boats received:

  • Italy :
    • Tegetthoff (broken up in 1924/25. The (second, steel) bell came on a German warship from World War II , in 1973 back to Austria and to the Barmherzigenkirche in Graz )
    • Radetzky , Zrinyi (transferred to Italy by the US Navy outside the 3-mile zone in November 1920, scrapped in 1926 and 1921, respectively)
    • Archduke Franz Ferdinand (broken up in 1921)
    • Helgoland , Saida (decommissioned March 11, 1937, scrapped)
    • Zara , Spalato , Sebenico , Meteor , Lightning , Comet , Planet , Trabant , Magnet , Sniper , Uskoke , Turul , Csikós , Velebit , Dinara , Huszár (II), Warasdiner ( broken up in 1921)
    • Tátra , Balaton (decommissioned July 5, 1923, scrapped)
    • Csepel , Orjen (decommissioned May 1, 1937, scrapped)
    • Triglav (II), Lika (II), Uzsok (decommissioned January 5, 1939)
  • France :
    • Prinz Eugen ( sunk as a target ship in 1922 )
    • Archduke Karl (sunk in bad weather on the way to demolition in the Bizerta lagoon; broken up on the spot in 1921)
    • Novara (sold for demolition in 1942)
    • Satellite , Pandur , Reka (scrapped 1921), Dukla (sold for demolition October 5, 1936)

Furthermore, coastal and deep sea torpedo boats, submarines (including U-Boot Curie (ex-kuk U 14)) and other ships and boats.

  • Greece : Ulan (deleted in 1932)
  • Yugoslavia : coastal and deep sea torpedo boats as well as other ships and boats.
  • Romania : coastal and deep sea torpedo boats
  • Portugal : coastal and deep sea torpedo boats

kuk Seeflieger

When three naval officers were posted to the Wiener Neustadt military aeronautical station in 1910 to acquire an army pilot's license, the history of kuk sea ​​aviation began .

In 1911 the construction of the first sea flight station began. For this purpose, the island of Santa Catarina, located in the port of Pola , was enlarged by filling it up. A hangar for 20 machines was built, plus storage sheds, crew quarters and a boat dock. Five more sea ​​flight stations followed later: Trieste , Kumbor , Parenzo , Puntisella and Odessa .

The first seaplanes were four French Donnet-Levêque of the FBA ( Franco British Aviation ). Later the aircraft from the companies Lohner in Vienna, UFAG, ÖFFAG, Fokker and Hansa-Brandenburg were added.

At the end of 1912 the flying personnel consisted of six naval officers. With the purchase of three foreign aircraft and self-built machines, ten aircraft were available for trial operation. At the beginning of the war this unit had 25 pilots.

When the training operations at the sea flying school on the island of Cosada could no longer be maintained due to outdated machines, numerous naval officers were posted to Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel .

In the course of the blockade of Skutari by a naval division of all great powers against the Serbian enclave in Albania , the Austrian sea pilots came on their first mission. The Kumbor coastal air base in the Gulf of Cattaro was set up for this purpose . From here the machines started reconnaissance flights and also took the first aerial photos of the coast.

In the autumn of 1914 the aircraft, which had been unarmed up to that point, were armed. This affected those Lohner flying boats that were equipped with a 100 hp Mercedes engine. They were equipped with a 6.5 millimeter Schwarzlose machine gun system and were now also used as an offensive weapon. As a national emblem , the naval aircraft displayed the Austro-Hungarian war flag on the rudder and the iron cross of the German Army Air Force on the fuselage.

The first bomb attack by a flying boat took place on August 15, 1914 on Krstac, the first squadron attacks were flown to Antivari on October 23, 1914 . The first documented night attack, for which the Austrian sea pilots became known, was also flown against Antivari on November 9, 1914. The planes stationed in the Bay of Cattaro repeatedly attacked the Antivari - Virpazar railway line.

The knowledge gained from an Austrian flying boat conquered by the Italians was used in the Italian Macci flying boats, which were then used from autumn 1915.

One of the tasks of the Austrian naval aviators was to repel enemy airships that bombed Austrian coastal cities. So on June 5th the “Citta di Ferrara” was brought down. Except for two men, the crew was saved by Austrian torpedo boats . In addition, the kuk Seeflieger were commissioned with reconnaissance and reconnaissance flights as well as with attacks on enemy objects and troops, the pursuit of enemy submarines and the defense of their own ports and units. The French submarine "Foucault" was sunk by a bomb hit. The crew was rescued by the flying boat and another with the support of a torpedo boat. The sea pilots also supported the ground troops during the Isonzo battles.

In addition to the seaplane bases along the Adriatic coast, in October 1915, in Keszthely on Lake Balaton in Hungary, there was also a seaplane base for the factory inspection of new aircraft and to fly them in. At the end of November 1915, the Austro-Hungarian naval forces had 65 naval aircraft.

The increasing number of Italian bombings led to considerations about the construction of special fighter flying boats. A prototype was constructed for the liner lieutenant Gottfried von Banfield , who was known as one of the most successful Austrian aviator aces of the First World War as the "Eagle of Triest", but was not produced in series. The Hansa-Brandenburg CC flying boat developed by Ernst Heinkel was used , from which the naval administration bought 40 machines.

Liner of the line Gottfried von Banfield won the first night aerial victory in aerial warfare history on May 31, 1917. At 10:30 p.m. he forced an Italian seaplane to land near Miramare Castle .

Towards the end of the war, the Austrian sea pilots were increasingly put on the defensive. Two sources indicate that the sea planes, like the Danube flotilla, were deployed in Odessa on the Black Sea in 1918 , but this is not sufficiently documented (as of when?). Between 1915 and 1918 1,063 sorties were flown, including 463 bombings and 157 dogfights.

65 men were taken prisoner - eight of them managed to escape. 510 officers and men - every third pilot - died while on duty. With the end of the monarchy, the history of the Austro-Hungarian sea aviation also ended. Nothing is known about the end of the seafarers; probably the planes were destroyed.

SM submarines

Between 1907 and 1910 three submarines of different types ( Simon Lake , Germania , John Philip Holland ) were built in order to determine the best design for the purposes of Austria-Hungary and to build it in larger numbers. They were intended as coastal boats for the Adriatic.

During the war was the U-boats in the Whitehead shipyard in Fiume built, came from the Germania shipyard in Kiel or from a shipyard in Budapest - in both cases separated by rail, to be assembled in the naval arsenal Pola.

Tower of U-20 in the Army History Museum

At the beginning of the First World War , the submarines were relocated from the Pola submarine station in the central war port to the port of Brioni . In the vacant hotels there, officers and parts of the crew could be quartered free of charge. A submarine flotilla of the German Imperial Navy was also stationed in Pola . Their operational area was the western Mediterranean , while the submarines of the Danube Monarchy had been assigned to the eastern part.

The first act of war by the Austro-Hungarian submarines took place on November 28, 1914, when SM U 4 landed the sailing ship Fiore del Mare from the warring Albania .

In 1914 the French submarine Curie tried to penetrate the main war port of Pola and attack the Austro-Hungarian navy there with seven torpedoes , but failed because of the network lock and sank on December 20, 1914. After the Austrian fleet had lifted the boat and repaired it, it was renamed SM U 14 on February 7, 1915 and officially put into service on June 1, 1915. On July 10th, SM U 14 (ex Curie ) left for its first mission. In such an operation, this boat would almost have been sunk as hostile by another Austrian submarine.

Just as the Curie tried to penetrate the port of Pola, U-12 wanted to enter the port of Venice under the liner lieutenant Egon Lerch . On August 8, 1915, the submarine was sunk by a mine . The entire team was killed. After the wreck was lifted by the Italians, the dead were buried on the cemetery island of San Michele in Venice.

As the largest enemy warship, the French armored cruiser Léon Gambetta was sunk by U-5 (Commander: Georg Ludwig von Trapp ) on April 27, 1915 , after U-12 had badly damaged the French battleship Jean Bart by a torpedo hit on December 21, 1914 . Georg Ritter von Trapp also sank the Italian submarine Nereide with U-5 on August 5, 1915 . When the Italian armored cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi shelled the Ragusa-Cattaro railway on the Dalmatian coast on July 18, 1915 , U-4 was able to intervene and sink the ship. On June 11, 1917, U-27 badly damaged the Japanese destroyer Sakaki off Crete by a torpedo hit on the bow and put it out of action for months. U-14 sank the Italian civil steamer Milazzo on August 29, 1917 .

On July 6, 1918, U 20 was sunk by an Italian submarine near the mouth of the Tagliamento by a torpedo hit. In 1962 the wreck was lifted. The propeller is privately owned, the tower and a few other finds are in the Army History Museum in the Vienna Arsenal and can be viewed there. A kuk war flag of the submarine U-12 is also on display.

A submarine engine, type MAN, can be seen in the Technology Museum in Sinsheim.

With the end of the Danube Monarchy, the history of the Austro-Hungarian submarines also ended.

See also: List of Austro-Hungarian U-Boats (1909-1919)

River and sea shipping

Danube Flotilla

The task of the Danube Flotilla was the military control of the Danube, the main river of the Austrian Empire, and its navigable tributaries. Their main task was the fight against the Hungarians and Turks . Another important task was the protection of supplies for the army transported on the Danube . The main base of the Danube Flotilla was the Imperial Arsenal in Vienna .

Before the Austro-Hungarian equalization

For the year 1514, 148 ships with 2,500 hook boxes ( arquebuses ) under the command of Jeronimus von Zara are reported.

The construction of a new Danube flotilla with ships with up to 40 guns by the Marquis de Fleury commissioned by Emperor Leopold I failed. So were on behalf of Emperor Charles VI. between 1716 and 1718 ten large ships with up to 64 cannons were built. Ten years later, four more large ships followed. But the fact that they were all stranded made it clear to those responsible that the Danube is not the right place for large ships.

The following type of ship was called “ Tschaike ” after the Slavic word for “lapwing” and was rowable and sailable. Two permanent Tchaikist companies were set up to serve them, and two more followed in 1764. From 1769 this battalion was named "Titler Bataillon" after the location of the staff in Titl in the Banat . Originally, the ship's guns were operated by artillerymen, later the Chaikists also took over. In 1806 the Titler battalion had a crew of 1,200 men. The most important base for these small ships, which were of great help in the siege of Turkish fortresses on the Danube and Sava, was the Komorn fortress in Hungary, where damaged ships were repaired and new ones built. An important production facility for sealed Aiken was among other things, the shipyard Klosterneuburg , which also in the Hungarian Theißmündung stationed Tschaikistenbataillon constantly supplied with new ships.

After the almost complete conquest of Hungary, the Danube flotilla lost its importance. The main base was moved to the southern border, but only part of the team followed. In 1763, under Colonel Mathias Mathesen, a new battalion was established in Titl, which was subordinate to the respective commander in chief of the military border . These chaikers were in use until at least 1830.

The first experimental use of a steamship on the Danube took place in 1817, regular steamship operation did not exist until the DDSG in 1831.

In the course of the revolution in 1848, the Hungarian government bought the steamship Franz I from the DDSG and had it converted and armed. On July 25, the occupation was sworn in. On August 19, 1848, this ship was involved in fighting with Croatians and on October 13, 1848, it reached Hainburg . The early onset of winter forced it into the DDSG shipyard in Alt-Ofen on November 18, 1848 . An attack by imperial troops under Alfred I. Prince zu Windisch-Graetz in the winter of 1848/1849 led to the Tisza . On January 5th, 1849, the stuck steamer was captured, confiscated and renamed General Schlick .

General Schlick came to Vienna in the spring of 1849 . Despite the peace after the victory over Hungary, the General Schlick remained armed and became the first ship of a new Danube flotilla.

In 1850 a new Danube flotilla was set up with a base in Pest . The second ship of the new Danube Flotilla was put into service on May 31, 1852. Archduke Albrecht's steam engine had been ordered by the then Hungarian government in England during the revolution , but could not be delivered because of the fighting. The officers 'and non-commissioned officers' school was established in Klosterneuburg near Vienna from 1853 . In 1854 the General Schlick was decommissioned and replaced by the Graf Schlick , built in Klosterneuburg and commissioned in 1859. The Kaiserjacht Adler was converted into a war steamer in 1860 due to a lack of demand. Another planned ship was not purchased.

Incorporation into the Austro-Hungarian Navy

Gravestone of Corvette Captain Max von Förster (Chief of Staff of the Danube Flotilla)

In 1861 the command of the Danube Flotilla was taken over by the Navy.

The fact that in 1864 France delivered five modern armored gunboats to Turkey , which were superior to the Austrian ships , was no obstacle for Austria to completely dissolve the Danube flotilla in 1866 and to sell the steamers of the DDSG.

In 1871 a new Danube flotilla was set up. The most important type of ship were the so-called " monitors ", which were first built and used during the American Civil War . These ships, which had guns in rotating turrets, were named after rivers in Austria and Hungary ( Leitha , Szamos , Körös , Temes (I), Bodrog , Enns , Inn , Sava and Bosna ).

They were supported by 14 patrol boats, which were designated with lower case letters (a, b, c, ...) and a torpedo boat . During the First World War , various auxiliary ships were also used (armed steamers, mine-layers, mine clearers, traindampers, hospital ships, barges).

The Danube flotilla was first used during the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1878.

Operations in the First World War

During the First World War, the ships of the Danube Flotilla carried out a fight against targets on land due to a lack of opponents at sea. Serbia had no Danube fleet and the strong Romanian Danube flotilla avoided fighting with the Austro-Hungarian flotilla. The flotilla suffered losses of people and material through artillery fire from positions on land and through sea ​​mines .

On August 11th, the Danube Flotilla undertook the first major combat operation. On September 14th, units of the Danube Flotilla fired at Belgrade , causing ammunition dumps to explode in the old Kalemegdan fortress in Belgrade . The first, still very primitive Serbian floating mine was fished out of the Danube on October 19, 1914 and defused. The fleet tried to protect itself from the mines with improvised protective devices, but this did not always succeed. But mines were also brought out by the Danube Flotilla itself. Between December 12 and 15, 1914, units of the Danube flotilla and army troops occupied Belgrade.

April 17, 1917, when a Spanish officer mission under General Burguete visited the Danube flotilla, among other things, brought high visitors, and on April 20, two Turkish naval officers came for study purposes. The German Emperor Wilhelm II and the Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand I came to visit on September 21, 1917. On this occasion, the Austrian Corvette Captain von Förster, Chief of Staff of the Danube Flotilla, was personally awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class by Wilhelm II .

On September 22nd, the Monitor Inn was sunk by a mine hit upstream from Brăila . Corvette captain von Förster was killed. The Inn was lifted between October and November - the interested spectator was Duke Carl Eduard von Sachsen-Coburg and Gotha , who was visiting the flotilla at the time - and the corvette captain von Förster was recovered. He was buried in the Vienna Central Cemetery.

The most adventurous attempt to fight the ships of the Danube Flotilla was made by the Russian Empire. Three submarines specially designed for the river conditions of the Danube were built. Only one of them was used and it was captured almost undamaged on March 12, 1918. The plan to create this submarine in the Adriatic Sea and use it there failed due to the unseaworthiness of the spoils of war.

When, after the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk, due to Bolshevik unrest, the Central Powers' urgently needed trade in coal and grain across the Black Sea could not be started, ships of the Danube flotilla were transferred to the Dnieper on April 10th . Their mission was to support and protect German and Austro-Hungarian troops who had been in Odessa and Nikolajew since mid-March 1918 .

On September 12, 1918, the successful Danube flotilla returned to the port of departure in Brăila. With the end of the Danube Monarchy, the history of the Austro-Hungarian Danube Flotilla also ended.

Fate of the Danube Flotilla

On November 13, 1918, Hungary was asked by the war winners in the Belgrade Military Convention to surrender the monitors in Budapest and a large number of other ships. On December 8th, five monitors (Bosna, Sava, Enns, Temes (I), Körös) were confiscated from a specially set up English Danube flotilla and transferred to Belgrade and repaired so that they could be used by the SHS state's navy. These ships were handed over to the Serbs on December 31, 1918.

After the proclamation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic under Béla Kun on March 21, 1919, two monitors were moved to Budapest to evacuate the Allied military mission threatened by the Red Army (March 22–24, 1919).

The remaining in Budapest and already disarmed combat ships were made ready for use by the troops Béla Kun and partly also in the struggles against the Czechs - they had Upper Hungary occupied - employed.

At the end of 1919, all units of the former Austro-Hungarian Danube Flotilla were under Allied control.

On April 15, 1920, the Allied Ambassadors' Conference approved the division of the former combat ships:

  • Austria: Fogas, Csuka, Persch, Stör (III)
  • Hungary: Catfish, Compo, Viza, Salmon (II)
  • Kingdom of SHS: Bodrog, Enns, Bosna
  • Romania: Sava, Inn, Temes (I)
  • European Danube Commission: Maros, Leitha, Szamos, Körös (all disarmed to be used as a pontoon .)

However, there were still changes in this division, so that Austria finally received the ships Fogas, Compo, Persch and Stör (III), which arrived in Vienna on January 28, 1921 and were to be demobilized at the Korneuburg shipyard within four months.

Danube flotilla after 1918

former patrol boat Lower Austria at the Reichsbrücke in Vienna
former patrol boat Colonel Brecht at the Reichsbrücke in Vienna

After 1918 Austria was a landlocked country that no longer had a navy. Pioneers of the armed forces performed their service on the boats that were later purchased for the armed forces of the First and Second Republic.

The four ships awarded to Austria by the Allies were later sold to Hungary and another ship was acquired, which was named Birago .

Austrian shipyards also built six 14-ton boats ( Drau , Enns , Krems , Mur , Salzach , Traun ) as well as some smaller boats that could also navigate the tributaries.

After the Second World War, a patrol boat squadron , consisting of nine boats, was to be purchased to secure the Danube as an international waterway. In fact, only two were built and put into operation in the Korneuburg shipyard : in 1957 the 12.30 m long Oberst Brecht (6 men crew) and in 1970 the 29.67 m long Lower Austria (73 t; crew: 9 men). Most recently, only the two aforementioned boats and a few very small motor boats were stationed in the Tegetthoff marine barracks in Vienna-Kuchelau. Fleet handbooks state that for 2003 there were two officers (boat commanders) and 30 other soldiers. The two lightly armed patrol boats finally ceased their service in November 2006 when the flag was lowered on August 1, 2006. Both guard boats were handed over to the Army History Museum and were on loan at the Reichsbrücke in Vienna for a few years as part of the activities of the naval comradeship Admiral Archduke Franz Ferdinand . The two PatBoote are now in the area of ​​the former Korneuburg shipyard, where they can be visited during the summer months on the first Sunday of each month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (branch of the HGM ).

Lake Garda flotilla

Paddle steamer Franz Joseph of the Lake Garda flotilla

The existence of the Lake Garda flotilla is hardly mentioned anywhere and is therefore little known.

The flotilla was founded on Lake Garda by Field Marshal Josef Wenzel Graf Radetzky von Radetz to support his land army. It was built under the leadership of the first in command, Captain Anton von Mollinary . In 1860 this flotilla was also taken over by the Navy. The base was the town of Torri del Benaco .

In June 1859 the armed paddle steamers SMS Franz Joseph , SMS Benaco and SMS Hess operated with the gunboats against the Piedmontese-French forces, which however had no ships on the lake. The Benaco was lost before Salo on June 20, 1859 when a Piedmontese land battery was shot at. It was then raised by the Italians. In 1866 the Benaco was recaptured by the other Austrian paddle steamers and ceded to Italy with them in 1866.

After Austria had only owned the northern and eastern parts of Lake Garda since 1859, there was renewed fighting between the Austrian paddle steamers SMS Franz Joseph and SMS Hess and six gunboats (including Speiteufel , tomboy , sniper ) in the summer of 1866 during the Third Italian War of Independence . under the command of Corvette Captain Moritz Manfroni von Montfort and the Italian flotilla under Giuseppe Garibaldi .

The task of the flotilla was to defend Austrian territory, prevent an Italian landing, prevent the Italians from advancing into South Tyrol , protect the only road on the east bank and obstruct Italian supply routes on the lake.

Two Italian ships were hijacked and a sea battle broke out with the Italian (formerly Austrian) steamer Benaco . On July 25th, Manfroni fired at Italian infantry that were on their way to the town of Riva del Garda on Lake Garda and then withdrew. Manfroni succeeded in occupying the city shortly before the Italians arrived again.

Lake Garda remained partially Austrian until the end of the Danube Monarchy. The ships of the Lake Garda flotilla were sold to Italy in 1866. The Hess and the Franz Joseph remained under the names RN Principe Oddone and RN San Marco until 1880 in service with the Italian Navy on the lake. The Austrian Lake Garda flotilla was apparently dissolved in 1866.


Novara expedition

Between April 30, 1857 and August 26, 1859, the circumnavigation of the world was carried out by SMS Novara for research purposes , accompanied by the corvette SMS Carolina . Brazil , China and Australia , among others , were visited . In Valparaíso they received the news of a possible war between Austria and a Franco-Sardinian alliance and it was decided to return to Austria as quickly as possible. In Gibraltar it became known that France had declared the Novara to be "neutral" to protect the scientific exhibits on board.

Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition

Julius Payer from Austria had accompanied a less successful research expedition of the North German Confederation in 1870 and - encouraged by the cartographer and geographer August Petermann - came up with the plan to undertake a similar expedition under Austrian command.

Under the command of the Kaiserjäger lieutenant Julius Payer and the liner lieutenant Carl Weyprecht - supported by Archduke Rainer von Österreich ( curator of the Academy of Sciences ), the naval section and Johann Nepomuk Graf Wilczek - the "SMS Tegetthoff", built especially in Bremerhaven, began on 13. June 1872 the Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition , the return took place in 1874. A man (the machinist Ota Kříž ) had died during the adventurous and dangerous voyage during which the ship had to be abandoned . The archipelago of the Franz-Joseph-Land was discovered (since it was in no way useful for Austria-Hungary, left to the Tsarist Empire ). Names registered on the maps are “Kap Wien”, “Kap Tegetthoff”, “Kronprinz Rudolf-Insel”, “Wilczek-Insel” and others.

SMS Zrinyi in East Asia

The “Zrinyi” screw corvette (named after the Banus of Croatia Miklos Zrinyi, 1508–1566) was built by Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino (STT) in 1869–1871. It was launched on December 10, 1870. (The battleship of the same name was launched on April 12, 1910, also in the STT's Trieste shipyard.)

One of the “mission trips” mentioned took the corvette Zrinyi to East Asia in 1890/1891 under the commandant kuk Korvettenkapitän Wladimir Khittel. The journey led via Aden to Singapore and Shanghai up the Yangtze River to Nanjing and Hankow . The Yangtze River was sketched and mapped and the fortifications of the settlements on either side of the river described - work that would be of great help during the fighting of the Boxer Rebellion .

Literature: Wladimir Aichelburg, Register of the k. (U.) K. Warships, Vienna-Graz 2002. The book “Die Reise SM Schiff 'Zrinyi' to East Asia: Yang-tse-kiang u. Yellow Sea 1890-1891 "by Jerolim Benko von Boinik as well as another on the" journey of SM ship 'Zrinyi' via Malta , Tangier and Tenerife to the West Indies in the years 1885 and 1886 [...] based on the reports of the ship's commander, [... ] "

Deep sea expeditions

Between 1890 and 1898 the transport ship SMS Pola undertook seven deep-sea expeditions to the eastern Mediterranean , the Adriatic and the Red Sea . The aim was a comprehensive inventory of the topographical, physical, chemical and biological conditions.


The first state to introduce a flag for its ships was Holland . Initially, merchant ships and warships showed the same thing, but later two different flags were introduced for the two categories of ships.

Since 1687, the warships of the Roman-German emperors and the Kingdom of Naples also displayed the black and yellow flag with the double-headed imperial eagle on a yellow background and with black jagged edges as the imperial flag.

1730, during the reign of Emperor Charles VI. , national, war, trade and command flags were introduced, which were later confirmed by Maria Theresa .

The war flag was yellow and had no jagged edges, and the double-headed eagle could be seen in the middle. In contrast, the trade flag only had a small eagle in the upper left corner. In addition, there were thin black and horizontal horizontal stripes.

However, since this flag was similar to the Tuscan flag and this led to confusion, Emperor Joseph II introduced new flags in 1786, which should only apply to the hereditary countries and were identical for war and merchant ships.

The red-white-red flag showed the Austrian coat of arms and the Roman-German imperial crown surrounded by gold . After the resignation of the Roman-German imperial dignity by Emperor Franz I in 1806, this crown was replaced by a closed crown.

In 1867, after the equalization between Austria and Hungary, a trade flag was also introduced. The red-white-red flag was split in the middle. In the left half there was the Austrian coat of arms with a crown, in the right half the lower red bar was replaced by a green one and the Hungarian coat of arms added.

In order to signal the presence of a member of the imperial family on board, the "imperial flag", which was used as early as 1687, has been used as a " standard " since the change of the flags by Emperor Joseph II .

As in all navies, the k. u. k. Kriegsmarine a variety of service, rank and command flags.

The red-white-red flag was used by all ships, maritime authorities and ports of the monarchy. The last time she was caught was on October 30, 1918 on the flagship Viribus Unitis and one day later on the Cattaro base. There the lowering, as well as the subsequent hoisting of the Croatian flag, took place in a solemn manner with hymns and a flag salute.


Badges of rank of officers and civil servants, 1898.
Badges of rank of NCOs and sailors, 1898.
Uniforms for sailors and naval officers around 1820
Uniforms for sailors and naval officers around 1890

The following are the ranks in the kuk Kriegsmarine at the beginning of the 20th century in descending order from the highest rank of the admirals to the lowest rank of the crew. Like everything else, these names were also subject to change.

  1. Admirals:
    1. Grand Admiral (awarded to Adm. Anton Haus in 1916 )
    2. admiral
    3. Viceadmiral
    4. Rear admiral
  2. Staff officers:
    1. Ship of the line (also: ship's captain)
    2. Frigate captain
    3. Corvette Captain
  3. Chief Officers:
    1. Liner lieutenant (also: Schiffsleutnant, corresponded to the captain 1st class of the army)
    2. Frigate lieutenant , until 1908 corresponded to the captain 2nd class (until 1849 captain-lieutenant ) of the army, since 1908 only equal rank to the first lieutenant of the army. The professional officers of the navy were retired from the kuk Naval Academy since 1908 with this rank .
    3. Liner ensign (abolished in 1908, also: ship ensign), from 1859 to 1908 the highest graduate degree of the kuk Naval Academy (before midshipman), corresponded to the first lieutenant of the army. In 1908 the frigate lieutenant took up this position.
    4. Frigate ensign (abolished in 1859/1860, up to then the highest graduate grade of the kuk Naval Academy), corresponded to the sub-lieutenant / lieutenant of the army
    5. Corvette lieutenant in the reserve (since 1916, reserve rank for civil seamen with one year service in the kk Kriegsmarine), equal in rank to lieutenant in the army. Professional officers of the Kriegsmarine did not have this rank.
  4. Officer Candidates
    1. Seefähnrich (until 1908: midshipman 1st class)
    2. Naval Cadet (until 1859: Naval Cadet, then Naval Cadet, 1869 to 1908: Naval Cadet 2nd Class).
    3. See-Eleve 1st class (pupil and secondary school graduate), after six months of course promotion to sea cadet
    4. See-Eleve 2nd class (pupil), after three years of course promotion to sea cadet
    5. Sea aspirant
  5. NCOs:
    1. Chief of Staff, Master of Telegraphs, etc. (up to 1908: Oberbootsmann, etc., since 1914 the reservists who were dismissed before 1908 but Oberbootsmann 1st class)
    2. Stabsmann, Stabsgeschützmeister etc. (until 1908: Boatswain etc., since 1914 the reservists who were retired before 1908 but Oberbootsmann 2nd class)
    3. Sub-boatman, sub-gun master, sub-telegraph master, etc. (since 1914 boatswain, gun master, etc.). The repeated renaming of the boatswain ranks causes confusion in retrospect. 1908 replaced rod bosun and chief staff boatswain the ranks Bosun and Chief Petty Officer old style . The boatmen / upper boatmen who had transferred to the reserve before this time retained their previous rank designations for the time being. The renaming of the submariners to bosun in 1914, however, made it necessary to rename the old type of boatmen / Oberbootsmann to Oberbootsmann 1st or 2nd class. The naval sergeants who were transferred to the reserve after 1908, on the other hand, ranked as staff / upper staff boatsmen. The badges of rank were identical (two or three shortened yellow silk sleeve braids).
  6. Batches:
    1. Boatswain's mate, gun mate, electrician, etc.
    2. Mars guest, telegraph guest, chief heater, quartermaster, etc.
    3. 1st class seaman, 1st class telegraph seaman, 1st class stoker, etc.
  7. Teams:
    1. Sailor, telegraph seaman, stoker, etc. 2nd class

Commanders of the Austro-Hungarian Navy

Navy hat for flag officers, Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Vienna.

The following sections contain an overview of all naval and fleet commanders (only existed in World War I) in the Austro-Hungarian Navy and the heads of the naval section in the Austro-Hungarian War Ministry .

Important commanders of the Austro-Hungarian Navy were:

Naval commanders

The naval commander was the highest military position in the Austro-Hungarian Navy. He was the de facto commander in chief of the navy under the emperor and king as de jure commander in chief.

Surname Rank Beginning of the appointment End of appointment
Ludwig von Fautz Vice admiral 1861 June 1865
Wilhelm von Tegetthoff Vice admiral July 1865 April 1871
Friedrich von Pöck admiral April 1871 November 1883
Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck admiral November 1883 December 1897
Hermann von Spaun admiral December 1897 November 1904
Rudolf Count Montecuccoli admiral November 1904 February 1913
Anton house Admiral / Grand Admiral February 1913 February 1917
Maximilian Njegovan admiral April 1917 February 1918
Miklós Horthy Vice admiral March 1918 October 1918

Fleet Commander (1914-1918)

The fleet commander was the commander of the entire mobilized fleet during the First World War.

Surname Rank Beginning of the appointment End of appointment
Anton house Admiral / Grand Admiral July 1914 February 1917
Maximilian Njegovan admiral February 1917 February 1918
Miklós Horthy Rear admiral / vice admiral March 1918 October 1918

Chiefs of the Naval Section of the War Department

The head of the naval section of the Reich Ministry of War, since 1911 the Austro-Hungarian War Ministry, was the supreme head of administration of the naval department (section) of the Reich Ministry of War. He was always a naval officer with admiral rank and often also a naval commander. With the departure of Hungary from the Real Union with Austria on October 31, 1918, the basis for the common navy ceased to exist. As, as a result of the collapse of Austria-Hungary, neither Austria nor Hungary had a share in the Adriatic coast, Karl I./IV decided . to have the fleet handed over to the new South Slav state . The Austro-Hungarian War Ministry was declared dissolved by the new state of German Austria on November 12, 1918 and continued with its naval section as the liquidating war ministry under the supervision of the German-Austrian State Office for the Army until the end of the liquidation and division work.

Surname Rank Beginning of the appointment End of appointment
Ludwig von Fautz Vice admiral July 1865 February 1868
Wilhelm von Tegetthoff Vice admiral February 1868 April 1871
Friedrich von Pöck admiral October 1872 November 1883
Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck admiral November 1883 December 1897
Hermann von Spaun admiral December 1897 November 1904
Rudolf Count Montecuccoli admiral November 1904 February 1913
Anton house Admiral / Grand Admiral February 1913 February 1917
Karl Kailer von Kaltenfels Vice admiral February 1917 April 1917
Maximilian Njegovan admiral April 1917 February 1918
Franz von Holub Vice Admiral (*) March 1918 January 1919
Wilhelm Buchmayer Liner of the Line (*) January 1919 February 1920
Alfred Suchomel Frigate Captain (*) February 1920 May 1923

(*) since November 1, 1918 no longer kuk and without a fleet, liquidating since November 12, 1918

Naval library

Museum reception

Insight into the naval hall of the Army History Museum

A separate room is dedicated to the history of the Austrian Navy in the Museum of Military History in Vienna . The exhibition covers the entire chronology from the creation of the Danube flotilla to the end of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. The numerous ship models particularly stand out, with that of the SMS Viribus Unitis in a scale of 1:25 and a total length of 6 meters, which was built by eight skilled workers from the Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino shipyard between 1913 and 1917, is particularly impressive. Numerous oil paintings, including some with monumental dimensions, also illustrate the eventful history of the Austrian Navy. The Novara Expedition (1857–1859), the Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition ( 1872–1874) and the intervention in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900 also take up a large part of the exhibition in the Marine Hall. Here is also the only remaining fragment of an Austro-Hungarian submarine, namely the tower of U 20 , which was sunk in 1918 and salvaged in 1962.

See also

Literature (chronological, newest first)

  • Peter Fichtenbauer , Christian Ortner : The history of the Austrian army from Maria Theresa to the present in essays and pictorial representations , Verlag Militaria, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-902526-71-7 .
  • Rüdiger Schiel: The forgotten partnership. Imperial Navy and kuk Kriegsmarine 1871–1914 (Small series of publications on military and naval history, Volume 23), Bochum 2014. ISBN 978-3-89911-215-3 .
  • Simon Loidl: “We were free for two and a half days.” On the literary and political reception of the sailors' uprising in Cattaro in Austria , in: Jahrbuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbew Movement , Volume III / 2014, pp. 131–152.
  • Peter Pantzer : With the Austro-Hungarian Navy on a visit to the Japanese Empire , in: Viribus Unitis. Annual report of the Army History Museum 2012 , Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-902551-37-5 , pp. 45-72.
  • Christian Ortner : The sea war in the Adriatic Sea 1866 , in: Viribus Unitis , Annual Report 2010 of the Army History Museum. Vienna 2011, pp. 100–124, ISBN 978-3-902551-19-1 .
  • Helmut Neuhold: Austria's heroes at sea . Styria Verlag Vienna-Graz-Klagenfurt 2010. ISBN 978-3-222-13306-0 .
  • M. Christian Ortner : History of the Austrian or Austro-Hungarian Navy , in: Thomas Habersatter (ed.), Ship ahead. Marine painting from the 14th to 19th centuries. Exhibition catalog, Salzburg, 2005, pp. 91–99.
  • Hans Hugo Sokol: The emperor's sea power, 1848–1914. The Imperial and Royal Austrian Navy , Amalthea, Vienna / Munich 2002, ISBN 3-85002-480-6 .
  • Erwin Sieche: The cruisers and cruiser projects of the kuk Kriegsmarine - 1880-1918 , Mittler & Sohn, Hamburg, 2002, ISBN 978-3-8132-0766-8 .
  • Lothar Baumgartner / Erwin Sieche: The ships of the K. (below) K. Kriegsmarine im Bild, Volume 2: 1896–1918. Mittler & Sohn, Hamburg, 2001, ISBN 978-3-8132-0595-4 .
  • Renate Basch-Ritter : Austria on all seas. History of the k. (U.) K. Navy 1382-1918. Styria, Graz 2000, ISBN 3-222-12818-9 .
  • Lothar Baumgartner / Erwin Sieche: The ships of the K. (below) K. Kriegsmarine in the picture; Volume 1: 1848–1895, Stöhr publishing house, Vienna, 1999, ISBN 978-3-901208-25-6 .
  • Antonio Schmidt-Brentano: The Austrian Admirals, 1808–1895, Biblio, Osnabrück 1997 (3 volumes), ISBN 3-7648-2511-1 .
  • Milan Vego: Austro-Hungarian Naval Policy, 1904–1914. Routledge, London 1996, ISBN 978-0-7146-4209-3 .
  • Franz F. Bilzer: The torpedo boats of the kuk Kriegsmarine 1875-1918, 2nd edition, Weishaupt, Gnas (Steiermark) 1996, ISBN 3-900310-16-5 .
  • Franz F. Bilzer: The torpedo ships and destroyers of the kuk Kriegsmarine 1867-1918, 2nd edition, Weishaupt, Gnas (Steiermark) 1990, ISBN 3-900310-66-1 .
  • Georg Pawlik, Heinz Christ, Herbert Winkler: "The kuk Donauflottille 1870-1918". H. Weishaupt, Graz 1989, ISBN 3-900310-45-9 .
  • Horst Friedrich Mayer , Dieter Winkler: Austria was in all ports. The Austro-Hungarian Merchant Navy. Vienna 1987, 223 pp.
  • Georg Pawlik , Lothar Baumgartner: SM Unterseeboote - Das K. uk Unterseebootwesen 1907–1918. H. Weishaupt, Graz 1986, ISBN 3-900310-29-7 .
  • Paul Schmalenbach: Brief History of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Herford, 1970, ISBN 3-7822-0047-0 .
  • Friedrich Wolf : The sailors from Cattaro. Leipzig 1969 (Reclam).
  • Maximilian Rottauscher von Malata: When Venice was Austrian. Just a breath of memory. Vienna-Munich 1966 (Herold Verlag)
  • Bruno Frei: The sailors from Cattaro - an episode from the revolutionary year 1918. Globus Verlag Wien (originally German military publisher, Berlin 1963).
  • Walter Wagner : The highest authorities of the Austro-Hungarian Navy 1856–1918 (= communications from the Austrian State Archives . Supplementary volume 6). Berger, Vienna et al. 1961.
  • Franz Xaver Neumann-Spallart: Austria's maritime development and the uplift of Trieste, Maier, Stuttgart 1882.

Web links

Commons : Austrian Navy  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Manfried Rauchsteiner, Manfred Litscher (Ed.): The Army History Museum in Vienna. Vienna 2000, p. 86.
  2. ^ Richard Georg Plaschka : Cattaro - Prague. Revolt and revolution. The Austro-Hungarian Navy and Army in the fire of the uprising movements of February 1 and October 28, 1918. Graz 1963, pp. 15-19.
  3. Bruno Frei : The sailors from Cattaro. An episode from the revolutionary year 1918. New edition Berlin 1963, p. 53. Frei was a journalist, he was one of the first to intensively work through the files in the Austrian naval archives relating to the events in Cattaro.
  4. ^ Richard G. Plaschka / Horst Haselsteiner / Arnold Suppan: Inner front. Military assistance, resistance and overthrow in the Danube Monarchy 1918. Vol. 1: Between strike and mutiny. Vienna 1974, p. 108.
  5. Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Ed.): The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna . Vienna / Graz 1960, p. 60.
  6. “The journey of SM ship 'Zrinyi' to East Asia: Yang-tse-kiang u. Yellow Sea 1890–1891 ”, digitized
  7. Official flags and standards around 1902 on; Accessed September 10, 2017.
  8. Decree of the Ministry of War of April 5, 1849 , in: Supplementary volume to the State Law and Government Gazette for the Crown Land of Hungary , Ofen 1851, Passus 47.
  9. ^ Peter Salcher: History of the kuk marine academy. Vienna 1902, p. 65.
  10. ^ Army History Museum / Military History Institute (ed.): The Army History Museum in the Vienna Arsenal . Verlag Militaria , Vienna 2016, ISBN 978-3-902551-69-6 , p. 150 f.