SMS Camaeleon (1860)

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The identical Meteor
The identical Meteor
Ship data
flag PrussiaPrussia (war flag) Prussia North German Confederation German Empire
North German ConfederationNorth German Confederation (war flag) 
German EmpireGerman Empire (Reichskriegsflagge) 
Ship type Gunboat
class Camaeleon class
Shipyard Royal Shipyard , Gdansk
building-costs 73,900 thalers
Launch 4th August 1860
Commissioning August 6, 1861
Removal from the ship register March 19, 1872
Whereabouts As a coal in Kiel depleted
Ship dimensions and crew
43.28 m ( Lüa )
41.02 m ( KWL )
width 6.96 m
Draft Max. 2.67 m
displacement Construction: 353 t
Maximum: 422 t
crew 71 men
Machine system
machine 2 suitcase boiler
2 horizontal 1-cyl steam engines
1 Rowing
250 PS (184 kW)
9.1 kn (17 km / h)
propeller 1 three-leaf ø 1.9 m
Rigging and rigging
Rigging More beautiful
Number of masts 3
Sail area 350 m²
  • 1 pulled 24-pounder (= 15 cm)
  • 2 pulled 12 pounders (= 12 cm)

The SMS Camaeleon was the first ship of the class named after him of a total of eight steam cannon boats 1st class of the Royal Prussian and Imperial Navy .

Construction and service time

The Chameleon was developed by the Royal shipyard in Gdansk according to a 1859 draft completed in September of the same year on keel laid. The launch took place on August 4, 1860. The commissioning was delayed due to unsatisfactory test drives and necessary rework and could only take place on August 6, 1861.

The first use of the Camaeleon took place during a visit to Hamburg and Bremen , at that time still practically abroad. The ship was traveling together with the Comet and the second class gunboats Fuchs , Jäger , Salamander and Scorpion , with the Camaeleon playing the role of flagship . In the North Sea occurred Amazon and Hela in the dressing, wherein the on the Amazon located Prinz Adalbert took the lead of the dressing. After Lübeck had been visited on the return voyage , this first mission of the Camaeleon ended on October 12, 1861 when it was decommissioned in Danzig. The propulsion system was then revised by its manufacturer, AG Vulcan Stettin , as the speed of the ship was below the contractually agreed speed.

The outbreak of the German-Danish War in 1864 brought the next commissioning. The Camaeleon was activated on February 11, 1864 and joined the newly established Reserve Division in April, which also included her sister ships Comet , Cyclop and Delphin . However, it was no longer used. In August and September the division took part in a visit to the fleet in Schleswig-Holstein's Baltic Sea ports in order to then carry out a survey of the Schleswig coast, with the Camaeleon being used near the island of Alsen . In March 1865 the division was dissolved again. On May 20, 1865, the ship was supposed to come to the aid of the Victoria , which ran aground in the Fehmarnbelt , but it itself ran aground near Friedrichsort . At the end of May, it carried out survey work on the Jade together with Comet and Loreley . In September the ship was assigned to the artillery training ship Gefion and then decommissioned on December 1st on Dänholm .

From March 12, 1867, the Camaeleon was used as a tender in Kiel. On September 4th, she went on a trip to sea, during which participants of the Evangelical Church Congress were on board as visitors. From winter on, the ship served as a station ship in front of the naval depot in Kiel. This activity had to be stopped due to a boiler damage. The Camaeleon was decommissioned on August 26, 1868 and transferred to the shipyard for repairs.

The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War brought the next and, at the same time, last mission for the Camaeleon . It was activated on July 17, 1870, to serve as a watch ship for a harbor barrier off Friedrichsort. On April 1, 1871, the ship was decommissioned without having experienced a combat mission.


Although the Camaeleon was only eleven years old, it was already in poor structural condition. For this reason she was removed from the list of warships on March 19, 1872. In Kiel she initially served as a harbor ship and coal hulk . Parts that were still usable were removed and used for the new construction of the Cyclop . The Camaeleon was finally scrapped after 1878, the exact date being unknown.


August 6 to October 12, 1861 Leutnant zur See 1st class Growing
February 11 to April 1864 Second Class Lieutenant / Second Class Lieutenant Franz Kinderling
April to June 1864 Lieutenant to the sea Franz Graf von Waldersee
June 1864 to February 1865 unknown
February to May 1865 Lieutenant of the sea from Strachwitz
May 1st to December 1st, 1865 Leutnant zur See / Kapitänleutnant Max von der Goltz
March 12, 1867 to July 1868 Captain Friedrich von Hacke
July to August 1868 Captain Emil von Rabenau
August 1868 Lieutenant Captain von Nostitz
July 17, 1870 to April 4, 1871 Lieutenant to the sea Friedrich Albrecht


  • Gröner, Erich / Dieter Jung / Martin Maass: The German warships 1815-1945 . tape 1 : Armored ships, ships of the line, battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, gunboats . Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-7637-4800-8 , p. 161 f .
  • Hildebrand, Hans H. / Albert Röhr / Hans-Otto Steinmetz: The German warships . Biographies - a mirror of naval history from 1815 to the present . tape 2 : Ship biographies from Baden to Eber . Mundus Verlag, Ratingen 1999, p. 164-166 .


  1. The designation of the lower officer ranks was set or changed in the years 1849, 1854 and 1864. On January 1, 1900, the names Fähnrich zur See, Leutnant zur See, Oberleutnant zur See and Kapitänleutnant, which are still in use today, were introduced.
  2. a b The rank corresponds to a lieutenant commander.
  3. a b c d e The rank corresponds to a first lieutenant at sea.