SMS Irene

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Imperial war flag
SMS Irene
Construction data
Shipyard AG Vulcan in Szczecin
Keel laying 1886
Launch July 23, 1887
completion May 25, 1888
Whereabouts From 1914 residential ship
Technical specifications
Displacement Construction: 4,271 t
Maximum: 5,027 t
Length between the perpendiculars:
Length of the waterline :
Length over all:
L pp : 94 m
L KWL : 98.9 m
L o.a. : 103.7 m
width 14.2 m
Draft 6.4 - 7.63 m
  • Rk 14 - 15 cm L / 30
  • 6 Rev - 3.7 cm
  • 3 torpedo tubes 35 cm 1 bow under water, 2 laterally on deck
Armament from 1893
Armor Deck: 76 mm
Propulsion system 4 double cylinder boilers
2 horizontal two-cylinder compound machines
2 four-wing screws 4.7 m
Machine performance 5,000 PSi
Fuel supply 400–550 tons of coal
speed 18 kn
Driving range 2,490 nm at 9 kn
crew 365 men

SMS Irene was the lead ship of two ships of a new class of cruiser corvettes or small cruisers of the Imperial Navy that were for the first time equipped without a sail rig . The only sister ship was the SMS Princess Wilhelm . The cruisers were planned for foreign service and should wage trade wars in the event of war.

Technical specifications

The ship was launched on 23 July 1887 at the AG Vulcan in Stettin from the pile and was by the Princess Irene of Hesse-Darmstadt Prince, the namesake and the wife of Henry of Prussia , in the name of Irene baptized. The ship was 103.9 meters long and 14.2 meters wide, had a draft of 7.63 meters and displaced 4,300 tons. In January 1888 the ship was towed from Stettin to the Imperial Shipyard in Kiel for equipment and armament. The maximum speed was 18.5 knots and the crew numbered 365 men. The armament consisted of 14 15 cm ring cannons , six 3.7 cm revolver cannons and three 35 cm torpedo tubes.

In 1893 ten of the main guns were replaced by eight 10.5 cm rapid-loading cannons, and six 5 cm rapid-loading cannons were brought on board for the revolver cannons.

First years of service

On May 25, 1888, the Irene was first put into service for test drives. On November 28th, it was decommissioned to carry out some improvements in winter. On April 1, 1889, they were put back into service under the command of the namesake's husband, Captain Prince Heinrich. At the end of May, the ship joined the maneuver squadron. From September 10th, she went on a Mediterranean voyage and joined the training squadron with the flagship SMS Kaiser there to accompany Kaiser Wilhelm II to Athens for the wedding of his sister Sophie to Crown Prince Constantine of Greece on October 28th. The imperial couple then visited the Turkish Sultan Abdülhamid II with the yacht Hohenzollern, accompanied by the flagship Kaiser , who was allowed to pass the Dardanelles with special permission . The Irene stayed in front of the Dardanelles, whose commanding Prince Heinrich accompanied the emperor to Constantinople . The subsequent return journey was interrupted in Corfu to visit the Austrian Empress Elisabeth . On November 12th, the imperial couple left the fleet in Venice . From the 14th, the Irene ran as a solo ship to Corfu, Egypt and the Palestinian coast. The fact that the Princess Irene accompanied her husband on this trip was partially criticized in public. The ship returned home with the training squadron in April 1890. The Irene served as an escort cruiser for the Kaiseryacht in 1890 and accompanied Wilhelm II, who had embarked on the Kaiser , on a state visit to Denmark to King Christian IX from the end of June. and to Christiania (today Oslo ) to King Oskar II , then still King of Sweden and Norway. In August, the ship attended the emperor's visits to the Belgian King Leopold II in Ostend and the sailing week in Cowes and accompanied the imperial couple from August 14th to 27th on a visit to the royal couple in Saint Petersburg . After that, the ship took part in maneuvers and was decommissioned on September 24, 1890.

The lack of staff did not allow it to be put back into service until 1894. In the meantime the armament had been modernized. Some of the ring cannons had been replaced by rapid-fire guns.

Service in East Asia

SMS Irene

The outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War prompted the formation of an East Asian cruiser division in the summer of 1894 . The Irene- class cruisers were to be deployed there. The Irene was put back into service on November 1, 1894 and left for East Asia on November 17. On the way out, she called on Casablanca in Morocco to bring German claims for the murder of a merchant. On February 14, 1895, she arrived in Tschifu , today Yantai, and took over from the Corvette SMS Arcona as the flagship for the division chief, Rear Admiral Paul Hoffmann . The division still had the corvettes SMS Marie and SMS Alexandrine and the gunboats SMS Wolf and SMS Iltis . The Irene commuted between Formosa , Hong Kong and Shanghai . In June the sister ship Princess Wilhelm arrived at the cruiser division. On July 10, 1895, the Irene lost the function of the division's flagship in Shanghai when Rear Admiral Hoffmann switched to the newly arrived ironclad Kaiser . First a visit to Japanese ports as far as Hakodate was made. Then the division's ships were mostly off the Chinese coast.

In March and April 1896 they stayed in Yokohama for a long time in order to improve relations with Japan again. In Nagasaki , part of the crews who had arrived there on May 11 with a steamer belonging to the North German Lloyd then took place in Nagasaki , which was customary until 1914 . On June 15, 1896, Rear Admiral Tirpitz took over the division in Shanghai . His assignment also included the exploration and, if necessary, the acquisition of a suitable base. During a visit to Vladivostok from September 13 to 21, Tirpitz discussed the base issue in detail with the Russian governor for East Asia, Admiral General Yevgeny Ivanovich Alexejew . The Irene ran back to Shanghai via Japanese ports with the flagship Kaiser . In November the entire division gathered in front of Amoy to prepare the occupation of a base. However, various individual tasks then required the distribution of the ships. Kaiser had to be overtaken in Hong Kong, so Tirpitz switched to the Irene and ran with her to Manila . Because of unrest there, the Arcona had already been sent there. In January 1897 Tirpitz switched back to the Kaiser . In March, the division moved back to Japan (Yokohama) for the upcoming crew change, after the Samsah Bay on the Fujian coast near Amoy had previously been examined for its suitability as a base in Formosa Strait . Tirpitz was then ordered to return to Germany in Nagasaki, as he had been appointed State Secretary in the Reichsmarineamt . His successor as head of division, Rear Admiral Otto von Diederichs , arrived on June 11, 1897 and boarded the Kaiser in the Wusung roadstead near Shanghai . The division carried out another trip to Japan under the new boss. The flagship and the Princess Wilhelm ran back from Hakodate to Yokohama, while Irene, with the division chief on board and the Arcona , visited Korsakovsk , Vladimir Bay and Vladivostok, and on September 8th in Yokohama they rejoined the rest of the division, which then went to Shanghai misplaced. In October the Irene went to Hong Kong to have necessary repairs carried out there.

SMS Irene

After the two German Catholic missionaries Nies and Henle of the Steyler Mission were murdered in China on November 1, 1897 , Emperor Wilhelm II, who had been looking for an excuse to establish a German base in China, ordered the occupation of Kiautschou . The cruiser division steamed with Kaiser , Prince Wilhelm and the cruiser SMS Cormoran to Kiautschou Bay and occupied the city and port of Tsingtau on November 14th . After the Arcona , the Irene from Hong Kong also arrived in Tsingtau on December 2nd . With that, all German warships were gathered on site. Contrary to what was expected, there was no military resistance from the Chinese, and resistance from other states was also low, even if the Anglo-Saxon press sometimes spread aggressive tones against Germany.

USRC McCulloch

In April 1898, the Irene moved to Nagasaki for an overhaul. This was canceled on April 30th as she was ordered to Manila, where she arrived on May 8th. From the uprisings in the Philippines, the war between Spain and the USA had developed. The fact that the German squadron was sending more and more ships to Manila led to strong tensions with the Americans, the so-called Manila incident . The Irene was the focus, especially after an incident with USRC McCulloch , which signaled a flag to stop her and sent an officer on board to identify the Irene , even though she had been there for almost two months. The American side has repeatedly suspected that the cruiser was supporting the Spaniards. Above all, Irene was supposed to protect German citizens from the chaos of war, and if there was space, she also took Spanish women and children, but also other civilians, on board. The squadron chief therefore released her as the first ship to return to China on July 8th. They then did the overhaul in Nagasaki in October and relocated again to Manila in November, where there were renewed disagreements with the Americans.

In February 1899 she moved back to China and took part in the squadron trip to Korea and Russia with the new flagship SMS Deutschland . In October it went to the dock in Nagasaki for an overhaul and was not operational again until January 1900. When the Boxer Rebellion broke out , she was a station ship in Tsingtau and only sent parts of her landing corps to Tientsin , which had twelve dead. In June she transported two companies of the III. Sea battalion to Tientsin, but returned to Tsingtau as a station ship, only interrupted by four weeks of duty as a watch ship off the Jangts estuary in October.

On June 27, 1901, she went back home with the Gefion . On September 22nd she reached Wilhelmshaven and decommissioned on October 1st, 1901 in Danzig.


The cruiser in reserve was modernized in the imperial shipyard in Wilhelmshaven from 1903 to 1905 due to the small number of modern cruisers without coming back into service. The obsolete cruiser was removed from the list of warships on February 17, 1914. Since December 1913, it has served as a residential ship for submarine crews in Kiel. During the war she was relocated to Wilhelmshaven in the same function.

It was sold for demolition in 1921


May 25 to November 28, 1888 Lieutenant Leopold Koellner
April 1, 1889 to September 24, 1890 Sea captain Prince Heinrich
November 1, 1894 to. May 1896 Corvette captain / captain at sea Erich von Dresky
. May 1896 to. November 1897 Corvette captain / sea captain Georg du Bois
. November 1897 to. November 1899 Korvettenkapitän / Korvettenkapitän with Lieutenant Colonel August Obenheimer
. November 1899 to. January 1901 Corvette / frigate captain Johannes Stein
. January 1 to October 1, 1901 Frigate captain / sea captain Wilhelm Gildemeister



  • Hildebrand, Hans H./Albert Röhr / Hans-Otto Steinmetz: The German warships. Biographies - a mirror of naval history from 1815 to the present. Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Herford.
  • Terrell D. Gottschall: By order of the Kaiser: Otto von Diederichs and the rise of the Imperial German Navy, 1865-1902 , Naval Institute Press, 2003 Annapolis ISBN 1-55750-309-5

Web links

  • SMS Irene at
  • Irene on

  1. L pp = length between perpendiculars or length between perpendiculars: distance between the axis of the rudder stock and the trailing edge of the leading edge in the construction waterline.