SMS Kaiser (1874)

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German Empire
SMS Kaiser

SMS Kaiser1 Istanbul 1889.jpg
SMS Kaiser 1889 in Istanbul
Construction data
Ship type Tank frigate
Ship class Kaiser class
Shipyard Samuda Brothers ,
Poplar near London
Keel laying 1872
Launch March 19, 1874
Commissioning February 13, 1875
renaming October 12, 1905 in Uranus , port ship
Whereabouts Sold for demolition in 1920
Technical specifications
displacement normal 7319 t , maximum 8940 t
Displacement after renovation normal 7645 t , maximum 8736 t
length over everything: 89.34 m
width 19.1 m
Draft 7.93 m
Propulsion system
Machine performance PSi
speed 14.5 kn
Driving range 2470 nm at 10 kn
Coal supply 880 tons
Armament as a new building
  • 8 × 26 cm cannons,
  • 1 × 21 cm cannon in the stern
Armament from 1882
Armament as a cruiser
crew 600, last 656 men

The first Kaiser of the Imperial Navy was an armored frigate of the Kaiser class built in England . The existing sailing equipment was gradually reduced and finally completely removed. SMS Kaiser was reclassified as a large cruiser on January 25, 1897, like her sister ship SMS Deutschland , and served in China from 1895 to 1899 .

Building history

The Kaiser was the lead ship of the armored frigates of the Kaiser class designed by Sir Edward Reed and built by the Samuda Brothers shipyard in Cubitt Town near London. These tank frigates were already included in the fleet construction plan of the North German Confederation . It was a casemate ship with full ship rigging, which, however, was gradually reduced during later modifications and finally completely removed.

A building contract within the German Reich failed because the few suitable shipyards were busy and there were doubts about the capabilities of the German supplier industry. The machine came from J. Penn & Sons in Greenwich and exceeded the required performance when it was delivered.

The test drives with shipyard personnel began on January 7, 1875 on the Thames . The contractually agreed speed of 14 knots was exceeded. On February 13th, the ship was put into service under Captain Hermann Robert Przewisinski and transferred to Wilhelmshaven from February 13th to 15th . On March 23, the ship was taken out of service again to install the cannons supplied by the Krupp company .

Fleet service

On May 19, 1875, the Kaiser entered service for the tank training squadron. After a few test drives, she moved to Kiel , where she arrived on May 28 and was accepted into the squadron on June 3. The following maneuvers in the Baltic Sea were on 22./23. September interrupted for a fleet review taking place in front of Kaiser Wilhelm I. in the roadstead of Warnemünde . The return march to the home port of Wilhelmshaven after the squadron was disbanded lasted eight days in bad weather until October 3, 1875. While the other armored ships were decommissioned, the Kaiser remained in service as a kind of guard ship with a reduced crew.

In 1876, due to unrest in the Ottoman Empire after the so-called Saloniki murder on May 22nd, the tank training squadron with the tank frigates Kaiser was sent as flagship under the previous head of the Admiralty's staff , Rear Admiral Karl Ferdinand Batsch , the sister ship that has meanwhile been put into service Germany , the Crown Prince and Friedrich Carl as well as the Aviso Pommerania into the Mediterranean . The gunboat Comet followed the squadron. On May 30, the machine of the Germany stopped when leaving Plymouth ; an attempt to have them dragged through the emperors failed. The squadron marched via Gibraltar and Valletta until June 25 to Saloniki , where the Corvette Medusa , which had been ordered from the West Indies, joined the squadron. The German admiral worked with French, Russian, Austrian and Italian ships. After the Germans and French had received satisfactory explanations from the Ottoman government, the Admiralty wanted to withdraw the squadron. However, the Foreign Office considered a further presence to be necessary. On August 23, only part of the squadron began to march back with the Kaiser , Deutschland and Medusa via Syros , Malta , Gibraltar and Plymouth. On September 13th the ships were back in Wilhelmshaven. The Kaiser was then decommissioned on September 28, according to the commissioning plan.

On May 19, 1877, the Kaiser was the last of the ironclads to be put back into service. As of June 1, she moved again as the flagship of Rear Admiral Batsch with the tank training squadron to the eastern Mediterranean, where the Russian-Ottoman war had broken out in the meantime . In addition to the sister ships Kaiser and Deutschland , the squadron again included the Friedrich Carl and the new armored frigate Prussia as well as the Aviso Falke . Then there were the ships still in the Mediterranean with the corvette Gazelle , the gunboat Comet and the Aviso Pommerania . The main focus of the squadron's activities this time was off the coast of Palestine and in the Aegean Sea . We visited Port Said , Jaffa  - from July 1st to 5th - from where the admiral, his staff and members of the crew made a trip to Jerusalem -, from July 30th to August 4th Saloniki and from August 13th and again from August 10th until September 25th, Piraeus . During a storm, the Kaiser ran aground off Syros on September 6 and was towed free by Germany . The journey home from October 5th was severely hindered by bad weather; at the height of Lisbon , a near-collision occurred with a French steam frigate. On October 21, the Kaiser returned to Wilhelmshaven. On November 2, she was decommissioned again according to the commissioning plan.

It was only from May 1 to September 27, 1883 that the Kaiser was re-commissioned as the flagship of the Panzer Training Squadron under Rear Admiral Wilhelm von Wickede with exercises and maneuvers in their home waters. In the end she was handed over to the Baltic Sea station in Kiel with the sister ship Germany .

The next commissioning of the Kaiser took place after four years from May 3 to September 21, 1887, again for the tank training squadron with exercises and maneuvers in their home waters. Torpedo protection nets on board were tested for the first time . Also, with Prince Ludwig, a Bavarian prince took part in a maneuver of the imperial fleet for the first time. During the ship's long periods of rest, the ship's old steel cannons were replaced by seven more modern 15 cm ring cannons and five 35 cm torpedo tubes were installed.

The next phase of service of the emperors in the fleet ran from May 8, 1888 to September 30, 1891. In 1888 she represented the German Empire at the World Exhibition in Barcelona and accompanied Kaiser Wilhelm II on his inaugural visits from July 14 on Yacht Hohenzollern in Saint Petersburg , Stockholm and Copenhagen . After the period of service, the existing reserve divisions were reorganized in September 1888. The Kaiser became the parent ship of the "Reserve Division Baltic Sea", which also remained in service in winter, and at the same time became the watch ship in Kiel. In November she brought the Emperor's brother, Corvette Captain Prince Heinrich , to Copenhagen as the Emperor's representative to attend the anniversary of the reign of the Danish King Christian IX. In May 1889 the usual exercises of the fleet began under the direction of Rear Admiral Friedrich von Hollmann on the Kaiser . From July 31 to August 10, the entire training squadron accompanied Wilhelm II on his first state visit to Great Britain. On October 23, the squadron began a Mediterranean voyage in which, in addition to the Kaiser as a flagship, her sister ship Germany , the Prussians and the ironclad Friedrich der Große as well as the Aviso Wacht also took part. The squadron marched via Plymouth and Gibraltar to Genoa and La Spezia to accompany Kaiser Wilhelm II to Athens for the wedding of his sister Sophie with Crown Prince Constantine of Greece . The emperor himself made the trip on the flagship, while his wife Auguste Victoria used the imperial yacht Hohenzollern . In Athens the Constantinople stationary Loreley and the Aviso arrow joined the squadron. The imperial couple then visited the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II with the yacht, accompanied by the emperor , who was allowed to pass the Dardanelles with special permission . 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 . The squadron was the first German squadron to visit the Austro-Hungarian ports of Pola and Fiume . After a long stay in the Adriatic , Smyrna was visited in January and further official visits to Malta, Italian ports, Cádiz and Lisbon were carried out on the return journey beginning in February , before the squadron arrived in Wilhelmshaven on March 22, 1890.

The squadron under Rear Admiral Wilhelm Schröder accompanied Wilhelm II, who had embarked on the flagship 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  - at that time still King of Sweden and Norway - and was present when Heligoland was handed over to the German Empire in August . It also made another trip to the Mediterranean from October 1890. In November all ships present helped fight a major fire in Alexandria . In December, the squadron chief visited Constantinople with the Aviso Pfeil and was received by the Sultan with part of his officer corps. The ships then visited several Ottoman ports, including again Smyrna and Saloniki. Italian and Austrian ports were also called again before the homeward journey began at the end of March 1891. In early April one last visit took place in Lisbon, in which the Emperor from the Portuguese King Carlos I was seen. On April 18, 1891, the squadron returned to Wilhelmshaven. The Kaiser remained the flagship of the training squadron, whose command was now taken by Rear Admiral Koester . It formed the 2nd division of the maneuvering fleet. During the maneuvers, the sister ships Kaiser and Deutschland ran aground on a previously unknown shoal in the Bay of Danzig , but were able to be towed free and take part in the maneuvers until the end of September 18. On September 30, 1891, the Kaiser was decommissioned. It should be rebuilt in the Imperial Shipyard in Wilhelmshaven.

Foreign cruiser

After the decommissioning, the Kaiser in Wilhelmshaven received a new boiler system and a 5 cm thick armored deck and it was embraced. The sailing ship rigging including the aft mast was finally removed. The remaining masts were converted into battle masts. The renovation took longer than planned. After Japan's victorious war against China , Germany formed an “East Asian Triple Alliance” with France and Russia in order to curb Japan's influence. The reinforcement of the East Asian cruiser division formed in 1894 was ordered to assert German interests and the replacement of the old corvettes Marie , Alexandrine and Arcona by more modern ships was ordered. Therefore, the Kaiser and the cruiser II. Class were supposed to join Princess Wilhelm to the cruiser Irene , who had already been dispatched in 1894 .

On April 27, 1895, the converted Kaiser , which had been reclassified as a second class armored ship, was put back into service in order to follow Prince Wilhelm , who had already expired, to East Asia. On May 4th the journey began via the usual coal stations. On June 18, the Kaiser reached the station area in Singapore , and via Hong Kong and Amoy , she arrived in Shanghai on July 10 . She became the flagship of the cruiser division under Rear Admiral Paul Hoffmann , who switched from the Irene to the 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 , the usual exchange of personnel until 1914 took place for part of the crews who had arrived there on May 11 with a steamer belonging to the North German Lloyd . At the beginning of June the Kaiser moved to Shanghai, where Rear Admiral Tirpitz took over the division on June 15, 1896 . His assignment also included the exploration and, if necessary, the acquisition of a suitable base. Tirpitz visited Kiautschou Bay twice with the Kaiser in August and September and discussed the base issue in detail with the Russian governor for East Asia, Admiral General Yevgeny Ivanovich Alexejew, during a visit to Vladivostok from September 13 to 21 . The Kaiser then ran back to Shanghai with the Irene via Japanese ports. 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. The Kaiser had to be overtaken in Hong Kong, so Tirpitz switched to the Irene and ran to Manila . Because of unrest there, the Arcona had already been sent there. The Princess Wilhelm had to go to Nagasaki to repair a serious machine failure and was out of action for a month. The small cruiser Cormoran remained the only operational ship off the Chinese coast.

In January 1897 Tirpitz returned to the Kaiser , who was reclassified as a Great Cruiser on January 25th. In March, the Division for the upcoming crew changes moved back to Yokohama after previously nor the SAMSAH -Bay on the coast of Fujian in the Taiwan Strait had been investigated for their suitability as close Amoy base. Tirpitz was then ordered to return to Germany in Nagasaki, as he had been appointed State Secretary in the Reichsmarineamt . His successor as division chief, Rear Admiral Otto von Diederichs , met on 11 June 1897 and went on the roads of Wusung before Shanghai aboard the Emperor . The division carried out a trip to Japan under the new boss. The flagship and the Princess Wilhelm ran back from Hakodate to Yokohama, while the Irene and the Arcona still visited Russian ports as far as Vladivostok and joined the division in Yokohama on September 8, which then transferred to Shanghai.

Occupation of Tsingtau

After the two German Catholic missionaries Nies and Henle of the Steyler Mission in China were murdered on November 1, 1897 , Emperor Wilhelm II, who was looking for an excuse to establish a German base in China, ordered the occupation of Kiautschou Bay. The Kaiser , the Princess Wilhelm and the Cormoran set sail immediately and occupied the city and port of Tsingtau on November 14th . The ships put a landing corps of 717 men under sea ​​captain Hugo Zeye , the commander of the emperors , ashore and announced an ultimatum to the commander of the Chinese unit stationed there, which asked him to withdraw. On November 17th the Arcona from Shanghai arrived and on December 2nd the Irene from Hong Kong arrived. There was no military resistance, and on December 2nd the Germans also hoisted the German flag in Kiautschou, 33 km away .

The Admiralty and the Foreign Office had expected considerably greater problems and therefore ordered the cruiser corvette Empress Augusta from a Mediterranean mission to East Asia on November 19, which arrived in Singapore on December 14 . For this purpose, Diederichs was appointed chief of the newly formed cruiser squadron on November 23 and promoted to vice admiral. At home, a second division of the squadron was set up, which was to consist of the outdated Germany , the most modern small cruiser Gefion and the empress Augusta , who had already been dispatched , and whose commander the Kaiserbrother Prince Heinrich became.

The necessary land troops arrived in Tsingtau faster than the II. Division. On January 26th, the NDL steamer reached Darmstadt with 1200 men from the newly established III. Naval battalion the port and enabled the warships to take their landing commands back on board. On February 5, the Crefeld followed with 300 men from the newly created naval artillery department and a battery of field guns. On January 27, 1898, Tsingtau became a German colony subordinate to the Reichsmarineamt . On April 28, 1898, a contract with China was enforced by the German Empire on leasing it.

The Deutschland only reached Hong Kong in April , where it had to dock. Prince Heinrich continued the journey to Shanghai with the Gefion . The Deutschland suffered another machine breakdown on the way , and the Gefion had to come to the rescue again. The squadron was only assembled in Tsingtau on May 5, 1898.

Operation off the Philippines

The service of the cruiser squadron was meanwhile determined by the Spanish-American war . The Irene had been dispatched to Manila at the end of April, and the Cormoran followed her. Since the Kaiser had to go to Nagasaki for an overhaul, the squadron chief drove to Manila on June 12 on the Empress Augusta to get an idea of ​​the situation. When Princesses Wilhelm arrived in Manila on the 18th and the emperors on the 20th , there was considerable tension with the Americans. The Germans explained the concentration of their ships with the planned routine crew exchange, which came from home with the Lloyd steamer Darmstadt . On July 8th, the Irene , which had had the most problems with the Americans, was the first to leave Manila, followed by the Cormoran on the 15th . On August 13th, the Empress Augusta left for Hong Kong with the Spanish captain general on board, and on the 21st the squadron commander on the Kaiser left Manila. Da Schiff visited Batavia to take part in the celebrations for the coronation of the Dutch Queen on September 6, 1898, and then ran back to Hong Kong via Singapore.

End of service

In November, the Kaiser ran into the Samsah Bay for target practice and on the 15th came across an unmapped reef. She was released but was put on the beach for safety reasons. The squadron commander asked the II. Division for support. Prince Heinrich immediately dispatched the Gefion , but retained Germany , Empress Augusta and Irene because of the unveiling of the monument to the sunken gunboat Iltis, which was scheduled for November 21 in Shanghai . Before the Gefion , the Arcona and the Cormoran arrived at the damaged ship who had since floated up again. The squadron commander went with all the ships to Hong Kong, where the Kaiser was being repaired. Diederichs took a mail steamer to Tsingtau and used the Prinzess Wilhelm as a flagship until February . Ready for action again from February, the Kaiser lost its function as a squadron flagship to Germany when the squadron leadership changed on April 14, 1899 .

On June 11, 1899, the return journey of the emperors began , which had to be interrupted to replenish the coal supply in the Seychelles . In Palermo she was commissioned to fly the German flag off Tangier from September 3rd to 5th . She returned to Kiel on September 21 via Cadiz and Plymouth. Wilhelm II then visited the ship in the Danzig Bay before the Kaiser was finally decommissioned on October 16, 1899 after more than 24 years of service.


On May 3, 1904, the old tank frigate became a port ship and on May 21, 1906 it was removed from the list of warships of the Imperial Navy. On October 12, 1905, the emperor was renamed Uranus . It was converted into a barracks ship and from May 1907 anchored off Mönkeberg for the I. Torpedo Department. In 1908 it was towed to Flensburg - Mürwik to serve as a barracks and teaching room for the torpedo school after the previous Hulk Blücher had become unsuitable due to an explosion. In 1920 the hull of the ship was sold to Hamburg for demolition.


February 13 to March 23, 1875 Sea captain Hermann Robert Przewisinski
May 19, 1875 to October 1875 Captain Franz Kinderling
October 1875 to May 1876 Sea captain Wilhelm Stubenrauch
. May 1876 to September 28, 1876 Sea captain Baron Max von der Goltz
May 19 to November 2, 1877 Captain of the Sea Freiherr von der Goltz
May 1 to September 27, 1883 Sea captain Wilhelm Schröder
May 3 to September 21, 1887 Sea captain Conrad Dietert
May 6, 1888 to April 1890 Sea captain Paul Hoffmann
. April 1890 to September 30, 1891 Sea captain Baron Conrad von Bodenhausen
April 27, 1895 to May 1896 Sea captain Paul Jaeschke
. May 1896 to January 1898 Sea captain Hugo Zeye
. January 1898 to October 10, 1899 Sea captain Felix Stubenrauch



  • Hans H. Hildebrand, 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, Annapolis 2003, ISBN 1-55750-309-5 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Uprising in Herzegovina , revolution in Bulgaria , plus conflicts within the Ottoman government
  2. On May 6, 1876, the French consul and the German consul Abbott were murdered in Saloniki

Web links

Commons : SMS Kaiser  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files