SMS Olga

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War Ensign of Germany (1892–1903) .svg
SMS Carola.jpg
Construction data
Ship type Smooth deck corvette
Ship class Carola class
Builder: AG Vulcan , Stettin
building no. 88
Construction designation Replacement Augusta
Launch : December 11, 1880
Sister ships SMS Carola
SMS Marie
SMS Sophie
Technical specifications
Displacement : Construction: 2,147 t
Maximum: 2,424 t
Length: KWL : 70.6 m
over everything: 76.35 m
Width: 14 m
Draft : 5.80 m
Number of screws: 1 double-leaf (Ø 5.02 m)
Power: 2367 PSi
Top speed: 12 kn
Range: 3420 nm at 10 kn
Fuel supply: 218 t
Crew size: approx. 296 men
Rigging : Barque
Masts: 3
Sail area: 1230 m²
Sea target guns: Until 1889: 10 ring cannons 15 cm behind gun ports.
Since 1889: 2 Sk - 8.8 cm L / 30
revolver cannons - 3.7 cm
Broken down in 1908

SMS Olga was a Glattdeckskorvette of Carola class , the early 1880s for the Imperial Navy was built. It was launched on December 11, 1880 in Stettin . She was the second ship in the class, which included three other ships. Like her sister ships SMS Carola , SMS Marie and SMS Sophie , it was named after the wife of the ruler of a German federal state. It was named after Grand Duchess Olga Nikolajewna of Russia , daughter of the Russian Tsar Nicholas I , who married the future King Karl I of Württemberg in 1846 .

The Carola -class ships were commissioned in the late 1870s to expand the German international cruiser fleet, which at the time was severely outdated. Their main tasks were the station service to safeguard German interests in foreign waters without German bases and in the German colonial empire . Accordingly, the ships were to serve as naval scouts and on extended missions in the overseas areas of interest of the German Empire . The ship's main armament was a battery of ten 15 cm ring cannons and a complete sailing rig to supplement the steam engine that was also available on long missions overseas.

In order to fulfill her task, the Olga completed two multi-year trips abroad. During the second voyage, the ship ran aground and was decommissioned after returning to Germany.

Mission history

The Olga was intended as a replacement for the outdated corvette SMS Augusta . The Vulcan shipyard in Stettin was commissioned with the construction at the end of 1878 . The keel was laid a year later. The ship was christened on December 11, 1880, when Karl Ferdinand Batsch , Vice Admiral at that time , gave the baptismal address. The testing phase of the ship began in September 1881 in the Baltic Sea and was put into service on January 9, 1882.

Use in the West Indies

The Olga was commanded on October 1, 1882 for use at the East American foreign station of the Imperial Navy. To do this, she left Kiel on October 14th. Also on board was the later Grand Admiral and Inspector General of the Imperial Navy, Prince Heinrich of Prussia , at the time with the rank of lieutenant at sea . Olga then ran first to Plymouth , where Prince Henry met his grandmother Queen Victoria . Heavy storms then prevented the continuation of the journey, so that the Olga could not continue her journey until October 23. On December 3, she finally reached Bridgetown , Barbados . This was followed by a stay in Port of Spain , Trinidad and Tobago from January 16 to February 11, 1883. During this time, Prince Heinrich chartered a steamship to explore the Orinoco . The Olga then continued to Venezuela and Brazil. During the stay in Rio de Janeiro , Emperor Pedro II visited the ship.

Use off West Africa

In 1884 SMS Olga was assigned to the newly formed "West African Cruiser Squadron" under Rear Admiral Eduard von Knorr . Consisting of SMS Bismarck , SMS Möwe , SMS Gneisenau , SMS Ariadne and SMS Olga , this squadron was supposed to put the Germans resident in West Africa under German protection… ” as part of what was later to become known as the gunboat policy . The area of ​​operation was between the Niger Delta and Gabon , today's Cameroon .

SMS Olga during the bombardment of Hickorytown (today Duala), Cameroon, December 21, 1884
Memorial for those who died in 1884 by SMS Olga in Bellstadt, today Duala. Source: Gustav Meinecke, The German Colonies

On December 18, 1884, an uprising against the pro-German King Bell began among the Duala . The landing corps of Bismarck and Olga stormed the Jossplatte, where the rebels had holed up. By December 22, 1884, the marines managed to put down the uprising. From 1885 onwards, several treaties were signed between the German Empire, France and Great Britain, so that Cameroon was recognized as a German colony . The Olga initially remained in the waters off Cameroon until she was replaced by the Habicht gunboat and started her journey home on April 2, 1885.

Use off East Africa and in the Pacific

After her arrival in Kiel on May 25th, Olga went to the shipyard for a general overhaul. She then began training activities, initially in German waters, later as part of the training squadron. From September 14th, the Olga was reassigned to the West African station and left Germany on October 29th. However, shortly afterwards she was assigned to the "East African Cruiser Squadron", again under the command of Admiral Knorr. Olga reached the squadron off Zanzibar on December 29th. As early as February 9, 1886, the squadron was ordered to leave Africa for the Central Pacific, where Olga initially explored the coast of New Mecklenburg on her own and met the other ships of the squadron again on July 23 in Hong Kong . After maintenance work, the squadron received orders to return to East Africa. The squadron arrived in Zanzibar on December 14th. Thereafter, Olga was commissioned to patrol the coast of Wituland together with her sister ship Carola and to hoist the flag in Manda Bay (in today's Kenya ) in January 1887 . She was also sent to force the extradition of the murderers of the German explorer Karl Ludwig Jühlke and transported the men from Kismaayo to Zanzibar. At the beginning of March 1887, the squadron left East Africa and went to Cape Town due to increasing tensions between Germany and France . There they waited for further orders, which were expected in the event of a war between the two countries. After the situation had calmed down, the Admiralty sent the ships back to the Pacific on May 7th. They arrived in Sydney on June 9, where on that day the ship's captain, Corvette Captain von Reichenbach, suddenly died and the first officer had to take over command. In Sydney, the ship went to dry dock for overhaul.

Deployment and stranding in Samoa

Samoa, memorial for those killed in Samoa in 1888 by SMS Olga

Later the Olga was sent to Samoa. An uprising against German traders and immigrants broke out there in 1888 , which was supported by the USA with arms deliveries. The landing corps of the Olga and the SMS Eber sent at the same time got into heavy fighting near the port of Apia on December 18, 1888 , in which two officers and 14 men were killed, and one officer and 38 men were wounded.

During the conflict, SMS Adler joined Olga and Eber on the German side , the USS Trenton , USS Vandalia and USS Nipsic of the United States Navy and the British corvette HMS Calliope also arrived off Samoa. All seven ships were anchored in Apia on March 13, 1889, when a cyclone hit the island. The ships steamed against the weather to lessen the forces acting on the anchor chains. The next morning, however, the storm became so strong that the eagles , boars and nipsic could no longer fight the weather with full power and began to drift. The boar tore itself free from the anchor chain and collided first with the Olga , then with the Nipsic , before it was thrown by the storm onto the coral reef and remained upright there. Only four men of the crew survived. The USS Nipsic also broke loose and collided with the Olga before she too drifted onto the reef. The eagle was also washed ashore and lay on its side on the beach, killing 20 sailors. Next, the USS Vandalia was smashed on the reef. The German barque Peter Godeffroy and the Danish schooner Azur also had a wreck and were destroyed. When the Calliope also began to drift, its commander decided on a daring means of avoiding the fate of the other ships. He lifted the anchor and steamed against the waves to get his ship out of the bay. Since the Calliope had exceptionally powerful engines, this project succeeded and the ship was not destroyed.

SMS Olga, Samoa, 1889

Now only the USS Trenton and the SMS Olga lay in the port of Apia. When the wind turned a little, they hoped to get away on the German ship, but then the Trenton broke loose and drifted towards the Olga . Korvettenkapitän von Ehrhardt decided to try to save his ship. Since he did not have such powerful machines as the escaped Calliope , a leak was not possible. So he decided to put his ship aground in a controlled manner. He was able to steam past the Trenton at full speed ahead, but the American bowsprit tore off the underframes . At a soft spot near Matautu, the SMS Olga finally steamed onto the beach. This saved the ship and crew. The Trenton, however, was also thrown onto the reef and thus destroyed. The storm that had destroyed seven ships did not end until March 17th.

After 1889 and whereabouts

The Olga was then made buoyant again and was able to run to Sydney on her own, where she was made seaworthy again in order to start the journey home to Germany. She collided with a merchant ship in the Suez Canal. In Germany, the Olga was repaired and converted into an artillery training ship for machine weapons. The 150 mm ring cannons were removed for this.

SMS Olga in Kiel

In July 1898, the Olga went on an expedition to Bear Island and to West Spitsbergen, which officially served oceanographic purposes and the exploration of fish stocks on behalf of the German Fisheries Association . In fact, Corvette Captain Dittmer had the imperial mission to set up a station for German fish steamers on Bear Island. The accompanying scientists knew nothing of this order. Without officially taking possession of the island, which had rich coal deposits, it was to serve as a bargaining chip in the distribution of the Arctic regions. The expedition carried out soundings on the coast, tested bottom trawls and took a coal sample. In 1899 the sea fishing association built a refuge in Herwig harbor.

The German attempts to gain a foothold on the island, however, were disrupted by the private trade interests of Theodor Lerner , who also undertook an expedition to Bear Island in 1899, which drew the increased attention of the Russian Navy.

In 1905 the Olga was removed from the fleet list, sold in March 1906 and broken up in 1908.


October 1881 – January 1882 KL by Raven
October 1882 – March 1884 KK von Seckendorff
October 1884 – April 1887 KK Bendemann
April 1887 – June 1887 KK von Reichenbach
June 1887 – August 1887 KL Fischer
August 1887 – August 1888 KK / KzS shrub
August 1888 – September 1888 KK / KzS Hartog
September 1888 – September 1889 KK from Erhardt
July 1889 – September 1893 KK from Frantzius
1897– March 1898 KK from Dassel
March 1898 -? KK Dittmer
January 1901 – March 1902 KK from Dassel
April 1902 – April 1903 KK von Cotzhausen
April 1903 – September 1904 KK / FK Marwede
October 1904 – March 1905 KK Behm


  • Hans H. Hildebrand / Albert Röhr / Hans-Otto Steinmetz: The German warships. A mirror of naval history from 1815 to the present day. Biographies, Volume 6. Hamburg 1985.

Individual evidence

  1. Lawrence Sondhaus: Preparing for Weltpolitik: German Sea Power Before the Tirpitz Era. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. 2007. ISBN 978-1-55750-745-7 .
  2. Max Buchner : Aurora Colonialis - fragments of a diary from the first beginning of our colonial policy 1884/1885. Piloty & Loehle, Munich 1914, p. 186 ff.
  3. Detlef Brinkmann: Against Zar and Kaiser , in: Deutsche Schiffahrt 2016, no. 1, p. 6.
  4. ^ Reichs-Marine-Amt (Ed.): Spitzbergen-Handbuch . 1916. Reprint 2010 and BoD [1] , p. 107.