SMS Sophie

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War Ensign of Germany (1892–1903) .svg
Training ship Sophie.jpg
Construction data
Ship type Smooth deck corvette
Ship class Carola class
Builder: Imperial Shipyard , Danzig
Construction designation Smooth-deck Corvette F
Launch : November 10, 1881
in service: August 10, 1882
painted: May 21, 1908
Sister ships SMS Carola
SMS Olga
SMS Marie
Technical specifications
Displacement : Construction: 2,147 t
Maximum: 2,424 t
Length: KWL : 70.6 m
over everything: 76.4 m
Width: 12.5 m
Draft : 6.0 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
Rigging : Barque
Masts: 3
Sail area: 1230 m²
Crew size: approx. 296 men
originally: 10-15 cm ring cannons
2 - 87 mm ring cannons
later: 2 - 8.8 cm L / 30 anti-ship guns
12 - 3.7 cm revolver cannons
Wrecked in 1921

SMS Sophie was a Glattdeckskorvette of Carola class , the early 1880s for the Imperial Navy was built. She was launched on November 10, 1881 at the Imperial Shipyard in Danzig and was the last ship in the class, which included three other ships. Like her sister ships SMS Carola , SMS Olga and SMS Marie , it was named after the wife of the ruler of a German federal state. Namesake of Sophie was Princess Sophie (8 February 1824-23. March 1897), daughter of King William II. The Netherlands . She had been married to Karl Alexander since 1842 and Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach since 1853 .

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were commissioned in the late 1870s to expand the German international cruiser fleet, which at the time was severely outdated.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 1884 it was used to explore the situation of the German trade factories in West Africa . The measures taken on site were the first steps towards establishing the Togo protected area . In October 1886 she left home with the school squadron. Sent as reinforcement during the voyage to East Africa , she was placed under the cruiser squadron there on December 14, 1886 and carried out orders in Australia , the South Seas and East Asia . In August 1891 she and the cruiser squadron put a landing corps on land in Valparaiso / Chile to protect the Germans living there. Around Cape Horn , Sophie ran again to Zanzibar , from where she started her journey home on June 18, 1892 and returned to Germany after 69 months. After more than five years of service in the cruiser squadron, the ship was used again for a longer voyage as a ship boy training ship in 1898/99 .

It was not until 1908 that the training ship Sophie was canceled . The hull was used as a living ship until 1920 and was not scrapped until 1921.


The smooth-deck corvettes of the Carola -class resembled the larger frigates of the Bismarck -class procured earlier . When fully equipped, they displaced 2,424 t, were 76.4 m long and 12.5 m wide. The Sophie had a double expansion steam engine of 2367 HP and, like the sister ships, had a full three-masted barque sails of 1230 m².

The order for the new F building was placed in 1879 by the Imperial Shipyard Danzig, which began construction in January 1880. The Sophie , completed in 1882, was then in service for the first time from August 10th to December 18th. It carried out sea tests and moved from the construction site in Danzig to Kiel and then to Wilhelmshaven , where it was initially decommissioned.

On October 2, 1883, the Sophie was used for the first time for active service. A planned trip across the North Atlantic was canceled because it was supposed to accompany a trip by the Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm to Spain. In Genoa , the escorts and the designated as the flagship for this trip cross chose Vette gathered Prinz Adalbert took the Crown Prince on board. In addition, the Aviso Loreley was part of the association for the trip to Valencia . The trip in bad weather led to sea damage on the ships and the Sophie had to take the Loreley in tow at times. After the Crown Prince returned to Genoa, Sophie was to go to East Asia. However, this was also revoked and the corvette was ordered to West Africa in order to assess the situation of German companies there, which complained of hostile behavior by the natives. Active intervention, however, was expressly prohibited.

Use off West Africa

Togoland 1885

SMS Sophie left the Mediterranean at the turn of the year and arrived at the end of January 1884 in what is now Togo . First the commandant and three officers inspected the ruins of the Brandenburg fortification Groß-Friedrichsburg from 1693. Sketches of the existing building remains were made and six gun barrels were found. One was taken on board and later exhibited in the Zeughaus in Berlin. The commandant then negotiated with local chiefs to improve the work of the German factories there. Since not all chiefs took part in the negotiations and some immediately became hostile to the Germans again, the Sophie set up a landing party and raided a village where fifteen chiefs were conferring. Three of them were kept on board, the others were released after they had solemnly promised good behavior towards the Germans. The three chiefs were taken to Germany, shown Berlin, Hamburg and Kiel, and then returned to Togo after a month on the seagull . The British governor of the Gold Coast appeared on a corvette and questioned the legality of the German action. The Commander of the Sophie , Corvette Captain Wilhelm Stubenrauch, refused to discuss the matter and the British withdrew. From the island of São Vicente (Cape Verde) , the commander gave a report on his actions back home. He was praised and was ordered to return home. On March 30, 1884, the Sophie arrived back in Wilhelmshaven and was immediately subjected to a major overhaul.

Use as a training ship

In May 1884 the Sophie was operational again and came into service as a training ship for the newly introduced four-year-old volunteers. After her first voyages in the central Baltic Sea, the Sophie also took part in the maneuvers of the training fleet. When the fleet marched back on September 3, 1884, the NDL steamer Hohenstaufen tried to break the keel line in front of the Sophie on its departure to Baltimore . The maneuver failed and there was a collision in which the Sophie was severely damaged. The Oberseeamt found the Hohenstaufen's captain guilty. Appeal and objection went in favor of the NDL. The naval appeal at the Reichsgericht was then successful. The captain of the Hohenstaufen should not have come so close to the naval units and under no circumstances should he have broken through the line of the warships.

In April 1885 the repaired Sophie was able to resume work. After training trips in the western Baltic Sea and to Scandinavian ports, she took part in the autumn maneuvers with the other training ships, and ran aground near Kiel without major damage. In mid-October she started with the school squadron on the winter trip to the West Indies, together with the flagship Stein , the cruiser frigate Moltke and the cruiser corvette Ariadne . At the end of March 1886 the association returned to Wilhelmshaven and the Sophie relocated to the Kaiserliche Werft in Kiel for overhaul. She then resumed her service as a training ship for four-year-old volunteers, with the same procedures as in the previous year. On her departure to the West Indies with the Stein , the Moltke and the cruiser frigate Prinz Adalbert , the Sophie in Lisbon received the order to join the cruiser squadron off East Africa. For the foreign assignment, the corvette exchanged its volunteers in training for experienced personnel from the other ships.

Service in the cruiser squadron

On November 6, 1886, Sophie left the school squadron in Lisbon and ran to Zanzibar, where she met the gunboats Möwe and Hyena . On December 14, the cruiser squadron under Rear Admiral Knorr arrived there with the flagship Bismarck and the cruiser corvettes Olga and Carola . The commander should ensure that the murderer of the German Africa explorer Karl Ludwig Jühlke would be brought before an ordinary court in Zanzibar by the local authorities in Kismaju. He was supposed to clear up difficulties with the Sultan of Zanzibar and to fly the flag with his ships in the coastal towns, which according to the London Treaty of October 29, 1886 were to belong to the German colonial area. For this purpose, the ships of the squadron began surveying the coast of the German sphere of influence. Because of the unfavorable climatic conditions and the need for repairs, the squadron then called Cape Town in mid-March . There, in mid-April, command of the squadron from Knorr to Captain Karl Eduard Heusner changed and Sophie was released to Australia. To take part in a fleet parade on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the throne of the British Queen Victoria, the Bismarck , the Olga and the Carola followed Sophie to Sydney on May 7th . In August the squadron continued to the Samoa Islands and arrived on August 19 off Apia . Riots directed against the Europeans had broken out there. The ships formed a landing corps that broke the resistance of the natives and took the rioters prisoner. The Sophie then ran with the Bismarck and the Carola to New Guinea to report on the current situation of the Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land protected area . After the Olga caught up with the squadron, it went on to East Asia and arrived in Hong Kong on January 6, 1888, where it met the station gunboats Wolf and Polecat . The Sophie underwent a major overhaul in Hong Kong and on March 16 the commander, Korvettenkapitän Viktor Cochius, died there of typhus, for whom the first officer, Korvettenkapitän Kohlhauer, took over command of the cruiser corvette. While the previous flagship Bismarck then moved to Japan for repairs and the subsequent return trip home, the squadron chief placed his pennant on the Sophie and drove her and her sister ships Carola and Olga through the station area. In June, the Sophie was overhauled in Singapore and the squadron then relocated to East Africa, since the so-called Arab uprising had started there.

On July 16, the three cruiser corvettes met the station boat Möwe in Zanzibar . Since the squadron commander Heusner was recalled home, the Sophie took him to Aden , but had to wait there from July 28 to August 19, 1888 for the new commander, Rear Admiral August Deinhard . Before East Africa, Deinhard switched to the cruiser frigate Leipzig, which had arrived before him as the new flagship . The Sophie had suffered a machine failure on the way back from Aden to Zanzibar. Actually, as in the previous year, she should have run in front of the squadron to Australia and the South Seas. Deinhard now sent the sister ship Olga , whose commander, Corvette Captain Eduard Hartog, switched to the Sophie . The relocation of the squadron was canceled due to the critical situation of the Germans in East Africa. In the following months the Sophie was involved in various bombardments and several land operations. Your first officer, Lieutenant Captain Landfermann, died of a sunstroke on one of these land missions. The commandant also fell seriously ill and was represented by the first officer of the Leipzig , Corvette Captain Draeger, from the end of February 1889 .

Since the gunboats Adler and Eber had sunk in a hurricane off Apia and the sister ship Olga had been badly damaged, the Sophie was finally commanded to the South Seas. After the arrival of the new commander, Korvettenkapitän Herbing, she left the squadron on April 5, 1889. Due to a damaged screw, Port Louis on Mauritius had to be called for repairs. On June 25, 1889, she arrived in Apia, where the gunboat Wolf was stationed. After the installation of a previously exiled chief as the new King of Samoa and his honor with a gun salute from Sophie , the relationship between the Germans and the locals also stabilized. After the arrival of the cruiser corvette Alexandrine on December 14, 1889, the Sophie moved to Sydney for necessary repairs, where she arrived on January 2, 1890 after overcoming a severe cyclone . On January 25, she began a punitive expedition to the Bismarck Archipelago to punish the murder and robbery of a German trader on Sir C. Hardy Island. After the unsuccessful search for a missing boat with 26 men, the corvette continued her journey to East Asia at the beginning of March, reached Hong Kong on March 22nd and rejoined the cruiser squadron, which arrived next to her and the gunboats on site just two days before her Flagship Leipzig existed.

However, the Sophie initially went into dock for almost two months. From May 18, the Leipzig and Sophie cruised along the southern Chinese coast to Singapore. From there the journey continued to Sydney from July 21st. There the cruiser corvette Alexandrine joined the formation, which had been in the station area for a while. On October 18, the German ships continued to New Zealand and from there to Samoa until December 19, 1890. The squadron stayed in front of Apia over Christmas and the turn of the year, and then returned to Hong Kong via the Marshall Islands in January 1891 . The Sophie was docked there from February 14 to March 4, 1891 for overhaul. On the following voyage to Chinese and Japanese ports, the squadron in Nanking received the order to change to Chile on the other side of the Pacific, which was understood as a follow-up order.

The urgent repetition of the order when reaching Japan to protect German interests in Chile during a revolution prompted Rear Admiral Victor Valois , squadron commander since May 1890, on May 4, 1891 with the Leipzig , Alexandrine and Sophie from Yokohama to travel across the To enter the calm ocean without replenishing the coal reserves. The cruiser frigates and corvettes of the Imperial Navy were designed to carry out such relocations under sails, because the ships' coal reserves were insufficient for such a long journey under steam. The hoped-for favorable winds were not sufficiently available. The flagship Leipzig , notorious as a coal eater , had used up its supplies in the middle of the ocean and had to be hauled over 1217 nautical miles by the Sophie and the Alexandrine for 97 hours on the way to San Francisco . Via ports on the west coast of America, the association reached Valparaiso on July 6, 1891 , where the squadron arrived on the 9th.

Because of the calm in the Chilean capital, the German squadron also visited the northern Chilean ports of Iquique and Coquimbo and returned to Valparaíso on August 20, where the situation for the Balmaceda government had deteriorated considerably. The impending conquest of the city by the insurgents caused the German squadron commander to land 300 men on August 28th, who, together with British marines from the corvette HMS Champion , were supposed to protect the parts of the city, which are particularly heavily inhabited by British and Germans. When the insurgents marched into the port city, they shot at and stormed the Chilean torpedo cannon boat Almirante Lynch , which was located near Leipzig and , as one of the few government-loyal naval units , sank the rebels' flagship, the armored frigate Blanco Encalada , on April 22, 1891 . Three lynch men died when the ship was stormed. The commander, Juan Fuentes, who succeeded in sinking a warship for the first time with a self-propelled torpedo , fled with most of the crew to the Leipzig . A total of 82 Chileans loyal to the government took the German ships to safety. The Germans negotiated with the insurgents the free withdrawal of Chilean NCOs and men from the ships of the squadron. The officers, including the last commander of the government-loyal Chilean naval units, Vice Admiral Oscar Viel y Toro, came to the Sophie , who took them into exile in Mollendo / Peru . The rapid victory of the insurgents and the rapid stabilization of the situation led to the withdrawal of the landed men on the German ships at the beginning of September, some of which were visiting other Chilean ports alone. In mid-December the squadron was ordered to continue its journey from Berlin, which passed the Magellan Strait on New Year's Day 1891/92 and reached Montevideo on January 6, 1892 . After visiting some southern Brazilian ports with a strong population of German descent, the association reached Cape Town on February 21, where necessary repairs were carried out and Rear Admiral Friedrich von Pawelsz replaced the previous squadron chief. On the march to German East Africa, the Delagoa Bay was called on March 22nd , from where Pawels and some officers visited President Kruger of the Boer Republic of the Transvaal . Before East Africa the swallow and seagull stationed there joined the squadron at times. Since the situation in the colony was calm, the Leipzig and the Alexandrine moved on to East Asia on May 5th and only the Sophie stayed behind with the stationary. On June 18, the cruiser corvette started its journey home from Sansibar and reached Wilhelmshaven on July 24. On August 6, the ship moved to Danzig, where it was decommissioned on August 13, 1892.

After 1892 and whereabouts

The Sophie was moved from Danzig to Wilhelmshaven in 1895 and converted into a training ship. On April 1, 1898, she was put back into service as a ship boy training ship. After short cruises in the Baltic Sea, in August 1898 she set out again on a long voyage to Montevideo . She returned from this trip to Wilhelmshaven on March 24, 1899. On April 7, 1899, it was taken out of service for the last time to be replaced by the more suitable Gneisenau .

Only on May 21, 1908, the Sophie was deleted from the list of warships. The hull, however, served as a barge in Wilhelmshaven and Kiel until the end of the war. It was sold in 1920 and broken up in 1921.


August - December 1882 KK Ernst von Reiche 1840-1912 last vice admiral
October 1883 - September 1884 KK Wilhelm Stubenrauch 1845-1935 KzS
April 1885 - September 1886 KK Gustav Schwarzlose 1848-1906 KzS
September 1886 - March 1888 KK Viktor Cochius † 1848-1888 KK
March - September 1888 KK Eugen Kohlhauer (IO; i. V.) 1848-1906 KzS
September 1888 - March 1889 KK / KzS Eduard Hartog 1847- ?? KzS
March - April 1889 KK Fritz Draeger (i. V.) 1850-1917 KzS
April 1889 - February 1891 KK Oskar Herbing 1849-1912 KzS
February 1891 - August 1892 KK Hermann Kirchhoff 1851-1932 Vice admiral
July 1895 KK Louis Fischer 1849– ?? KzS
April 1898 - April 1899 KK m. ORg. Karl Kretschmann 1854-1900 KzS


  • Ernst Gröner: All German warships from 1815-1936 . BoD - Books on Demand, 2010, ISBN 3-86195-391-9 .
  • Hans H. Hildebrand / Albert Röhr / Hans-Otto Steinmetz: The German warships: Biographies - a mirror of naval history from 1815 to the present , Koehler's publishing company, Herford, seven volumes

Individual evidence

  1. a b Hildebrand u. a .: The German Warships , Volume 6, p. 125
  2. Lawrence Sondhaus: Preparing for Weltpolitik: German Sea Power Before the Tirpitz Era. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. 2007. ISBN 978-1-55750-745-7 .
  3. ^ Groener: All German Warships from 1815-1936, p. 45
  4. a b c d Hildebrand u. a., Volume 6, p. 126
  5. a b c Hildebrandt u. a., Volume 6, pp. 126f.
  6. a b Hildebrand u. a., Volume 6, p. 131.
  7. a b c d e f g h i j k l Hildebrand u. a., Volume 6, p. 127.
  8. a b c d e f Hildebrand u. a .: The German Warships , Volume 1, p. 141.
  9. a b Hildebrand u. a .: The German Warships , Volume 4, pp. 70f.
  10. a b c d e Hildebrand u. a., Volume 4, p. 72
  11. Viel, born in 1832, already commander of the Chilean fleet from 1881-1883, died in Paris in 1892. Juan Fuentes and Carlos E. Maraga, the commanders of the torpedo cannon boats Almirante Lynch and Almirante Condell , which sank the Blanco Encalada , went into exile and later served in the navies of Mexico and Brazil, respectively.
  12. Chile's great naval battle , NYT July 8, 1894 .
  13. ^ Wiechmann: Gunboat Policy , p. 198.
  14. a b Hildebrand u. a., Volume 4, p. 73