SMS Yorck

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SMS Yorck NH 45198.jpg
Ship data
flag German EmpireGerman Empire (Reichskriegsflagge) German Empire
Ship type Big cruiser
class Roon class
Shipyard Blohm & Voss , Hamburg
Build number 167
building-costs 16,241,000 marks
Launch May 14, 1904
Commissioning November 21, 1905
Whereabouts Sunk on November 4, 1914
Ship dimensions and crew
127.8 m ( Lüa )
127.3 m ( KWL )
width 20.2 m
Draft Max. 7.76 m
displacement Construction: 9,533 t
Maximum: 10,266 t
crew 633 men
Machine system
machine 16 Dürr type water tube boilers 3 × 3-cylinder compound machine
Template: Infobox ship / maintenance / service format
20,031 hp (14,733 kW)
21.4 kn (40 km / h)
propeller 1 three-leaf, ø 4.5 m
2 four-leaf, ø 4.8 m
  • 4 × Sk 21.0 cm L / 40 (380 shots)
  • 10 × Sk 15.0 cm L / 40 (1,600 rounds)
  • 14 × Sk 8.8 cm L / 35 (2.100 rounds)
  • 4 × torpedo tube ø 45.0 cm (under water, 11 shots)
  • Belt: 80-100 mm on 55 mm teak
  • Deck : 40-60 mm
  • Casemate: 100 mm
  • Citadel: 100 mm
  • Front command tower: 30–150 mm
  • aft command tower: 20–80 mm
  • Heavy artillery towers: 30–150 mm
  • Middle artillery towers: 100 mm
  • Middle artillery shields: 80 mm

SMS Yorck was the second and last Roon- class ship of the Imperial Navy . The armored cruiser , built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg and officially listed as a large cruiser , was part of the active fleet of the German fleet from 1905 to 1913. Reactivated at the beginning of the First World War , the cruiser sank on November 4, 1914 in the Jade Estuary after two mines . 336 men were killed.



The Hamburg shipyard Blohm & Voss put the new building ordered to replace the tank frigate Germany on Kiel in spring 1903 . About a year later, on May 14, 1904, the ship was ready to be launched . Here christened Josephine Yorck von Wartenburg it in the name of Yorck , after the Prussian Field Marshal Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg the wars of liberation . Colonel General Wilhelm von Hahnke gave the baptismal address . The completion of the ship dragged on until the second half of 1905. After the shipyard had made the first test drives, it transferred the Yorck with a crew provided by it to Kiel , where the Navy took it over and put it into service on November 21, 1905.

Its dimensions were identical to those of its sister ship the Roon : 127.8 m length, 20.2 m width, 7.76 m draft and 10,266 t maximum water displacement. The armament consisted of four rapid-fire cannons (Sk) of caliber 21 cm L / 40 in two twin towers , ten Sk 15 cm L / 40, 14 Sk 8.8 cm L / 35 and four 45 cm torpedo tubes . With its three steam engines with a total of 20,031  PSi , the cruiser reached a top speed of 21.4  knots . The range was 4,200  nm at 12 knots, the crew 633 men.

Use in peacetime

The Yorck belonged to the Association of Reconnaissance Forces from March 27, 1906, and on April 2, she also took over the function of the association's flagship from the Friedrich Carl . The commander of the reconnaissance forces (BdA) at that time was Vice Admiral Gustav Schmidt , who was replaced by Rear Admiral Hugo Pohl on September 29, 1906 . The Yorck took part in various fleet maneuvers in the next few years , especially the annual autumn maneuvers. From September 11 to October 28, 1907, the cruiser was in the shipyard. From February 7th to 28th, 1908, the reconnaissance ships made a voyage in the Atlantic , during which the association carried out various tactical exercises. In addition, the trip also served to test the increasingly powerful radio technology on board the ships. The necessary fuel replenishment took place in Vigo . On May 1, 1908, Rear Admiral August von Heeringen , who had been BdA since October 1, 1907, switched to the Scharnhorst , which became the new flagship. In July and August 1908, the association made a second trip to the Atlantic, during which the Yorck visited Funchal and La Coruña . In addition, the ship received the Kaiser Shooting Prize of the Great Cruisers that year .

In 1909, the association again made two trips to the Atlantic in February and July and August. The Yorck was from February 17th to 23rd off Vigo and from July 18th to 26th in the Arosa Bay off Villagarcía . On March 11, the cruiser took over the role of the Union flagship again, as the Scharnhorst was ordered to the East Asia Squadron. The Yorck retained this function until April 27, 1910, when the BdA transferred to the new Blücher . For this, the 2nd Admiral of the Reconnaissance Forces, Rear Admiral Reinhard Koch , had already come on board the Yorck two days earlier . On May 16, he was replaced by Rear Admiral Gustav Bachmann , who was succeeded by Rear Admiral Maximilian von Spee on September 15 . The gun crew of the Yorck succeeded in 1910 under the command of the artillery officer, Kapitänleutnant Walter Klappenbach, for the second time to win the Kaiser-Schießpreis der Große Kreuzer.

The Yorck did not take part in the exercises in the first months of 1911 because she was in the shipyard. On March 31, a benzene explosion occurred in the aft boiler room , killing one crew member and injuring others. On October 1st, Commodore Franz Hipper came on the cruiser as the new 2nd Admiral of the Reconnaissance Forces. He visited the Swedish city ​​of Uddevalla from November 3rd to 6th during the association's trip to Norway . The Yorck was not involved in association exercises that took place in February 1912 . In return, she was the only large ship in the association that took part in fleet exercises together with four small cruisers in March . The commander of the reconnaissance forces, Gustav Bachmann, who has meanwhile been promoted to Vice Admiral, was therefore on board the Yorck from March 13 to April 3, 1912 , while Hipper was on the Von der Tann . The Yorck then remained the flagship of the second admiral of the association until August 28, who crossed over to the Cöln that day . During a mine blasting exercise, an accident occurred on November 2, in which two crew members of the cruiser were killed. On one of the introduced pinnaces the Yorck the caught detonating an explosive charge . The sea mine exploded while trying to loosen the line again and destroyed the dinghy . A steam pinasse from the Goeben hid the two dead and the survivors, including two injured.

The torpedo boat
S 178, which was later rammed by the Yorck

From December 1912 to February 1913 Vice Admiral Bachmann was again on board the Yorck , since his actual flagship Moltke was in the shipyard. During a maneuver on March 4, 1913, when torpedo boats were practicing to break through the line of the larger ships in the evening , a serious accident occurred. The torpedo boat S 178 was rammed by the Yorck and its engine rooms tore open. It sank within a short time with 69 men. Only 15 crew members could be rescued from the Yorck , the Oldenburg and the S 177 . The Yorck suffered only minor damage and continued to participate in the exercises. From March 7th to 14th and again from May 1st to 17th, the cruiser served the 3rd Admiral of the Reconnaissance Forces, Rear Admiral Felix Funke , and between March 14th and May 1st the BdA as a flagship . A short time later, on May 21, 1913, the Yorck was decommissioned in Kiel, then overhauled in the shipyard and assigned to the reserve .

Use in the First World War

After the beginning of the First World War, the Yorck came back into service on August 12, 1914. The cruiser was assigned to the IV reconnaissance group under Rear Admiral Hubert von Rebeur-Paschwitz , which was already in III. Reconnaissance group was renamed. On September 20, the cruiser took over the outpost service in the Öresund , two days later an advance into the central Baltic Sea took place . The Yorck was from September 28, like the rest of the III. AG, stationed in the North Sea . The cruiser took on November 2 on the first offensive business of deep-sea fleet in part. The fired battle cruiser of I. AG under the command Hipper Great Yarmouth , while the Stralsund several minefields laid in the local sea area. The III. and IV. Reconnaissance group were in the Weser estuary , the I. and III. Squadron on Schillig - roads for the real thing ready. The units, hence the majority of the deep-sea fleet, followed the battlecruisers, which set out in the early morning of November 2, in the afternoon at a distance of around 60 nm to around 54 ° 0 '  N , 4 ° 0'  E , in order to provide remote security against the British fleet serve. However, the majority returned prematurely to the German bases, which increased the distance to Hippers returning ships from the English coast to 100 nm.


After the company was over, the Yorck ran to Wilhelmshaven . There was thick fog on the outer jade on the night of November 4th, which is why the cruiser anchored there . Since there was suspicion of paratyphoid- infected water on board, Captain Waldemar Pieper wanted to use a short-term improvement in visibility to enter. He ordered the trip to Wilhelmshaven on his own responsibility because the pilot did not want to take it over due to the poor visibility and the high risk of mines. Due to the current transfer on the Inner Jade , the Yorck ran into a German mine at 04:10. When trying to turn the ship, it ran into a second mine. The cruiser capsized and sank kieloben in east-west direction on the position of 53 ° 40 '2 "  N , 8 ° 5' 2"  O coordinates: 53 ° 40 '2 "  N , 8 ° 5' 2"  O . 336 crew members were killed in the sinking. 381 seafarers, including Commander Pieper, were saved mainly by the Hagen . One of the reasons for the rapid sinking of the Yorck is its central bulkhead , which led to a greater heel .

In December 1914 Captain Pieper was in Wilhelmshaven for the destruction before a court martial found and for contempt of commands and negligence to two years imprisonment convicted. He was sent to Turkey on probation, where he stood out as head of the Turkish Arms Office so that on December 8, 1915, Kaiser Wilhelm II waived his sentence.

The sinking site was initially only secured with a wreckage barrel . In 1926 part of the wreck had to be blown off because it protruded too far into the fairway. In 1936 and 1937, the wreck was lowered from three meters to over eleven meters below map zero by repeated explosions. Further blasting took place in 1969. In the course of the construction of the ICI transhipment bridge and the associated relocation of the fairway, it was necessary to remove the obstacle to shipping in the early 1980s. Rescue was initially considered. Since the offer of a German dredger company to bring the remains of the wreck to the required depth of 23 m below sea ​​chart zero for around four million marks only made up a fraction of the estimated salvage costs, the decision was made to wash it under. The wreck, which was broken into several parts, was artificially submerged from July 27 to October 4, 1983 by two digging head suction dredgers and brought to the required depth.


The Yorck was a steel ship whose hull, built with longitudinal and transverse ribs, was divided into 12 watertight compartments by bulkheads . The cruiser was 127.8 m long overall and measured 20.2 m at its widest point. With a maximum displacement of 10,266 t, the ship was 7.76 m deep in the water.

The drive system of the Yorck consisted of three three-cylinder steam engines with triple steam expansion , each acting on a propeller . The machines had a total output of 20,031  PSi and accelerated the ship to a maximum of 21.4  kn . The necessary steam at 15.5  atmospheres pressure was supplied by 16 water-tube boilers of the Dürr design .

As main armament, the Yorck had four rapid fire guns of the caliber 21.0 cm L / 40 in a double turret on the fore and aft. The middle artillery consisted of 10 guns 15.0 cm L / 40. There were also 14 guns 8.8 cm L / 35 and four torpedo tubes with a diameter of 45 cm on board.

The armor from Krupp measured 80 to 100 mm in the area of ​​the waterline . The citadel and the casemates were armored with 100 mm, the towers of the heavy artillery with 30 to 150 mm. The middle artillery was protected with 80 to 100 mm armor steel. The armored deck was 40 to 60 mm thick. While the aft command post was armored with 20 to 80 mm, the front received protection corresponding to the towers of the heavy artillery.


November 21, 1905 to September 29, 1908 Frigate Captain / Sea Captain Leo Jacobson
October 1908 to September 1909 Sea captain Arthur Tapken
October 1909 to September 1910 Captain Herrklotsch
September 1910 to September 1912 Sea captain Ludwig von Reuter
September to November 1912 Frigate captain / sea captain Max Köthner
November 1912 to May 21, 1913 Sea captain Moritz von Egidy
August 12 to November 4, 1914 Sea captain Waldemar Pieper


  • Gardiner, Robert (Ed.): Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905 . Conway Maritime Press, London 1979, ISBN 0-85177-133-5 , pp. 255 .
  • 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. 78 .
  • Hildebrand, Hans H. / Albert Röhr / Hans-Otto Steinmetz: The German warships . Biographies - a mirror of naval history from 1815 to the present . tape 8 : Ship biographies from Undine to Zieten . Mundus Verlag, Ratingen, S. 121–124 (Approved licensed edition by Koehler's Verlagsgesellschaft, Hamburg, approx. 1990).

Web links

Commons : SMS Yorck (ship, 1904)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. a b c d e f g Gröner / Jung / Maass: The German warships. Volume 1, p. 78.
  2. a b Hildebrand / Röhr / Steinmetz: The German warships. Volume 8, p. 122.
  3. a b c d e Hildebrand / Röhr / Steinmetz: The German warships. Volume 8, p. 123.
  4. Hildebrand, Hans H. / Albert Röhr / Hans-Otto Steinmetz: The German warships . Biographies - a mirror of naval history from 1815 to the present . tape 6 : Ship biographies from Lützow to Prussia . Mundus Verlag, Ratingen, S. 114 f . (Approved licensed edition by Koehler's Verlagsgesellschaft, Hamburg, approx. 1990).
  5. a b c Hildebrand / Röhr / Steinmetz: The German warships. Volume 8, p. 124.
  6. Hildebrand, Hans H. / Albert Röhr / Hans-Otto Steinmetz: The German warships . Biographies - a mirror of naval history from 1815 to the present . tape 7 : Ship biographies from Prussian eagle to Ulan . Mundus Verlag, Ratingen, S. 161 (Approved licensed edition by Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Hamburg, approx. 1990).
  7. ^ Hormann, Jörg-Michael / Eberhard Kliem: The Imperial Navy in the First World War . From Wilhelmshaven to Scapa Flow . Bucher , Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-7658-2031-1 , pp. 56 ff .
  8. Hans J. Hansen: The ships of the German fleets 1848-1945. Stalling, Oldenburg 1977. ISBN 3-7979-1834-8 .
  9. ^ New York Times, December 28, 1914
  10. [Federal Archives-Military Archives RM 5/2358]
  11. ^ A b Jürgen Hinrichsen: Jade fairway relocation at Hooksiel . In: Wasser- und Schiffahrtsamt Wilhelmshaven (Hrsg.): Informationsschrift . Self-published Wasser- und Schiffahrtsamt Wilhelmshaven, Wilhelmshaven 1986, p. 35-37 .
  12. a b c Gröner / Jung / Maass: The German warships. Volume 1, p. 77.
  13. Gröner / Jung / Maass: The German warships. Volume 1, p. 76.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on February 8, 2014 .