Military Wiki
SMS Berlin
Bundesarchiv DVM 10 Bild-23-61-24, Kleiner Kreuzer "SMS Berlin".jpg
Pre-war illustration of Berlin
Career (German Empire)
Name: Berlin
Laid down: 1902
Launched: 22 September 1903
Commissioned: 4 April 1905
Fate: Scuttled, 1947
General characteristics
Class & type: Bremen-class light cruiser
Displacement: 3,792 metric tons (3,732 long tons)
Length: Length overall: 111.1 meters (365 ft)
Beam: 13.3 m (43.6 ft)
Draft: 5.51 m (18.1 ft)
Installed power: 11,750 ihp (8,760 kW)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Range: 4,270 nmi (7,910 km; 4,910 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 14 officers
274 enlisted men

10 × 10.5 cm SK L/40 guns

2 × 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes
Armor: Deck: 80 mm (3.1 in)

SMS Berlin ("His Majesty's Ship Berlin")[lower-alpha 1] was the third member of the seven-vessel Bremen class, built by the Imperial German Navy. Throughout her over 40-year long career, she served with the Imperial Navy, the Reichsmarine, and the Kriegsmarine. She was built by the Imperial Dockyard in Danzig, laid down in 1902, launched in September 1903, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in April 1905. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Berlin was capable of a top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph).

Berlin served in the reconnaissance forces of the High Seas Fleet from her commissioning to 1911, when she was sent abroad for overseas duties. She returned to the scouting forces the following year, where she remained through the first two years of World War I. She spent 1916 as a minelayer, and was disarmed in 1917. She was one of six cruisers permitted to Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, and she remained in service with the new Reichsmarine through the 1920s as a training ship. She was withdrawn from active duty in 1929, and later used as a barracks ship by the Kriegsmarine, a role she filled through World War II. After the end of the war, she was loaded with chemical weapons and scuttled in the Skagerrak.


Berlin was ordered under the contract name Ersatz Zieten[lower-alpha 2] and was laid down at the Imperial Dockyard in Danzig in 1902 and launched on 22 September 1903, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet on 4 April 1905.[1] The ship was 111.1 meters (365 ft) long overall and had a beam of 13.3 m (44 ft) and a draft of 5.51 m (18.1 ft) forward. She displaced 3,792 t (3,732 long tons; 4,180 short tons) at full combat load.[2] Her propulsion system consisted of two triple-expansion engines, designed to give 10,000 indicated horsepower (7,500 kW) for a top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). The engines were powered by ten coal-fired Marine-type water-tube boilers. Berlin carried up to 860 tonnes (850 long tons) of coal, which gave her a range of 4,270 nautical miles (7,910 km; 4,910 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). She had a crew of 14 officers and 274–287 enlisted men.[3]

The ship was armed with ten 10.5 cm SK L/40 guns in single mounts. Two were placed side by side forward on the forecastle, six were located amidships, three on either side, and two were placed side by side aft. The guns could engage targets out to 12,200 m (40,000 ft). They were supplied with 1,500 rounds of ammunition, for 150 shells per gun. She was also equipped with two 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes with five torpedoes. They were submerged in the hull on the broadside. In 1915, Berlin was modified to carry 80 naval mines.[4] The ship was protected by an armored deck that was up to 80 mm (3.1 in) thick. The conning tower had 100 mm (3.9 in) thick sides, and the guns were protected by 50 mm (2.0 in) thick shields.[2]

Service history

Berlin after her modernization in 1921–1923

After her commissioning, Berlin was assigned to the reconnaissance forces of the High Seas Fleet. In 1911, she was deployed abroad for service on foreign stations. She returned to Germany the following year, and rejoined the fleet cruiser squadron.[5] In October 1913, the ship left Germany again bound for Veracruz, to relieve Hertha in the Caribbean.[6] In 1915, the ship was retrofitted to carry 80 mines.[4] She was in drydock in May 1916, and so she was unavailable for the Battle of Jutland on the last day of the month.[7] In October 1916, the British submarine HMS E38 attacked Berlin, but its torpedoes missed.[8] After the end of the year, Berlin was disarmed.[4] She was thereafter used as a coastal defense ship, a role she performed through to the end of the war in 1918.[5]

Berlin was among the six light cruisers Germany was permitted to retain by the Treaty of Versailles.[lower-alpha 3] In the service of the newly reorganized Reichsmarine, Berlin served as a training cruiser, starting in 1922.[5] That year, Wilhelm Canaris was assigned to the ship, which went to Norway in November 1923. In January 1924, Berlin departed German waters for an extended overseas cruise, which was the first time a German warship had done so since the end of World War I. While on the cruise, Canaris met a naval cadet by the name of Reinhard Heydrich, who went on to become a close friend and eventual architect of The Holocaust.[9][10] In 1928, Berlin conducted a training cruise around the world, which included a stop in Fremantle.[11] Training duties lasted until 1929, when she was withdrawn from service. Starting in 1935, the Kriegsmarine used Berlin as a barracks ship in Kiel. There, she survived World War II; in the aftermath of the war, she was loaded with chemical weapons and scuttled in the Skaggerak to dispose of them, on 31 May 1947.[5]



  1. "SMS" stands for "Seiner Majestät Schiff" (German: His Majesty's Ship).
  2. German warships were ordered under provisional names. For new additions to the fleet, they were given a single letter; for those ships intended to replace older or lost vessels, they were ordered as "Ersatz (name of the ship to be replaced)".
  3. According to the Treaty of Versailles, Section II: Naval Clauses, Article 181, the Reichsmarine was permitted to retain six light cruisers on active service at any time. The law establishing the Reichswehr on 1 January 1921 allowed the Navy to keep an additional two ships on reserve status.[12]


  1. Gröner, pp. 102–104
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gröner, p. 102
  3. Gröner, pp. 102–103
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Gröner, p. 103
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Gröner, p. 104
  6. "German Cruiser For Mazatlan". 28 October 1913. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  7. Campbell, p. 23
  8. Tucker, p. 667
  9. Waller, p. 12
  10. Mueller, pp. 60–61
  11. "German Cruiser to Visit Fremantle". 7 August 1928. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  12. Williamson, p. 3


This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).