Military Wiki
SMS Bremen
SMS Bremen LOC ggbain 09545.jpg
Prewar photo of Bremen in Germany
Career (German Empire)
Name: Bremen
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Laid down: 1902
Launched: 9 July 1903
Commissioned: 19 May 1905
Fate: Sunk, 17 February 1915
General characteristics
Class & type: Bremen-class light cruiser
Displacement: 3,797 metric tons (3,737 long tons)
Length: Length overall: 111.1 meters (365 ft)
Beam: 13.3 m (43.6 ft)
Draft: 5.53 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 Bremen ("His Majesty's Ship Bremen")[lower-alpha 1] was the lead ship of the seven-vessel Bremen class, built by the Imperial German Navy. She was built by the AG Weser shipyard in Bremen, her namesake city. She was laid down in 1902, launched in July 1903, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in May 1904. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Bremen was capable of a top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). Bremen served on the East American Station for the majority of her career, including the ten years before the outbreak of World War I. She returned to German in 1914 before the start of the war. At the onset of hostilities, she was attached to the fleet in the Baltic tasked with containing the Russians. In August 1915, she participated in the Battle of the Gulf of Riga, but did not see significant action during the battle. Four months later, on 17 December, she struck two Russian naval mines and sank, with the loss of 250 of her crew.


10.5 cm gun on board Bremen

Bremen was ordered under the contract name "L"[lower-alpha 2] and was laid down at the AG Weser shipyard in the ship's namesake city in 1902 and launched on 9 July 1903, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet on 19 May 1904.[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 5.53 m (18.1 ft) forward. She displaced 3,797 t (3,737 long tons; 4,185 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. Bremen 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.[1]

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.[3] 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

Bremen in 1907

After her commissioning, Bremen served on the East American station,[3][4] and she frequently visited the United States. In April 1907, she and the armored cruiser Roon sailed to the United States to participate in a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the arrival of colonists in Chesapeake Bay on 26 April. In addition to the German delegation, the international fleet consisted of warships from Great Britain, Japan, Austria-Hungary, France, Italy, and several other nations.[5] Wilhelm Canaris, the future admiral and head of the Abwehr during World War II, served aboard the ship starting on 2 November 1907, his first assignment after graduating from the naval academy.[4] Bremen conducted a tour of South America in late 1908, beginning in September with a call on Buenos Aires, followed by a stop in Rio de Janiero in Brazil. The tour lasted through February 1909, and included stops in Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, and the Dutch Antilles. In March, Bremen returned to the northern Atlantic and visited American ports for the next three months.[6]

Bremen in the United States in 1912

In September–October 1909, Bremen, joined the protected cruisers Victoria Louise and Hertha, and the light cruiser Dresden, which had traveled to the United States to represent Germany during the Hudson-Fulton Celebration.[7][8] In early 1912, Bremen was assigned to a goodwill cruise to the United States, along with the battlecruiser Moltke and the light cruiser Stettin. On 11 May 1912 the ships left Kiel and arrived off Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 30 May.[9] There, they met the US Atlantic Fleet and were greeted by then-President William Howard Taft aboard the presidential yacht USS Mayflower.[10] After touring the East Coast for two weeks, they returned to Kiel on 24 June.[9] Bremen remained abroad until 1914, when she returned to Germany. After the outbreak of World War I in July 1914, she was assigned to the fleet in the Baltic Sea.[3] While there, she participated in the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in August 1915. She was assigned to the second attack on the Gulf, which took place on 16 August. She and the cruisers Graudenz, Augsburg, and Pillau escorted the dreadnoughts Nassau and Posen while they attempted to force their way into the Gulf.[11] The German flotilla penetrated the Russian defenses by 19 August and steamed into the Gulf, but withdrew shortly thereafter due to the threat of Allied submarines and mines.[12] On 17 December 1915, Bremen and the torpedo boat V191 ran into a Russian minefield; Bremen struck a pair of mines off Windau and sank, as did V191. The majority of Bremen's crew died in the sinking, with 250 men killed.[3][13]



  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)".


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gröner, pp. 102–103
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gröner, p. 102
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Gröner, p. 103
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mueller, p. 6
  5. Schroeder, pp. 302–303
  6. Mueller, pp. 6–7
  7. Levine & Panetta, p. 51
  8. Mueller, p. 7
  9. 9.0 9.1 Staff, p. 15
  10. Hadley & Sarty, p.66
  11. Halpern, p. 197
  12. Halpern, p. 198
  13. Halpern, p. 205


Coordinates: 57°31′N 20°24′E / 57.517°N 20.4°E / 57.517; 20.4

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