Military Wiki
SMS Gazelle
S.M. kleiner kreuzer Gazelle.jpg
Painting of Gazelle
Career (German Empire)
Name: Gazelle
Laid down: 1897
Launched: 31 March 1898
Commissioned: 15 June 1901
Out of service: Hulked, 1916
Struck: 28 August 1920
Fate: Scrapped 1920
General characteristics
Class & type: Gazelle-class light cruiser
Displacement: 2,963 tonnes (2,916 long tons)
Length: 105 m (344.5 ft) overall
Beam: 12.2 m (40.0 ft)
Draft: 4.84 m (15.9 ft)
Installed power: 6,000 ihp (4,500 kW)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph)
Range: 3,570 nmi (6,610 km; 4,110 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 14 officers
243 enlisted men

10 × 10.5 cm SK L/40 guns

3 × 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes
Armor: Deck: 20 to 25 mm (0.79 to 0.98 in)

SMS Gazelle was the lead ship of the ten-vessel Gazelle class, built by the Imperial German Navy. She was built by the Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel, laid down in 1897, launched in March 1898, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in June 1901. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Gazelle was capable of a top speed of 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph).

Initially assigned to overseas service, Gazelle participated in the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903. She returned to German waters in 1904, and served with the fleet until 1914. She was employed as a coastal defense ship after the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. She served in this role until the night of 25–26 January 1916, when she was mined off Cape Arkona. Deemed not worthy of repairs, Gazelle was reduced to a minelayer hulk, a role she served in through the end of the war. In August 1920, she was stricken from the naval register and sold for scrap.


Gazelle was ordered under the contract name "G" and was laid down at the Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel in 1897 and launched on 31 March 1898, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet on 15 June 1901.[1] The ship was 105 meters (344 ft) long overall and had a beam of 12.2 m (40 ft) and a draft of 4.84 m (15.9 ft) forward. She displaced 2,963 t (2,916 long tons; 3,266 short tons) at full combat load.[2] Her propulsion system consisted of two triple-expansion engines manufactured by AG-Germania. They were designed to give 6,000 shaft horsepower (4,500 kW), for a top speed of 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph). The engines were powered by eight coal-fired Niclausse boilers. Gazelle carried 500 tonnes (490 long tons) of coal, which gave her a range of 3,570 nautical miles (6,610 km; 4,110 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She had a crew of 14 officers and 243 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 1,000 rounds of ammunition, for 100 shells per gun. She was also equipped with three 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes with eight torpedoes. One was submerged in the hull in the bow and two were mounted in deck launchers on the broadside.[3] The ship was protected by an armored deck that was 20 to 25 mm (0.79 to 0.98 in) thick. The conning tower had 80 mm (3.1 in) thick sides, and the guns were protected by 50 mm (2.0 in) thick shields.[4]

Service history

After her commissioning, Gazelle was sent overseas from 1902 to 1904.[3] She was assigned to the American Squadron; starting in December 1902, Gazelle participated in the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903. A British merchant ship had been boarded and its crew arrested by Venezuelan forces on 13 December; in response, British forces bombarded the forts at Puerto Cabello, and enlisted the German squadron to assist them in punishing the Venezuelans. Gazelle and SMS Falke were tasked with blockading the Venezuelan coast, in cooperation with the British squadron.[5] In January 1904, she conducted a goodwill visit to the port of New Orleans, along with the protected cruiser Vineta and two other warships.[6] During this period she was commanded by then Korvettenkapitän Reinhard Scheer, the later commander of the High Seas Fleet.[7] After returning to Germany, she served with the High Seas Fleet until 1914, when she was reduced to a coastal defense vessel.[3]

She served in the Baltic Sea in the first two years after the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. On 17 November, while patrolling in the Baltic, Gazelle was attacked by the British submarine HMS E9. The submarine fired a pair of torpedoes at the cruiser, but both missed.[8] On the night of 25–26 January 1916, she struck Russian mines to the north of Cape Arkona. The mine explosion tore off both of her screws and she had to be towed back to port. On 22 February, the German Navy decided the old cruiser was not worth repairing, and so she was placed out of service.[3][9] She was converted into a hulk for minelayers, first at Danzig and then at Cuxhaven. In 1918, she was moved to Wilhelmshaven. After the end of the war, Gazelle was formally stricken from the naval register on 28 August 1920 and broken up for scrap in Wilhelmshaven.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gröner, pp. 99–101
  2. Gröner, p. 100
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Gröner, p. 101
  4. Gröner, p. 99
  5. Marley, pp. 924–925
  6. Witte, pp. 230–231
  7. Herwig, p. 139
  8. Polmar & Noot, p. 38
  9. Halpern, pp. 186–187


  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-790-9. 
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1991). A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0773507787. 
  • Herwig, Holger (1980). "Luxury" Fleet: The Imperial German Navy 1888-1918. Amherst, New York: Humanity Books. ISBN 978-1-57392-286-9. 
  • Marley, David (2008). Wars of the Americas: A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the Western Hemisphere, 1492 to the Present. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598841008. 
  • Polmar, Norman; Noot, Jurrien (1991). Submarines of the Russian and Soviet Navies, 1718–1990. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-570-1. 
  • Witte, Emil (1916). Revelations of a German Attaché: Ten Years of German-American Diplomacy. New York, NY: George H. Doran Company. 

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