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SMS Kolberg
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1970-074-34, Besetzung der Insel Ösel, Truppenanlandung.jpg
Kolberg during Operation Albion
Career (German Empire)
Name: SMS Kolberg
Namesake: Kolberg
Laid down: 1908
Launched: 14 November 1908
Completed: 21 June 1910
Fate: Scrapped, 1929
General characteristics
Class & type: Kolberg-class cruiser
Displacement: 4,362 metric tons (4,293 long tons)
Length: 130 m (426.5 ft)
Beam: 14 m (45.9 ft)
Draft: 5.4 m (17.7 ft)
Installed power: 19,000 ihp (14,000 kW)

4 shafts, 2 sets of Steam turbines

Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Range: 3,250 nmi (6,020 km; 3,740 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Complement: 367

12 × 1 - 105 mm (4.1 in) guns

2 × 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes
Armor: Deck: 20–40 mm (0.79–1.57 in)
Gun shields: 50 mm (2 in)
Conning tower: 100 mm (3.9 in)

SMS Kolberg was a light cruiser of the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) during the First World War, the lead ship of her class. She had three sister ships, SMS Mainz, Cöln, and Augsburg. She was built by the Schichau-Werke; her hull was laid down in early 1908 and she was launched later that year, in November. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in June 1910. She was armed with a main battery of twelve 10.5 cm SK L/45 guns and had a top speed of 25.5 kn (47.2 km/h; 29.3 mph).

Kolberg saw action in several engagements with the British during the war, including the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in December 1914 and the Battle of Dogger Bank the following month. She also saw action against the Russians on two occasions, during the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in August 1915 and Operation Albion in November 1917. After the end of the war, she was ceded to France as a war prize and renamed Colmar. She served only briefly in the French Navy, including a deployment to Asia in 1924. She was stricken in 1927 and broken up two years later.


Kolberg was ordered under the contract name Ersatz Greif and was laid down in early 1908 at the Schichau-Werke shipyard in Danzig. She was launched on 14 November 1908, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet on 21 June 1910.[1] The ship was 130.5 meters (428 ft) long overall and had a beam of 14 m (46 ft) and a draft of 5.58 m (18.3 ft) forward. She displaced 4,915 t (4,837 long tons; 5,418 short tons) at full combat load. Her propulsion system consisted of two sets of Melms & Pfenniger steam turbines driving four 2.25-meter (7 ft 5 in) propellers. They were designed to give 19,000 shaft horsepower (14,000 kW). These were powered by fifteen coal-fired Marine water-tube boilers. These gave the ship a top speed of 25.5 knots (47.2 km/h; 29.3 mph). Kolberg carried 970 t (950 long tons; 1,070 short tons) of coal that gave her a range of approximately 3,250 nautical miles (6,020 km; 3,740 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph). Kolberg had a crew of eighteen officers and 349 enlisted men.[2]

The ship was armed with twelve 10.5 cm SK L/45 guns in single pedestal mounts. Two were placed side by side forward on the forecastle, eight were located amidships, four on either side, and two were side by side aft.[3] These were replaced in 1916–1917 with six 15 cm SK L/45 guns. She also carried four 5.2 cm SK L/55 anti-aircraft guns, though these were replaced with a pair of two 8.8 cm SK L/45 anti-aircraft guns in 1918. She was also equipped with a pair of 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes submerged in the hull. Two deck-mounted 50 cm (20 in) torpedo tube launchers were added in 1918. She could also carry 100 mines. The conning tower had 100 mm (3.9 in) thick sides, and the deck was covered with up to 40 mm (1.6 in) thick armor plate.[2]

Service history

After her commissioning in 1910, Kolberg served with the reconnaissance forces of the German fleet.[4] On 14 October 1914, Kolberg and the minelaying cruiser Nautilus steamed into the North Sea to lay a minefield off the Firth of Forth, but upon realizing British forces were operating off the Dogger Bank, they broke off the operation and returned to port.[5] Kolberg's first major action of World War I was the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby on 15–16 December 1914. She was assigned to the II Scouting Group with three other light cruisers, tasked with screening for the battlecruisers of the I Scouting Group, commanded by Rear Admiral Franz von Hipper.[6] While the battlecruisers were conducting the bombardments of the towns, Kolberg laid a field of 100 mines off the British coast.[7] When the German forces withdrew, the weather became bad enough that Hipper ordered the other light cruisers to steam independently to the rendezvous with the main fleet; Kolberg had meanwhile joined up with the battlecruisers and proceeded with them.[8] A little over a month later, she saw action at the Battle of Dogger Bank, on 24 January 1915. The engagement began when Kolberg encountered the British cruiser HMS Aurora; both ships opened fire, drawing the British and German battlecruiser squadrons to the action.[9] Kolberg quickly scored two hits on Aurora, which replied with two hits of her own. One of the shells struck Kolberg below the waterline and the other shell hit the ship above the waterline; the hits killed two men.[10] In August 1915, the ship went into the Baltic to participate in the Battle of the Gulf of Riga. She was assigned to serve as a flotilla leader for three and a half flotillas of torpedo boats, as part of an assault force into the Gulf of Riga.[11] On the 10th, she joined the battlecruiser SMS Von der Tann to shell the island of Utö, though numerous reports of submarines in the area convinced the Germans to withdraw.[12] On either 15 or 16 August 1915, a Russian submarine fired a single torpedo at Kolberg which missed.[13]

In November 1917, Kolberg returned to the Baltic, for another attack on the Gulf of Riga, Operation Albion. By this point, she had been assigned as the flagship of the VI Scouting Group along with her sister Augsburg and Strassburg. At 06:00 on 14 October 1917, the three ships left Libau to escort minesweeping operations in the Gulf of Riga. They were attacked by Russian 12-inch (300 mm) coastal guns on their approach and were temporarily forced to turn away. By 08:45, however, they had anchored off the Mikailovsk Bank and the minesweepers began to clear a path in the minefields.[14] Two days later, Strassburg and Kolberg joined the dreadnoughts König and Kronprinz for a sweep of the Gulf of Riga.[15] In the ensuing Battle of Moon Sound, the battleships destroyed the old pre-dreadnought Slava and forced the pre-dreadnought Grazhdanin to leave the Gulf.[16] Later that day, Kolberg moved into the Gulf and engaged a Russian coastal battery at Woi on Moon Island for ten minutes, starting at 13:35. The Russian guns did not return fire, so Kolberg ceased firing, and at 14:25, anchored in the Kleinen Sound with Strassburg. A landing party of forty men was assembled to capture the Russian guns at Woi; they landed on the island at 15:45 and by 17:30, the landing party had captured the guns and rendered them inoperable.[17]

By 1918, Kolberg was reduced to serve as a coastal defense ship. She was stricken from the naval register on 5 November 1919, and subsequently surrendered to the French in Cherbourg on 28 April 1920, under the name "W". She was commissioned in the French Navy as Colmar.[4] In 1924, she was assigned to a colonial tour in Asia, along with the old armored cruiser Jules Ferry. In September 1924, the two French ships contributed to a multi-national landing party of around 1,800 men drawn together due to violence in Shanghai.[18] She remained in French service for only a few years, until she was stricken on 21 July 1927. Ultimately, she was broken up for scrap two years later in Brest, France.[19]


  1. Gröner, pp. 106–107
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gröner, p. 106
  3. Gardiner & Gray, p. 159
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gröner, p. 107
  5. Woodward, p. 29
  6. Tarrant, p. 31
  7. Halpern, p. 41
  8. Tarrant, p. 33
  9. Halpern, p. 45
  10. Tarrant, p. 38
  11. Halpern, p. 196
  12. Halpern, p. 197
  13. Polmar & Noot, p. 43
  14. Staff, p. 60
  15. Staff, pp. 102–103
  16. Staff, pp. 113–114
  17. Staff, pp. 119–120
  18. Waldron, pp. 53–54
  19. Gardiner & Gray, p. 201


  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-790-9. 
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-352-4. 
  • Polmar, Norman; Noot, Jurrien (1991). Submarines of the Russian and Soviet Navies, 1718–1990. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-570-1. 
  • Staff, Gary (2008). Battle for the Baltic Islands. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Maritime. ISBN 978-1-84415-787-7. 
  • Tarrant, V. E. (1995). Jutland: The German Perspective. London, UK: Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-35848-7. 
  • Waldron, Arthur (2002). From War to Nationalism: China's Turning Point, 1924–1925. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52332-X. 

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