Military Wiki
SMS Medusa
Career (German Empire)
Name: Medusa
Laid down: 1900
Launched: 5 December 1900
Commissioned: 26 July 1901
Struck: 27 March 1929
Fate: Scrapped, 1948–1950
General characteristics
Class & type: Gazelle-class light cruiser
Displacement: 2,972 tonnes (2,925 long tons)
Length: 105.1 m (344.8 ft) overall
Beam: 12.2 m (40.0 ft)
Draft: 4.84 m (15.9 ft)
Installed power: 8,000 ihp (6,000 kW)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph)
Range: 3,560 nmi (6,590 km; 4,100 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 14 officers
243 enlisted men

10 × 10.5 cm SK L/40 guns

2 × 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes
Armor: Deck: 20 to 25 mm (0.79 to 0.98 in)

SMS Medusa was the seventh member of the ten-ship Gazelle class, built by the Imperial German Navy. She was built by the AG Weser dockyard in Bremen, laid down in early 1900, launched in December 1900, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in July 1901. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Medusa was capable of a top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph).

Medusa served in all three German navies over the span of over forty years. She served as a fleet scout in the period before World War I, and during the first two years of the conflict, she was used as a coastal defense ship. She was one of six cruisers Germany was allowed to keep by the Treaty of Versailles, and she served in the early 1920s in the Reichsmarine. She was withdrawn from service in 1924 and used in secondary duties, but in 1940, the Kriegsmarine converted Medusa into a floating anti-aircraft battery. She defended the port of Wilhelmshaven until the closing days of the war, when she was scuttled by her crew. The wreck was ultimately broken up for scrap in 1948–1950.


Medusa was ordered under the contract name "E" and was laid down at the AG Weser shipyard in Bremen in early 1900 and launched on 5 December 1900, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet on 26 July 1901.[1] The ship was 104.8 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 2,972 t (2,925 long tons; 3,276 short tons) at full combat load.[2] Her propulsion system consisted of two triple-expansion engines. They were designed to give 8,000 shaft horsepower (6,000 kW), for a top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph). The engines were powered by ten coal-fired Marine-type water-tube boilers. Medusa carried 560 tonnes (550 long tons) of coal, which gave her a range of 3,560 nautical miles (6,590 km; 4,100 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 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 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, Medusa was assigned to the fleet reconnaissance forces.[5] In 1905, she was assigned to the Cruiser Division, alongside her sisters Ariadne and Amazone and the armored cruiser Prinz Heinrich.[6] She served in the fleet scout role up to the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, at which point she was employed as a coastal defense vessel. In 1917, she four of her guns removed, and she was used as an auxiliary ship for the old ironclad König Wilhelm,[7] which was being used as a training ship for naval cadets.[8]

Medusa survived the war and was one of six light cruisers Germany was permitted to keep in service by the Treaty of Versailles. The ship served in the Reichsmarine from 1920 to 1924;[5] in 1922, Medusa was assigned to the Active Squadron in the Baltic Station, alongside the battleship Hannover.[9] In 1924 she was withdrawn from service. On 29 March 1929, she was stricken from the naval register and thereafter used as a barracks ship in Wilhelmshaven. In July 1940, during World War II, Medusa was converted into a floating anti-aircraft battery in Wilhelmshaven.[5] Her armament at that point consisted of one 10.5 cm SK C/32 gun, four 10.5 cm SK C/33 guns, two 3.7 cm SK C/30 guns, and four 2 cm guns.[10] She was then assigned to Naval Anti-aircraft Group 222, and remained in the harbor at Wilhelmshaven for the duration of the war. Her crews scuttled the ship on 3 May 1945, days before the end of the war in Europe. The wreck was ultimately salvaged in 1948–1950 and broken up for scrap.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gröner, pp. 99–102
  2. Gröner, p. 100
  3. Gröner, p. 101
  4. Gröner, p. 99
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Gröner, p. 102
  6. Courtney, p. 22
  7. Gröner, pp. 101–102
  8. Gröner, p. 4
  9. Robinson, p. 1014
  10. Gardiner & Chesneau, p. 222


  • Courtney, W. L., ed (1905). "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". London: Chapman and Hall, Ltd.. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870219138. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-790-9. 
  • Robinson, F. M., ed (January 1922). "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". US Naval Institute. 

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