SMS Arcona

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Arcona in 1929
Career War Ensign of Germany 1903-1918
Name: Arcona
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Laid down: 1901
Launched: 22 April 1902
Commissioned: 12 May 1903
Struck: 15 January 1930
Fate: Used as a barracks hulk
Career War Ensign of Germany 1938-1945
Name: Arcona
Recommissioned: As anti-aircraft battery, 12 May 1940
Fate: Scuttled, 3 May 1945
Scrapped in 1948
General characteristics
Class and type: Gazelle-class light cruiser
Displacement: As built : 3,180 long tons (3,231 t)
From 1940: 2,650 long tons (2,693 t)
Length: 105 m (344 ft 6 in)
Beam: 12.4 m (40 ft 8 in)
Draught: 5.62 m (18 ft 5 in)
Propulsion: 2 × 3-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 21.5 knots (24.7 mph; 39.8 km/h)
Range: 4,400 nmi (8,100 km) at 12 kn (14 mph; 22 km/h)
Complement: 274
Armament: As built :
• 10 × 105 mm (4.1 in) guns
• 10 to 14 × 37 mm (1.5 in) machine guns
• 2 × torpedo tubes
From 1940 :
• 4 × 105 mm (4.1 in) FlaK 38 AA guns
• 2 × 40 mm (1.6 in) anti-aircraft guns
• 6 × 20 mm (0.79 in) FlaK 30 AA machine guns
Armour: Deck: 25 mm (0.98 in)

SMS Arcona, named after a famous cape on the German island of Rügen, was a small, unarmoured cruiser of the German Imperial Navy.

Technical data

The ship was laid down at AG Weser in Bremen in 1901, launched on 22 April 1902 and commissioned on 12 May 1903. It was one of eight ships of the Gazelle class built between 1897 and 1904. This class underwent continuous improvement during construction, so that each ship differed somewhat from the others.

The Arcona was 105 m long and 12.4 m wide, with a draft of 5.62 m. She displaced 3,180 tons and had a crew of 274. Her armament comprised ten 10.5 cm guns, 10-14 3.7 cm machine guns and 2 torpedo tubes. Her deck armor was merely 25 mm at the thickest point. Her two 3-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines gave her a maximum speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h). Her operating range at 12 knots (22 km/h) was 4,400 nautical miles (8,150 km).

Service in the Imperial Navy

After the completion of final sea trials the Arcona was assigned in July 1903 to the scouting forces of the Hochseeflotte. Over the next four years she participated in various fleet maneuvers and overseas voyages, including the naval parade in June 1904 for British King Edward VII.

In April 1907 the ship was decommissioned in order to be refitted for overseas service. She was sent to East Asia at the end of August 1907 and for the next two years served in the Pacific, including a brief stint at Samoa during the native uprising there in early 1909. Following a visit to San Francisco in 1909 to represent Germany at the 140th anniversary of the discovery of San Francisco Bay and a "show-the-flag" tour of Honolulu, Seattle, San Pedro, Los Angeles and San Diego, she returned to Germany in March 1910 and was again decommissioned.

Now obsolete as a light cruiser, the ship was reconfigured in 1911-1912 as a mine cruiser, with two of her 10.5 cm guns being removed and room made instead to carry 200 mines. Recommissioned on 31 October 1912, she was attached to the minelaying experimental commission.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, the two 10.5 cm guns were re-installed and the ship became the flagship of the coastal defense division for the Ems region, with homeport in Emden. She served in this capacity until the end of the war.

Inter-War years

Being too old, she was not required to be relinquished after the end of the war. Her guns were removed in the spring of 1919, and she then served for a time as a tender for UZ-boats carrying out minesweeping operations in the North Sea. In 1920 she was temporarily decommissioned and rearmed as a training cruiser. She was again decommissioned on 1 December 1923, placed into the fleet reserve, stricken from the navy list on 15 January 1930, and subsequently used as a barracks hulk in Wilhelmshaven, Swinemünde and Kiel.

World War II

Following the outbreak of World War II, the Arcona and her sole surviving sister Medusa were refitted in 1940 into floating anti-aircraft batteries, recommissioned in May and June 1940, respectively. They were stripped of their obsolete engines and towed into place. As anti-aircraft battery, the Arcona displaced 2650 tons and had a draft of 5.0 m. She carried four heavy 10.5 cm anti-aircraft guns, two 4 cm Flak and six 20 mm AA machine guns. She was deployed initially in Swinemünde and later in Wilhelmshaven, where she joined the Medusa. Both were scuttled by their crews on 3 May 1945. The wrecks were scrapped in 1948.

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