SMS Roon

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SMS Roon
Career (Germany) 45px
Name: Roon
Namesake: Albrecht von Roon
Builder: Kaiserliche Werft, Kiel
Laid down: August 1902
Launched: 27 June 1903
Commissioned: 5 April 1906
Decommissioned: 1911
Commissioned: 1914
Struck: 25 November 1920
Fate: Scrapped 1921
General characteristics
Class and type: Roon-class armored cruiser
Displacement: 9,533 t normal; 10,104 t full load
Length: 419 ft (128 m)
Beam: 66.33 ft (20.22 m)
Draught: 25.5 ft (7.8 m)
Propulsion: 19,000 horsepower (14,000 kW), three shafts
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)
Complement: 633
Armament: Four 8.2 in (21 cm) (2 × 2)
ten 5.9 in (15 cm) (10 × 1)
fourteen 3.45 in (8.8 cm) (14 × 1)
four 17.7 in (45 cm) torpedo tubes
Armor: 6 in (15 cm) in belt
7 in (18 cm) in turret faces
1.5 in (3.8 cm) - 2.5 in (6.4 cm) in deck

SMS Roon[Note 1] was the lead ship of her class of armored cruisers of the Imperial German Navy. The ship was authorized under the second Naval Law in 1902, and built at the Imperial Dockyard in Kiel at the cost of 15.3 million marks. The ship was named after Albrecht von Roon, a Prussian general and politician.

The ship participated in several actions during the First World War, including the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, were she acted as a scout for the High Seas Fleet. Roon also saw duty in the Baltic Sea, including a battle in July 1915 against Russian cruisers and shore bombardment missions. After 1916, Roon was used as a training and barracks ship in Kiel until the end of the war. It was intended to convert the ship into a seaplane tender, but the plan was eventually abandoned. The ship was struck from the naval register in 1920 and scrapped thereafter.

Service history

Roon was laid down in August 1902 at the Kiel dockyard, and launched in June 1903, during which the inspector general Alfred von Waldersee was made patron of the ship.[1] The ship was completed in April 1906, at a cost of 15,345,000 Marks.[2] In April 1907, Roon and the light cruiser Bremen 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.[3]

In 1908, Roon was serving as the flagship for Rear Admiral Jacobsen, in the Second Group of the Scouting Division of the High Seas Fleet, along with her sistership Yorck. After being replaced as the flagship of the Scouting Group on 30 September by the new battlecruiser Moltke,[4] Roon was decommissioned in 1911; however, she was recommissioned three years later at the outbreak of World War I. At the start of hostilities, Roon was serving as the flagship of the III Scouting Group. On 3 November, 1914, she participated in the operation to bombard Yarmouth.

Bombardment of Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby

File:Scheer's illustration of I SG disposition 16 Dec. 1916 en.SVG
Map illustrating the locations of the various forces during the German retreat from the English coast. By this time, Roon was in the rearguard for the High Seas Fleet.

A month later, on 15–16 December, she participated in the bombardment of Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby. Along with the armored cruiser Prinz Heinrich, Roon was assigned to the van of the High Seas Fleet, which was providing distant cover to Rear Admiral Franz von Hipper's battlecruisers while they were conducting the bombardment.[5] During the operation, Roon and her attached destroyers encountered the British screening forces; at 06:16, Roon came in contact with HMS Lynx and Unity, but no gunfire was exchanged and the ships turned away. Following reports of British destroyers from Roon as well as from Hamburg, Admiral von Ingenohl ordered the High Seas Fleet to turn to port and head for Germany. At this point, Roon and her destroyers became the rearguard for the High Seas Fleet.[6]

At 06:59, Roon, by this time joined by the light cruisers Stuttgart and Hamburg, encountered Commander Jones' destroyers. Jones shadowed Roon until 07:40, at which point Stuttgart and Hamburg were detached to sink their pursuers. At 08:02, Roon signaled the two light cruisers and ordered them to abandon the pursuit and retreat along with the rest of the High Seas Fleet.[7] At 07:55, Beatty received word of Roon's location, and in an attempt to intercept the German cruisers, detached HMS New Zealand to hunt the German ships down, while his other three battlecruisers followed from a distance.[8] By 09:00, Beatty had become aware that the German battlecruisers were shelling Hartlepool, so he decided to break off the pursuit of Roon and turn towards the German battlecruisers.[9] Roon, along with Hamburg, Stuttgart, and the accompanying destroyers, remained in their rearguard position for the High Seas Fleet during the withdrawal to the safety of German ports.

Operations in the Baltic

Admiral Reinhard Scheer decided that because Roon and the other armored cruisers of the III Scouting Group were slow and lacked thick enough armor, they were unsuitable for service in the North Sea.[10] Therefore, after April 1915, she operated in the Baltic Sea, participating in several bombardment missions. On 11 May, the British submarine E9 spotted Roon and several other ships en route to Libau, which had been recently captured by the German army. E9 fired five torpedoes at the German flotilla; two passed closely astern of Roon while the other three missed their targets as well.[11]

Russian cruiser Admiral Makarov

On 2 July 1915, Roon participated in a battle with Russian cruisers off the shores of Gotland, Sweden.[12] The light cruiser Augsburg and three destroyers were escorting the minelaying cruiser Albatross when they were attacked by four Russian cruisers—the armored cruisers Bayan, Admiral Makarov, and light cruisers Bogatyr and Oleg. Augsburg escaped while the destroyers covered the retreat of the Albatross, which was severely damaged and forced to seek refuge in neutral Swedish waters. Roon and the light cruiser Lübeck sortied to relieve the beleaguered German destroyers. Upon arriving at the scene, Roon engaged Bayan, and Lübeck opened fire on Oleg.[13] Shortly thereafter, the Russian cruiser Rurik, along with a destroyer, arrived to reinforce the Russian flotilla. In the following artillery duel, Roon was hit several times, and the German ships were forced to retreat.[14]

On 10 August, Roon and Prinz Heinrich shelled Russian positions at Zerel on the Sworbe Peninsula. There were several Russian destroyers anchored off Zerel; the German cruisers caught them by surprise and damaged one of them.[15]

Later service

On 16 February 1916, Roon was mistakenly reported as having been captured by a British cruiser in the North Atlantic.[16] The ship was also mistakenly reported to have taken part in the Battle of Jutland as the flagship of the screening force for the main body of the High Seas Fleet. This mistake appeared in historical works published shortly after the First World War,[17] but later works have corrected it.[18]

In November 1916, Roon was disarmed and converted into a training and accommodation ship. Stationed at Kiel, she served in this capacity until 1918. Plans to convert Roon into a seaplane tender did not come to fruition, primarily because the German Navy relied on zeppelins for aerial reconnaissance, not seaplanes. Roon was struck from the naval register on 25 November 1920 and scrapped the following year,[19] in Kiel-Nordmole.[20]


  1. Rüger p. 160
  2. Gröner, p. 51–52
  3. Schroeder, pp. 302–303
  4. Staff, p. 15
  5. Scheer, p. 69
  6. Massie, p. 340
  7. Massie, p. 340–341
  8. Massie, p. 342
  9. Massie, p. 343
  10. Scheer, p. 135
  11. Polmar and Noot, p. 40.
  12. Corbett and Newbolt, p. 62
  13. Pavlovich, p. 145
  14. Hart, p. 365
  15. Tucker pp. 293–294
  16. Smith p. 350
  17. Stevens and Westcott, p. 390
  18. Tarrant, Appendix II
  19. Gardiner and Gray, p. 142
  20. Gröner, p. 52



  • American Society of Naval Engineers (1909). Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, Inc. American Society of Naval Engineers. 
  • Corbett, Julian Stafford; Newbolt, Henry John (1923). Naval Operations. Longmans, Green and Co.. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906-1922. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-790-9. 
  • Hart, Albert Bushnell (1920). Harper's Pictorial Library of the World War. Harper. 
  • Massie, Robert K. (2003). Castles of Steel. New York City: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-40878-0. 
  • Pavlovich, Nikolaĭ Bronislavovich (1979). The Fleet in the First World War : Operations of the Russian fleet. Amerind Pub. Co.. 
  • Polmar, Norman; Noot, Jurrien (1991). Submarines of the Russian and Soviet Navies, 1718-1990: 1718-1990. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870215701. 
  • Rüger, Jan (2007). The Great Naval Game. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521875765. 
  • Scheer, Reinhard (1920). Germany's High Seas Fleet in the World War. Cassell and Company, ltd. 
  • Schroeder, Seaton (1922). A Half Century of Naval Service. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 
  • Seligmann, Matthew S. (2007). Naval Intelligence from Germany: The Reports of the British Naval Attaches in Berlin, 1906-1914. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. ISBN 0754661571. 
  • Smith, Alfred Emanuel (1916). New Outlook. Outlook Publishing Company, Inc.. 
  • Staff, Gary (2006). German Battlecruisers: 1914-1918. Oxford: Osprey Books. ISBN 978-1-84603-009-3. 
  • Stevens, William Oliver; Westcott, Allan (1920). A History of Sea Power. Annapolis: United States Naval Academy. 
  • Tarrant, V. E. (1995). Jutland: The German Perspective. Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-35848-7. 
  • Tucker, Spencer E. (2005). The Encyclopedia of World War I. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1851094202. 

de:SMS Roon es:SMS Roon

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