SMS Wörth

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
SMS Wörth
Career (Germany) Kaiser
Name: Wörth
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Laid down: May 1890
Launched: 6 August 1892
Commissioned: 31 October 1893
Fate: Scrapped in 1919
General characteristics
Class and type: Brandenburg-class battleship
Displacement: 10,670 t (10,500 long tons)
Length: 115.7 m (379 ft 7 in)
Beam: 19.5 m (64 ft 0 in)
Draft: 7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: 2 shafts triple expansion
10,000 ihp (7,457 kW)
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Range: 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km) at 10 knots (20 km/h)
Complement: 568
Armament: 4 × 28 cm (11 in) / 40 caliber guns
2 × 28 cm (11 in) / 35 caliber guns
8 × 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns
8 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) guns
3 × 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes
Armor: Belt 12–16 inches (30.5–40.6 cm)
turrets 9 inches (230 mm)
deck 3 inches (76 mm)

SMS Wörth was one of four German pre-dreadnought battleships of the Brandenburg class, built in the early 1890s. The ships were the first ocean-going battleships built by the Kaiserliche Marine (English: Imperial Navy). Wörth was laid down at the Germaniawerft dockyard in Kiel in May 1890. The ship was launched on 6 August 1892 and commissioned into the fleet on 31 October 1893. Wörth and her three sisters were unique for their time in that they carried six heavy guns instead of the standard four in other navies. She was named for the Battle of Wörth at the start of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71.

Wörth took part in the German naval expedition to China in 1900 to suppress the Boxer Rebellion, though by the time the fleet reached China the siege of Peking had already been lifted. As a result, the ship saw little direct action in China. Obsolete by the start of World War I, Wörth, along with her sister ship Brandenburg, served in a limited capacity in the Imperial German Navy, primarily as barracks ships. Following the end of the war, the Wörth was scrapped in the port of Danzig.


Wörth was ordered as battleship B,[1] and was laid down at Germaniawerft in Kiel in 1890. Initial work on the ship proceeded the slowest of all four vessels of the class; her hull was not launched until 6 August 1892, more than two-thirds of a year after the other three ships. However, fitting out work proceeded quickly, and she was commissioned on 31 October 1893, the first ship of the class to enter active duty.[2]

The ship was 115.7 m (379 ft 7 in) long, with a beam of 19.5 m (64 ft 0 in) and a draft of 7.6 m (24 ft 11 in). Wörth displaced 10,013 t (9,855 long tons) as designed, and up to 10,670 t (10,500 long tons) at full combat load. She was equipped with two sets of 3-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engines that produced 10,000 indicated horsepower (7,457 kW) and a top speed of 16.9 knots (31.3 km/h; 19.4 mph) on trials. Steam was provided by twelve transverse cylindrical boilers. She had a maximum range of 4,300 nautical miles (8,000 km; 4,900 mi) at a cruising speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[1]

Wörth was armed with a main battery of six 28 cm (11 in) guns of two types. The forward and rear turret guns were 40 calibers long, while the amidships guns were only 35 calibers; this was necessary to allow them to train to either side of the ship. Her secondary armament initially consisted of seven 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns, though an additional gun was added during the modernization in 1901. She also carried eight 8.8 cm (3.45 in) guns and six 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes.[1]

Service history

Wörth was assigned to the I Division of the I Battle Squadron upon her commissioning, alongside her three sisters.[3] The squadron was completed with the four older Sachsen class armored frigates, though by 1901–2, the Sachsens were replaced by the new Kaiser Friedrich III class battleships.[4] After she joined the fleet, Wörth was commanded by Prince Heinrich. The senior watch officer aboard the ship in 1894 was Franz von Hipper, who went on to command the German battlecruiser squadron during World War I and later the entire High Seas Fleet.[5][6] Wörth represented Germany during the Fleet Review for Queen Victoria in 1897.[7]

On 25 November 1899, Wörth was conducting gunnery training in the Bay of Eckernförde when she struck a rock. The rock tore a 22 ft (6.7 m) wide hole in the hull which flooded three of her watertight compartments. The ship was sent to Wilhelmshaven for repair work.[8] Before repairs could be begun, about 500 t (490 long tons) of coal had to be unloaded to lighten the ship. Temporary steel plates were riveted to cover the hole on the starboard side, while the hull plates on the port side had to be re-riveted.[9] The work was completed in time for the ship to join the fleet for the annual training cruise to Norway one week later.[8]

Boxer Rebellion

File:SMS Worth - Kiel canal.PNG
Wörth in the Kiel Canal.

During the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, Chinese nationalists laid siege to the foreign embassies in Peking and murdered Baron Clemens von Ketteler, the German minister.[10] The widespread violence against Westerners in China led to a creation of an alliance between Germany and seven other Great Powers: the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary, the United States, France, and Japan.[11] Those soldiers who were in China at the time were too few in number to defeat the Boxers;[12] in Peking there was a force of slightly more than 400 officers and infantry from the armies of the eight European powers.[13] At the time, the primary German military force in China was the East Asia Squadron, which consisted of the protected cruisers Kaiserin Augusta, Hansa, and Hertha, the small cruisers Irene and Gefion, and the gunboats Jaguar and Iltis.[14] There was also a German 500-man detachment in Taku; combined with the other nations' units the force numbered some 2,100 men.[15]

These 2,100 men, led by the British Admiral Edward Seymour, attempted to reach Peking but due to heavy resistance were forced to stop in Tientsin.[16] As a result, the Kaiser determined an expeditionary force would be sent to China to reinforce the East Asia Squadron. Hela was part of the naval expedition, which included the four Brandenburg class pre-dreadnought battleships, sent to China to reinforce the German flotilla there.[17] Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz opposed the plan, which he saw as unnecessary and costly.[18] The force was sent in spite of von Tirpitz's objections; it arrived in China in September 1900. By that time, the siege of Peking had already been lifted.[19] As a result, the task force suppressed local uprisings around Kiaochow. In the end, the operation cost the German government more than 100 million marks.[18]

Reconstruction and later service

File:Brandenburg Brassey's.png
As depicted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1902

Following her return from China in 1901, Wörth was taken into the drydocks at the Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshaven for a major reconstruction. Her sisters followed suit: Weißenburg went in 1902, Brandenburg in 1903, and Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm entered the shipyard in 1904.[1] During the modernization, a second conning tower was added in the aft superstructure, along with a gangway.[20] Wörth and the other ships had their boilers replaced with newer models, and also had the hamper amidships reduced.[21]

After emerging from the dry dock after modernization, Wörth and the other Brandenburg class battleships were assigned to the II Battle Squadron of the fleet and replaced the old Siegfried-class coastal defense ships and the armored frigates Baden and Württemberg.[22] The Deutschland-class battleships, which began to enter service in 1906, replaced Wörth and her three sister-ships in the battle fleet. Wörth and Brandenburg were put into reserve, joining the Siegfried class ships.[23] Wörth's other sisters, Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm and Weißenburg, were sold to the Ottoman Empire in 1910.[21]

World War I

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Wörth was assigned to coastal defense duties along with Brandenburg. Due to the age of the ships, this lasted only until 1915, when they were withdrawn from active service. That year, both ships were put into service as barracks ships; Wörth was stationed in Danzig while Brandenburg was placed in Libau.[21] Both Wörth and Brandenburg were struck from the naval register on 13 May 1919 and sold for scrapping.[3] The two ships were purchased by Norddeutsche Tiefbauges, a shipbreaking firm headquartered in Berlin. Wörth was then broken up for scrap in Danzig.[20]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gröner, p. 13
  2. Gardiner, Chesneau, & Kolesnik, p. 247
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gardiner and Gray, p. 141
  4. Herwig, p. 45
  5. Philbin, p. 9
  6. Wilson & Callo p. 142
  7. McClure's Magazine, p. 267
  8. 8.0 8.1 Notes, p. 105
  9. Notes, p. 106
  10. Bodin, pp. 5–6
  11. Bodin, p. 1
  12. Holborn, p. 311
  13. Bodin, p. 6
  14. Harrington, p. 29
  15. Bodin, p. 11
  16. Bodin, pp. 11–12
  17. Brassey, p. 74
  18. 18.0 18.1 Herwig, p. 103
  19. Sondhaus, p. 186
  20. 20.0 20.1 Gröner, p. 14
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Hore, p. 66
  22. The United Service p. 356
  23. Brassey (1907), p. 42


  • Bodin, Lynn E. (1979). The Boxer Rebellion. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9780850453355. 
  • Brassey, Thomas Allnutt (1901). Brassey's Annual: The Armed Forces Yearbook. New York: Praeger Publishers. 
  • Brassey, Thomas Allnutt (1907). Brassey's Annual: The Armed Forces Yearbook. New York: Praeger Publishers. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870219073. OCLC 12119866. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-790-9. 
  • Harrington, Peter (2001). Peking 1900: The Boxer Rebellion. London: Osprey. ISBN 9781841761817. 
  • Herwig, Holger (1980). "Luxury" Fleet: The Imperial German Navy 1888-1918. Amherst, New York: Humanity Books. ISBN 9781573922869. 
  • Holborn, Hajo (1982). A History of Modern Germany: 1840-1945. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691007977. 
  • Hore, Peter (2006). The Ironclads. London: Southwater Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84476-299-6. 
  • Philbin, Tobias R. III (1982). Admiral Hipper:The Inconvenient Hero. Amsterdam: Grüner. ISBN 9060322002. 
  • Sondhaus, Lawrence (2001). Naval warfare, 1815-1914. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415214780. 
  • Wilson, Alastair; Callo, Joseph F. (2004). Who's Who in Naval History: From 1550 to the Present. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415308281. 
  • US Office of Naval Intelligence (1900). Notes on the Year's Naval Progress. 19. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 
  • McClure's Magazine. 11. New York: S.S. McClure, Ltd.. 1898. 
  • The United Service. 132–139. New York: Lewis R. Hamersly & Co.. 1904. 

de:SMS Wörth (1892) es:SMS Wörth pl:SMS Wörth