SMS Yorck

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Career (German Empire) Kaiser
Name: Yorck
Namesake: Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Laid down: February 1903
Launched: 14 May 1904
Commissioned: November 1905
Fate: Sunk accidentally by German mines, 4 November 1914
General characteristics
Class and type: Roon class
Displacement: 9,533 tons (9,686 t) normal; 10,266 tons (10,431 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 hp (14,000 kW), three shafts
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)
Complement: 35 officers
598 men[1]
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 Yorck[Note 1] was the second and final ship of the Roon-class of armored cruisers built for the German Imperial Navy. Yorck was named for Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg, a Prussian field marshal. She was laid down in February 1903 at Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, and finished in November 1905, at the cost of 16,241,000 Marks.

The ship had a short career during the First World War. During the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, the ship made a navigational error upon returning to the Jadebusen, and accidentally sailed into a German defensive minefield.[2] The ship sank quickly with the loss of 336 of her crew.

Service history


Yorck was launched on 14 May 1904,[3] and commissioned into the German navy in November 1905. At the commissioning Field Marshal Wilhelm von Hahnke spoke saying

"old wisdom, si vis pacem, para bellum—he who wants peace shall be prepared for war...may the guns and machines of the Yorck be operated only by men with iron hearts and an iron will, men who know no other order than to put their lives at risk when the might, the greatness and honour of the German people are being fought for."[3]

From 1 October 1911 to 26 January 1912 Franz von Hipper, later commander-in-chief of the German navy, served as the ship's commanding officer.[4] On 4 March 1913 Yorck accidentally collided with the torpedo boat S178 during a training exercise. Yorck suffered only minor damage but S178 sank within minutes taking 66 men down with her. Yorck and the battleship Oldenburg managed to rescue only 15 men.[5]

Yorck was decommissioned and laid up in the reserve fleet in May 1913 with most of her crew transferring to the newly completed battlecruiser Seydlitz.[6] On 12 August 1914 Yorck was recommissioned and assigned to III Scouting Group.

First World War

From 2 to 4 November 1914 Yorck lay in the Jade Estuary ready to sail in support of I and II Scouting Groups which were raiding Great Yarmouth on the English east coast. On 4 November Yorck weighed anchor and proceeded to Wilhelmshaven without receiving proper authorization.[7] In heavy fog she passed a minefield marker buoy and struck two German mines. Yorck capsized and sank with the loss of 336 crew.[8] Though hampered by the fog the coastal defense ship Hagen was able to rescue 381 men from the water.

In December 1914 Yorck's commanding officer was court-martialled and convicted of negligence and failure to follow orders.[7] Yorck's wreck posed a substantial navigation hazard and was therefore partially cleared between 1929 and 1930. Further salvage operations were carried out in 1965 and 1982.


  1. Philbin, p. 18
  2. Tarrant, p. 30.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rüger, p. 237.
  4. Philbin, p. 183.
  5. Website devoted to Kaiserliche Marine [1]
  6. Staff, p. 22.
  7. 7.0 7.1 New York Times, Dec. 28, 1914 [2]
  8. Memorial to Yorck's war dead [3]



  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal; Budzbon, Przemyslaw (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906-1922. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870219073. 
  • Philbin, Tobias R. III (1982). Admiral Hipper:The Inconvenient Hero. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 9060322002. 
  • Rüger, Jan (2007). The Great Naval Game. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521875765. 
  • Staff, Gary (2006). German Battlecruisers: 1914-1918. Oxford: Osprey Books. ISBN 978-1-84603-009-3. 
  • Tarrant, V. E. (1995). Jutland: The German Perspective. Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-35848-7. 

de:SMS Yorck es:SMS Yorck ja:ヨルク (装甲巡洋艦)
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