SMS Arcona

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Bundesarchiv Bild 102-08181, Kreuzer "Arcona".jpg
Arcona in Reichsmarine service in 1929
Career (German Empire)
Name: Arcona
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Laid down: 1901
Launched: 22 April 1902
Commissioned: 12 May 1903
Career (Nazi Germany)
Recommissioned: As anti-aircraft battery, May 1940
Fate: Scuttled, 3 May 1945
Scrapped in 1948
General characteristics
Class & type: Gazelle-class light cruiser
Displacement: 3,180 tonnes (3,130 long tons)
Length: 105.1 m (344.8 ft) overall
Beam: 12.4 m (40.7 ft)
Draft: 4.99 m (16.4 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
256 enlisted men
Armament:

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 Arcona was the ninth member of the ten-ship Gazelle class, built by the Imperial German Navy, and named after Cape Arkona on the German island of Rügen. She was built by the AG Weser dockyard in Bremen, laid down in 1901, launched in April 1902, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in May 1903. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Arcona was capable of a top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph).

Arcona served in all three German navies in the first half of the 20th century. She served both with the fleet and abroad during her career in the Imperial Navy in the early 1900s. In World War I, she was used as a coastal defense ship and then as a support vessel for the U-boat campaign in the Atlantic. After the war, she served briefly in the Reichsmarine before being withdrawn and used for secondary duties. The Kriegsmarine rebuilt Arcona as a floating anti-aircraft battery and used her to defend several German ports during World War II. She was scuttled in the final days of the war, and broken up for scrap in 1948–1949.

Construction[edit]

Main article: Gazelle class cruiser

Arcona was ordered under the contract name "H" and was laid down at the AG Weser shipyard in Bremen in 1901 and launched on 22 April 1902, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet on 12 May 1903.[1] The ship was 105 meters (344 ft) long overall and had a beam of 12.4 m (41 ft) and a draft of 4.99 m (16.4 ft) forward. She displaced 3,180 t (3,130 long tons; 3,510 short tons) at full combat load.[2] Her propulsion system consisted of two triple-expansion engines manufactured by AG Weser. 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 eight coal-fired Marine-type water-tube boilers. Arcona carried 700 tonnes (690 long tons) of coal, which gave her a range of 4,400 nautical miles (8,100 km; 5,100 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). She had a crew of 14 officers and 256 enlisted men.[3]

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 1,500 rounds of ammunition, for 150 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.[4] 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.[5]

Service history[edit]

After her commissioning, Arcona was assigned to the fleet reconnaissance forces.[6] In 1905, she was assigned to the Cruiser Division, alongside her sister Frauenlob and the cruisers Hamburg and Friedrich Carl.[7] Arcona was assigned to overseas duty in 1907, which lasted for three years.[6] In 1909, Arcona cruised the Pacific coast on the United States, including a stop in Honolulu.[8] While there, on 10 December, she assisted the British merchant ship Celtic Chief, which had run aground on a reef outside Honolulu. After the ship had been lightened by removing its cargo, Arcona pulled the merchantman free from the reef.[9]

Arcona returned to Germany in 1910 and resumed service with the fleet.[6] She was modernized in the Imperial Dockyard in Wilhelmshaven in 1911–1912. Two of the ship's 10.5 cm guns were removed, and two 50 cm (20 in) deck-mounted torpedo tubes were installed, along with provisions to carry 200 naval mines. After returning to duty in 1913, the ship was withdrawn from front-line service for use as a mine warfare test ship. The two guns removed in 1912 were reinstalled in 1914.[10] After the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Arcona was employed as a coastal defense vessel.[6] Later in the war, Arcona was transferred to the Ems estuary, where she coordinated radio communications with the U-boats attacking British merchant shipping.[11]

After the end of the war, Germany was charged with sweeping all naval mines in the North Sea by the Treaty of Versailles.[12] Arcona was used as a depot ship for the minesweepers engaged in this duty, from 1919 to 1920. She was thereafter commissioned into the newly reorganized Reichsmarine in 1921 and served until 1923, when she was withdrawn from service. She was stricken on 15 January 1930 and used as a barracks ship initially in Wilhelmshaven, after 1936, in Swinemünde by the newly renamed Kriegsmarine, and in Kiel after 1938, where she remained until the outbreak of World War II in September 1939.[6]

In May 1940, Arcona was converted into a floating anti-aircraft battery in Swinemünde, where she was stationed initially.[6] Her armament now 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.[13] She was later moved to Wilhelmshaven, where she was assigned to Naval Anti-Aircraft Group 233, and she was transferred to Brunsbüttel later in the war. In closing days of the war in Europe, her crew scuttled the ship to prevent her from being captured, on 3 May 1945.[6] Nevertheless, the Royal Navy took control of the naval installation at Brunsbüttel on 7 May, after the German surrender. Arcona was among the warships that were seized, including four U-boats and the badly damaged destroyer Z31. Their German crews unloaded ammunition and removed weapons from the ships under British supervision.[14] She was subsequently broken up for scrap in 1948–1949.[6]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Gröner, pp. 99–102
  2. ^ Gröner, p. 100
  3. ^ Gröner, pp. 99–101
  4. ^ Gröner, p. 101
  5. ^ Gröner, p. 99
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Gröner, p. 102
  7. ^ Courtney, p. 22
  8. ^ Thrum, p. 174
  9. ^ Thrum, p. 193
  10. ^ Gröner, pp. 100–101
  11. ^ Grant, p. 29
  12. ^ See: Treaty of Versailles Section II: Naval Clauses, Article 193
  13. ^ Gardiner & Chesneau, p. 222
  14. ^ Madsen, p. 59

References[edit]

  • Courtney, W. L., ed. (1905). The Fortnightly Review (London: Chapman and Hall, Ltd.). LXXVII. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870219138. 
  • Grant, Robert McQueen (2003). U-boat Hunters: Code Breakers, Divers and the Defeat of the U-boats, 1914–1918. Penzance: Periscope Publishing. ISBN 1904381154. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-790-9. 
  • Madsen, Chris (1998). The Royal Navy and German Naval Disarmament, 1942–1947. London: Frank Cass. ISBN 0714643734. 
  • Thrum, Thos. G., ed. (1909). Hawaiian Almanac and Annual (Honolulu: Thos. G. Thrum) 36. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hans H. Hildebrand/Albert Röhr/Hans-Otto Steinmetz: Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe: Biographien – ein Spiegel der Marinegeschichte von 1815 bis zur Gegenwart, Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Herford