SMS Wettin

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Bundesarchiv DVM 10 Bild-23-61-16, Linienschiff "SMS Wittelsbach".jpg
SMS Wettin '​s sister ship Wittlesbach
Career (German Empire)
Name: Wettin
Namesake: House of Wettin
Builder: Schichau, Danzig
Laid down: October 1899
Launched: 6 June 1901
Commissioned: 1 October 1902
Fate: Scrapped in 1921
General characteristics
Class & type: Wittelsbach-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 12,798 t (12,596 long tons)
Length: 126.8 m (416 ft 0 in)
Beam: 22.8 m (74 ft 10 in)
Draft: 7.95 m (26 ft 1 in)
Installed power: 14,000 ihp (10,440 kW)
12 water-tube boilers
Propulsion: 3 shafts, triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 km); 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement:
  • 30 officers
  • 650 enlisted men
Armament:
  • 4 × 24 cm (9.4 in) guns (40 cal.)
  • 18 × 15 cm (5.9 in) guns
  • 12 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) guns
  • 6 × 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes
Armor:
  • Belt: 100 to 225 mm (3.9 to 8.9 in)
  • Turrets: 250 mm (9.8 in)
  • Deck: 50 mm (2.0 in)

SMS Wettin ("His Majesty's Ship Wettin") was a German pre-dreadnought battleship of the Wittelsbach class of the Kaiserliche Marine. She was built in Schichau, in Danzig. Wettin was laid down in November 1899, and completed October 1902, at the cost of 22,597,000 marks. Her sister ships were Wittelsbach, Zähringen, Schwaben and Mecklenburg; they were the first capital ships built under the Navy Law of 1898, brought about by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz.

Wettin saw active duty in the I Squadron of the German fleet for the majority of her career. After the start of World War I in August 1914, the ship was mobilized with her sisters as the IV Battle Squadron. She saw limited duty in the Baltic Sea against Russian forces, though the threat from British submarines forced the ship to withdraw by 1916. For the remainder of the war, Wettin served as a training ship for navy cadets and as a depot ship. After the end of the war, the ship was stricken from the navy list and sold for scrapping in 1921. Her bell is currently on display at the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr in Dresden.

Description[edit]

Line-drawing of the Wittelsbach class

Wettin was 126.8 m (416 ft) long overall and had a beam of 22.8 m (75 ft) and a draft of 7.95 m (26.1 ft) forward and 8.04 m (26.4 ft) aft. The ship was powered by three 3-cylinder vertical triple expansion engines that drove three screws. Steam was provided by six naval and six cylindrical coal-fired water-tube boilers. Wettin '​s powerplant was rated at 14,000 indicated horsepower (10,000 kW), which generated a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h). She had a crew of 30 officers and 650 enlisted men.[1]

Wettin '​s armament consisted of a main battery of four 24 cm (9.4 in) SK L/40 guns in twin gun turrets,[a] one fore and one aft of the central superstructure.[2] Her secondary armament consisted of eighteen 15 cm (5.9 inch) SK L/40 guns and twelve 8.8 cm (3.45 in) SK L/30 quick-firing guns. The armament suite was rounded out with six 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, all in above-water swivel mounts. Her armored belt was 225 millimeters (8.9 in) thick in the central portion that protected her magazines and machinery spaces, and the deck was 50 mm (2.0 in) thick. The main battery turrets had 250 mm (9.8 in) of armor plating.[3]

Service history[edit]

Wettin '​s keel was laid in 1899, at the Schichau-Werke in Danzig, under construction number 676. She was ordered under the contract name "D", as a new unit for the fleet.[3] The vessel was a member of the first class of battleships built under the direction of State Secretary Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, according to the terms of the Navy Law of 1898.[4] Wettin was launched on 6 June 1901 and commissioned on 1 October 1902.[5] The ship's cost totaled 22,597,000 marks.[3]

After she was commissioned into the German fleet in October 1902, Wettin was assigned to the I Squadron of the Active Battle Fleet.[6] In 1905 the German fleet was reorganized into two squadrons of battleships. Zähringen was assigned to the I Division of I Squadron, alongside her sister ships Zähringen and Wittelsbach. The German fleet at that time consisted of another three-ship division in the I Squadron and 2 three-ship divisions in the II Squadron. This was supported by a reconnaissance division, composed of two armored cruisers and six protected cruisers.[7]

The Deutschland-class battleships—the most powerful battleships yet built in Germany—were beginning to enter service by 1907. This provided the Navy with enough ships to form a second full battle squadron composed of another eight ships. The fleet was then renamed the Hochseeflotte (High Seas Fleet).[6] Starting in 1911, Wettin was employed as an artillery training ship for German gunners. This work lasted until 1914.[5]

World War I[edit]

Map of the North and Baltic Seas in 1911

By 1914, Wettin and her sisters were removed from active service and placed in the reserve squadron.[8] However, after the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Wettin and the rest of her class were mobilized to serve in the IV Battle Squadron, under the command of Vice Admiral Ehrhard Schmidt.[9] Starting on 3 September, the IV Squadron, assisted by the armored cruiser Blücher, conducted a sweep into the Baltic. The operation lasted until 9 September and failed to bring Russian naval units to battle.[10] In May 1915, IV Squadron, including Wettin, was transferred to support the German Army in the Baltic Sea area.[11] Wettin and her sisters were then based in Kiel.[12]

On 6 May, the IV Squadron ships were tasked with providing support to the assault on Libau. Wettin and the other ships stood off Gotland in order to intercept any Russian cruisers that might try to intervene in the landings, which the Russians did not attempt. On 10 May, after the invasion force had entered Libau, the British submarines HMS E1 and HMS E9 spotted the IV Squadron, but were too far away to make an attack.[12] Wettin and her sister ships were not included in the German fleet that assaulted the Gulf of Riga in August 1915, due to the scarcity of escorts. The increasingly active British submarines forced the Germans to employ more destroyers to protect the capital ships.[13]

By 1916, the increasing threat from British submarines in the Baltic convinced the German navy to withdraw the elderly Wittelsbach-class ships from active service.[14] Wettin was subsequently used as a training ship for naval cadets; she also acted as a depot ship. The ship was stricken from the naval register on 11 March 1920 and sold to ship breakers on 21 November 1921. Wettin was ultimately broken up for scrap the following year in Rönnebeck, a part of Bremen. Her bell is on display at the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr in Dresden.[5]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes

  1. ^ In Imperial German Navy gun nomenclature, "SK" (Schnelladekanone) denotes that the gun is quick firing, while the L/40 denotes the length of the gun. In this case, the L/40 gun is 40 caliber, meaning that the gun is 40 times as long as it is in diameter. See: Grießmer, p. 177.

Citations

  1. ^ Gröner, pp. 16–17.
  2. ^ Hore, p. 67.
  3. ^ a b c Gröner, p. 16.
  4. ^ Herwig, p. 43.
  5. ^ a b c Gröner, p. 17.
  6. ^ a b Herwig, p. 45.
  7. ^ The British and German Fleets, p. 335.
  8. ^ Effective Fighting Ships, p. 18.
  9. ^ Scheer, p. 15.
  10. ^ Halpern, p. 185.
  11. ^ Scheer, pp. 90–91.
  12. ^ a b Halpern, p. 192.
  13. ^ Halpern, p. 197.
  14. ^ Herwig, p. 168.

References[edit]

Books

Journals

  • "Effective Fighting Ships, Built and Building". War Gazetteer (New York, NY: New York Evening Post): 18. 1914. 
  • "The British and German Fleets". The United Service (New York: Lewis R. Hamersly & Co.) 7: 328–340. 1905.