SMS Greif (1914)

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Name: Greif
Builder: Neptun[1]
Launched: 1914[1]
Acquired: 1915[1]
Commissioned: 23 January 1916[1]
Fate: sunk 29 February 1916
General characteristics
Displacement: 9900 tons normal[1]
Length: 131.7 m (432 ft)[1]
Beam: 16.4 m (54 ft)[1]
Draught: 7.5 m (25 ft)[1]
Propulsion: Two coal-fired boilers, one 3,000 shaft horsepower (12 MW) 3-cylinder triple expansion reciprocating steam engine driving one propeller[1]
Speed: 13 knots (24.1 km/h)[1]
Range: 35,000 nautical miles (65,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)[1]
Complement: 10 officers & 297 men[2]
Armament: Four 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/40 guns (4 × 1) with 600 rounds ammunition, one 10.5 cm (4.1 in) SK L/40 rapid-fire gun with 200 rounds ammunition, and two 50 cm (20 in) torpedo tubes with 12 torpedoes[3]

SMS Greif was a German cargo steamship that was converted into a merchant raider for the Imperial German Navy.[1]

Built as Guben, she was a 4,962 GRT steel-hulled ship owned by the German-Australian Line (DADG), Hamburg.[1] She was converted for naval service at Kaiserliche Werft Kiel in 1915 and commissioned as Greif on 23 January 1916.[1] She sailed from the Elbe port of Cuxhaven on 27 February 1916[4] under the command of Fregattenkapitän Rudolf Tietze (born 13 September 1874).[5] The Royal Navy had learned of Greif's sailing and was waiting in the North Sea.[6]

Greif was disguised as the Norwegian Rena bound for Tønsberg, Norway when intercepted by the 15,620 GRT armed merchant cruiser Alcantara on the morning of 29 February 1916.[4] Alcantara closed to 2000 yards and slowed to lower a boarding cutter when Greif hoisted the German battle ensign, increased speed, and opened fire.[4] Alcantara returned fire with her six 6-inch (150 mm) guns and two 3-pounders.[4] Range was never more than 3000 yards.[4]

Alcantara was hit by a torpedo amidships on her port side, and one of Alcantaras shells exploded the ready ammunition for Greifs after gun.[4] Both ships lost speed.[4] Greifs crew abandoned ship 40 minutes after opening fire.[4] Alcantara sank first.[4] The C-class light cruiser Comus and M-class destroyer Munster then arrived to sink the stationary Greif[4] and rescue 120 German survivors.[2] An estimated 187 Germans perished along with 72 Britons.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Schmalenbach (1977) pp. 46–49
  2. ^ a b Schmalenbach (1977) p.24
  3. ^ Schmalenbach (1977) pp. 70–71
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Poole (July 1975) pp. 52–57
  5. ^ Schmalenbach (1977) p.16
  6. ^ Schmalenbach (1977) p.34


  • Poole, Francis (July 1975). "Alcantara vs. Greif: Duel of the Merchant Cruisers". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 
  • Schmalenbach, Paul (1977). German Raiders. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85059-351-4. 

Coordinates: 61°45′N 1°10′E / 61.750°N 1.167°E / 61.750; 1.167