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SMS Hansa (1898)

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Bundesarchiv DVM 10 Bild-23-61-10, Schulschiff "SMS Hansa II".jpg
SMS Hansa
German Empire
Name: SMS Hansa
Builder: Stettiner Maschinenbau AG Vulcan
Laid down: 1896
Launched: 12 March 1898
Commissioned: 20 April 1899
Struck: 6 December 1919
Fate: Scrapped, 1920
General characteristics
Class and type: Victoria Louise class protected cruiser
Displacement: Full load: 6,491 t (6,388 long tons; 7,155 short tons)
Length: 110.6 m (363 ft)
Beam: 17.4 m (57 ft)
Draft: 6.58 m (21.6 ft)
Speed: 19 knots (35 km/h)
Range: 3,412 nmi (6,319 km; 3,926 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
  • 31 officers
  • 446 enlisted men

SMS Hansa was a protected cruiser of the Victoria Louise class, built for the German Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) in the 1890s, along with her sister ships Victoria Louise, Hertha, Vineta, and Freya. Hansa was laid down at the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin in 1896, launched in March 1898, and commissioned into the Navy in April 1899. The ship was armed with a battery of two 21 cm guns and eight 15 cm guns and had a top speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph).

Hansa served abroad in the German East Asia Squadron for the first six years of her career. She contributed a landing party to the force that captured the Taku Forts during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. In August 1904, she participated in the internment of the Russian battleship Tsesarevich after the Battle of the Yellow Sea during the Russo-Japanese War. After returning to Germany in 1906, she was modernized and used as a training ship in 1909, following the completion of the refit. At the outbreak of World War I, Hansa was mobilized into the 5th Scouting Group, but served in front-line duty only briefly. She was used as a barracks ship after 1915, and ultimately sold for scrapping in 1920.


Line-drawing of the Victoria Louise class

Hansa was 110.6 meters (363 ft) long overall and had a beam of 17.4 m (57 ft) and a draft of 6.58 m (21.6 ft) forward. She displaced 6,491 t (6,388 long tons; 7,155 short tons) at full combat load. Her propulsion system consisted of three vertical 4-cylinder triple expansion engines powered by twelve coal-fired Dürr boilers. Her engines provided a top speed of 19 kn (35 km/h; 22 mph) and a range of approximately 3,412 nautical miles (6,319 km; 3,926 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph). She had a crew of 31 officers and 446 enlisted men.[1]

The ship was armed with two 21 cm SK L/40 guns in single turrets, one forward and one aft. The guns were supplied with 58 rounds of ammunition each. They had a range of 16,300 m (53,500 ft). Hansa also carried eight 15 cm SK L/40 guns. Four were mounted in turrets amidships and the other four were placed in casemates. These guns had a range of 13,700 m (44,900 ft). She also carried ten 8.8 cm SK L/35 naval guns.[2] The gun armament was rounded out by machine guns.[3] She was also equipped with three 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes with eight torpedoes, two launchers were mounted on the broadside and the third was in the bow, all below the waterline.[2]

Service history[edit]

Hansa in drydock at AG Vulcan

Hansa was ordered under the contract name "N" and was laid down at the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin in 1896.[2] She was launched on 12 March 1898, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the German navy on 20 April 1899.[4]

Following her commissioning in 1899, Hansa was deployed to Germany's overseas possessions.[4] Hansa's first commander on the China station was Hugo von Pohl, who went on to command the High Seas Fleet during World War I.[5] As part of the East Asia Squadron during the Boxer Rebellion, the ship made a noteworthy contribution in the Battle of the Taku Forts. In June 1900, Hansa, along with Hertha, Gefion, and Irene landed detachments of Seebataillone (marines) to seize the Taku Forts. The marines joined detachments sent from warships of several other countries. A total of around 450 German troops were contributed to the multi-national force, which totaled around 2,200 officers and men.[6]

On 11 July 1903, the ship steamed into the British naval base at Weihaiwei, along with the Chinese cruiser Hai Chi. Hansa left the port two days later.[7] On 16 January 1904, Hansa visited Mirs Bay outside of Hong Kong and departed after two days in the harbor.[8] In February, the Russo-Japanese War broke out; Hansa was sent from Che Foo for Port Arthur, which was under attack by Japanese forces. Hansa evacuated the German civilians in the port.[9] In early March, she was again in Hong Kong, and was joined there by the flagship of the East Asia Squadron, Fürst Bismarck on the 8th.[10] In August, the badly damaged Russian battleship Tsesarevich and three destroyers sought refuge in the German naval base at Tsingtao following the Russian defeat in the Battle of the Yellow Sea. As Germany was neutral, the East Asia Squadron interned Tsesarevich and the destroyers. On 13 August, the Russian ships restocked their coal supplies from three British steamers, but Hansa and Fürst Bismarck cleared for action to prevent them from leaving the port. The two cruisers were joined by Hertha, Geier, and the gunboats Luchs and Tiger.[11]

Painting of Hansa in 1902

Hansa returned to Germany in 1906. The following year, she went to dry dock at the Imperial Dockyard in Danzig for a refit, during which she was re-boilered. Hertha originally had three stacks, and during the modernization they were trunked into two funnels. The refit was finished by 1909, at which point Hansa became a cadet training ship.[1] From 1911 to 1912, Günther Lütjens served aboard Hansa as commander of the naval cadets that trained on the ship. Lütjens went on to command the task force composed of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in World War II.[12] In early January, Hansa cruised into the Atlantic and visited Bermuda.[13]

Hansa had a short career during World War I. At the outbreak of hostilities, she was briefly mobilized into the 5th Scouting Group, which was tasked with training cadets in the Baltic Sea. By the end of 1914, however, the ships were again removed from service.[14] She was then put into service as a coastal defense ship. After 1915, she was withdrawn from front-line duty again and employed as a barracks ship for the Imperial Dockyard in Kiel. She was stricken from the naval register on 6 December 1919 and sold to ship-breakers in Audorf-Rendsburg. She was scrapped the following year.[4]


  1. ^ a b Gröner, pp. 47–48
  2. ^ a b c Gröner, p. 47
  3. ^ Gardiner, p. 254
  4. ^ a b c Gröner, p. 48
  5. ^ Tucker & Wood, pp. 558–559
  6. ^ Perry, p. 29
  7. ^ May, pp. 109–110
  8. ^ May, p. 137
  9. ^ "Germans Leave Port Arthur" (PDF). New York Times. 13 February 1904. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  10. ^ May, p. 172
  11. ^ "Togo Bound for the South?" (PDF). New York Times. 14 August 1904. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  12. ^ von Müllenheim-Rechberg, p. 63
  13. ^ "German Cruiser at Bermuda" (PDF). New York Times. 14 January 1912. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  14. ^ Gardiner & Gray, p. 142


  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3.
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships 1815–1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-790-9.
  • May, W. A. (1904). The Commission of HMS Talbot, 1901–1904. London, UK: Westminster Press.
  • von Mullenheim-Rechberg, Burkhard (1980). Battleship Bismarck, A Survivor's Story. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-096-9.
  • Perry, Michael (2001). Peking 1900: the Boxer Rebellion. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-181-7.
  • Tucker, Spencer; Wood, Laura Matysek (1996). The European Powers in the First World War. New York, NY: Garland Pub. ISBN 0815303998.