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SMS Prinz Eugen

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SMS Prinz Eugen
SMS Prinz Eugen
Prinz Eugen as a target ship.
Name: SMS Prinz Eugen
Namesake: Prince Eugene of Savoy
Builder: Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino, Trieste
Laid down: 16 January 1912
Launched: 30 November 1912
Commissioned: 8 July 1914
Fate: Sunk as gunnery target, 1922
General characteristics
Class & type: Tegetthoff-class battleship
Displacement: 20,000 t (19,684 long tons) standard
Length: 152 m (498 ft 8 in)
Beam: 27.9 m (91 ft 6 in)
Draught: 8.7 m (28 ft 7 in)
  • 12 Yarrow boilers
  • 4 Parsons steam turbines, 27,000 hp (20,134 kW)
  • 4 shafts
Speed: 20.4 knots (23.5 mph; 37.8 km/h)
Range: 4,200 nmi (7,800 km) at 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 1041: 32 officers, 16 petty-officers, 993 men
  • 12 × 305 mm (12 in) guns in triple turrets
  • 12 × 150 mm (6 in) guns in single casemates
  • 18 × 70 mm (3 in) guns in single mountings
  • 4 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes
  • Belt, barbettes, turrets and conning tower: 11 in (279 mm)
  • Deck: 1.4 in (36 mm)
For the German WWII Cruiser, see German cruiser Prinz Eugen
For other uses, see Prince Eugene.

SMS Prinz Eugen[a] was an Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleship of the Tegetthoff class. Prinz Eugen was built at the Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino yard, Trieste. During World War I, Prinz Eugen supported the escape of SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau as well as the bombardment of Ancona.

She remained in port in Pola for the rest of the war until she took part in an ill-fated raid on the Otranto Barrage in 1918 that resulted in the loss of her sister ship, Szent István. Following the end of the war in late 1918, Prinz Eugen was surrendered to France and later sunk as a target ship in 1922.


Launched in late March 1912, Prinz Eugen had an overall length of 152 metres (498 ft 8 in), a beam of 27.9 metres (91 ft 6 in), and a draught of 8.7 metres (28 ft 7 in) at deep load. She displaced 20,000 tonnes (19,684 long tons) at load and 21,689 tonnes (21,346 long tons) at deep load.[1]

Prinz Eugen had four Parsons steam turbines, each of which was housed in a separate engine-room. The turbines were powered by twelve Babcock & Wilcox boilers. The turbines were designed to produce a total of 27,000 shaft horsepower (20,134 kW), which was theoretically enough to attain her designed speed of 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h), but no figures from her speed trials are known to exist.[2] She carried 1,844.5 tonnes (1,815.4 long tons) of coal, and an additional 267.2 tonnes (263.0 long tons) of fuel oil that was to be sprayed on the coal to increase its burn rate.[1] At full capacity, she could steam for 4,200 nautical miles (7,800 km) at a speed of 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h).[3]

Prinz Eugen mounted twelve 305-millimetre (12 in)/45-caliber K 10 guns in four triple turrets. Her secondary armament consisted of twelve 15-centimetre (5.91 in)/50 K 10 guns mounted in casemates amidships. Twelve 66-millimetre (3 in)/50 K 10 guns were mounted on open pivots on the upper deck above the casemates. Three more 66-mm K 10 guns were mounted on the upper turrets for anti-aircraft duties. Four 21-inch (530 mm) submerged torpedo tubes were fitted, one each in the bow, stern and on each broadside; twelve torpedoes were carried.[1]


Prinz Eugen was ordered by the Austro-Hungarian Navy in 1908. She was the third battleship of the Tegetthoff class, the first dreadnoughts of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, to be built. The keel of Prinz Eugen was laid down in Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino shipyard in Trieste on 16 January 1912.[3] Following 11 months of construction, Prinz Eugen was launched on 30 November 1912. After her fitting out, she was commissioned into the Austro-Hungarian Navy on 8 July 1914, only ten days after Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination that initiated World War I.[4][5]

World War I[edit]

The main guns of Prinz Eugen‍ '​s sister ship, Tegetthoff.

Prior to the war, Prinz Eugen was assigned to the 1st Battleship Division of Austro-Hungarian Navy. During World War I, the battleship saw limited service due to the Otranto Barrage which prohibited Austro-Hungarian battleships from leaving the Adriatic sea. As a result, she hardly ever left Pola.[3]

Prinz Eugen, along with her sister ships Viribus Unitis and Tegetthoff and the remainder of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, was mobilized on the eve of World War I to support the flight of SMS Goeben and Breslau. The two German ships were stationed in the Mediterranean and were attempting to break out of the strait of Messina, which was surrounded by British troops and vessels and make their way to Turkey. After the Germans successfully broke out of Messina, the navy was recalled. The fleet had by that time advanced as far south as Brindisi in south eastern Italy. Prinz Eugen also participated in the bombardment of the Italian city of Ancona in May 1915. Following these operations Prinz Eugen remained in Pola for most of the remainder of the war.[6]

Aside from the pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau in the early months of the war, Prinz Eugen and her sister ships only conducted one operation during the course of the war until the ill-fated attack on the Otranto Barrage in 1918, the bombardment of Ancona following Italy's declaration of war on Austria-Hungary in May 1915.[6]

Though she would remain in port for another three years, Prinz Eugen‍ '​s stay in Pola was enlivened by a visit from the new Emperor Karl I on 15 December 1916 and another by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II on 12 December 1917 during his inspection of the German submarine base in the port city. The Italian Air Force conducted at least eighty air raids on Pola between 1915 and 1917 which probably kept the crews of her anti-aircraft guns busy.[7]

The Otranto Raid[edit]

Szent István low in the water

By mid 1918, the new commander of the Austrian fleet, Konteradmiral Miklós Horthy decided to conduct another attack on the Otranto Barrage, similar to the Otranto Raid from December 1916, to allow more German and Austro-Hungarian U-boats to safely get through the heavily defended strait of Otranto. During the night of 8 June, Horthy left the naval base of Pola with the Prinz Eugen and the Viribus Unitis.[8] Tegetthoff and Szent István, along with one destroyer and six torpedo boats departed Pola on 9 June. At about 3:15 on the morning of 10 June, two Italian MAS boats, MAS 15 and MAS 21, spotted the Austrian fleet steaming south. The MAS platoon was commanded by Capitano di fregata Luigi Rizzo while the individual boats were commanded by Capo timoniere Armando Gori and Guardiamarina di complemento Giuseppe Aonzo respectively. Both boats successfully penetrated the escort screen and split to engage each of the dreadnoughts. MAS 21 attacked Tegetthoff, but her torpedoes missed the battleship. Despite missing Tegetthoff, the other boat, MAS 15, managed to hit Tegetthoff‍ '​s sister ship Szent István with her torpedoes at about 3:25 am. Both boats were then chased away from the scene by Austrian escort vessels.[9]

Following the Szent István being hit by torpedoes, Tegetthoff attempted to take the crippled Szent István into tow. However this attempt, as well as training the ship's turrets and placing her crew to port as well as throwing any ready ammunition overboard failed and the battleship continued to sink. The attempt to tow the Szent István was then abandoned. A few minutes after 6:00 am the Szent István capsized and sank.[9][10] Admiral Horthy soon canceled the attack because he thought that the Italians had discovered his plan and ordered the ships to return to Pola. On the contrary, the Italians did not even discover that the Austrian dreadnoughts had departed Pola until later on 10 June when aerial reconnaissance photos revealed that they were no longer there.[11] This was the last military operation that Prinz Eugen was to take part in and she spent the rest of her career at port in Pola.[12][13]

Post-war fate[edit]

After the war, Prinz Eugen was handed over to France.[14] The French removed the main armament for inspection and used the ship to test aerial bombardment attacks, before she was finally used as a target ship by the battleships Paris, Jean Bart, and France, and sunk in the Atlantic in June 1922.[3]

See also[edit]


Explanatory notes

  1. ^ "SMS" stands for "Seiner Majestät Schiff ", or "His Majesty's Ship" in German.


  1. ^ a b c Sieche 1991, p. 133.
  2. ^ Sieche 1991, pp. 133, 140.
  3. ^ a b c d Sieche 1985, p. 334.
  4. ^ Myszor, Oskar. "Battleships of the Austro-Hungarian Navy". Austria-Hungary: Major Warships. Historical Handbook of World Navies. Retrieved 27 July 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ Sokol, pp. 150–151.
  6. ^ a b Halpern, p. 54.
  7. ^ Sieche 1991, pp. 120, 122–123.
  8. ^ Sokol, p. 134.
  9. ^ a b Sieche 1991, pp. 127, 131.
  10. ^ "Austro-Hungarian battleship sunk in the Adriatic commemorated". Europe Intelligence Wire. Hungarian News Agency. 2 October 2008. 
  11. ^ Sieche 1991, p. 135.
  12. ^ Sokol, p. 135.
  13. ^ Sieche 1991, p. 131.
  14. ^ Sucur, Ante. "The Fate of Prinz Eugen and Tegetthoff". Retrieved 1 May 2010. 


  • Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-352-7. 
  • Sieche, Erwin F. (1985). "Austria-Hungary". In Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-245-5. 
  • Sieche, Erwin F. (1991). "S.M.S. Szent István: Hungaria's Only and Ill-Fated Dreadnought". Warship International (Toledo, OH: International Warship Research Organization). XXVII (2): 112–146. ISSN 0043-0374. 
  • Sokol, Anthony (1968). The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. OCLC 1912. 

External links[edit]