SMS S119

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SMS S115 a sister ship to S119
German Empire
NameSMS S119
BuilderSchichau-Werke, Elbing
Launched8 July 1903
Commissioned6 September 1903
FateSunk in Battle off Texel, 17 October 1914
General characteristics
Class and typeS90-class torpedo boat
Displacement415 t (408 long tons)
Length63.0 m (206 ft 8 in)
Beam7.0 m (23 ft 0 in)
Draft2.69 m (8 ft 10 in)
Installed power5,900 PS (5,800 ihp; 4,300 kW)
  • 3 × boilers
  • 2 × 3-cylinder triple expansion engines
Speed27 kn (50 km/h; 31 mph)
Range980 nmi (1,810 km; 1,130 mi) at 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Complement49 officers and sailors

SMS S119[a][b] was a S90-class torpedo boat of the Imperial German Navy that served during the First World War. The ship was built by Schichau at Elbing in Prussia (now Elbląg in Poland), and was completed in September 1903. The ship was sunk during the Battle off Texel on 17 October 1914.

Construction and design[edit]

The S90-class consisted of 48 torpedo-boats, built between 1898 and 1907 by Schichau and Germaniawerft for the Imperial German Navy. They were larger than previous German torpedo-boats, allowing them to work effectively with the High Seas Fleet in the North Sea, while also being large enough to act as flotilla leader when necessary, thus eliminating the need for separate larger division boats.[2][3][4]

S119 was one of a group of six torpedo boats built by Schichau between 1902 and 1903.[5][6] She was launched from Schichau's Elbing shipyard on 8 July 1903 and commissioned on 6 September 1903.[7]

S119 was 63.2 metres (207 ft 4 in) long overall and 63.0 metres (206 ft 8 in) at the waterline, with a beam of 7.0 metres (23 ft 0 in) and a draft of 2.69 metres (8 ft 10 in). Displacement was 315 tonnes (310 long tons) normal and 415 tonnes (408 long tons) deep load. Three coal-fired Thornycroft three-drum water-tube boilers fed steam to 2 sets of 3-cylinder triple expansion steam engines rated at 5,900 PS (5,800 ihp; 4,300 kW), giving a design speed of 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph), with speeds of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph) reached during sea trials. 102 tonnes (100 long tons) of coal was carried, giving a range of 980 nautical miles (1,810 km; 1,130 mi) at 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph).[6]

While the S90-class were of similar size to contemporary foreign torpedo-boat destroyers, the German navy saw their role as primarily torpedo attack against opposing fleets, rather than defending their own fleet against attack, so the ships had a lighter gun armament than British destroyers, and a lower silhouette to avoid detection during night attacks.[8] S119 had a gun armament of three 5 cm SK L/40 guns in single mounts, while torpedo armament consisted of three single 450 mm torpedo tubes (one in a well deck between the raised forecastle and the bridge, with the remaining two tubes aft of the bridge. Two reload torpedoes were carried.[5][6] The ship had a complement of 49 officers and men.[9][10]


In May 1904 S119 was the Division boat or leader of the 6th Torpedo-boat Division of the 1st Torpedo-boat Flotilla,[11] while in 1907, she was division boat of the 8th Half-flotilla of the 2nd School Flotilla.[12] In 1910, she was listed as leader of the 9th Half-Flotilla of the 5th Torpedoboat Flotilla,[13] remaining there until 1912.[14][15] In 1913 S119 was fitted with new boilers.[6] In 1914, S119 was leader of the 7th Half-Flotilla of the 4th Torpedo-boat Flotilla.[16]

S119 remained part of the 7th Half-Flotilla on the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.[17] In October 1914, in an attempt to take advantage of the Royal Navy's distraction by operations in the English Channel, the German Navy decided to lay a minefield off the mouth of the River Thames or in The Downs. Four torpedo-boats of the 7th Half-Flotilla, led by Korvettenkapitän Georg Thiele aboard S119, with the remaining ships S115, S117 and S118, set out from the Ems on 17 October 1914, with these elderly ships selected for this mission because they were unfit for other duties and considered disposable.[18][19][20] Later that day, the four torpedo boats ran into a British patrol on the Broad Fourteens off Terschelling in the Netherlands. The British patrol, the light cruiser Undaunted and four destroyers Lance, Legion, Lennox and Loyal of the Harwich Force, engaged the four German torpedo boats in the Battle off Texel. The German ships were unable to escape (although originally capable of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph), by 1914 they were only capable of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)[21]) and were heavily outgunned, with all four German ships sunk with little damage being done to the British ships. S119 attempted a torpedo attack against Undaunted but was sunk by Loyal and Legion. The British rescued 34 officers and men from the four German ships, with two more picked up the next day by a neutral fishing vessel. 47 of S119's crew were lost, including Georg Thiele.[22][23][7] On 30 November a British trawler fished up a lead-lined chest that had been jettisoned by S119 before she was sunk. The chest contained a codebook used by flag officers at sea.[24] The destroyer Georg Thiele was named after S119's commanding officer in the 1930s.[25]


  1. ^ "SMS" stands for "Seiner Majestät Schiff" (English: His Majesty's Ship)
  2. ^ The "S" in S115 denoted the shipbuilder who constructed her.[1]


  1. ^ Gardiner & Gray 1985, p. 164
  2. ^ Chesneau & Kolesnik 1979, pp. 262, 265
  3. ^ Gardiner & Gray 1985, pp. 164–165
  4. ^ Emmerich, Michael (28 June 2010). "Großes Torpedoboot 1898: History". German Naval History. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b Chesneau & Kolesnik 1979, p. 265
  6. ^ a b c d Gröner 1983, p. 43
  7. ^ a b Gröner 1983, p. 44
  8. ^ Chesneau & Kolesnik 1979, p. 262
  9. ^ Hythe 1912, p. 257
  10. ^ Jane 1970, p. 252
  11. ^ Rangelist der Kaiserlich Deutschen Marine für Das Jahr 1904. Berlin: Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn. 1904. p. 21 – via Heinrich Hein Universität Düsseldorf.
  12. ^ Rangelist der Kaiserlich Deutschen Marine für Das Jahr 1907. Berlin: Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn. 1907. p. 28 – via Heinrich Hein Universität Düsseldorf.
  13. ^ Rangelist der Kaiserlich Deutschen Marine für Das Jahr 1910. Berlin: Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn. 1910. p. 58 – via Heinrich Hein Universität Düsseldorf.
  14. ^ Rangelist der Kaiserlich Deutschen Marine für Das Jahr 1911. Berlin: Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn. 1911. p. 58 – via Heinrich Hein Universität Düsseldorf.
  15. ^ Rangelist der Kaiserlich Deutschen Marine für Das Jahr 1912. Berlin: Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn. 1912. p. 60 – via Heinrich Hein Universität Düsseldorf.
  16. ^ Rangelist der Kaiserlich Deutschen Marine für Das Jahr 1914. Berlin: Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn. 1914. p. 63 – via Heinrich Hein Universität Düsseldorf.
  17. ^ Naval Staff Monograph No. 11 1921, p. 163
  18. ^ Halpern 1994, p. 35
  19. ^ Scheer 1920, p. 60
  20. ^ Naval Staff Monograph No. 24 1924, pp. 117–118
  21. ^ Naval Staff Monograph No. 24 1924, p. 118
  22. ^ Naval Staff Monograph No. 24 1924, pp. 117–119
  23. ^ The Naval Review Vol. V 1919, pp. 140–144
  24. ^ Halpern 1994, pp. 36–37
  25. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2014, p. 78