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SMS Tegetthoff (1912)

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SMS Tegetthoff
SMS Tegetthoff
Name: SMS Tegetthoff
Namesake: Wilhelm von Tegetthoff
Ordered: 1908
Builder: Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino, Trieste
Laid down: 24 September 1910
Launched: 21 March 1912
Commissioned: 14 July 1913
Fate: Broken up in Italy, 1924
General characteristics
Class and 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)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 4 shafts; 4 Parsons steam turbines,
Speed: 20.4 knots (37.8 km/h; 23.5 mph)
Range: 4,200 nmi (7,800 km; 4,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 1087
  • Belt, barbettes, turrets and conning tower: 280 mm (11 in)
  • Deck: 48 mm (2 in) maximum

SMS Tegetthoff[a] was an Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleship of the Tegetthoff class named after Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, a 19th-century Austrian admiral most notable for defeating the Italian Navy in the Battle of Lissa.

Tegetthoff was built at the Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino yard in Trieste as part of the first and only class of dreadnought battleships in the Austro-Hungarian Navy. After her construction in 1912, an earlier armoured battleship named SMS Tegetthoff was renamed Mars.

During World War I, Tegetthoff participated in the bombardment of the Italian city of Ancona. She remained in port in Pola for the rest of the war until she participated in an ill-fated raid on the Otranto Barrage in 1918 that resulted in the loss of her sister ship, SMS Szent István. Following the end of the war in late 1918, Tegetthoff was surrendered to Italy and later scrapped in 1924.

The guns of SMS Tegetthoff in 1914


Tegetthoff was ordered by the Austro-Hungarian Navy in 1908. She was the second battleship of the class that shared her name to be built, the first dreadnoughts of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. The keel of Tegetthoff was laid down in Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino shipyard in Trieste on 24 September 1910. Following a year and a half of construction, Tegetthoff was launched on 21 March 1912. Following her fitting out, she was commissioned into the Austro-Hungarian navy on 14 July 1913.[1]

The ship 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.[2]

The propulsion consisted of 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.[3] 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.[2] 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).[4]

Her armament consisted of twelve 30.5-centimetre (12 in) Škoda 30.5 cm K10 guns in four triple turrets. Her secondary armament consisted of a dozen 15-centimetre (5.9 in) Škoda 15 cm K10 guns mounted in casemates amidships. Eighteen 7-centimetre (2.8 in) Škoda K10 guns were mounted on open pivot mounts on the upper deck, above the casemates. Three more 7 cm K10 guns were mounted on the upper turrets for anti-aircraft duties. Four 530-millimetre (21 in) submerged torpedo tubes were fitted, one each in the bow, stern and on each broadside; twelve torpedoes were carried.[2]

The waterline armour belt of Tegetthoff measured 280 millimetres (11 in) thick between the midpoints of the fore and aft barbettes and thinned to 150 millimetres (5.9 in) further towards the bow and stern, but did not reach either the bow or the stern. It was continued to the bow by a small patch of 110–130-millimetre (4–5 in) armour. The upper armour belt had a maximum thickness of 180 millimetres (7.1 in), but it thinned to 110 millimetres (4.3 in) from the forward barbette all the way to the bow. The casemate armour was also 180 millimetres (7.1 in) thick. The sides of the main gun turrets, barbettes and main conning tower were protected by 280 millimetres (11 in) of armour, except for the turret and conning tower roofs which were 60 to 150 millimetres (2 to 6 in) thick. The thickness of the decks ranged from 30 to 48 millimetres (1 to 2 in) in two layers. The underwater protection system consisted of the extension of the double bottom up to the lower edge of the waterline armour belt, with a thin 10-millimetre (0.4 in) plate acting as the outermost bulkhead. It was backed by a torpedo bulkhead that consisted of two layered 25-millimetre plates.[5] The total thickness of this system was only 1.6 metres (5 ft 3 in) which made it incapable of containing a torpedo warhead detonation or mine explosion without rupturing.[6]

World War I[edit]

The 305 mm (12 in) main guns of SMS Tegetthoff.

Prior to the war, Tegetthoff 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.[4]

Tegetthoff, along with her sister ships SMS Viribus Unitis, SMS Prinz Eugen, 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 SMS 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. Tegetthoff also participated in the bombardment of the Italian city of Ancona in May 1915. Following these operations Tegetthoff remained in Pola for most of the remainder of the war.[7]

Aside from the pursuit of Goeben and Breslau in the early months of the war, Tegetthoff 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.[7]

Tegetthoff would remain in port for another three years. The most significant moments of her stay in Pola were two inspections by dignitaries, the first by the new Emperor Karl I on 15 December 1916 and the second by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II on 12 December 1917. The second came during the Kaiser's inspection of the port city's German submarine base. While there the port of Pola and the vessels therein were subject to over eighty air raids by the newly formed Italian Air Force.[8]

The Otranto Raid[edit]

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 Viribus Unitis and Prinz Eugen.[9] Tegetthoff and her sister ship SMS 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.[10] Immediately following the attack, Tegetthoff thought that the torpedoes were fired by submarines instead of MAS boats and pulled out of the formation of battleships and destroyers and began to zigzag to throw off any more possible submarine attacks. She continually fired on suspected submarine periscopes until she rejoined Szent István at 4:45.[10]

Following Szent István being hit by torpedoes and Tegetthoff pulling out of formation, 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 Szent István was then abandoned. A few minutes after 6:00 am Szent István capsized and sank.[10][11] 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.[6] This was the last military operation that Tegetthoff was to take part in and she spent the rest of her career at port in Pola.[12][13]

After the war, Tegetthoff was moved to Venice where she was shown as a war trophy by the Italians. During that time period, she starred in the movie Eroi di nostri mari which depicts the sinking of her sister ship. From 1924 to 1925, she was scrapped at La Spezia.[4]


Explanatory notes

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


  1. ^ Myszor, Oskar. "Battleships of the Austro-Hungarian Navy". Austria-Hungary: Major Warships. Historical Handbook of World Navies. Retrieved 27 July 2010.  Archived August 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b c Sieche 1991, p. 133.
  3. ^ Sieche 1991, pp. 133, 140.
  4. ^ a b c Sieche 1985, p. 334.
  5. ^ Sieche 1991, pp. 132–133.
  6. ^ a b Sieche 1991, p. 135.
  7. ^ a b Halpern, p. 54.
  8. ^ Sieche 1991, pp. 120, 122–123.
  9. ^ Sokol, p. 134.
  10. ^ a b c Sieche 1991, pp. 127, 131.
  11. ^ "Austro-Hungarian battleship sunk in the Adriatic commemorated". Europe Intelligence Wire. Hungarian News Agency. 2 October 2008. 
  12. ^ Sokol, p. 135.
  13. ^ Sieche 1991, p. 131.


  • Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-352-7. OCLC 57447525. 
  • 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: United States Naval Institute. OCLC 462208412. 

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