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SMS Freya
Career (German Empire) War Ensign of Germany (1903–1919).svg
Name: Freya
Namesake: Freya
Builder: Kaiserliche Werft, Danzig
Laid down: 1895
Launched: 27 April 1897
Commissioned: 28 October 1898
Fate: Scrapped in 1921
General characteristics
Class & 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)
Propulsion: Three triple expansion engines
12 Dürr boilers
Speed: 18.4 knots (34 km/h)
Range: 3,412 nmi (6,319 km; 3,926 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 31 officers
446 enlisted men
Armament: 2 × 21 cm (8.3 in) guns
8 × 15 cm (5.9 in) guns
10× 8.8 cm (3.5 in) guns
3 × 45 in (110 cm) torpedo tubes

SMS Freya 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 Hansa. Freya was laid down at the Imperial Dockyard in Danzig in 1895, launched in April 1897, and commissioned into the Navy in October 1898. 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).

Freya served in the German fleet for the initial years of her career, unlike her sister ships, all of which served abroad on foreign stations. As a result, she led a fairly uneventful career in the fleet. After a modernization in 1905–1907, Freya was used as a school ship for cadets. At the outbreak of World War I, Freya 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 1921.


Victoria Louise line drawing

Line-drawing of the Victoria Louise class

Freya was ordered under the contract name "Ersatz Freya" and was laid down at the Imperial Dockyard in Danzig in 1895.[1] She was launched on 27 April 1897, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the German navy on 20 October 1898.[2] The ship 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 Belleville 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.[3]

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 supplied with 58 rounds of ammunition each. They had a range of 16,300 m (53,500 ft). Vineta 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 guns.[1] The gun armament was rounded out by machine guns.[4] 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.[1]

Service historyEdit

After her commissioning, Freya served with the German fleet.[2] On 1 September 1902, Freya joined the Cruiser Division of the I Squadron of the German home fleet. The Division consisted of the armored cruiser Prinz Heinrich, the flagship, Victoria Louise, and the light cruisers Hela, Amazone, and Niobe. The Division participated in the summer fleet maneuvers of August–September 1902.[5] In 1905, Freya went into drydock at the Imperial Dockyard in Wilhelmshaven for modernization. During the refit she was re-boilered; she had been built originally with three stacks, and during the modernization they were trunked into two funnels. The refit was finished in 1907, after which Freya was used as a training ship for naval cadets.[3]

In 1907, Günther Lütjens served aboard the ship as a cadet; Lütjens went on to command the task force composed of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in World War II.[6] In August 1908, Freya represented Germany at celebrations in Halifax, Canada, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Canadian Parliament.[7] While entering the port at around midnight on 9 August, she inadvertently rammed a schooner in heavy fog. Nine sailors were killed in the accident.[8]

Freya 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.[9] She was then put into service as a coastal defense ship. After 1915, she was withdrawn from front-line duty again and returned to service as a training ship based in Flensburg. She served in this capacity through to the end of the war.[2] In 1915, Bernhard Rogge, who would go on to command the raider Atlantis during World War II, served aboard the ship as a cadet.[10] The old aviso Grille became Freya's tender starting in July 1915.[11] She was stricken on 25 January 1920 and used briefly as a barracks ship for police in Hamburg. She was ultimately broken up for scrap in Harburg in 1921.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gröner, p. 47
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Gröner, p. 48
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gröner, pp. 47–48
  4. Gardiner, p. 254
  5. Brassey, p. 155
  6. von Müllenheim-Rechberg, p. 63
  7. Colby, p. 514
  8. Hadley & Sarty, p. 49
  9. Gardiner & Gray, p. 142
  10. Slavick, p. 2
  11. Gröner, p. 84


  • Colby, Frank Moore, ed (1909). The New International Year Book. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company. 
  • Brassey, T.A., ed (1903). Brassey's Naval Annual. London: J. Griffin & Co.. 
  • 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. 
  • Hadley, Michael L.; Sarty, Roger Flynn (1991). Tin-pots and Pirate Ships: Canadian Naval Forces and German Sea Raiders, 1880–1918. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0773507787. 
  • von Mullenheim-Rechberg, Burkhard (1980). Battleship Bismarck, A Survivor's Story. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-096-9. 
  • Slavick, Joseph P. (2003). The Cruise of the German Raider Atlantis. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-537-3. 

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