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SMS Kaiser (1858)
Eduard Nezbeda lissa.jpg
SMS Kaiser rams Re di Portogallo at the Battle of Lissa
Career (Austria-Hungary)
Name: SMS Kaiser
Namesake: Kaiser
Laid down: 25 March 1855
Launched: 4 October 1858
Commissioned: 1859
Renamed: Bellona, 1902
Fate: Unknown
General characteristics
Displacement: 5,194 t (5,112 long tons; 5,725 short tons)
Length: 81 m (266 ft)
Beam: 17.06 m (56.0 ft)
Draft: 7.4 m (24 ft)
Propulsion:
  • Three masts, full rig
  • 1 × steam screw, 2,000 hp (1,500 kW)
Speed: 12.5 knots (23.2 km/h)
Armament: 16 × 60-pdr, 74 x 30-pdr, 2 x 24-pdr

SMS Kaiser was the last wooden ship of the line of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, and the only screw-driven example of the type built by the Austrians.

Design[edit | edit source]

Kaiser mounted 90 guns on two decks (originally 16 60-pounders, 74 30-pounders, and two 24-pounders); she was rigged as a three-masted, full-rigged ship, and had an auxiliary steam engine providing 2,000 horsepower (1,500 kW). The ship had a length of 81 metres (266 ft), a beam of 17.06 metres (56.0 ft) and a maximum draft of 7.4 metres (24 ft), resulting in a displacement of 5194 tons. Kaiser could reach a top speed of 12.5 knots (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph).

Construction[edit | edit source]

The keel of Kaiser was laid on 25 March 1855 at the Marinewerke located in Pula; the ship was launched on 4 October 1858, and commissioned into the Austrian Navy in 1859, where it served as the navy's flagship. However the ship quickly became obsolete, as the introduction of ironclads came shortly thereafter.

Operational service[edit | edit source]

In 1864, Kaiser was attached to the Austrian Squadron during the German-Danish War, serving in a defensive role off the German North Sea coast. In 1866 the ship served in the Battle of Lissa, under Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff; acting as flagship of the 2nd Squadron, commanded by Baron Anton von Petz, she survived the battle, although some damage was suffered when Kaiser rammed the Italian ironclad Re di Portogallo.

Between 1869 and 1873, Kaiser was reconstructed at Pola, converting the ship into an ironclad battleship. The hull was stripped to the waterline; while the original machinery was retained, the hull above water was wholly reconstructed using iron plating, armament of the ship being modified to carry ten 23-pounder guns in casemate mountings. Put back into service, Kaiser served until 1902, when she was decommissioned and stripped; renamed Bellona, it served at Pula as a hulk until 1918.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Christian Ortner: Der Seekrieg in der Adria 1866. In: Viribus Unitis. Jahresbericht 2010 des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums. ZDB-ID 2114718-8, S. 100–124.
  • Andrew Lambert: Battleships in Transition. The Creation of the Steam Battlefleet 1815–1860. Conway Maritime Press, London 1984, ISBN 0-85177-315-X, S. 147.
  • Roger Chesneau, Eugene M. Kolesnik (Hrsg.): Kriegsschiffe der Welt 1860 bis 1905. Band 3: Frankreich, Italien, Österreich-Ungarn und übrige Marinen. Bernard und Graefe, Koblenz 1985, ISBN 3-7637-5404-0, S. 161.

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