258,678 Pages

SMS Schwaben
Bundesarchiv DVM 10 Bild-23-61-16, Linienschiff &quot;SMS Wittelsbach&quot;
SMS Schwaben's sister ship Wittlesbach
Career (German Empire) War Ensign of Germany (1903–1919).svg
Name: Schwaben
Namesake: Schwaben
Builder: Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshaven
Laid down: 15 September 1900
Launched: 19 August 1901
Christened: Queen Charlotte of Württemberg
Commissioned: 13 April 1904
Fate: Scrapped in 1921
General characteristics
Class & type: Wittelsbach-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 12,798 t (12,596 long tons)
Length: 126.8 m (416 ft 0 in)
Beam: 22.8 m (74 ft 10 in)
Draft: 7.95 m (26 ft 1 in)
Installed power: 14,000 ihp (10,440 kW)
Propulsion: 3 shafts, triple expansion steam engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 km); 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
  • 30 officers
  • 650 enlisted men
  • 4 × 24 cm (9.4 in) guns (40 cal.)
  • 18 × 15 cm (5.9 in) guns
  • 12 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) guns
  • 6 × 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes
  • Belt: 100 to 225 mm (3.9 to 8.9 in)
  • Turrets: 250 mm (9.8 in)
  • Deck: 50 mm (2.0 in)

SMS Schwaben ("His Majesty's Ship Schwaben") was the fourth ship of the Wittelsbach class of pre-dreadnought battleships of the German Imperial Navy. Schwaben was built at Wilhelmshaven Navy Dockyard. She was laid down in 1900, and completed in April 1904, at the cost of 21,678,000 marks. Her sisters were Wittelsbach, Zähringen, Wettin and Mecklenburg; they were the first capital ships built under the Navy Law of 1898, brought about by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz.

Schwaben spent the majority of her career as a training ship for German naval cadets. The ship served as a gunnery training ship in the Baltic from 1904 to 1914. After the start of World War I in August 1914, the ship was mobilized with her sisters as the IV Battle Squadron. She saw limited duty in the Baltic Sea against Russian forces, though the threat from British submarines forced the ship to withdraw in 1916. For the remainder of her career, Schwaben served as a training ship for navy cadets and later as a depot ship for F-type minesweepers. The ship was stricken from the navy list in March 1921 and sold for scrapping in that year.


Schwaben's keel was laid 15 September 1900, at the Imperial Dockyard in Wilhelmshaven, under construction number 27. She was ordered under the contract name "D", as a new unit for the fleet.[1] The vessel was a member of the first class of battleships built under the direction of State Secretary Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, according to the terms of the Navy Law of 1898.[2] Schwaben was launched on 19 August 1901, when she was christened by Queen Charlotte of Württemberg,[3] and commissioned on 13 April 1904, the last ship of her class to enter active service.[4] The ship's cost totaled 21,678,000 marks.[1]

The ship was 126.8 m (416 ft) long overall and had a beam of 22.8 m (75 ft) and a draft of 7.95 m (26.1 ft) forward. The ship was powered by three 3-cylinder vertical triple expansion engines that drove three screws. Steam was provided by six naval and six cylindrical coal-fired boilers. Schwaben's powerplant was rated at 14,000 indicated horsepower (10,000 kW), which generated a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h).[5]

Schwaben's armament consisted of a main battery of four 24 cm (9.4 in) SK L/40 guns in twin gun turrets,[lower-alpha 1] one fore and one aft of the central superstructure.[6] Her secondary armament consisted of eighteen 15 cm (5.9 inch) SK L/40 guns and twelve 8.8 cm (3.45 in) SK L/30 quick-firing guns. The armament system was rounded out with six 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, all in above-water swivel mounts.[1]

Service historyEdit

After commissioning in April 1904, Schwaben was placed into service as an artillery training ship.[4] The ship was based in Sonderburg in the Baltic Sea, along with the armored cruisers Prinz Heinrich and 1901, and several other training ships.[7] In 1908, the training ships based in the Baltic were placed under the command of Rear Admiral Hugo von Pohl;[8] Pohl would go on to command the High Seas Fleet in 1915 during World War I.[9]

After the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Schwaben and the rest of her class were mobilized to serve in the IV Battle Squadron, under the command of Vice Admiral Ehrhard Schmidt.[10] Starting on 3 September, the IV Squadron, assisted by the armored cruiser Blücher, conducted a sweep into the Baltic. The operation lasted until 9 September and failed to bring Russian naval units to battle.[11] In May 1915, IV Squadron, including Schwaben, was transferred to support the German Army in the Baltic Sea area.[12] Schwaben and her sisters were then based in Kiel.[13]

On 6 May, the IV Squadron ships were tasked with providing support to the assault on Libau. Schwaben and the other ships stood off Gotland in order to intercept any Russian cruisers that might try to intervene in the landings, which the Russians did not attempt. On 10 May, after the invasion force had entered Libau, the British submarines HMS E1 and HMS E9 spotted the IV Squadron, but were too far away to make an attack.[13] Schwaben and her sisters were not included in the German fleet that assaulted the Gulf of Riga in August 1915, due to the scarcity of escorts. The increasingly active British submarines forced the Germans to employ more destroyers to protect the capital ships.[14]

By 1916, the increasing threat from British submarines in the Baltic convinced the German navy to withdraw the elderly Wittelsbach-class ships from active service.[15] Schwaben returned to her role as a training ship in Wilhelmshaven.[4] After the Battle of Jutland on 31 May – 1 June, in which Schwaben did not take part, Rear Admiral Franz von Hipper, the commander of the German battlecruiser squadron,[16] sent his four surviving battlecruisers in dock for repairs. Hipper made Schwaben, which was stationed in Wilhelmshaven, his temporary command ship while his force was being repaired.[17]

The ship was briefly retained by the Reichsmarine after the end of the war. Schwaben was converted into a depot ship for F-type minesweepers.[18] This service did not last long, however, and the old battleship was stricken from the naval register on 8 March 1921. She was sold for 3,090,000 marks and broken up for scrap that year in Kiel-Nordmole.[4]



  1. In Imperial German Navy gun nomenclature, "SK" (Schnellfeuerkanone) denotes that the gun is quick firing, while the L/40 denotes the length of the gun. In this case, the L/40 gun is 40 calibers, meaning that the gun is 40 times as long as it is in diameter. See: Grießmer, p. 177.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gröner, p. 16.
  2. Herwig, p. 43.
  3. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 20 August 1901. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Gröner, p. 17.
  5. Gröner, pp. 16–17.
  6. Hore, p. 67.
  7. Germany, p. 1049.
  8. The German Fleet, p. 10.
  9. Tarrant, p. 43.
  10. Scheer, p. 15.
  11. Halpern, p. 185.
  12. Scheer, pp. 90–91.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Halpern, p. 192.
  14. Halpern, p. 197.
  15. Herwig, p. 168.
  16. Tarrant, p. 287.
  17. Raeder, p. 77.
  18. Gardiner & Gray, p. 141.



  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-907-8. OCLC 12119866. 
  • Grießmer, Axel (1999) (in German). Die Linienschiffe der Kaiserlichen Marine. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7637-5985-9. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-790-6. 
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-352-7. OCLC 57447525. 
  • Herwig, Holger (1998) [1980]. "Luxury" Fleet: The Imperial German Navy 1888–1918. Amherst, New York: Humanity Books. ISBN 978-1-57392-286-9. OCLC 57239454. 
  • Hore, Peter (2006). The Ironclads. London: Southwater Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84476-299-6. OCLC 70402701. 
  • Raeder, Erich (1960). My Life. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. 
  • Scheer, Reinhard (1920). Germany's High Seas Fleet in the World War. Cassell and Company. 
  • Tarrant, V. E. (2001) [1995]. Jutland: The German Perspective. London: Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-304-35848-9. OCLC 48131785. 


  • "Germany". Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. 1911. pp. 1044–1050. 
  • "The German Fleet". Washington D.C.: Navy Publishing. 1908. pp. 10–11. 

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.