SMS Stuttgart

SMS Stuttgart was a Königsberg-class light cruiser of the Kaiserliche Marine, named after the city of Stuttgart. She had three sister ships: Königsberg, Nürnberg, and Stettin. Stuttgart was laid down at the Imperial Dockyard in Danzig in 1905, launched in September 1906, and commissioned in February 1908. Like her sisters, Stettin was armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and a pair of 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, and was capable of a top speed in excess of 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph).

German Empire
Name: Stuttgart
Namesake: Stuttgart
Laid down: 1905
Launched: 22 September 1906
Commissioned: 1 February 1908
Struck: 5 November 1919
Fate: Surrendered to Britain, 1920, scrapped
General characteristics
Class and type: Königsberg-class light cruiser
Length: 115.3 m (378 ft)
Beam: 13.2 m (43 ft)
Draft: 5.29 m (17.4 ft)
Installed power:
Speed: 24.1 knots (44.6 km/h; 27.7 mph)
  • 14 Officers
  • 308 Enlisted men

Stuttgart was used as a gunnery training ship from her commissioning to the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, when she was mobilized into the reconnaissance forces of the High Seas Fleet. There, she saw action at the Battle of Jutland, where she engaged the British cruiser HMS Dublin. Stuttgart was not damaged during the battle. She was converted into a seaplane tender in 1918, and after the end of the war, was surrendered to Britain as a war prize in 1920 and subsequently broken up for scrap.


The Königsberg -class ships were designed to serve both as fleet scouts in home waters and in Germany's colonial empire. This was a result of budgetary constraints that prevented the Kaiserliche Marine from building more specialized cruisers suitable for both roles.[1]

Stuttgart was 115.3 meters (378 ft) long overall and had a beam of 13.2 m (43 ft) and a draft of 5.29 m (17.4 ft) forward. She displaced 3,814 t (3,754 long tons; 4,204 short tons) at full combat load. Her propulsion system consisted of two 3-cylinder triple expansion engines powered by eleven coal-fired Marine-type boilers. These provided a top speed of 24.1 knots (44.6 km/h; 27.7 mph) and a range of approximately 5,750 nautical miles (10,650 km; 6,620 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). Stuttgart had a crew of 14 officers and 308 enlisted men.[2]

The ship was armed with ten 10.5 cm SK L/40 naval guns in single pedestal mounts. Two were placed side by side forward on the forecastle, six were located amidships, three on either side, and two were side by side aft.[3] The guns had a maximum elevation of 30 degrees, which allowed them to engage targets out to 12,700 m (41,700 ft).[4] They were supplied with 1,500 rounds of ammunition, for 150 shells per gun. The ship was also equipped with eight 5.2 cm SK L/55 guns with 4,000 rounds of ammunition. She was also equipped with a pair of 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes with five torpedoes submerged in the hull on the broadside. The ship was protected by an armored deck that was 80 mm (3.1 in) thick amidships. The conning tower had 100 mm (3.9 in) thick sides.[2]

Service history

Stuttgart was ordered under the contract name "O" and was laid down at the Imperial Dockyard in Danzig in 1905. She was launched on 22 September 1906, after which fitting-out work commenced. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet on 1 February 1908.[5] After her commissioning into the High Seas Fleet, Stuttgart was used as a gunnery training ship for the Fleet's gunners. At the outbreak of World War I, she was mobilized and served with the Fleet,[6] along with the other gunnery ships like the armored cruiser Blücher.[7] After the outbreak of war, she and several other cruisers were tasked with patrol duties in the Heligoland Bight. The cruisers were divided with the torpedo boat flotillas, and assigned to rotate through nightly patrols into the North Sea. As part of this operation, Stuttgart conducted a patrol on the night of 15 August with Cöln and the I and II Torpedo-boat Flotillas, without incident.[8]

On 15–16 December, Stuttgart participated in the bombardment of Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby. She was assigned to the cruiser screen of the High Seas Fleet, which was providing distant cover to Rear Admiral Franz von Hipper's battlecruisers while they were conducting the bombardment.[9] Following reports of British destroyers from the German screen, Admiral von Ingenohl ordered the High Seas Fleet to turn to port and head for Germany.[10] At 06:59, Stuttgart, the armored cruiser Roon, and the light cruiser Hamburg encountered Commander Jones' destroyers. Jones shadowed the Germans until 07:40, at which point Stuttgart and Hamburg were detached to sink their pursuers. At 08:02, however, Roon signaled the two light cruisers and ordered them to abandon the pursuit and retreat along with the rest of the High Seas Fleet.[11]

On 7 May 1915, the IV Scouting Group, which by then consisted of Stuttgart, Stettin, München, and Danzig, and twenty-one torpedo boats was sent into the Baltic Sea to support a major operation against Russian positions at Libau. The operation was commanded by Rear Admiral Hopman, the commander of the reconnaissance forces in the Baltic.[12] The IV Scouting Group was tasked with screening to the north to prevent any Russian naval forces from moving out of the Gulf of Finland undetected, while several armored cruisers and other warships bombarded the port. The Russians did attempt to intervene with a force of four cruisers: Admiral Makarov, Bayan, Oleg, and Bogatyr. The Russian ships briefly engaged München, but both sides were unsure of the others' strength, and so both disengaged.[13] Shortly after the bombardment, Libau was captured by the advancing German army, and Stuttgart and the rest of the IV Scouting Group were recalled to the High Seas Fleet.[14]

Battle of Jutland

Stuttgart was assigned to the IV Scouting Group during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1 June 1916. The IV Scouting Group, under the command of Commodore Ludwig von Reuter, departed Wilhelmshaven at 03:30 on 31 May, along with the rest of the fleet.[15] Tasked with screening for the fleet, Stuttgart and the torpedo boat V71 were positioned at the rear of the fleet, astern of the II Battle Squadron.[16] Stuttgart and the IV Scouting Group were not heavily engaged during the early phases of the battle, but around 21:30, they encountered the British 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron (3rd LCS). Reuter's ships were leading the High Seas Fleet south, away from the deployed Grand Fleet. Due to the long range and poor visibility, only München and Stettin were able to engage the British cruisers. Stuttgart was the fourth ship in the line, and her gunners could only make out one British ship in the haze. Since that ship was already being engaged by the other German cruisers, Stuttgart held her fire. Reuter turned his ships hard to starboard, in order to draw the British closer to the capital ships of the German fleet, but the 3rd LCS refused to take the bait and disengaged.[17]

During the ferocious night fighting that occurred as the High Seas Fleet forced its way through the British rear, the IV Scouting Group encountered the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron at close range in the darkness. As the two squadrons closed on each other, the Germans illuminated HMS Southampton and HMS Dublin and concentrated their fire on the two ships.[18] Stuttgart and Elbing fired on Dublin.[19] During this period, Dublin was hit by eight shells, probably all from Stuttgart, though these hits did not do serious damage.[20] The two British ships were badly damaged and set on fire and forced to retreat, while the Germans also fell back in an attempt to bring the British closer to the battlecruisers Moltke and Seydlitz. In the melee, the cruiser Frauenlob was hit and sunk by a torpedo launched by Southampton; this forced Stuttgart to haul out of line to starboard. She then lost contact with the rest of the IV Scouting Group, so she fell in with the I Battle Squadron.[21] She was present during a later encounter with British light forces around midnight. She remained concealed in the darkness and observed the I Battle Squadron dreadnoughts hammering several British destroyers.[22] The British meanwhile launched torpedoes at the German line, which forced it to turn away. Stuttgart had to thread her way in between the battleships Nassau and Posen in the darkness.[23]

By 02:30, Stuttgart was steaming at the head of the German line, ahead of Westfalen, the leading battleship.[24] She led the I Battle Squadron back to port, and later assisted the III Battle Squadron and the fleet flagship, Friedrich der Grosse.[25] In the course of the battle, Stuttgart had fired 64 rounds, the least of all of the German cruisers in the battle.[26] She emerged from the battle unscathed, unlike many of the other German cruisers.[27]

Conversion and fate

Earlier in the war, the German Navy had experimented with converting steamers into seaplane tenders. They were too slow to operate with the fleet, however, and so a faster alternative was needed. By 1918, the Navy had decided to convert Stuttgart, which was fast enough to steam with the fleet; conversion work started in February 1918.[28] The work was done at the Imperial Dockyard in Wilhelmshaven, and was completed in May. As a seaplane tender, her forward and rear 10.5 cm guns, and the two rearmost broadside guns were removed, leaving only four broadside guns remaining. Two 8.8 cm SK L/45 anti-aircraft guns were installed forward; she retained her submerged torpedo tubes. Two large hangars were installed aft of the funnels, with space for two seaplanes; a third seaplane was carried on top of the hangars.[5] Since Stuttgart could carry only three aircraft, a number which was deemed insufficient to support the entire High Seas Fleet, plans were drawn up to convert Roon into a seaplane carrier as well. Neither ship was ever used operationally.[28] Stuttgart survived the war, and was stricken from the naval register on 5 November 1919. She was surrendered to the United Kingdom on 20 July 1920, as the war prize "S" and subsequently broken up for scrap.[6]


  1. Gardiner & Gray, pp. 142, 157
  2. Gröner, p. 104
  3. Gardiner & Gray, p. 157
  4. Gardiner & Gray, p. 140
  5. Gröner, pp. 104–105
  6. Gröner, p. 105
  7. Gröner, p. 53
  8. Scheer, p. 42
  9. Scheer, p. 69
  10. Massie, p. 340
  11. Massie, p. 340–341
  12. Halpern, pp. 191192
  13. Halpern, p. 192
  14. Halpern, p. 193
  15. Tarrant, p. 62
  16. Tarrant, p. 68
  17. Tarrant, pp. 192193
  18. Tarrant, p. 213
  19. Campbell, p. 280
  20. Campbell, p. 390
  21. Tarrant, pp. 213214
  22. Tarrant, pp. 218219
  23. Tarrant, pp. 220221
  24. Campbell, p. 295
  25. Campbell, p. 311
  26. Campbell, p. 360
  27. Tarrant, p. 296
  28. Greger, p. 88


  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3.
  • Greger, Rene (1964). "German Seaplane and Aircraft Carriers in Both World Wars". Warship International. Toledo: Naval Records Club, Inc. I (1–12): 87–91. OCLC 29828398.
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Vol. I: Major Surface Vessels. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-790-9.
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-352-4.
  • Massie, Robert K. (2003). Castles of Steel. New York City: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-40878-0.
  • Scheer, Reinhard (1920). Germany's High Seas Fleet in the World War. London: Cassell and Company.
  • Tarrant, V. E. (1995). Jutland: The German Perspective. London: Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-35848-7.

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