SMS Kaiser Barbarossa

SMS Kaiser Barbarossa Bain picture.jpg
Kaiser Barbarossa
Name:Kaiser Barbarossa
Namesake:Frederick I Barbarossa
Builder:Schichau, Danzig
Laid down:3 August 1898
Launched:21 April 1900 (21 April 1900)
Commissioned:10 June 1901
Struck:6 December 1919 (6 December 1919)
Fate:Scrapped in 1920
General characteristics
Class and type:Kaiser Friedrich III-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement:Full load: 11,785 t (11,599 long tons)
Length:125.3 m (411 ft 1 in)
Beam:20.4 m (66 ft 11 in)
Draft:7.89 m (25 ft 11 in)
Installed power:
Propulsion:3 shafts triple-expansion steam engines
Speed:17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph)
Range:3,420 nmi (6,330 km; 3,940 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
  • 39 officers
  • 612 enlisted

SMS Kaiser Barbarossa (His Majesty's Ship Emperor Barbarossa)[a] was a German pre-dreadnought battleship of the Kaiser Friedrich III class. The ship was built for the Imperial Navy, which had begun a program of expansion at the direction of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Construction took place at Schichau, in Danzig. Kaiser Barbarossa was laid down in August 1898, launched on 21 April 1900, and commissioned in June 1901, at the cost of 20,301,000 marks. The ship was armed with a main battery of four 24-centimeter (9.4 in) guns inside of two twin gun turrets.

Kaiser Barbarossa served with the German navy from her commissioning in 1901, though her active career was limited by two lengthy stays in dry dock. The first was for repairs following damage to her rudder in 1903, which lasted until early 1905, and the second for a major modernization, which began immediately after the conclusion of repair work in 1905 and lasted until late 1907. She returned to service for another two years, before being decommissioned in 1909 and placed in the Reserve Division. She continued to participate in fleet training exercises for the next three years.

Following the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Kaiser Barbarossa and her sisters were mobilized as coastal defense ships in the V Battle Squadron and assigned to the North and Baltic Seas. She saw no combat during the war and, due to a shortage of crews, the ships were withdrawn from active duty in February 1915 and relegated to secondary duties. Kaiser Barbarossa was briefly used as a torpedo target ship for most of 1915 and thereafter spent the remainder of the war as a prison ship in Wilhelmshaven. Following the end of the war in 1918, Kaiser Barbarossa was decommissioned and sold for scrap metal. The ship was broken up in 1919–20.


Line-drawing of the Kaiser Friedrich III class

After the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) ordered the four Brandenburg-class battleships in 1889, a combination of budgetary constraints, opposition in the Reichstag (Imperial Diet), and a lack of a coherent fleet plan delayed the acquisition of further battleships. The Secretary of the Reichsmarineamt (Imperial Navy Office), Vizeadmiral (Vice Admiral) Friedrich von Hollmann struggled throughout the early- and mid-1890s to secure parliamentary approval for the Kaiser Friedrich III-class battleships, but in June 1897, Hollmann was replaced by Konteradmiral (Rear Admiral) Alfred von Tirpitz, who quickly proposed and secured approval for the first Naval Law in early 1898. The law authorized the last two ships of the class, Kaiser Barbarossa and Kaiser Karl der Grosse.[1]

Kaiser Barbarossa was 125.3 m (411 ft 1 in) long overall and had a beam of 20.4 m (66 ft 11 in) and a draft of 7.89 m (25 ft 11 in) forward and 8.25 m (27 ft 1 in) aft. She displaced up to 11,785 metric tons (11,599 long tons) at full load. The ship was powered by three 3-cylinder vertical triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one screw propeller. Steam was provided by four Thornycroft boilers and eight cylindrical boilers, all of which burned coal. Kaiser Barbarossa's powerplant was rated at 13,000 metric horsepower (12,820 ihp; 9,560 kW), which generated a top speed of 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph). The ship had a cruising radius of 3,420 nmi (6,330 km; 3,940 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She had a normal crew of 39 officers and 612 enlisted men.[2]

The ship's armament consisted of a main battery of four 24 cm (9.4 in) SK L/40 guns[b] in twin gun turrets, one fore and one aft of the central superstructure.[4] Her secondary armament consisted of eighteen 15 cm (5.9 inch) SK L/40 guns, twelve 8.8 cm (3.45 in) SK L/30 quick-firing guns all mounted in casemates, and twelve 37 mm (1.5 in) machine cannon in single mounts. The armament suite was rounded out with six 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, all in above-water swivel mounts. The ship's belt armor was 300 mm (11.8 in) thick, and the deck was 65 mm (2.6 in) thick. The conning tower and main battery turrets were protected with 250 mm (9.8 in) of armor plating, and the secondary casemates received 150 mm (5.9 in) of armor protection.[2]