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SMS Lothringen

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German battleship SMS Lothringen underway in the Kiel Canal (NH 46821).jpg
SMS Lothringen in the Kiel Canal
German Empire
Name: Lothringen
Namesake: Lorraine ("Lothringen" in German)
Builder: Schichau, Danzig
Laid down: December 1902
Launched: 27 May 1904
Commissioned: 18 May 1906
Fate: Scrapped in 1931
General characteristics
Class and type: Braunschweig-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 14,394 t (14,167 long tons)
Length: 127.7 m (419 ft)
Beam: 22.2 m (73 ft)
Draft: 8.1 m (27 ft)
  • 3 shafts triple expansion
  • 17,000 PS (16,770 ihp; 12,500 kW)
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 5,200 nautical miles (9,600 km; 6,000 mi); 10 knots (20 km/h; 10 mph)
  • 35 officers
  • 708 enlisted men
  • Belt: 100 to 255 mm (3.9 to 10.0 in)
  • Turrets: 250 mm (9.8 in)
  • Deck: 40 mm (1.6 in)

SMS Lothringen[a] was the fifth of five pre-dreadnought battleships of the Braunschweig class in the German Imperial Navy laid down in 1902 and commissioned 1906. She was named for the then German province of Lothringen, now Lorraine, a region of France. Her sister ships were Braunschweig, Elsass, Hessen, and Preussen.

Lothringen served in the II Battle Squadron of the German High Seas Fleet for the majority of her career. She participated in a fleet advance in December 1914 in support of the Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby during which the German fleet encountered and briefly clashed with a detachment of the British Grand Fleet. Her poor condition necessitated her withdrawal from fleet service in 1916, after which she was used as a guard ship in the Baltic Sea, and later as a training ship. After the war, Lothringen was retained by the re-formed Reichsmarine and converted into a depot ship for F-type minesweepers. She was stricken in March 1931 and sold to ship breakers later that year.


Line-drawing of the Braunschweig class

With the passage of the Second Naval Law under the direction of Vizeadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz in 1900, funding was allocated for a new class of battleships, to succeed the Wittelsbach-class ships authorized under the 1898 Naval Law. By this time, Krupp, the supplier of naval artillery to the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) had developed quick-firing, 28-centimeter (11 in) guns; the largest guns that had previously incorporated the technology were the 24 cm (9.4 in) guns mounted on the Wittelsbachs. The Design Department of the Reichsmarineamt (Imperial Navy Office) adopted these guns for the new battleships, along with an increase from 15 cm (5.9 in) to 17 cm (6.7 in) for the secondary battery, owing to the increased threat from torpedo boats as torpedoes became more effective.[1][2]

Lothringen was 127.7 m (419 ft) long overall and had a beam of 22.2 m (73 ft) and a draft of 8.1 m (27 ft) forward. At full load, she displaced 14,394 t (14,167 long tons; 15,867 short tons). Her crew consisted of 35 officers and 708 enlisted men. The ship was powered by three 3-cylinder vertical triple expansion engines that drove three screws. Steam was provided by eight naval and six cylindrical boilers, all of which burned coal. Lothringen's powerplant was rated at 16,000 metric horsepower (15,781 ihp; 11,768 kW), which generated a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph).[3]

Lothringen's armament consisted of a main battery of four 28 cm (11 in) SK L/40 guns in twin gun turrets,[b] one fore and one aft of the central superstructure.[5] Her secondary armament consisted of fourteen 17 cm (6.7 inch) SK L/40 guns and eighteen 8.8 cm (3.45 in) SK L/35 quick-firing guns. The armament suite was rounded out with six 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, all mounted submerged in the hull.[6] Lothringen was protected with Krupp armor. Her armored belt was 110 to 250 millimeters (4.3 to 9.8 in) thick, with the heavier armor in the central portion that protected her magazines and machinery spaces, and the thinner plating at either end of the hull. Her deck was 40 mm (1.6 in) thick. The main battery turrets had 250 mm of armor plating.[7]

Service history

Lothringen, sometime before World War I

Lothringen was laid down in 1902, at the Schichau-Werke in Danzig under construction number 716. The fifth and final unit of her class, she was ordered under the contract name "M" as a new unit for the fleet. The ship cost 23,801,000 marks.[3] Lothringen was launched on 27 May 1904 and commissioned into the fleet on 18 May 1906.[6]

After commissioning, Lothringen was assigned to the II Battle Squadron of the German fleet.[8] Lothringen participated in the de Ruyter festival in Amsterdam on 24 March 1907.[9] In 1909, Lothringen and the older battleship Mecklenburg won the annual Kaiser's Prize for accurate shooting.[10] By 1911, Germany's first two classes of dreadnought battleships—the Nassau and Helgoland classes—were entering service. These ships were assigned to I Battle Squadron; all of the older Kaiser Friedrich III and Wittelsbach-class vessels, armed with only 24 cm (9.4 in) guns, were placed in reserve. Germany now had a battleship fleet armed entire with guns 28 cm (11 in) or larger.[8]

Lothringen was present during the fleet cruise to Norway in July 1914, which was cut short by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and subsequent rise in international tensions. On 25 July the ship's crew was made aware of Austria-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia; Lothringen left Norway to rendezvous with the rest of the fleet the following day.[11]

World War I

Map of the North and Baltic Seas in 1911

After the outbreak of war in August 1914, the High Seas Fleet conducted a series of operations designed to lure out a portion of the numerically superior British Grand Fleet and destroy it.[12] By achieving a rough equality of forces, the German navy could then force a decisive battle in the southern portion of the North Sea.[13] The first such operation in which the High Seas Fleet, including Lothringen, participated was the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby on 15–16 December 1914.[14] The main fleet acted as distant support for Rear Admiral Franz von Hipper's battlecruiser squadron while it raided the coastal towns. On the evening of 15 December, the fleet came to within 10 nmi (19 km; 12 mi) of an isolated squadron of six British battleships. However, skirmishes between the rival destroyer screens in the darkness convinced the German fleet commander, Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl, that the entire Grand Fleet was deployed before him. Under orders from Kaiser Wilhelm II, von Ingenohl broke off the engagement and turned the battlefleet back towards Germany.[15]

Like her sister Preussen, Lothringen missed the Battle of Jutland on 31 May – 1 June 1916, though for different reasons. Preussen had been temporarily transferred to guard duties in the Baltic, while Lothringen was in such poor condition that Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, the fleet commander, removed her from the squadron.[16] Jutland proved to Scheer that the pre-dreadnought battleships were too vulnerable to take part in a major fleet action, and so detached the II Squadron from the High Seas Fleet.[17] Lothringen became a guard ship in the Baltic after she left the battle fleet. The following year she was transferred to Wilhelmshaven, where she was used as an exercise ship, as well as to train engineers. She served in this capacity until the end of the war in 1918.[6]

Post-war career

Lothringen in port

The Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war, specified that Germany was permitted to retain six battleships of the "Deutschland or Lothringen types."[18] Lothringen was among those ships chosen to remain on active service with the newly reformed Reichsmarine.[6] Like her sister Preussen, Lothringen was converted into a parent ship for F-type minesweepers at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in 1919; the ship was disarmed and platforms for holding the minesweepers were installed.[19]

Lothringen served in this capacity with the newly reformed Reichsmarine from 1922 until 1926, after which she was placed in reserve. She was stricken from the naval register on 31 March 1931; the Reichsmarine then sold her, minus her armor plating, to ship breakers that year for 269,650 Reichsmarks. Lothringen was subsequently broken up for scrap by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg.[6]



  1. ^ "SMS" stands for "Seiner Majestät Schiff" (English: His Majesty's Ship).
  2. ^ In Imperial German Navy gun nomenclature, "SK" (Schnelladekanone) 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 caliber, meaning that the gun is 40 times as long as it is in diameter.[4]


  1. ^ Herwig, pp. 43–44.
  2. ^ Staff, p. 4.
  3. ^ a b Gröner, p. 18.
  4. ^ Grießmer, p. 177.
  5. ^ Hore, p. 68.
  6. ^ a b c d e Gröner, p. 20.
  7. ^ Gröner, p. 19.
  8. ^ a b Hurd, p. 27.
  9. ^ "News From Europe", p. 643.
  10. ^ "German Naval Notes", p. 1052.
  11. ^ Scheer, p. 8.
  12. ^ Tarrant, p. 27.
  13. ^ Gardiner & Gray, p. 136.
  14. ^ Tarrant, p. 31.
  15. ^ Tarrant, pp. 31–33.
  16. ^ Scheer, p. 140.
  17. ^ Scheer, p. 187.
  18. ^ Treaty of Versailles Section II: Naval Clauses, Article 181.
  19. ^ Gröner, pp. 18–20.



  • 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. 
  • Grießmer, Axel (1999). Die Linienschiffe der Kaiserlichen Marine [The Battleships of the Imperial Navy] (in German). 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. 
  • Herwig, Holger (1998) [1980]. "Luxury" Fleet: The Imperial German Navy 1888–1918. Amherst: Humanity Books. ISBN 978-1-57392-286-9. 
  • Hildebrand, Hans H.; Röhr, Albert; Steinmetz, Hans-Otto (1993). Die Deutschen Kriegsschiffe (Volume 5) [The German Warships]. Ratingen: Mundus Verlag. ASIN B003VHSRKE. 
  • Hore, Peter (2006). The Ironclads. London: Southwater Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84476-299-6. 
  • Hurd, Archibald (1912). The Command of the Sea. London: Chapman & Hall. 
  • Scheer, Reinhard (1920). Germany's High Seas Fleet in the World War. London: Cassell and Company. OCLC 2765294. 
  • Staff, Gary (2010). German Battleships: 1914–1918 (1). Oxford: Osprey Books. ISBN 978-1-84603-467-1. 
  • Tarrant, V. E. (2001) [1995]. Jutland: The German Perspective. London: Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-304-35848-9. 


  • "German Naval Notes". Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers. Washington D.C.: American Society of Naval Engineers. 21: 1052–1056. 1909. 
  • "News From Europe". The North-China Herald and Supreme Court & Consular Gazette. Shanghai: North China Daily News and Herald. 82: 643. 1907. 

Further reading

  • Dodson, Aidan (2014). "Last of the Line: The German Battleships of the Braunschweig and Deutschland Classes". Warship 2014. London: Conway Maritime Press: 49–69. ISBN 978-1591149231. 
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