After the German surrender in 1918, the German High Seas Fleet was interned at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. But as his fleet's captivity approached the 7-month mark, von Reuter was faced with a dilemma. This book presents the story of the scuttling of this fleet in Scapa Flow. However, many of the war-weary sailors felt the operation would disrupt the peace process and prolong the war. Admiral Prince Heinrich of Prussia, Wilhelm II's brother, became the first commander of the High Seas Fleet; his flagship was SMS Deutschland. On 21 June 1919, believing the British intended to seize the fleet, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter gave the order to scuttle every ship. The following day the fleet began to steam back to Germany, as a result of Austria-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia. Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz was the architect of the fleet; he envisioned a force powerful enough to challenge the Royal Navy's predominance. 65–66, raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, Scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow, Organization of the High Seas Fleet at the Battle of Jutland, Organization of the High Seas Fleet in late October 1918, List of ships of the Imperial German Navy, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=High_Seas_Fleet&oldid=993425311, Naval units and formations of Germany in World War I, Military units and formations of the Imperial German Navy, Military units and formations established in 1907, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 10 December 2020, at 15:28. , The British, however, did not accommodate Tirpitz's projections; from his appointment as the First Sea Lord in 1904, Fisher began a major reorganization of the Royal Navy. The three German battleships visible are of the Koenig class. Former Imperial Navy officers continued to serve in the subsequent institutions, including Admiral Erich Raeder, Hipper's former chief of staff, who became the commander in chief of the Reichsmarine.  The fleet torpedo boats had crews of about 80 to 100 officers and men, though some later classes approached 200. In 1919, over 50 warships of the German High Seas Fleet were scuttled by their crews at Scapa Flow in the north of Scotland, following the deliverance of the fleet as part of the terms of the German surrender.  Another sortie followed on 29–30 May, during which the fleet advanced as far as Schiermonnikoog before being forced to turn back by inclement weather. The island of Heligoland provided a fortified forward position in the German Bight. The scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow, Orkney on 21 June 1919 on the orders of Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter was one of the most extraordinary events in naval history. A back-handed compliment.  On 16 February 1907, Kaiser Wilhelm renamed the Home Fleet the High Seas Fleet. 345 4.  Out of the interned fleet, only one battleship, Baden, three light cruisers, and eighteen destroyers were saved from sinking by the British harbor personnel. The lack of food and recreation did not help. Portholes had already been loosened, watertigh… These activities included work refusals, hunger strikes, and taking unauthorized leave from their ships. He had decided to salvage some pride and honour for his Navy, by ordering crews to scuttle the German fleet upon a prearranged signal. The German High Seas Fleet, one of the most formidable ever built was deliberately sent to the bottom of the sea at the British Grand Fleet's principal anchorage at Orkney by its own officers and men.The Grand Scuttle became a folk legend in both Germany and Britain.  By 20 October, the fighting on the islands was winding down; Moon, Ösel, and Dagö were in German possession. Watertight doors were opened, and hatch covers removed. The entire fleet conducted several cruises into the Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. , Following the loss of SMS Blücher at the Battle of Dogger Bank in January 1915, the Kaiser removed Admiral von Ingenohl from his post on 2 February. THE GERMAN FLEET SCUTTLE . In addition, Tirpitz assumed that Britain would not be able to concentrate its fleet in the North Sea, owing to the demands of its global empire. Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter ordered the sinkings, denying the majority of the ships to the British. The High Seas Fleet and the Grand Fleet spared for nearly three years before the main event. Find great deals for Great Scuttle: the End of the German High Seas Fleet: The End of the German High. While black-market German brandy, acquired in exchange for basics like cigarettes and soap, could relieve some of the hardships of a dry base, the situation for the men aboard the German ships was even worse. All across Scapa Flow, German officers threw open the pumps, flood valves and portholes aboard their ships. A month later, on 11–12 September, the fleet covered another mine-laying operation off the Swarte Bank. United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy rocket successfully launched a classified National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload, codenamed NROL-44 …  The High Seas Fleet reached the Jade between 13:00 and 14:45 on 1 June; Scheer ordered the undamaged battleships of the I Battle Squadron to take up defensive positions in the Jade roadstead while the Kaiser-class battleships were to maintain a state of readiness just outside Wilhelmshaven. von Reuter was to scuttle if the allies (read: RN) tried to seize the ships from the German government. 54 posts No Great Scuttle: Dividing the High Seas Fleet - WD Martin No Great Scuttle: Dividing the High Seas Fleet - WD Martin. Despite their efforts, by the time Fremantle returned at around 1430, most of the ships had gone down. Rackwitz, Martin. Diplomatic reasons. , Admiral Scheer's fleet, composed of 16 dreadnoughts, six pre-dreadnoughts, six light cruisers, and 31 torpedo boats departed the Jade early on the morning of 31 May. Determined not to see his ships fall into the hands of the Allied Powers as the protracted peace negotiations at Versailles dragged on, the German commander, Admiral Von Reuter, decided to scuttle his fleet and secretly passed orders between his ships for their skeleton crews to open the seacocks on 21 June 1919. owned by a private individual who just put them up on ebay, a well-known tendency for a large fraction of people to find the other side's equipment superior, although on second thought maybe that's the "lesser weevil" quip instead...…, Real (armed merchant)men use Hurricanes. , The war, now in its fourth year, was by 1917 taking its toll on the crews of the ships of the High Seas Fleet. No Great Scuttle: Dividing the High Seas Fleet - WD Martin. Determined not to see his ships fall to the hands of the Allied Powers, the German Admiral von Reuter decided to scuttle his fleet and secretly passed orders between his ships for their skeleton crews to open the seacocks. , By August, enough warships had been repaired to allow Scheer to undertake another fleet operation on 18–19 August. Fearing that all of the ships would be seized and divided amongst the Allied powers, the German commander, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, decided to scuttle …  During the run to the north, Scheer's leading ships engaged the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships of the 5th Battle Squadron. 1Big Rich. This would be supported by the eight Siegfried- and Odin classes of coastal defense ships, six large and eighteen small cruisers, and twelve divisions of torpedo boats, all assigned to the Home Fleet (Heimatflotte). Around 10:00 a.m. on 21 June 1919, von Reuter sent a flag signal ordering the fleet to stand by for the signal to scuttle. …, @bean: I suspect a focus on China will be ramped down by the new admin; the name…, On FACs: in terms of commerce raiding (and expanding to include this FIACsin the…, @Alsadius: $2B per for frigates is a bit much, but also: …, @quanticle: back at the end of the Obama admin, I learned about the [Terrible 20…, Regarding FACs for commerce raiding: it occurs to me that the easiest way to cre…. No1catman. The German High Seas Fleet had sailed into British waters under the terms of the treaty ending World War I. 4 Valves below the waterline of the ship to let water in or out. Four cruisers had gone down, with the other four beached. Low-background steel is important stuff, if you want to make certain precise instruments. 1 A group of islands off the north coast of Scotland. Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German Emperor, championed the fleet as the instrument by which he would seize overseas possessions and make Germany a global power. The formation was created in February 1907, when the Home Fleet (Heimatflotte) was renamed as the High Seas Fleet. The main source of low-background steel has traditionally been WWII-era ships that are being scrapped, although those have been rather thin on the ground since the 80s. Good. The High Seas Fleet was interned there under the terms of the Armistice whilst negotiations took place over the fate of the ships, but Admiral Ludwig von Reuter decided to scuttle the fleet, however British guard ships beached 22 of the 74 interned vessels.  In 1912, the British concluded a joint defense agreement with France that allowed the British to concentrate in the North Sea while the French defended the Mediterranean. Why didn't the British demand immediate surrender of the ships? The High Seas Fleet (Hochseeflotte) was the battle fleet of the German Imperial Navy and saw action during the First World War. For instance, the guns on Baden were 38 cm/14.96", which means they probably couldn't have fired British 15" shells.  The Kaiser Wilhelm Canal through Schleswig-Holstein connected the Baltic and North Seas and allowed the German Navy to quickly shift naval forces between the two seas. The last operation of the year, conducted on 23–24 October, was an advance without result in the direction of Horns Reef. Determined not to see his ships fall to the hands of the Allied Powers, the German Admiral von Reuter decided to scuttle his fleet and secretly passed orders between his ships for their skeleton crews to open the seacocks. The short answer is that they didn’t want it to fall into enemy hands. Ships of the British Grand Fleet are in the distance. No1catman. 100 years go today the German High Seas Fleet started to disappear from view after officers and sailors opened up the seacocks and valves in their various ships, many of which had been prepared for scuttling in the days leading up to the 21st June 1919. The remaining ships of the High Seas Fleet which had not been interned, including the first two German dreadnought classes, were divided up among the Allies. She was apparently returned in horrible condition, with live rounds rusted into the guns.). Perhaps the Brits would have made more of an effort if they weren't already decommissioning so many dreadnoughts after the Great War. Get FREE shipping on The Great Scuttle: The End of the German High Seas Fleet by David Meara, from wordery.com. The relevant paragraph discussed von Reuter's intention to scuttle the fleet, and the crews reacted swiftly, opening seacocks and readying for evacuation. Here we see the intricate details of the politics which after a breakdown in political protocol over a seven month period led to the decision of the german admiral to scuttle his fleet. The British failed to note any of this preparation because, as the ships were interned instead of being surrendered, they were still technically property of Germany and the British were not allowed to board them. I've certainly fell victim to that temptation to think that the other guy has better kit before. In OTL with the German High Seas Fleet scuttled - there were no 'prizes' to share around for the spoils of war, save perhaps for some Cruisers for France & Italy. Dr. Lange (PrinzR. One of the biggest was the fleet of battleships and battlecruisers the now-deposed Kaiser had built.  Cox and Danks, a company founded by Ernest Cox handled most of the salvage operations, including those of the heaviest vessels raised. At the start of a conflict between the two powers, the Germans would therefore be able to attack the Royal Navy with local superiority. Die Selbstversenkung der wilhelminischen Flotte, Ullstein,1999. The primary responsibility of the High Seas Fleet in 1917 and 1918 was to secure the German naval bases in the North Sea for U-boat operations.  When informed of the situation, the Kaiser stated "I no longer have a navy". Discipline in the High Seas Fleet had frayed during the long years in port after Jutland, and collapsed completely when the fleet was ordered to sail to its doom in late October. Luitp… The German High Seas Fleet survived a cataclysmic war almost unscathed, but the bulk of its strength and tonnage was destroyed by order of the German admiral in command at the time. This book presents the story of the scuttling of this fleet in Scapa Flow. Since 1981, the orbiters of NASA’s space shuttle fleet have carried more passengers, traveled almost as many miles and hauled more cargo than all previous U.S. manned spacecraft combined. Imagine the Royal Navy sending it out to help Hood and Prince of Wales to fight Bismarck! At its creation in 1907, the High Seas Fleet consisted of two squadrons of battleships, and by 1914, a third squadron had been added. The Great Scuttle: The End of the German High Seas Fleet: Witnessing History David Meara. Five more capital ships were raised, though three—SMS König, SMS Kronprinz, and SMS Markgraf—were too deep to permit raising. By the time the last ship slipped beneath the surface, 400,000 tons of steel lay on the bottom of Scapa Flow, worth an estimated £70 million.3 10 of the Germans were killed and 16 wounded during the scuttling, all of them shot by the British to discourage them from abandoning ship, in the hopes that they would undo what they had done.4 They were the last casualties of the war. It was still a tremendous relief to the British, although they were quick to condemn what they saw as treachery on the part of von Reuter and his crews. Actually, no. Admiral John Fisher, who became the First Sea Lord and head of the Admiralty in 1904, introduced sweeping reforms in large part to counter the growing threat posed by the expanding German fleet. The photograph illustrates one of the many wrecks were salvaged over the next two decades and were towed away for scrapping. Admiral Sydney Fremantle, commander of the Atlantic Fleet,1 had decided to take his force to sea for exercises. ⇑, 3 This would be equivalent to £3.5 billion/$4.5 billion in 2019. I think there’s honor among sailors and one of the worst things imaginable for a sailor would be to have his ship captured. In late November 1918 the German High Seas Fleet arrived in Scapa Flow for internment. It succeeds admirably in bringing to life a world that is so far removed from our own as to be virtually unimaginable. Scuttling began immediately: seacocks and flood valves were opened and internal water pipes smashed. Registered User. The scuttling of the French fleet at Toulon was orchestrated by Vichy France on 27 November 1942 to prevent Nazi German forces from taking it over. Acknowledge. 5 One of which depicts von Reuter looking at the drowning Fleet and shouting 'Idiots! Since the Soviets used HMS Royal Sovereign as Arkhangelsk and were planning to use the Giulio Cesare if it didn't hit a mine, I kind of assumed it wasn't that difficult.  Germany possessed only one major overseas base, at Kiautschou in China, where the East Asia Squadron was stationed. Bisher 17,99 €** 16,99 € versandkostenfrei * inkl.  Scheer ordered the arrest of over 200 men from the battleship Prinzregent Luitpold, the center of the anti-war activities. Following the end of the First World War the German High Seas Fleet was interned at the British Royal Navy’s base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands under the terms of the Armistice whilst negotiations took place over the fate of the ships. But suppose, the Allies are faced with all these ships, what would or could they do!? Broschiertes Buch. First, there's a well-known tendency for a large fraction of people to find the other side's equipment superior, even if sober engineering analysis shows otherwise. , The Royal Navy had heretofore adhered to the so-called "two-power standard", first formulated in the Naval Defence Act of 1889, which required a larger fleet than those of the next two largest naval powers combined. Share. They were not allowed ashore at all, even on one of the minor islands that dotted the area, and only officers on official business were even allowed to move between ships. Raeder advocated long-range commerce raiding by surface ships, rather than constructing a large surface fleet to challenge the Royal Navy, which he viewed to be a futile endeavor.  On 18 September, the order was issued for a joint operation with the army to capture Ösel and Moon Islands; the primary naval component was to comprise its flagship, Moltke, and the III and IV Battle Squadrons of the High Seas Fleet. He concentrated British battleship strength in home waters, launched the Dreadnought revolution, and introduced rigorous training for the fleet personnel. SMS Derfflinger about to turn over and head for the bottom.  Another fleet sortie took place on 18–19 October 1916 to attack enemy shipping east of Dogger Bank.  In peacetime, all ships on active duty in the High Seas Fleet were stationed in Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, or Danzig. A third and final amendment was passed in May 1912 represented a compromise between Tirpitz and moderates in parliament. I've actually added this issue to my list of post topics. Two additional squadrons of older vessels were mobilized at the onset of hostilities, though by the end of the conflict, these formations were disbanded. One of his predecessors had been pushed over the side after a night of drinking while the ship was in Kiel. The plan to scuttle the High Seas Fleet Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter had about 1,800 maintenance crew of Officers and Sailors aboard his 74 ships at Scapa. Food came twice a month from Germany, and while the rations were more generous than during the Turnip Winter, it was monotonous and of low quality. What is the case to be made for German sailors being denied POW status? The Germans hoped to be interned in a neutral port but the Allies considered it impracticable to supervise and guard the ships in a neutral port.  These developments allowed Britain to discard the "two power standard" and focus solely on out-building Germany. , The primary base for the High Seas Fleet in the North Sea was Wilhelmshaven on the western side of the Jade Bight; the port of Cuxhaven, located on the mouth of the Elbe, was also a major base in the North Sea. (Also, they didn't really use the ship. The new battleship, armed with a main battery of ten 12-inch (30 cm) guns, was considerably more powerful than any battleship afloat. , The Reichstag passed a second amendment to the Naval Law in March 1908 to provide an additional billion marks to cope with the growing cost of the latest battleships. The fleet conducted a series of sorties into the North Sea during the war designed to lure out an isolated portion of the numerically superior British Grand Fleet. As early as September 1899, he had informed the Kaiser that he sought at least 45 battleships, and potentially might secure a third double-squadron, for a total strength of 48 battleships. , The High Seas Fleet conducted a number of sweeps and advances into the North Sea. His initial version of Plan Z, the construction program for the Kriegsmarine in the late 1930s, called for large number of P-class cruisers, long-range light cruisers, and reconnaissance forces for attacking enemy shipping, though he was overruled by Adolf Hitler, who preferred a large fleet of battleships.  On the morning of 29 October 1918, the order was given to sail from Wilhelmshaven the following day. The law also reduced the service life of all battleships from 25 to 20 years, which allowed Tirpitz to push for the replacement of older vessels earlier. The High Seas Fleet (Hochseeflotte) was the battle fleet of the German Imperial Navy and saw action during the First World War.The formation was created in February 1907, when the Home Fleet (Heimatflotte) was renamed as the High Seas Fleet.Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz was the architect of the fleet; he envisioned a force powerful enough to challenge the Royal Navy's predominance. Nicholas Jellicoe has a new book out on the scuttling, but I don’t have a copy yet. At Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919, there occurred an event unique in naval history. On the morning of the fateful day, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter couldn’t believe his luck. After the German surrender in 1918, the German High Seas Fleet was interned at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. ", The most damaging blow to Tirpitz's plan came with the launch of HMS Dreadnought in February 1906. This was the heart of Tirpitz's "Risk Theory", which held that Britain would not challenge Germany if the latter's fleet posed such a significant threat to its own. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Shop with confidence on eBay! No1catman. It's possible, and might be a good idea if you're way behind, but it certainly didn't make sense for Britain there. 4.7 out of 5 stars 68. During a speech in support of the First Naval Law on 6 December 1897, Tirpitz stated that the navy was "a question of survival" for Germany. The German High Seas Fleet survived a cataclysmic war almost unscathed, but the bulk of its strength and tonnage was destroyed by order of the German admiral in command at the time. Post Oct 21, 2012 #1 2012-10-21T19:59. The norms of international diplomacy were taken rather more seriously in that era than they are today.  Scheer turned north after receiving a false report from a zeppelin about a British unit in the area. Implicit in Tirpitz's theory was the assumption that the British would adopt an offensive strategy that would allow the Germans to use mines and submarines to even the numerical odds before fighting a decisive battle between Heligoland and the Thames. The original plan was to intern them in a neutral country, but they couldn't find a host, so the British had to do it. Actually, they're owned by a private individual who just put them up on ebay. Determined not to see his ships fall to the hands of the Allied Powers, the German Admiral von Reuter Hatches were unsealed between compartments as the water rushed in. A series of courts-martial followed, which resulted in 77 guilty verdicts; nine men were sentenced to death for their roles, though only two men, Albin Köbis and Max Reichpietsch, were executed. Segments of the British public, however, quickly seized on the perceived threat posed by the German construction programs. The only available recreations were booze and fishing, which also supplemented the monotonous diet. 2 These 24 made up the full complement of capital ships and cruisers of the High Seas Fleet. , In early September 1917, following the German conquest of the Russian port of Riga, the German navy decided to eliminate the Russian naval forces that still held the Gulf of Riga. 5 One of which depicts von Reuter looking at the drowning Fleet and shouting 'Idiots! , Following the capitulation of Germany in November 1918, most of the High Seas Fleet, under the command of Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, were interned in the British naval base of Scapa Flow.  Construction of the fleet was to be completed by 1 April 1904. At noon, it became obvious that something was wrong. The British evaluated Baden, eventually expending her as a target, while the Americans received Ostfriesland as a prize, with Billy Mitchell famously sunk. Due to the serious damage incurred by Seydlitz and SMS Derfflinger and the loss of SMS Lützow at Jutland, the only battlecruisers available for the operation were SMS Von der Tann and SMS Moltke, which were joined by SMS Markgraf, SMS Grosser Kurfürst, and the new battleship SMS Bayern.  Implicit in Tirpitz's strategy was the assumption that German vessels were better-designed, had better-trained crews, and would be employed with superior tactics. To extricate his fleet from this precarious position, Scheer ordered a 16-point turn to the south-west. 1Big Rich. No1catman. The scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet on Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919 was an event that brought world focus on to the remote but powerful former naval base of the Grand Fleet in WWI. They're scheduled monuments, so they can't be removed from the seabed, and AIUI ownership just means getting to give permission to go inside. During the 20s and 30s, most of the sunken ships were raised and scrapped, although the battleships König, Kronprinz Wilhelm and Markgraf, along with four cruisers, remain at Scapa to this day, where they are popular with scuba divers. Just a few fathoms below Scapa Flow’s dark surface lie the remains of another navy: four battleships and four light cruisers of the Imperial German High Seas Fleet, scuttled by their own crews 80 years ago this month in the largest act of self-destruction in naval history. They remain on the bottom of Scapa Flow, along with four light cruisers. The amendment called for the High Seas Fleet to be equipped with three squadrons of eight battleships each, one squadron of eight battlecruisers, and eighteen light cruisers. The formation was created in February 1907, when the Home Fleet (Heimatflotte) was renamed as the High Seas Fleet. 4.4 out of 5 stars 2. I had to look up low-background steel, and wiki says this (above the cut, even): The primary source of low-background steel is ships that were constructed before the Trinity test, most famously the scuttled German World War I battleships in Scapa Flow. Ships capable of battle with Dreadnought would need to be significantly larger than the old pre-dreadnoughts, which increased their cost and necessitated expensive dredging of canals and harbors to accommodate them. The Germans had lost the war. In OTL with the German High Seas Fleet scuttled - there were no 'prizes' to share around for the spoils of war, save perhaps for some Cruisers for France & Italy. The massive flotilla consisted of some 370 British, American, and French warships. The scuttle was the greatest single act of maritime suicide the world has ever seen. Enough dreadnoughts for two full squadrons were completed by the outbreak of war in mid 1914; the eight most modern pre-dreadnoughts were used to constitute a third squadron.  Scheer ordered the fleet on sweeps of the North Sea on 26 March, 2–3 April, and 21–22 April. 3 Quite coincidentally, but fortuitously for the Germans.  This fleet was secured by the First Naval Law, which passed in the Reichstag on 28 March 1898. After the German surrender in 1918, the German High Seas Fleet was interned at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. McCutcheon, James, The Ships of Scapa Flow, Amberley, 2013 . The High Seas Fleet was interned there under the terms of the Armistice whilst negotiations took place over the fate of the ships. The Scuttling of the High Seas Fleet Even though the Armistice on November 11th, 1918 had signaled the end of the fighting, the Great War had left many loose ends for the diplomats to tie up. 345 4. Britain also made a series of diplomatic arrangements, including an alliance with Japan that allowed a greater concentration of British battleships in the North Sea. On 21 June 1919 the ships of the German High Seas Fleet—interned at Scapa Flow since the Armistice—began to founder, taking their British custodians completely by surprise. We must therefore keep a Fleet twice as powerful concentrated within a few hours of Germany. Do the British retain ownership of the wrecks?  Despite the success in reaching the convoy route undetected, the operation failed due to faulty intelligence.  The Royal Navy's Room 40 had intercepted and decrypted German radio traffic containing plans of the operation. The scuttling was carried out on 21 June 1919. Caused the final casualties of the many wrecks were salvaged over the of! The flag signal was sent: `` to all Commanding officers and men, though König., Ludwig von Reuter looking at the drowning Fleet and shouting 'Idiots SMS! 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