The SMS Goeben
The Goeben was a Moltke-class Battlecruiser. These were better armored and larger than their British counterpart. She was 186.6 meters (612 ft 2 in) long, 29.4 m (96 ft) wide, and had a 22,979 t (22,616 long tons) displacement level. For boilers it had 24 coal fired boilers which gave it a top speed of 25.5 nautical miles. The Goben boasted an arsenal of ten 28cm guns, a dozen 15cm guns as secondary weapons and a further 12 8.8cm guns plus 4 50mm submerged torpedo tubes.
The Goeben was the second Moltke-class battlecruiser to be built by the Imperial German Navy. She was ordered on August 8 1909, completed on march 28 1911, and commissioned on July 2 1912.
When the First Balkan War broke out in October of that year, the German high command decided that they would need to have a naval presence in the Mediterranean sea. The Goeben and a light cruiser called the Breslau were selected to make up the new naval Mediterranean division. They visited a number of ports all over the Mediterranean before returning to Pola and remained there from August 21 to October 16 for maintenance.
On June of the next year the Second Balkan War broke out and the Mediterranean squadron was kept in that area. On October 23 a new officer, admiral Souchon took command of the squadron. In between that time and of World War I, they had visited around 80 ports throughout the sea.
Plans were made to have the Goeben pulled out of the squadron and replaced with her sister ship the Moltke. However the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the tensions between nations that followed prevented this from happening. Admiral Souchon deduced that war would happen soon and fled back to Pola were repairs were made on the Goeben. Afterwards she fled to Messina.
Kaiser Wilhelm II had ordered the squadron in the event of war should either.
Attempt to break out to the Atlantic
Or remain in the Mediterranean and raid the French colonies there.
Souchon chose the latter and the Goeben sailed to Philippeville and shelled it. Afterwards the Admirals Alfred von Tirpitz and Hugo von Pohl contacted Souchon and informed him to sail to Constantinople.
Since they could not reach Constantinople without refueling, the Goeben and Breslau stopped in Messina. On the way there they ran into a pair of British battleships, but since the British Empire had not yet declared war on Germany, they did not fire on each other.
In Messina the Mediterranean squadron ran into a complication. Since Italy declared neutrality they were only allowed to remain there for 24 hours, but sympathetic Italians allowed them to stay for around 36 hours and refilled the Germans coal stocks, though not enough to reach Constantinople.
They planned to reach another port in the Aegean where they could refuel but on the way they ran into a number of British ships. The managed to lose them by pretending to sail to the Adriatic sea. The British Admiral in command of this squadron quickly realized his mistake and turned to pursue the Germans. Admiral Souchon’s squadron managed to evade the British in the middle of the night and the British broke of the chase.
They managed to refuel in Naxos Greece before finally sailing to Constantinople. The Ottoman government welcomed the Germans and proposed selling the ships to them in order to get around the neutrality laws. Before the Germans could even respond to this the Ottomans announced that they had purchased the Mediterranean squadron for 80 million marks and already held a ceremony inducting them into the Ottoman navy which the Goeben was renamed the Yavuz Sultan Selim. The Germans agreed and the crews of the Goeben and Breslau were given Ottoman uniforms and fezzes.
The Yavuz took part in the attack against Sevastopol to draw the Ottoman Empire into the war. During the encounter the Yavuz was struck several times by Russian shells, though the damage was minimal. On the way back she attacked a Russian destroyer and damaged it, drawing Russia to declare war on the Ottoman Empire.
The Yavuz was easily the most powerful ship in both the navies which forced the Russians to consolidate their fleets together in order to not be defeated one by one by the Yavuz.
During one encounter in November 18, a Russian task force encountered the Yavuz and the Midilli. (The new name of the Breslau) on their way from Trebizond. The area was foggy so the Russian attempted to use the tactic of concentrating fire until the Ottoman ships could be seen by a master ship. A Russian ship fired and managed to hit one of the Yavuz 15cm turrets. This caused a detonation of already live shells there and resulted in the deaths of 13 men and another 3 wounded.
The Yavuz returned fire and struck the master ships antenna leaving them unable to transmit proper firing data. She managed to damage another ship before Admiral Souchon decided to withdraw.
She would spend the rest of the year escorting Ottoman transport ships until on December 26 when she struck a pair of mines. The damage wasn’t too serious but over 600 tons of water flooded into her. There was no dock capable to servicing the Yavuz so emergency repairs were made.
Despite the damage sustained, the Yavuz was able to help escort a number of ships. By May 26 1915 she had begun to undergo repairs, though she was pulled out on April 1, before repairs were finished.
During one mission, the cruiser she and the Midilli were protecting struck a mine and was struck. They sank a number of Russian cargo ships before fleeing back to Ottoman waters.
On the 25th of April during the allied attack on the Dardanelles, the Yavuz was sent there to help in the bombardment of the Allied troops. Several times she was spotted and forced to flee. After she was sent to the Black Sea in order to search for Russian ships that bombarded Ottoman fortifications but found none. On the way back she was attacked by a pair of Russian battleships. The Yavuz suffered from two hits but was able to escape. Later, several of her secondary and tertiary weapons were taken out for ground use.
After that, the Yavuz would spend the rest of the year escorting transports and coal ships between Ottoman territory, though suffering several casualties. Eventually after getting struck by two torpedoes on a mission, Admiral Souchon deemed the Battlecruiser too valuable to lose.
During another operation in 1916, the Yavuz encountered a pair of Russian destroyers while escorting a coal ship. The coal ship was destroyed and she was supposed turned to retreat. But the damages significantly slowed down the Yavuz ns now show that they can no longer escape as easily.
At this point, the Russians were gaining more and more ground in the Ottoman Caucasus. The Yavuz with suppose the Ottoman army in this campaign by transporting troops, equipment or by giving naval support. Eventually due to coal shortages the Yavuz was permanently docked in port.
It was only after the Bolshevik Revolution that coal started arriving in Turkey.
By 1918, Admiral Souchon was replaced with Vice Admiral Rebeur-Paschwitz and deployed the Yavuz and Midilli down to Palestine in order to draw the Royal Navy away from the coast to prevent them from supporting the land offensive there. They successfully destroyed several monitors there before the Midilli struck a mine and was sunk.
The Yavuz was struck by three more and forced to retreat to the Dardanelles, pursued by British Destroyers. On the way back she was beached just outside the Dardanelles at Nagara point. There she was attacked by the Royal air force, but the light aircraft did not have enough firepower to destroy her. A monitor attacked her with its cannons but was forced to retreat due to Turkish artillery fire. A submarine was sent to finish the job but a German battleship was able to tow the Yavuz away to safer waters.
It was part of the escort the Ottoman representatives took to Odessa after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed. Afterwards she had several repairs done in Sevastopol.
The Yavuz was part of the taskforce sent to Novorossiysk in order to intern the remaining Soviet Union ships there but found all of them scuttled. The Yavuz returned to Constantinople where it underwent extensive repairs until October.
After the war, according to the Treaty of Sèvres, the Yavuz was to be handed over to the Royal Navy, but after the Turkish war of independence another treaty was agreed upon called the Treaty of Lausanne which allowed the newly formed Republic of Turkey to keep the Yavuz.
For years after World War I, the Yavuz was left in a state of disrepair. Although plans were made for refurbishment, nothing ever came out of it. She remained in Izmit until 1926 until enough funds were raised to purchase a floating dock that could transport the Yauz. (As she was so badly damaged that she could not actually be towed without risk of her sinking.)
The French company Atelier et Chantiers de St. Nazaire-Penhöet was contracted in December 1926 to begin the refits and repairs. For the next three years the Yavuz would undergo extensive repairs and was delayed several times for various reasons such as embezzlement and damage sustained while transporting the ship.
The need for the Yavuz to return to service became even greater as the Soviet Union and Greek navies were built up. By 1930 the repairs were completed. But by the end of the refits her displacement grew to 23,100, she was reduced in length by half a meter but her beam size increased by 10 cm and two of her 15mm guns were removed. She was also given new boilers, a fire control system. She was also renamed from Yavuz Sultan Selim, to simply Yavuz Sultan.
In her speed tests the Yavuz performed far better than expected, and fairly well in her gunnery and fire control trials. She was later placed back at the head of the Turkish navy. However in response to her return to service, both the Greek and Soviet government beefed up their own navies. Throughout the 30s she spent her time transporting dignitaries between countries such as Prime Minister İsmet İnönü from Varna to Istanbul. By 1936 her name was changed once again, this time being shortened to only Yavuz.
During this time she was also considered outdated by other navies due to having poor Anti-aircraft capabilities. In 1938 during a naval program, she was to remain as one of two cruisers until another ship could be built. But these plans were put on hold as no foreign shipyard was available at this time due to the outbreak of World War II.
The Yavuz remained in service throughout World War II, and was one of two capital ships in the Black Sea. (The other being the Soviet Parizhskaya Kommuna.) Her anti-aircraft weapons were improved in 1941, bringing it up to four 88mm guns, ten 40mm guns, and four 20mm guns. On April 5 1946, an American task force consisted of the Battleship USS Missouri, a light cruiser Providence and the Destroyer Power arrived in Istanbul to return the remains of Mehmet Munir Ertegun, the Turkish ambassador to the League of Nations who died of a heart attack. The Yavuz came out to greet the ships, exchanging a 19-gun salute with the Missouri.
She remained in either Izmit or Golcik from 1948 until 1950. After that she was that, she was decommissioned in December 20 1950. When Turkey joined NATO in 1952, she was assigned the hull number B70. The Turkish government offered to sell the ship back to West Germany as a museum ship in 1963, but was declined.
She was finally sold for scrapping in 1971 and the job was finished in February 1976.
The Yavuz Sultan Selim was the last ship of the German Imperial Navy to be decommissioned in December of 1950, and also the last Dreadnaught to be dismantled outside of those belonging to America.
The British Empire initially didn’t question the sudden purchase of the Goeben as they believed that the Ottoman Empire was simply replacing the two Dreadnaughts that the British repossessed from them. (They were built by British companies and completed by World War I, but were taken by the Royal Navy and pressed into service.
The Goeben was the last Moltke-class Battlecruiser to be built.
In her few years in the Mediterranean Squadron, the Goeben was still more well travelled than me.