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Emden - Light Cruiser


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 Special thanks to Michael Emmerich of for the use of images and information in this section.

Leichter Kreuzer Emden in 1944


The Emden was the first major German ship build after World War I. The basic design had it sources in the last class of small cruisers in World War I, the Cöln -Class. Therefore, the main artillery was mounted in single turrets like it was done in small cruisers of World War I and not in turrets like later cruiser designs.
For the first time, electrical welding was used to build a warship of this size. Since the results were very promising, electrical welding got more important for all following ship constructions.

The ship was laid down at the end of 1921 but because of the lack of knowledge in constructing major warships and steel shortages it took three years to launch the ship and one additional year to complete it.

The Emden  was build to perform like its famous predecessors in World War I, to hunt and sink allied merchant shipping in every ocean of the world. To increase its operational radius, the armor protection of the ship was reduced compared to the one of the World War I cruisers to carry a larger amount of fuel. Originally build with a mixed coal-oil boiler system the coal boilers were later replaced with oil fired one, too.

The ship was mainly used for training purposes. In the years before the war it made several major voyages around the world. Those voyages lead the ship to the Cocos-Islands where the small cruisers Emden in World War I was destroyed. The ship went to Africa, the Indian Ocean, East Asia, the USA, the Mediterranean and more.

At the start of World War II the ship was already 18 years old and was only used for military actions when no other vessel was available like the occupation of Norway or shore bombardment at the Baltic Sea.


Construction Data Dimensions Commanders
Laid down:     Reichsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven, 08.12.1921
Launched:     07.01.1925
Commissioned:     15.10.1925
Fate:     Destroyed by explosions 03.04.1945 (Heikendorf Bay)
Size (Max):     7102 t
Length (Total):     155,1 m
Length (Waterline):     150,5 m
Beam:     14,3 m
Draft:     5,93 m
Crew:     483 - 683
KzS Kurt Foerster:     15.10.1925 - Sep 1928
FK / KzS von Arnauld de la Periére:     Sep 1928 - Okt 1930
FK / KzS Witthoeft-Emden:     Okt 1930 - Mar 1932
FK Werner Graßmann:     Mar 1932 - Apr 1933
FK Karl Dönitz:     Sep 1934 - Sep 1935
KzS Johannes Bachmann:     Sep 1935 - Aug 1936
KzS Walter Lohmann:     Aug 1936 - Juni 1937
FK / KzS Leopold Bürkner:     Jul 1937 - Jun 1938
KzS Paul Wever:     Jun 1938 - May 1939
KzS Werner Lange:     May 1939 - 26.08.1940
KzS Hans Mirow:     27.08.1940 - Jul 1942
KzS Friedirch Schmitt:     Jul 1942 - Sep 1943
KzS Hans Hengist:     Sep 1943 - Feb 1944
FK / KzS Hans-Eberhard Meisner:     Mar 1944 - Jan 1945
KzS Wolfgang Kähler:     Jan 1945 - Apr 1945
FK Wickmann:     Mar 1945 - Apr 1945



Armour and Aircraft

Engines & Performance

15 cm L/45 C/16 (5.9") (later replaced with C/36):     8
10,5 cm C/32:     3 (since 1944)
8.8 cm L/45:     2-3 (until 1944)
3,7 cm L/83:     2 (since 1944)
2 cm MG L/64:     6 (20 since 1944)
50 cm Torpedoes (later replaced with 53,3 cm tubes):     4
Mines:     120
Deck:     20-40 mm
Belt:     50 mm
Command Tower:     100 mm
Shafts:     2
Turbines:     2
Type:     Brown, Boveri & Cie
Total Performance:     46000 shp
Speed:     29,4 kn
Range:     6750 miles at 14 kn

Operational History

15.10.1925:   Commissioned, followed by training and trials.
-May 1926:   Battle training in North and Baltic Sea.
May 1926:   Final construction works.
October 1926:   Refits, aft funnel is modified.
11.11.1926-14.03.1928:   First international voyage: Around Africa to Japan, visiting the Cocos-Islands where the small cruiser Emden was sunk in World War I. From there, the Emden sails to Indonesia, the USA, Chile, Brazil and returns to Wilhelmshaven.
April - June 1928:   Repairs and refits.
-December 1928:   Fleet operations and support of the torpedo school.
05.12.1928-13.12.1929:   Second international voyage: Mediterranean, Suez Channel, East Africa, Seychelles, Indonesia, New Zealand, Samoa, Hawaii, USA, Central America, Spain.
-January 1930:   Repairs and refits.
13.01.1930-13.05.1931:   Third international voyage: Westindies, visiting several islands and harbors, and the USA.
-December 1930:   Repairs, followed by training.
01.12.1930-08.12.1931:   Fourth international voyage: Mediterranean, Suda- Beight, Port Said, Suez Channel, Indian Ocean, India, Philippines, China, Japan, Cocos-Islands, Indonesia, South Africa, West Africa, Spain.
-February 1933:   Fleet operations.
20.02.1933-16.03.1933:   Fifth international voyage: Sailed to Spain.
31.03.1933-29.09.1934:   Decommissioned because of major refits in Wilhelmshaven.
-November 1934:   Training and trials.
10.11.1934-14.06.1935:   Sixth international voyage: Cape Town, East Africa, Seychelles, Ceylon, Indian Ocean, Suez-Channel, Spain Portugal.
23.10.1935-11.06.1936:   Seventh international voyage: Central America, Panama Channel, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, Panama Channel, USA, Canada.
10.10.1936-22.04.1937:   Eighth international voyage: Mediterranean, Dardanelles, Varna, Istanbul, Port Said, Suez-Channel, Indian Ocean, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, China, India, Suez-Channel.  In April 1937, the Emden takes part in control operations off the Spanish coast.
11.10.1937-23.04.1938:   Ninth international voyage: After control operations in spanish waters, the Emden continues her voyage to Suez Channel, Ceylon, Indonesia, China, Mediterranean, Yugoslavia, Greece, Spain.
26.07.1938-21.09.1938:   Tenth international voyage: Azores, Bermuda.
10.10.1938-16.12.1938:   Eleventh international Voyage: Mediterranean, Varna, Istanbul, Greece, Spain.
29.03.-15.04.1939:   Used as a fishery protection ship near iceland.
August 1939:   Supported by government yacht Grille and several torpedo boats, the Emden laid a mine field in the North Sea.
04.09.1939:   During a a British air raid on Wilhelmshaven, the Emden shoot down an Blendheim bomber which crashed into the bow of the ship, causing several deaths. First navy casualties in World War II.
Oct 1939 - Mar 1940:   Used as a training ship.
06.04.1940:   Operation "Weserübung":  
Transports troops from Swinemünde.
07.04.1940:   Part of Squadron 5 assembled in Kiel.
08.04.1940:   On their way to Oslo, Squadron 5 looses the CA Blücher . Troops on board of the Emden disembark to attack Forts at the Dröbak Narrows.
10.04.1940:   Arrives in Oslo. The radio station on board of the Emden is the main communication center in Oslo.
Summer 1940:   Emden transfers to Gothenburg for training purposes.
September 1941:   Together with CL Köln , Emden bombards Russian shore batteries at Cape Ristna on Ösel.
27.09.1941:   Together with the CL Leipzig , the Emden sinks the Soviet MTB 83 in the Lyu Beight off Sworbe.
November 1941:   Attached to the training section of the fleet.
June - November 1942:   Laid up in the Wilhelmshaven shipyard for major refits.
End of 1944:   Mine laying in the Skagerak.
Winter 1944/45:   While on refit in Schichau Shipyard in  Königsberg , the Russians attack the city.
23.01.1945:   Emden is towed to Pillau by ice breakers. There one of the CLs engines is brought into action.
06.02.1945:   The Emden arrived in Kiel after a six day journey from Pillau.
February - April 1945:   Refitting in Kiel.
April 1945:   The Emden is heavily damaged during an air raid on Kiel. The ship has to be beached in the Heikendorf Beight.
26.04.1945:   Withdrawn from service.
03.05.1945:   Destroyed by explosions. The wreck is broken down and scrapped.