Helgoland class battleships

Helgoland class battleships

Helgoland class battleships

The Helgoland class battleships were the second class of dreadnoughts built in Germany. They were similar in layout to the previous Nassau class, carrying their twelve guns in six turrets, one fore, one aft and two on each side. They were the first German battleships to carry 12in guns, as did the next two classes. They were also significantly heavier and longer than the Nassau class, giving them a rather more elegant appearance.

They were still powered by triple expansion engines, and were only slightly quicker than the earlier ships, with a top speed of 20.3kts under normal power.

The Helgoland class battleships formed the First Squadron of the High Seas Fleet at the start of the First World War. They were all present at Jutland, but escaped any significant damage during the battle. Helgoland was hit by one heavy shell, apparently without suffering any casualties, while Oldenburg was hit by a smaller shell, suffering eight dead and fourteen wounded. On the way back to harbour Ostfriesland ran into a mine that had only just been laid by the British destroyer flotilla leader HMS Abdiel, suffering one dead and ten wounded. This explosion caused a minor submarine panic amongst the German fleet, causing Ostfiesland to turn rapidly, taking on more water, but no other damage was sustained.

All four ships survived the war (as did all of Germany’s dreadnoughts). Ostfriesland was used as a target, and sunk in 1921, while the other three ships were broken up between 1921 and 1924. They were followed by the Kaiser class of dreadnoughts, which were significantly different in design to their predecessors.

Displacement loaded


Top Speed


Armour – belt


- bulkheads


- battery


- barbettes


- turrets


- conning tower



548ft 7in


Twelve 12in guns
Fourteen 5.9in guns
Fourteen 3.45in guns
Six 19.7in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement

1113 normal
1284-1390 at Jutland





Ships in class

SMS Helgoland
SMS Ostfriesland
SMS Thüringen
SMS Oldenburg

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War

Helgoland class battleships - History

The summary of ship characteristics are from "Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921" to ensure consistency. Measurements often vary from source to source.

Photos are mainly courtesy Maritime Quest, unless otherwise identified. Some of the photos give an impression of the difficulty of fighting such ships with their dense funnel smoke, gunsmoke, and in heavy seas

Completions Year-by-Year - 1906-14

17,617t full load
18 knots
10in max belt armour
869 crew

see HMS Erin and Agincourt above

Summary - Dreadnought Classes Completed or Completing by August 1914

Countries in order of first dreadnoughts - totals exclude German Blucher, French Dantons and Russian Black Sea Fleet dreadnoughts building.

( 50 Allied , 28 Central Powers , 12 later Allies)

Genesis of the España class

This delay, from 1903 to 1908 was crucial as it spared Spain the construction of pre-dreadnoughts. Instead, the Armada saw the experience gained with the world’s first commissioned all-big-gun battleship, HMS Dreadnought and USS South Carolina.

The pre-requirements as formulated by the Navy staff included three main aspects:
-The Armada needed to defend its three main naval bases: Ferrol, Cádiz, and Cartagena.
-The new ship must deal with budgetary constraints, tailored for the frail Spanish economy and industrial sector.
-The third constraint came also from the existing dockyard facilities. The choice of building the ship rather than purchasing them in Great Britain was essentially economic. Shipbuilding in Spain was way cheaper. Funds were lacking any way to build either larger battleships or larger dockyards.

Battleship España at Ferrol in 1913

The final design was to come with a compact design, retaining the maximum firing effectiveness and adjusted armor protection. The Spanish Navy started discussing these requirements with Armstrong Whitworth and Vickers already in 1907 and on 5 September 1907, Vickers provided a proposed a 15,000-ton design armed with eight 12-inch guns. This was quite influential and became the basis to draw the final requirements issued on 21 April 1908.


The Iowa-class ships were among the most heavily armed ships the United States ever put to sea. The main battery of 16 inch guns could hit targets nearly 24 miles (39 km) away with a variety of artillery shells, from standard armor piercing rounds to tactical nuclear charges called "Katies" (from "kt" for kiloton). The secondary battery, of much smaller caliber and shorter range, could inflict severe damage upon smaller ships. The ships were built with many 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, which were gradually replaced with missiles, electronic-warfare suites, and Phalanx anti-missile Gatling gun systems.

Main battery

The primary armament of an Iowa-class battleship is nine 16-inch (406 mm) / 50-caliber guns in three 3-gun turrets: two forward and one aft. The guns are 66 feet (20 m) long (50 times their 16-inch bore, or 50 calibers, from breechface to muzzle). About 43 feet (13 m) protrudes from the gun house. Each gun weighs about 239,000 pounds (108 000 kg), roughly the weight of a space shuttle. They fire projectiles weighing from 1,900 to 2,700 pounds (850 to 1,200 kg) at a maximum speed of 2,690 ft/s (820 m/s) up to 24 miles (39 km). At maximum range the projectile spends almost 1½ minutes in flight.

Only the top of the turret protrudes above the main deck. The turret extends either four decks (Turrets 1 and 3) or five decks (Turret 2) down. The lower spaces contain rooms for handling the projectiles and storing the powder bags used to fire them. Each turret required a crew of 77 to 110 men. The turrets are not actually attached to the ship, but sit on rollers, which means that if the ship were to capsize the turrets would fall out. (Underwater photos of the Bismarck show empty barbettes, vacated as the ship sank.)

The turrets are "three-gun," not "triple", because each barrel can be elevated independently they can also be fired independently. The ship could fire any combination of its guns, including a broadside of all nine. Contrary to myth, the ships do not move much sideways when a broadside is fired. (For a more scientific exploration of this subject, see the link below.)

The guns can be elevated from &minus5° to +45°, moving at up to 12° per second. The turrets can be rotated about 300° at about four degrees per second and can even be fired back beyond the beam, which is sometimes called "over the shoulder." The guns are never fired directly forward (in the 1980s refit, a satellite uplink antenna was mounted at the bow).

The big guns were designed to fire the standard 16-inch (406 mm) artillery shells, but later advances brought more types of shell, including:

  • The Mk. 8 APC (Armor-Piercing, Capped) shell mentioned in the above text, which weighs in at 2,700 lb (1225 kg) and was designed to penetrate the hardened steel armor carried by foreign battleships. At 20,000 yards (18 km) the Mk. 8 could penetrate 20-inch (500 mm) of steel armor plate. At the same range, the Mk. 8 could penetrate 21 feet (6.4 m) of reinforced concrete.
  • For unarmored targets and shore bombardment, the 1,900-lb (862-kg) Mk. 13 HC (High-Capacity&mdashreferring to the large bursting charge) shell was available. The Mk. 13 shell would create a crater 50 feet (15 m) wide and 20 feet (6 m) deep upon impact and detonation, and could defoliate trees 400 yards (360 m) from the point of impact.
  • "Katie" shells: Around 1953, the United States Navy began a top-secret program to develop Mk. 23 nuclear naval shells with an estimated yield of 15 to 20 kilotons. These shells were designed to be launched from the best seaborne artillery platform available, which at the time were the four ships of the Iowa class. The shells were reportedly ready by 1956 however, it is not known whether they were ever actually deployed on the Iowa-class battleships because the United States Navy does not confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard its ships.

Secondary battery and anti-aircraft batteries

The secondary battery of the ship consists of 5 inch (127 mm) / 38-caliber guns in a series of twin mounts. Originally the secondary battery was intended to be part of the anti-aircraft defenses, but as aircraft became faster their effectiveness in that role decreased. Their use increased again toward the end of the war with the development of proximity-fuzed 5 inch shells that burst near the target rather than requiring a direct hit. By the time of the Gulf War the secondary battery was largely relegated to shore bombardment and littoral defense. Until the modernization in the 1980s there were ten twin mounts, five on each side of the ship. In the modernization the two mounts farthest aft on each side were removed to make room for missiles, leaving the ship with just six twin mounts. The guns have an effective range of 9 miles (14 km) and can be fired as fast as the crew can load and fire them. A good crew could run 16 to 23 rounds per minute through them.

The British attack at Taranto and the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour made it clear that airpower was going to play a substantial role in the war. The Iowas were designed to be a fearsome anti-aircraft platform. When launched they carried twenty quad Bofors 40 mm gun mounts, and forty-nine Oerlikon 20 mm cannon single mounts. By the end of WWII, the single 20 mm had stopped being a very effective anti-aircraft weapon: it did not have enough punch to stop the bigger, heavier aircraft they were seeing, in particular the kamikazes. By 1950, almost all of the single 20 mm guns had been removed. In the modernization in the 1980s, the Navy realized that it is difficult to shoot down a jet with a 40 mm anti-aircraft gun, so all of the 40 mm gun mounts and the last of the 20 mm guns were removed in the modernization. In their place, the Navy installed four of the Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems.


During the modernization in the 1980s, three important weapons were added to the Iowa-class battleships. The first was the CIWS anti-aircraft/anti-missile system discussed above. The other two were missiles for use against both land and sea targets.

The Iowa class were fitted with an anti-ship cruise missile, the RGM-84 Harpoon, in 16 launch tubes located alongside the aft stack, eight per side in two pods of four. The Harpoon has a range of about 85 nautical miles (157 km) depending upon how it is fired. For increased range and accuracy against land targets the Iowa class gained 32 BGM-109 Tomahawk missiles located in eight Armored Box Launchers. The TLAM or Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile was used extensively in the Gulf War by USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin. During the war, Wisconsin served as the TLAM strike commander for the Persian Gulf, directing the launches that marked the opening of Operation Desert Storm. To make room for the missile launchers, four of the ship's ten 5"/38 DP mounts were removed (little sacrifice, as the old guns were far less useful than the longer-barreled 5"/54 mounts on modern ships, and even less useful than the missiles that replaced them).

A planned installation of RIM-7 Sea Sparrow was scrapped because no shock-absorbing mounting could be designed that would protect the missiles' radar from damage when the guns fired.

US asks Europe to deploy more troops for ISIS fight

Posted On April 02, 2018 09:45:23

Declaring the Islamic State group’s destruction its top Middle East priority, the Trump administration on March 22 urged coalition partners to contribute more to forces who are retaking Iraq’s second largest city and readying an assault on the extremists’ self-declared Syrian capital. There was no apparent announcement of a new overall strategy, however.

Addressing top diplomats of the 68-nation coalition, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for new ideas to expand the fight against IS in the Iraqi city of Mosul and accelerate the campaign to chase militants from Raqqa, Syria, while preparing for the complex humanitarian and political consequences of both efforts.

Yet Tillerson did not propose, at least in his public remarks, a new approach, beyond noting the increased U.S. military role in each country. As the officials were meeting at the State Department in Washington, the Pentagon announced that it provided an airlift for Syrian fighters taking part in an offensive west of Raqqa, in an escalation of U.S. involvement. At least one country participating in the meeting, France, voiced frustration that Tillerson and other U.S. officials had not offered specifics.

“I recognize there are many pressing challenges in the Middle East, but defeating ISIS is the United States number one goal in the region,” Tillerson said. “As we’ve said before, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We must continue to keep our focus on the most urgent matter at hand.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Ababi said victory was finally within reach.

“We are at the stage of completely decimating Daesh ,” al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Nothing Tillerson outlined departed significantly from the Obama administration’s strategy, which focused on using local forces to retake territory along with efforts to disrupt IS recruitment and financing, and the blueprint of the multilateral effort seemed unchanged.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was disappointed the U.S. hasn’t outlined a more detailed plan, particularly for Raqqa’s future. He said he understood Trump’s administration was still formulating policy, explaining that he will be more concerned if decisions aren’t made before the end of April.

“We are expecting some further clarity from the U.S.,” he told reporters, citing France’s desire for the city to be run by moderate opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad and not the country’s Russian-backed government. He also wants to hear what America seeks from U.N.-led talks on a broader political settlement to the six-year civil war between Assad’s military and various rebel groups.

Tactics for fighting the Islamic State are complicated in Syria, where a partnership with Kurdish militants has prompted difficult discussions with Turkey, which sees them as a national security threat. The Pentagon made clear that in Wednesday’s offensive near Raqqa, U.S. forces were still in a support role.

Tillerson said the United States would play its part and pay its fair share of the overall operation. But he said other nations, particularly those which have faced IS or IS-inspired attacks , must contribute more militarily or financially.

He said increased intelligence and information sharing could overcome traditional rivalries between different agencies and governments, and advocated an enhanced online effort to halt the spread of extremist views, especially as the Islamic State group loses ground in Iraq and Syria.

Although Tillerson alluded to the intensified campaign, he said the Trump administration was still refining its strategy. As a candidate, Trump spoke broadly about radical changes to the approach adopted by then-President Barack Obama. As a president, Trump has moved more cautiously.

“A more defined course of action in Syria is still coming together,” Tillerson said. “But I can say that the United States will increase our pressure on ISIS and al-Qaida and will work to establish interim zones of stability, through cease-fires , to allow refugees to return home.”

The reference to “zones of stability” appeared to stop short of “safe zones,” which the U.S. military has been extremely reluctant to commit to enforcing in Syria, even as Trump and others have raised the idea at various times.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Hungary’s foreign minister said he liked what he heard.

“We are enthusiastic about the new U.S. strategy,” Peter Szijjarto said, adding that he saw Trump’s administration determined “not only to fight against ISIS , but totally eliminate ISIS .” He said his country would send 50 more soldiers to Iraq, taking its contribution to 200.

As the militants become more encircled, the mission will change. Officials expect in the coming months to see the dissipation of surviving fighters into underground cells that could plan and mount attacks throughout the Middle East, South and Central Asia, Europe, South America and the United States. Washington has been trying to get NATO, coalition and other partners to take actions to adapt to changing threats.

“As we stabilize areas encompassing ISIS ‘s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, we also must prevent their seeds of hatred from taking root elsewhere,” Tillerson said. “We must ensure ISIS cannot gain or maintain footholds in new regions of the world. We must fight ISIS online as aggressively as we would on the ground. A digital caliphate must not flourish in the place of a physical one.”

Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.

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Rare/Unique Battleships

The Frigate Escape Bay is a unique cargo bay, introduced in the March 2020 update Ώ] and present on all battleships. It enables a battleship to hold one fully assembled and fitted Tech 1, Pirate or Empire Faction, Assault, Electronic Attack, or Logistics Frigate. If a frigate is inside the bay when the battleship is destroyed, the pilot will be ejected in the frigate instead of their capsule. Ejecting from a battleship which has a frigate in its escape bay will also eject the pilot into space in that frigate, and attempting to board an unpiloted battleship while in a frigate will load that frigate into the battleship's escape bay (if it is empty).

Similar to the restrictions on ships stored in Ship Maintenance Bays, a frigate stored in the Escape Bay can only carry ammunition, Fuel Isotopes, and Strontium as cargo.

Donald Trump’s Crazy Idea To Bring Back Battleships Might Actually Be Possible

As usual, the cable news networks were waiting with baited breath last night for what was touted as a foreign policy speech, with details, by Donald Trump on the deck of the Battleship USS Iowa. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead we got the usual mix of talking points, although he did briefly mention that he wants to recommission the ship he was standing on. Would that even be feasible?

Trump’s latest whimsy comes around 9:30 into this video:

It’s a question I get asked all the time actually. Could any of the Iowa Class Battleships be returned to service once again like Reagan did in the early 1980s?

The fact of the matter is that there was, and still is to some degree, a meandering debate that has followed the Iowa Class’s last retirement, that being the need for naval gunfire support to support Marine beach landings and other amphibious operations. This is primarily why the Iowa Class Battleships were not made into museums or broken-up following their retirement in the early 1990s. Instead they were mothballed, a state the Iowa and the Wisconsin remained in until they were finally stricken from the Naval Register in the late mid 2000s.

There have been various concepts over the last four decades that would see the Iowas turned into everything from jump-jet aircraft carriers to missile slinging arsenal ships with huge vertical launch cell farms, to rail-gun toting super-battleships. The removal of the ships many five-inch guns could make room for new capabilities and reduce the crew complement by at least a couple hundred sailors, which is a good thing considering these ships sailed with a crew of over 1,500 during the 1980s and early 1990s. Some have even pushed to have them take the place of our current two Blue Ridge Class command ships .

German Dreadnought S. M. S. Helgoland 10 Pfennig Canteen Token 1917

German Dreadnought S. M. S. Helgoland zinc? ten pfennig canteen token. Obverse: Legend on three lines, the top and bottom curved: "Kantine • S. M. S. • HELGOLAND 1917". Reverse: Value in centre: "10". Reasonable collectable condition but somewhat corroded flan with slightly clearer legend than photograph indicates.

SMS Helgoland, [a] the lead ship of her class, was a dreadnought battleship of the German Imperial Navy. Helgoland ' s design represented an incremental improvement over the preceding Nassau class, including an increase in the bore diameter of the main guns, from 28 cm (11 in) to 30.5 cm (12 in). Her keel was laid down on 11 November 1908 at the Howaldtswerke shipyards in Kiel. Helgoland was launched on 25 September 1909 and was commissioned on 23 August 1911.

Like most battleships of the High Seas Fleet, Helgoland saw limited action against Britain's Royal Navy during World War I. The ship participated in several fruitless sweeps into the North Sea as the covering force for the battlecruisers of the I Scouting Group. She saw some limited duty in the Baltic Sea against the Russian Navy, including serving as part of a support force during the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in August 1915. Helgoland was present at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May – 1 June 1916, though she was located in the centre of the German line of battle and not as heavily engaged as the König- and Kaiser-class ships in the lead. Helgoland was ceded to Great Britain at the end of the war and broken up for scrap in the early 1920s. Her coat of arms is preserved in the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr in Dresden.