SMS Nürnberg

The SMS Nürnberg was a Königsberg class light cruiser built as part of Germany’s 1904-5 naval programme. She was launched in August 1906, although it would be 1908 before she was actually completed.

At the outbreak of the First World War, the Nürnberg was en-route to the Pacific coast of Mexico, where she was to relieve the Leipzig. Instead, she rejoined Admiral von Spee’s East Asian Squadron. Von Spee decided to take his squadron from the Pacific into the South Atlantic. The radio signals between his scattered ships were intercepted, and the commander of the British South American Squadron, Admiral Cradock, decided to take his small squadron into the Pacific with the hope of catching one of von Spee’s ships alone.

Instead it would be the British who were ambushed. In the resulting Battle of Coronel, two of Cradock’s ships, the Monmouth and the Good Hope were sunk. However, that victory owed everything to von Spee’s two strongest ships, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. While these two ships outgunned the best of the British ships, the Nürnberg was actually outgunned by all three of the British cruisers present at Coronel. Despite this, it was the Nurnberg that sank the Good Hope, although the British ship was already crippled by this point.

Von Spee then continued his journey into the South Atlantic. On 8 December 1914 he made an ill-advised attack on the British coaling station on the Falkland Islands and ran into Admiral Sturdee’s squadron, sent south to avenge the defeat at Coronel. While Studee’s two battle cruisers dealt with the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, HMS Kent chased down and sank the Nürnberg. In good condition the Nürnberg was actually faster than the Kent, but her prolonged time at sea had reduced her top speed enough for the much heaver British ship (9,800t) to catch her.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



 4,120 nautical miles at 12kts

Deck Armour


CT Armour

 100mm/ 4inch


 50mm/ 2 inch


 383ft 2in


Ten 4.1in
Eight 2in
Two 17.7in submerged torpedo tubes on beam

Crew complement



29 August 1906


8 December 1914 at Battle of the Falklands

The Kaiser’s Cruisers 1871-1918, Aidan Dodson and Dirk Nottelmann. Looks at the small cruisers that served in the navy of Imperial Germany, from its formation in the 1870s to the aftermath of the First World War, a period that saw the last sail powered cruisers replaced by recognisably modern steam powered turret armed warships after a prolonged period of debate, and Tirpitz come to dominate the Navy with the support of Wilhelm II. Splits the design process and service records into separate sections, so we can trace the development of the cruiser and then get a good overview of how the type performed in combat (Read Full Review)
cover cover cover

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 August 2007), SMS Nürnberg ,

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