Bremen class light cruisers

The Breman class light cruisers set a pattern for German cruiser design before the First World War in that they were slightly larger versions of the previous class, in this case the Gazelle Class. The resulting ships were 600 tons heavier, 19 feet longer and at least one knot faster than the Gazelle class ships, but carried the same armament of ten 4.1in guns.

SMS Lübeck was the first German cruiser to be powered by a turbine engine, in this case without an increase in speed, but the trials were otherwise successful, and the experiment would be repeated in later classes.

SMS Leipzig was part of Admiral von Spee’s squadron at the battle of Coronel. She was sunk by British cruisers during the battle of the Falklands (8 December 1914). The Bremen was lost on 17 December 1915, after striking a mine in the Baltic.

By the middle of the war the five remaining Breman class ships were becoming obsolescent. München and Berlin were disarmed in 1916, while Lübeck was refitted to serve as a mine layer.

After the war Lübeck, Munchen and Danzig were surrendered to Britain, where they were soon scrapped. Berlin and Hamberg were part of the small post-war German fleet, acting as training ships, before being hulked during the 1930. After the Second World War Berlin was used to dispose of some of the vast arsenal of unused poison gas shells found in Germany in 1945. Loaded with shells, she was sunk in the Skagerrak in 1947, where she now poses an potentially serious environmental threat.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck

3.5in amidships




Ten 105mm/ 4.1in guns
Ten machine guns
Three 450mm/ 17.7in torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Bremen
SMS Hamburg
SMS Berlin
SMS Lübeck
SMS München
SMS Leipzig
SMS Danzig

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 September 2007), Bremen class light cruisers ,

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