Cöln class light cruisers

The Cöln class light cruisers were the last such ships built for the German navy during the First World War. A total of ten ships were planned, but only two (Cöln and Dresden) were actually completed, entering service in March and January 1918 respectively). Five more were launched but never completed, as other war industries got higher priorities for scarce manpower.

The three un-launched ships were only given Erstaz, “replacement” or “substitute” names.  Their proper names would have been announced when they were launched.

As normal they were enlarged versions of the previous second Königsberg class, reaching a total displacement of 7,468 tons. As planned they were to carry three anti-aircraft guns, although only two were actually provided. Their torpedo tubes were increased in size from the 19.7in tubes on the previous class to 23.6in.

The two ships that were completed had a short service career, before being interned at Scapa Flow at the end of the war. Both Cöln and Dresden were scuttled on 21 June 1919.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - conning tower


 - gunshields


 - collision bulkhead



510ft 2in

Armaments as built

Eight 5.9in guns
Three 3.45in Flak anti-aircraft guns
Four 23.6in torpedo tubes
120 mines

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Cöln (ii)
SMS Dresden (ii)

Launched but not completed

SMS Wiesbaden (ii)
SMS Magdeburg (ii)
SMS Leipzig (ii)
SMS Rostock (ii)
SMS Frauenlob (ii)

Not Launched

SMS Ersatz Cöln
SMS Ersatz Emden
SMS Ersatz Karlshruhe

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 September 2007), Cöln class light cruisers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_coln_class_cruisers.html

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