SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse
When she was first built the SS Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse was the first four funnel liner to enter service, and in 1898 she won the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic. At the outbreak of the First World War she was converted into an auxiliary cruiser, given six 4.1in guns and sent into the Atlantic as a commerce raider. She sank three merchant ships, but the big problem of the converted liners was their high fuel consumption. In mid August she had to begin taking on coal at Rio de Oro, a neutral Spanish port on the Saharan coast of Africa where she was tracked down by the British cruiser HMS Highflyer. By the time the Highflyer arrived the Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse had exceeded the week she was allowed to spend in a neutral port, and fighting broke out at 15.10 in the afternoon on 26 August. The Highflyer was the smaller ship, and was also theoretically 2 knots slower, but she was significantly more heavily armed, with eleven quick firing 6in guns. The battle lasted for about an hour and a half, but eventually the German ship ran out of ammo. After a brief attempt to escape she exploded and sank. The British believed that their gunfire had sunk her, while the German survivors claimed that they had fired explosive charges and scuttled her.
How to cite this article:
Rickard, J (26 January 2015), SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse , http://www.historyofwar.org/Pictures/pictures_SS_Kaiser_Wilhelm_der_Grosse.html