SMS Prinz Heinrich

Plans of SMS Prinz Heinrich
Plans of SMS Prinz Heinrich

SMS Prinz Heinrich, 1902
SMS Prinz Heinrich, 1902

SMS Prinz Heinrich was the oldest German armoured cruiser to see service during the First World War. She had been built under the Second Navy Law, to act as an overseas station ship, and was a faster but lighter version of SMS Fürst Bismarck, the first German armoured cruiser. Because she was intended for service in tropical seas, her hull was sheathed with wood (designed to be replaced easily on a regular basis). She was the first German cruiser to carry all of her secondary armament in the central citadel that was a feature of all German battleships and heavy cruisers of the pre-dreadnought era. 

In August 1914 the Prinz Heinrich was undergoing a refit. She was back with the fleet in time to take part in the raid on the Yorkshire coast of 15-16 December 1914. Prinz Heinrich, and the slightly more modern but very similar cruiser Roon acted as a screen for the battle squadrons that put to sea to support the battlecruisers undertaking the raid itself, and did not form part of the squadron that actually carried out the bombardment. The Prinz Heinrich remained with the fleet until 1916, when she was disarmed and used as a depot ship at Kiel. She was followed into service by the two very similar Prinz Adalbert class cruisers.



Top Speed


Armour – belt


 - turrets


 - deck



415ft 4in


Two 240mm (9.4in) guns
Ten 150mm (5.9in) guns
Ten 88mm (3.5in) guns
Four machine guns
Four 450mm (17.7in) torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Sold for break up


Before the Battlecruiser - The Big Cruiser in the World’s Navies 1865-1910, Aidan Dodson. Looks at the development and careers of the ‘big cruiser’, the most heavily armed cruisers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a type that eventually evolved in the battlecruiser. Covers the development of the type, its combat experience while still state of the art, its role in the First World War, as well as looking at the technical specifications of all of the ships that fell into this category (Read Full Review)
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 November 2007), SMS Prinz Heinrich ,

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