Roon class heavy cruisers

The two Roon class heavy cruisers were virtual repeats of the previous Prinz Adalbert class, with a slight increase in displacement, 1,500ihp more power and two extra 88mm guns. As with the previous class their central battery was prone to flooding and they were not well armoured.

Plans of Roon Class Armoured Cruisers
Plans of
Roon Class
Armoured Cruisers

Both ships took place in the Gorleston Raid of 3 November 1914, the first German attack on the east coast of England during the First World War. On the following day, the Yorck ran into the German minefield at the entrance to Jade Bay, and was lost with half of her crew.

The Roon took part in the raid on the Yorkshire coast of 15-16 December 1914. With the Prinz Heinrich she acted as a screen for the battleships that sailed to support the battlecruisers carrying out the raid. Early on 16 December the Roon was found by one of the British destroyer flotillas. The British ships were driven off by German light cruisers. The main British forces in the area were engaged in a search for the Roon when news reached them of the attack on the east coast, forcing them to break off the chase.

In July 1915 the Roon was in the Baltic, supporting a German offensive aimed at Riga. There she was involved in a clash with a Russian squadron, before she was driven off by the 15,000t Russian cruiser Ryurik (armed with four 10in and eight 8in guns).

In 1916 the Roon was retired from the active fleet for use as a guard ship. She was later disarmed and used as an accommodation ship. A plan was developed to turn her into a seaplane carrier, with a hanger for four seaplanes, but the German navy didn’t really need seaplane carriers, using Zeppelins to support the fleet, and the project was abandoned. 



Top Speed


Armour – belt


 - turrets


 - deck



419ft 7in


Four 210mm (8.3in) guns
Ten 150mm (5.9in) guns
Fourteen 88mm (3.5in) guns
Four machine guns
Four 450mm (17.7in) torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Roon
SMS Yorck

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)
cover cover cover


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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 November 2007), Roon class heavy cruisers ,

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