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Encyclopedia > German Imperial Navy
Flag of the Kaiserliche Marine

The Kaiserliche Marine or Imperial Navy was the German Navy created by Kaiser Wilhelm II between 1871 and 1919; it grew out of the Prussian Navy. The undefeated navy was largely destroyed at Scapa Flow in 1919 by its own officers after the loss of the land war on the Western Front of World War I. Capital ships of the Kaiserliche Marine were designated SMS, for Seiner Majestšt Schiff (His Majesty's Ship).


The Kaiserliche Marine achieved some important organisational and technical feats: matching the post-Dreadnought battleship building programme of the Royal Navy, the world's largest navy, in both quality and volume and was able to engage them at the battle of Jutland without being defeated. It was the first navy to successfully operate submarines on a large scale at war, and also operated zeppelins.


In 1897, the new Minister of the navy, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz began the building of a large modern navy consisting of both battleships and submarines. He later became the commander of the Navy. The main fighting forces of the navy were to become the High Seas Fleet, and the U-boat fleet.

Notable battles fought by the Navy were:

Minor engagements included the commerce raiding carried out by the Emden, Konigsberg, and the sailing ship Seeadler.



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