S.M.S. Sankt Georg - 1905

SMS SANKT GEORG and KARL VI at Pola
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SMS Sankt Georg was an armored cruiser built for the Austro-Hungarian navy. While unique enough that some have made a case of the ship's qualifying as a "one-off," the photo above does not support this argument. The ship on the left is the St. Georg's immediate predecessor, the armored cruiser Kaiser Karl VI. Although the St. George was marginally bigger and incorporated some improvements, the derivation is obvious, and the two ships came only three years apart. The case would seem to be stronger for considering them as a class, with improvements made in the later ship as noted. The 1893 KuK Maria Theresia clearly belonged to an earlier generation of armored cruisers, and did not share obvious design features with the two later ships. Although the three ships formed a squadron together -- the First Cruiser Division -- they did not operate as a unit in wartime, the antiquated Maria Theresia acting as a floating dormitory for German U-boat crews while the two more modern ships operated with the fleet.

Launched in 1903, Sankt Georg was a smallish vessel for the classification at 8,000 tons (the German Scharnhorst and Gneisenau of 1908 were 11,400-ton ships; the larger British and American armored cruisers topped 14,000 tons). Her two 24 cm (9.4"/40) guns were carried in one twin turret forward. Four of her five 7.6" guns were carried in sponsons amidships, two guns per side with the casemates on the sponson corners for best arcs of fire. The fifth 7.6 was carried in a single turret on the quarterdeck. (The secondary gun disposition was similar to the Karl VI's gunnery layout, but up-gunned from 6" to 7.6".) No speed demon, the Sankt Georg typified the modest ambitions and concern with economy that characterized the Habsburg navy when she was constructed.

Sankt Georg was the last Austrian warship to visit the U.S., voyaging transatlantic in May 1907 on a goodwill mission. She touched at New York, Baltimore and Roanoke in an East Coast-only tour. She is seen at Hampton Roads in the second image in our Picture Gallery, below.

The Sankt Georg and Karl VI were paired as the First Cruiser Squadron of the K.u.K. Kriegsmarine. They served with the Austrian fleet through WWI, often forming part of the screening forces. Sankt Georg took part in the bombardment of Ancona on May 24, 1915. Both ships covered the force attacking the Otranto Straits barricade in May 1917 and June 1918. After the Armistice, they were part of the trophy fleet paraded around Venice. In 1920, Sankt Georg was ceded to Great Britain as war reparations, and subsequently sold for scrap.


Plans and Specifications

Austrian Cruiser SMS SANKT GEORG schematic

Specifications for the Sankt Georg:
Dimensions: 404'3" x 62'5" x 22'5"   Displacement: 7,289 tons standard; 8,199 tons deep laden. Armament: (2) 9.4"/40 cal (2x1), (5) 7.6"/42, (4) 5.9"/40, (8) 3" 12-pdr, and (6) 47mm 3-pdr guns; (2) 17.7" torpedo tubes.   Armor: Krupp Cemented (KC) type throughout. 6½"/2" belt; 9" forward turret; 8" barbette; 8¼" underwater belt amidships; 5" aft turret and midships gunhouse casemates; 3½" deck. Propulsion: (9) coal-fired Yarrow boilers; (2) inverted vertical triple-expansion engines developing 15,000 hp, shafted to twin screw. Maximum speed: 22 kts. Fuel capacity: 1,350 tons of coal maximum. Range: 4,000 nm @ 10 kts. Crew: 630.

Metric specifications:
Dimensions: 139m x 25m x 8.1m.   Displacement: 7,289 tons standard; 8,199 tons deep laden. Armament: (2) 24 cm/40 (2x1), (5) 193 mm/42, (4) 15 cm/40, (8) 76 mm 12-pdr and (6) 47mm 3-pdr guns; (2) 45 cm torpedo tubes.   Armor: Krupp Cemented (KC) type throughout. 165/51 mm belt; 229 mm forward turret; 203 mm barbette; 210 mm underwater belt amidships; 127 mm aft turret and midships gunhouse casemates; 88.9 mm deck. Propulsion: (9) coal-fired Yarrow boilers; (2) inverted vertical triple-expansion engines developing 11,185.5 kW, shafted to twin screw. Maximum speed: 41 km/hr. Fuel capacity: 1,350 tons of coal maximum. Range: 7,408 km @ 18.5 km/hr. Crew: 630.


Picture Gallery

SMS SANKT GEORG: Model by Jim Baumann
A handsome 1:700 scale model of Sankt Georg by Jim Baumann.

Watercolor of ST GEORG at Roanoke, 1907

The Sankt Georg and small cruiser Aspern at Hampton Roads on their 1907 visit. Watercolor by Ian Marshall (represented by the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery)

SMS SANKT GEORG dashing through the waves on trials
The Sankt Georg makes waves on her trials.

Outline profile of the SANKT GEORG


S.M.S. Kaiser Karl VI - 1896 / 1899
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SMS KAISER KARL VI in the Adriatic: illustration by Kircher

Seen here is a vibrant Alex Kircher illustration, the Kaiser Karl VI was the model for the Sankt Georg.


Plans and Specifications

SMS KAISER KARL VI: Profile

Specifications of the Kaiser Karl VI:
Dimensions: 367'6" x 56' x 22'2"   Displacement: 6,325 tons standard. Armament: (2) 9.4"/40 cal (1x2), (8) 5.9"/40, and (18) 47mm 3-pdr guns; (2) Maxim MG; and (2) 3" 12-pdr boat guns; (2) 17.7" torpedo tubes.   Armor: Harvey type throughout. 8½"/6¾" belt; 8" barbettes and turrets; 8" forward bulkhead; 7" aft bulkhead; 4" engine hatches; 3" midships gunhouse, casemates and upper belt; 2½"/1¼" deck. Propulsion: (18) coal-fired Belleville boilers with feedwater heaters; (2) 4-cyl inverted vertical triple-expansion engines developing 12,500 hp, shafted to twin screw. Maximum speed: 21 kts. Fuel capacity: 820 tons of coal maximum. Crew: 450. Initial cost: £429,000 at 1898 valuation.

Metric specifications:
Dimensions: 112m x 17.1m x 6.76m   Displacement: 6,325 tons standard. Armament: (2) 24 cm/40 cal (1x2), (8) 15 cm/40, and (18) 47mm 3-pdr guns; (2) Maxim MG; and (2) 76 mm 12-pdr boat guns; (2) 45 cm torpedo tubes.   Armor: Harvey type throughout. 224/171.5 mm belt; 203 mm barbettes and turrets; 203 mm forward bulkhead; 178 mm aft bulkhead; 102 mm engine hatches; 76 mm midships gunhouse, casemates and upper belt; 64/32 mm deck. Propulsion: (18) coal-fired Belleville boilers with feedwater heaters; (2) 4-cyl inverted vertical triple-expansion engines developing 9,321.25 kW, shafted to twin screw. Maximum speed: 38.9 km/hr. Fuel capacity: 820 tons of coal maximum. Crew: 450. Initial cost: £429,000 at 1898 valuation.


A Kaiser Karl Collection
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SMS KAISER KARL VI: Profile
The Kaiser Karl VI carefully reconstructed by K.u.K. chronicler Aldo Cherini. Enlarge

SMS KAISER KARL VI at Ancona, Italy
The Kaiser Karl VI -- here seen visiting Ancona in 1910 -- was the model for the Sankt Georg. Enlarge

Armored Cruiser KAISER KARL VI: View down the center of a main gun
View down the bore of one of the ship's 9.4" main guns.

Armored Cruiser KAISER KARL VI
Kaiser Karl visits Albania in peacetime. In 1915-18 Austro-Hungarian forces occupied Durazzo.