Scapa Flow – Wreck of the day 02 – Köln

Name: Köln

Launched: 5th October 1916

Commissioned: 17th January 1918

 Co-ordinates: 58° 53′ 32″ N, 3° 3′ 0″ W

Type: Light Cruiser

Displacement: 7,486 t (full load)

Length: 155.5m (510’)

Beam: 14.2m (47’)

Draft: 6.01m (19.7’)

Propulsion: 2 Turbines, 14 boilers, 31,000shp, 2 shafts

Speed: 27.5knots (50.9 km/h)

Range: 10,000km (6,200m) at 12 knots (22km/h)

Complement: 17 officers, 542 enlisted

Armament: 8 × 15 cm SK L/45 guns
3 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) L/45 AA guns

4 × 60 cm (23.6 in) torpedo tubes
200 mines


Although launched in 1916, by the time she was ready for service it was only 10 months before the end of the war. As a result she didn’t see action but was involved in several missions including one which involved escorting U-boats in the German minefields of the Heglioland bight.

As the end of the war began nearing she was one of few ships to remain loyal whilst other crews mutinied and she stayed at sea awaiting orders. However this order was for her internment at Scapa Flow. Leaky condensers meant that she was slow to travel and limped into the harbour behind most of the fleet although once the order came to scuttle on June 21st 1919, she was one of the first to obey.

Diving the Köln:

Considered the most intact and in the best condition of all the German wrecks in Scapa Flow, this makes a fantastic dive and is the favourite for many visiting divers.

Lying on her starboard side in 36m with her portside hull being 20 metres from the surface allows a degree of flexibility in how you plan to dive her. Those with the necessary qualifications and intentions to do some deco can explore the lower regions whilst the others will be able to enjoy the shallower sections.

It’s a worthwhile swim to head aft from the shot and look for the portholes and a doorway which lead to the officers’ accommodation and if you continue further aft still there you will find a large gun before swimming around the stern and checking out the rudder.  If you swim forwards you will come across the lifeboat davits and the 3.4 inch high elevation gun located before the main mast pointed horizontally forwards. The armoured conning tower and Command Bridge (minus the periscope) are also worth a look. The forward deck guns are missing but a large hole allows those trained access to what were once the crews’ quarters.


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