Wreck of the day 03 – SMS Dresden II

Name: SMS Dresden II

Launched: 25th April 1917

Commissioned: 28th March 1918

Co-ordinates: 58°52.98N; 03°18.37W

Displacement: 5620t (7486t loaded)

Length: 155.5m (510’)

Beam: 14.2m (47’)

Draft: 6.01m (19.7’)

Propulsion: 31,000 shp, 2 shafts

Speed: 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h)

Range: 10,000km at 12 knots

Complement: 17 officers, 542 enlisted men

Armament: 8 × 15 cm SK L/45 guns, 3 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) L/45 AA guns, 4 × 60 cm (24 in) torpedo tubes, 200 mines


Brief History:

Sister ship to the Köln (also on the bottom of Scapa flow and discussed in a previous blog) and built to replace the Dresden I which was sunk off Chile in 1915. The SMS Dresden II was longer and more heavily armed than her predecessor and was considered one of the best in her class within the fleet.

She was attached to II scouting group which was sent on a mission to locate and destroy a British convoy en route to Norway. However, as the British convoy had sailed the day before it was not located and the German mission was called off.

In October 1918 she was assigned a mission along with the Köln and others to attack the British navy in the Thames estuary as a final stand in the final days of the war.  This was a last ditch attempt to secure Germany a better bargaining position no matter the cost to the German fleet. However several of the ships’ crews mutinied and the attack was cancelled.

The unruly crew of the Markgraf apparently pointed one their guns at the Dresden and refused to move out of her way after she was order to Eckernförde but eventually backed down allowing her to sail.

Once the order came to scuttle the ships in Scapa Flow, the Dresden II capsized violently to port and sunk dramatically.

Diving the SMS Dresden II

A good wreck for all abilities as it lays on a sloping seabed. The bow faces north and rests at 25m while moving aft will take you deeper to a maximum of around 37m. The wreck lays on it’s port side and has many interesting features.

Relatively unscathed from the salvaging that many of Scapa’s wrecks were subjected to the Dresden is in good condition. Pay good attention to the engine rooms which although have suffered blast damage from salvagers are still full of machinery and are definitely worth a poke around.

The officers’ quarters are fascinating and those with a keen eye may find a bathtub! Although the bronze propellers themselves would have been salvaged it is possible to see 2 propeller shafts in place with a single rudder. The stern is still intact itself and is a magnificent shape.

Notice the rear guns are still in place and facing ever so slightly towards starboard and also note how the forward of the rear guns is raised so to fire above the aft gun.

This is a nice dive to complement the Köln as they are sister ships and you can compare how both have fared to 93 years underwater! A particularly cool feature however of the Dresden II is the crest just aft of the bow which only the lead ship of a given class would carry.


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