SMS Scharnhorst was an armored cruiser of the Imperial German Navy, built at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. She was the lead ship of her class, which included SMS Gneisenau. Scharnhorst and her sister were enlarged versions of the preceding Roon class; they were equipped with a greater number of main guns and were capable of a higher top speed. The ship was named after the Prussian military reformer General Gerhard von Scharnhorst and commissioned into service on 24 October 1907.
Scharnhorst served briefly with the High Seas Fleet in Germany in 1908, though most of this time was spent conducting sea trials. She was assigned to the East Asia Squadron based in Qingdao, China, in 1909. After arriving, she replaced the cruiser Fürst Bismarck as the squadron flagship, a position she would hold for the rest of her career. Over the next five years, she went on several tours of various Asian ports to show the flag for Germany. She frequently carried the squadron commanders to meet Asian heads of state and was present in Japan for the coronation of the Taishō Emperor in 1912.
After the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, accompanied by three light cruisers and several colliers, sailed across the Pacific Ocean to the southern coast of South America. On 1 November 1914, Scharnhorst and the rest of the East Asia Squadron encountered and overpowered a British squadron at the Battle of Coronel. The defeat prompted the British Admiralty to dispatch two battlecruisers to hunt down and destroy the German squadron, which they accomplished at the Battle of the Falkland Islands on 8 December 1914. The discovery of the wreck was announced in December 2019 by Mensun Bound. wiki
top of page
bottom of page