German Navy

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Flags of the Reichsflotte (1848)

The German Navy (German: Deutsche Marine) refers to the naval forces of Germany along with it's naval infantry.

Prussian war ensign after 1850

Chronology of German sea ​​power

Francia / Holy Roman Empire

Prussian Fleet in East Asia 1859–1862
War flag of the North German Federal Navy (1867–1871)
During the Boxer Insurrection Boxer gangs advanced on Beijing in May and June 1900. On 11 June, the first Boxer was seen in the Legation Quarter.[1] In order to protect themselves, the "Eight-Nation Alliance" was founded on 10 June 1900, 2,000 sailors and marines (916 British, 455 Germans, 326 Russians, 158 French, 112 Americans, 54 Japanese, 41 Italians, and 26 Austrians) were put under the command of the British Vice-Admiral Edward Hobart Seymour, his chief of staff was Kapitän zur See Ernst Adolf Julius Guido von Usedom,[2] captain of the SMS "Hertha". On 22 June 1900, the defeated Seymour (62 dead and 232 wounded) had to retreat to Tientsin, finally the German troops, deployed by Felix Bendermann, arrived, and Seymour called out "The Germans to the front!". This was to become their finest hour. They threw themselves against the enemy and managed to cover the successful retreat. In September 1900 Generalfeldmarschall Alfred Ludwig Heinrich Karl Graf von Waldersee was given command of the alliance. He was officially proposed by the emperor of Russia, and seconded by the Japanese, as the first Allied Supreme Commander of modern times.
The battleship "Bismarck" (de)
War Ensign (Reichskriegsflagge) of the Kriegsmarine of Germany 1938−1945
The German Navy’s first Baden-Württemberg-class frigate on 17 June 2019
  • Imperial Fleet (German: Reichsflotte)
    • since Charlemagne, the Germanic people had a small navies, primarily to guard the coasts of the empire, but also ships to guard the rivers, especially Rhine and Danube. Between the 11th and 13th Centuries German ships would set sail in the North Sea in order to take part in the Crusades. Frederick II ordered the building of a strong fleet for the Mediterranean Sea. Wilhelm Porcus would become his first Reichsadmiral (imperial admiral), who defeated during the Battle of Giglio (1241) a fleet of the Republic of Genoa in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The target of the Imperial fleet was to intercept a delegation of high-ranking prelates from Western Frankia, Spain, England and northern Italy which were traveling with the Genoese fleet en route to Rome where Gregory IX had summoned a council. In 1528 a new imperial fleet was built in Trieste in order to fight against the islamic Turks and Venetians. In the Thirty Years' War the German Emperor Ferdinand II gave Albrecht von Wallenstein his own fleet and the title "General des Ozeanischen und Baltischen Meeres" (1627). The Netherlands belonged until 1648 to the Roman-German Empire and also had a small navy.
  • German Hanseatic League (German: Deutsche Hanse)
    • The Hanseatic League originated from various loose associations of German traders and towns formed to advance mutual commercial interests, such as protection against piracy and banditry. The Hanseatic cities came to the aid of one another, and commercial ships often had to be used to carry soldiers and their arms. At the height of their power in the late-14th century, the merchants of the Hanseatic League succeeded in using their economic power and, sometimes, their military might—trade routes required protection and the league's ships sailed well-armed—to influence imperial policy. The Hanseatic free cities owed allegiance directly to the Roman-German Emperor, without any intermediate family tie of obligation to the local nobility.
  • Brandenburg Navy (German: Kurbrandenburgische Marine)
    • The Navy was originally assembled as the Hohenzollern rulers of Brandenburg began to increase in importance and to desire the prestige and security of having a suitable naval defence force. During the 17th century, the navy was of great use in numerous battles in the Baltic Sea, and it also served the interests of Brandenburg's colonies in Africa (specifically the Brandenburger Gold Coast) and the Caribbean. By the year 1680, the Brandenburg Navy had almost thirty active warships. Since 1684 the Brandenburg Army had a naval infantry or marines (German: Marinier-Corps), which existed even after the navy was disbanded. 1744 the marines were converted into the Garnisons-Bataillon Nummer 12, now a part of the Royal Prussian Army.
  • Danube Fleet (German: Donauflotte)
    • The Danube Fleet was the fleet of the Archduchy of Austria (Erzherzogtum Österreich) and therefore part of the [Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation]. 1786 a stronger navy was built, the Austrian Navy (German: Österreichische Marine). After the fall of the empire 1806 it became autarc, 1815 it would become part of the navy of the German Confederation. The Austrain Navy had since in the first half of the 19th century a small naval infantry (German: Seesoldaten).
  • Royal Prussian Navy (German: Königlich Preußische Marine)
    • The Prussian Navy was created in 1701 from the former Brandenburg Navy upon the dissolution of Brandenburg-Prussia, the personal union of Brandenburg and Prussia under the House of Hohenzollern, after the elevation of Frederick I from Duke of Prussia to King in Prussia. At first it was more or less disbandend (1711), but continued as an insignificant sea power, mostly hiring foreign ships for protection. During the Seven Years' War a few smaller ships were built. Some even sailed the oceans with letters of marque. 1759 bthe Prussian war ship "Prinz Ferdinand" seized 14 ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Between 1811 and 1813 a few Prussian ships fought against Napoleons navy. During 1815 and 1849 Prussia had only few ships against pirates and was active mainly as a merchant navy. Since January 1850 the Royal Prussian Navy had once again a naval infantry, the Königlich Preußisches Marinierkorps (also Marinir-Korps), based in Stettin.
    • A platoon took part at the Battle of Tres Forcas on 7 August 1856, as 14 officers and 53 non-commissioned officers, sailors, and marines (1 officer and 23 Seesoldaten) from the SMS "Danzig", led by Prince Adalbert of Prussia in person, attacked on a steep rock face nearly 40 metres high under heavy enemy fire. This attack was successful and the hundreds (other sources say thousands) Riffians, who were shoting at the ship beforehand, were forced back to a plateau. However, they were also receiving continuous reinforcement, so Adalbert finally decided to withdraw, lest he and his troops become cut off from the shore. Prussian casualties were seven dead and 22 wounded, including Prince Adalbert, shot in the thigh. From 1854 until 1881 the Marine-Stabswache, subordinate to the Seebataillon, had the duty to assist the captains of the German ships in maintaining discipline and order on board. The Austrians made up the main part of the navy of the German Confederation. Prince Adalbert of Prussia (1811–1873) would see the problem and start to build a strong navy. The Prussian Navy was dissolved in 1867 when Prussia joined the North German Confederation one year after the Austro-Prussian War, and its naval forces were absorbed into the North German Federal Navy.


  • Imperial Fleet (German: Reichsflotte)
    • The Reichsflotte of the revolutionary era of 1848–1852 was the first German navy to sail under the black-red-gold flag. Founded on 14 June 1848 by the orders of the democratically elected Frankfurt Parliament, the Reichsflotte's brief existence ended with the failure of the revolution and it was disbanded on 2 April 1852. The Reichsflotte also had marines, the Reichs-Marinier-Corps, although they were mainly deployed to protect the ships and the port facilities. Until 1852, the fleet hadtwo sail frigates, three steam frigates, one sail corvette, six steam corvettes, 27 gunboats and the U-boat "Brandtaucher", the oldest known surviving submarine in the world. While most ships were sold off in 1852/1853, two of the steam frigates were given to the Prussian Navy, which later evolved into the North German Federal Navy (1867–1871) and that then became the Imperial German Navy (1872–1918).
  • North German Federal Navy (German: Norddeutsche Bundesmarine or Marine des Norddeutschen Bundes)
    • During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–1871, the navy of Prussia encountered enemy forces on a few occasions. These included several minor skirmishes in the North and Baltic Seas between German coastal forces and the French blockade fleet, along with the Battle of Havana between the gunboat "Meteor" and the French aviso "Bouvet".

German Empire

  • Imperial German Navy (German: Kaiserliche Marine)
    • The Imperial Navy was approved on 15 June 1871 and officially initiated on 1 February 1872. After the November 1918 Revolution the Empire collapsed. The best capital ships were surrendered. The Seebataillon of the Prussian Navy was taken over by the North German Federal Navy 1867, had 1870 a strength of 22 officers and 680 NCOs as well as entlisted men. They were all taken over into the new Imperial German Navy, the battalion staff had it's headquarters in Kiel. Soon they should be three Seebataillone, serving with distinction at home, but also in the German colonies. On 24 April 1912, the Imperial German Navy ordered its first Zeppelin—an enlarged version of the airships operated by DELAG—which received the naval designation Z 1 and entered Navy service in October 1912. On 18 January 1913 Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, obtained the agreement of Kaiser Wilhelm II to a five-year program of expansion of German naval-airship strength, involving the building of two airship bases and constructing a fleet of ten airships. 1913 the history of German naval aviaton begann, 1910 it already had for the Imperial German Army.
  • Reichsmarine (1919–1935)
    • The Reichsmarine was the navy of Weimar Germany. Some units of the former Imperial Navy were retained.
  • Kriegsmarine (1935–1945)
    • The Kriegsmarine was the navy of the Wehrmacht of the National Socialist Germany, taking part in WW II. It was formed in May of 1935. It was formed after the passing of the “Law for the Reconstruction of the National Defense Forces”. This law brought back into existence a free-standing German army, navy, and air force, something that had been essentially banned after the end of World War I (Treaty of Versailles). The Seeflieger of the Kriegsmarine were officially subordinated to the Luftwaffe.


  • Deutsche Seeverbände (1945–1956)
    • German naval units under the indirect control of the occupying forces (Allies), often tasked with deadly mine clearance
  • Deutsche Marine of the Bundeswehr (founded on 2 January 1956)
    • The headquarters of the German Navy of the Federal Republic of Germany, also known unofficially as Bundesmarine (Federal Navy) until the German Reunification 1990, are in Rostock (Navy Command), the motto is: "Wir. Dienen. Deutschland." (We. Serve. Germany.) German warships permanently participate in all four NATO Maritime Groups.
  • Volksmarine (founded on 1 March 1956, dissolved on 2 October 1990)
    • The Volksmarine of the GDR was dissolved, like all other branches of the former National People's Army (Volksarmee), on 2 October 1990 – the day before the official reunification of Germany. Some of its staff was absorbed into the Deutsche Marine, some by the German Border Police (Bundesgrenzschutz, renamed Bundespolizei in 2005), which also has some ships, as well as the water police (Wasserschutzpolizei) of the federal states. Most of the ships and other equipment were scrapped or sold, and few if any former Volksmarine vessels remain in service with the modern-day German Navy.

See also

External links

Ranking lists


  1. The German Minister, Clemens von Ketteler, and German soldiers captured a Boxer, a wannabe assassin, and inexplicably executed him. In response, thousands of Boxers burst into the walled city of Beijing that afternoon and burned many of the Christian churches and cathedrals in the city, burning some victims alive. The soldiers at the British Embassy and German Legations shot and killed several Boxers, Clemens August Freiherr von Ketteler was murdered on 20 June 1900, being shot at point blank range.
  2. Guido von Usedom, The Prussian Machine