Battle cruiser that played a pivotal diplomatic role

The German battle cruiser Goeben was one of the fastest and most powerful warships of its day. Manned by more than 1,000 crewmen, it played a pivotal role in influencing Turkey to enter the First World War on the side of the Central Powers.

According to The Engineer’s 1912 archive, Goeben was an example of ’a very successful design and one which is worthy of close attention in view of its wide divergence from the British practice of centreline turrets and lack of heavy secondary armament’.

The ship was 610ft in length and could displace 22,600 tons. Its armament consisted of 10 11in, 45-calibre guns placed in five turrets, an armoured battery of 12 6in guns on the main deck and an anti-torpedo boat armament of 12 3.4in guns distributed forward and aft of the ship.

The Engineer described a chart house design, which it considered to be too low. ’From the lower bridge it is impossible to see aft… The general arrangement round the forward funnel does not appear to be very good, but this defect is by no means confined to the Goeben.’

“A very successful design worthy of close attention for its divergence from a British practice of centreline turrets”

Constructed by Messrs Blohm and Voss of Hamburg, Goeben followed Germany’s first major turbine-powered warship Von der Tann, which was passed into the German fleet in 1910, and the Moltke, which was commissioned in 1911.

In the first weeks of August 1914, Goeben and an accompanying cruiser, Breslau, made a dramatic escape from a pursuing British Mediterranean squadron and took refuge at Constantinople. They were later transferred to the Turkish Navy in a diplomatic manoeuvre that brought the Ottoman Empire into alliance with Germany during the First World War.