Scuttling of the Interned German Fleet, 21st June 1919


On the 21st of June, 1919, 72 powerful warships, the heart of what had been the Imperial German Navy, was scuttled in the British harbour of Scapa Flow. The story is intriguing, and has been written about many times over the years. Briefly, World War One did not end on 11 November 1918 - only an armistice (ie a cease-fire) had been signed. Part of the agreement was that the German Navy would be interned, and the Orkney Islands (to the north of Scotland) were chosen. Disarmed, and with only nucleus crews aboard, the mighty German warships sailed north and were isolated in what had been the main British naval base. Cutoff from German newspapers, Rear-Admiral Ludwig von Reuter believed that fighting would break out again in June, as the final treaties were not yet signed. Disarmed and with only a handful of the necessary men on board, the order was given to scuttle the ships, to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy.

In one of the greatest salvage epics in modern times, almost all of the ships were eventually raised and scrapped. However, a few remain on the bottom of the Flow to this day, where they are a major attraction for the scuba diving fraternity. Although deep, they are accessible to those divers with the requisite skills:

Battleships Kronprinz Wilhelm, Markgraf, Konig
Light Cruisers Karlsruhe, Dresden, Brummer, Coln

Note the "ScapaMAP" Diving Survey!

The following table, showing all the ships scuttled, is courtesy of Dave Pryse-Watson (, and all photographs supplied by Cliff McMullen (


Kaiser (S) Bayern (S)
Kaiserin (S) Grosser Kurfürst (S)
Prinzregent Luitpold (S) Kronprinz Wilhelm (S)
König Albert (S) Markgraf (S)
Friderich der Grosse (Ex flagship) (S) König (S)
Baden (B)


Seydlitz (S) Hindenburg (S)
Moltke (S) Derfflinger (S)
Von der Tann (S)

Light Cruisers

Nürnberg (B) Frankfurt (B)
Karlsruhe (S) Köln (S)
Dresden (S) Bremse (B)
Emden (Flagship) (B) Brummer (S)


1st Flotilla
G40 (Leader) (S) G38 (S) G39 (S)
G86 (S) V129 (S) S32 (S)
2nd Flotilla
B110 (leader) (S) G101 (S) G103 (S)
V100 (B) B109 (S) B111 (S)
B112 (S) G104 (S)
3rd Flotilla
S54 (Leader) (S) S55 (S) G91 (S)
V70 (S) V73 (S-SW) V81 (B)
V82 (B)
6th Flotilla
V44 (Leader) (S-SW) V43 (S-SW) V45 (S)
V46 (S-SW) S49 (S) S50 (S)
V125 (B) V126 (B) V127 (B)
V128 (B) S131 (S) S132 (S-SW)
S138 (Leader*) (S) S56 (S) S65 (S)
V78 (S) V83 (S) G92 (B)
S136 (S) S137 (S-SW) H145 (S)
G89 (S) S36 (S) S51 (S)
S52 (S) S60 (B) V80 (B)

* Also small boat leader

(S) Sank
(S-SW) Sank in shallow water
(B) Beached

The Photographs
(click on each for an enlargement)



scuttled in shallow water


being salvaged


sinking after being used as a gunnery target, 1921



Konig Albert









being salvaged, circa 1926



Von der Tann


The Grand Scuttle by Dan Van der Vat
German Warships of World War One by John C Taylor
German Warships 1815-1945 by Erich Gröner
Purnells' History of the First World War

Destroyer G101

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Last Updated: 5 May, 2002.