Austro-Hungarian Navy

Austro-Hungarian Navy

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The Austro-Hungarian Navy was essentially a coastal defence force until the 20th century. With the active support of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the navy was expanded rapidly after 1904.

By 1914 the navy had 3 modern dreadnoughts, 18 destroyers,, 7 cruisers and 9 battleships (pre-dreadnought design) and 5 submarines. The bulk of the fleet was based at the northern Adriatic port of Pula.

The Austro-Hungarian Naval Officer Corps, 1867–1918

Two Decades Ago, Holger Herwig's The German Naval Officer Corps: A Social and Political History, 1890–1918 (1973) chronicled the story of the new military elite that rose to prominence when imperial Germany went to sea: a corps that sought to emulate the traditions of the Prussian army, its middle-class officers eager to embrace the values and attitudes of the more aristocratic army officer corps.1 Recently Istvan Deak's excellent work Beyond Nationalism: A Social and Political History of the Habsburg Officer Corps, 1848–1918 (1990) has provided a comprehensive picture of the officer corps of the Habsburg army.2 Like imperial Germany, Austria-Hungary was a central European land power with few long-standing traditions at sea, but differences in social composition, training, and outlook distinguished the Austro-Hungarian naval officer corps from its German counterpart. Within the Dual Monarchy the navy had to deal with the nationality question and other challenges that also faced the army, but in many respects its officer corps reflected the diversity of the empire more than the Habsburg army officer corps did, contributing to the navy's relatively more successful record as a multinational institution.


In the decades that followed the Austrian victory at the Battle of Lissa in 1866, naval expenditure in the Austro-Hungarian Empire were drastically reduced, in large part due to the veto power the Hungarian half of the empire held. Surrounded by potentially hostile countries powers on land, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was more concerned with these threats, and so naval development was not prioritized. [1] Admiral Friedrich von Pöck argued for several years to improve the strength of the Austro-Hungarian fleet, finally winning authorization to build the center battery ship Tegetthoff in 1875. [2] He spent another six years trying in vain to secure a sister ship to Tegetthoff. [3] In 1881, he called for a fleet of eleven armored warships. Pöck's successor, Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck, ultimately had to resort to budgetary sleight of hand, appropriating funds that had been allocated to modernize the ironclad Erzherzog Ferdinand Max to build an entirely new vessel. He attempted to conceal the deception by referring to the ship officially as Ferdinand Max, though the actual Ferdinand Max was still anchored in Pola as a school ship. [4]

General characteristics and machinery Edit

Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie was 85.36 meters (280 ft 1 in) long between perpendiculars and 87.24 m (286 ft 3 in) long overall. She had a beam of 17.06 m (56 ft 0 in) and a draft of 6.6 m (21 ft 8 in), and she displaced 5,075 long tons (5,156 t). Her hull was constructed with transverse and longitudinal steel frames and was extensively subdivided into watertight compartments to improve the ship's resistance to flooding. [5] The ship was equipped with a ram bow that was manufactured in Germany by Krupp. [6] She was fitted with two pole masts equipped with fighting tops for some of her light guns. Her crew number 430 officers and enlisted men. [5]

The ship was powered by a pair of compound steam engines driving two screw propellers [5] the engines were built by Maudslay, Sons and Field of Britain. [6] The number and type of the coal-fired boilers that provided steam for the engines have not survived, though they were trunked into two funnels. Her propulsion system was rated to provide 8,000 indicated horsepower (6,000 kW) for a top speed of 17 knots (31 km/h 20 mph). [5]

Armament and armor Edit

Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie was armed with a main battery of two 30.5-centimeter (12 in) 35-caliber guns mounted singly in an open barbette. They were placed forward in sponsons over the battery deck to maximize end-on fire. The guns were manufactured by Krupp, while the carriages that carried them were built by Armstrong Mitchell & Co. [5] The guns fired a 450-kilogram (990 lb) shell using a 140 kg (310 lb) charge of brown powder, which produced a muzzle velocity of 530 metres per second (1,700 ft/s). [7] While the open barbettes provided a wide field of fire for the slow-firing guns, they were rapidly rendered obsolete by the successful application of quick-firing (QF) technology to large-caliber artillery pieces. [5]

The main battery was supported by a secondary battery of six 15 cm (5.9 in) 35-caliber guns, also built by Krupp. These were mounted in gun ports amidships, three on each side. She carried nine 47 mm (1.9 in) QF guns for close-range defense against torpedo boats seven were 44-caliber guns and the other two were shorter 33-caliber pieces, all built by Hotchkiss. Her gun armament was rounded out by a pair of 37 mm (1.5 in) 44-caliber QF guns and a pair of 7 cm (2.8 in) 15-caliber landing guns for use by landing parties. As was customary for capital ships of the period, she carried four 40 cm (16 in) torpedo tubes one was mounted in the bow, another in the stern, and one on each broadside. [5]

Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie was protected with compound armor manufactured by the Dillinger Hütte works in Germany. [6] The ship was protected by an armored belt that was 229 mm (9 in) thick. The barbette for the main battery was 283 mm (11.1 in) thick, and the conning tower had sides that were 50 mm (2 in) thick. [5]

Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie was built by the Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino shipyard in Trieste. Her keel was laid down on 12 November 1884, the last ironclad to be laid down for the Austro-Hungarian Navy. She was launched on 14 April 1887 and completed in July 1889. [5] The following year, the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, invited the Austro-Hungarian fleet to take part in the annual fleet training exercises in August. Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie, the ironclad Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, and the protected cruiser Kaiser Franz Joseph I were sent to Germany under the command of Rear Admiral Johann von Hinke. While en route, the squadron made visits in Gibraltar and Britain during the latter stop, the ships took part in the Cowes Regatta, where they were reviewed by Queen Victoria. The ships also stopped in Copenhagen, Denmark and Karlskrona, Sweden. During the voyage back to Austria-Hungary, the squadron visited Cherbourg, France and Palermo, Italy. [8]

Celebrations to honor the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's first trans-Atlantic voyage were held in several countries Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie, Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, and Kaiser Franz Joseph I represented Austria-Hungary during the ceremonies in Genoa, Italy, Columbus's birthplace. [9] During the 1893 fleet maneuvers, Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie was mobilized to train alongside the ironclads Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, Prinz Eugen, Kaiser Max, and Don Juan d'Austria, among other vessels. [10]

In February 1897, Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie deployed to Crete to serve in the International Squadron, a multinational force made up of ships of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, French Navy, Imperial German Navy, Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina), Imperial Russian Navy, and British Royal Navy that intervened in the 1897-1898 Greek uprising on Crete against rule by the Ottoman Empire. She arrived as part of an Austro-Hungarian contingent that also included the armored cruiser Kaiserin und Königin Maria Theresia, the torpedo cruisers Tiger, Leopard, and Sebenico, three destroyers, and eight torpedo boats, the third-largest contingent in the International Squadron after those of the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Italy. [11] The International Squadron operated off Crete until December 1898, but Austria-Hungary, displeased with the decision to create an autonomous Cretan State under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire, withdrew its ships in March 1898. [12]

By 1898, the Austro-Hungarian Navy regarded Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie as a second-rate vessel after less than 10 years in service. The rapid pace of naval development in the late 19th century had quickly rendered her obsolescent. [13] She was decommissioned in 1905, [14] and in 1908, the Austro-Hungarian Navy attempted to sell the ship, Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, and Tegetthoff to Uruguay in an attempt to raise funds for new projects, but the deal fell through. [15] In 1910, she was hulked and became a barracks ship for the mine warfare school in 1914, and served in this role for the duration of World War I. Following the conclusion of the conflict, Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie was ceded to Italy as a war prize in 1920 and eventually broken up for scrap in 1926. [5]

General Overviews

While Bassett 2016 offers an expansive operational and institutional overview of the Austro-Hungarian army compared to previous works, Rothenberg 1976 offers greater depth in its coverage of the k.u.k. army under Kaiser Franz Josef’s reign. Wandruszka and Urbanitisch 1987 is a particularly valuable source in terms of detailing the institutional changes effective with the Ausgleich (or compromise) of 1867. Its combination of breadth and depth remains quite impressive. Lackey 1995 is an able and well-researched study of Friedrich Beck’s efforts to overhaul and modernize the institution, but by design, it focuses only on Beck’s tenure as Chief of the Habsburg General Staff. Austro-Hungarian Land Forces 1848–1918 complements Rothenberg 1976 and Lackey 1995 by charting the organization of the separate Austrian and Hungarian national armies (the Landwehr and Honvéd, respectively) as well as that of the joint k.u.k. (Kaiserlich und Königlich) army. As for the Austro-Hungarian navy, Rechkron, et al. 1966 offers a detailed, archivally based account of the navy’s warships, their deployment, and actions at various points in monarchy’s history. Sondhaus 2017 and Vego 1996 provide concise and useful overviews of the development of the Austro-Hungarian navy, while Sokol 1980—a naval officer, Great War veteran, and author of the multivolume Österreich-Ungarns Seekrieg 1914–18, the naval counterpart to the General Staff’s official history of World War I, Österreich-Ungarns letzter Krieg—details its expeditions and actions before the outbreak of the Great War. In a similar vein to Sokol 1980, Desoye 1999 provides a useful narrative for the development of the Austro-Hungarian army’s air corps in the years leading up to World War I. The lack of scholarly attention given to the empire’s navy and air corps, in particular, makes these overviews all the more important. As is the case in most topic areas of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces, there much room for further research, analysis, and reassessment of these military institutions.

This website created by Glenn Jewison and Jörg C. Steiner is incredible in both its depth and breadth, detailing the organization, unit histories, ethnic composition of units, and orders of battle, among other aspects of the Austro-Hungarian army, but also includes a wealth of information on the organization of its air wing.

Bassett, Richard. For God and Kaiser: The Imperial Austrian Army, 1619–1918. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016.

Bassett’s monograph is a sweeping, chronological exploration of the Habsburg army. It follows the evolution of the army on the battlefield, detailing its descent from being the finest in Europe to being woefully ill-prepared for war in 1914. Nevertheless, Bassett channels Rothenberg’s ceaseless optimism, finding strength and achievement where others have found weakness and failure.

Desoye, Reinhard Karl Boromäus. Die k.u.k. Luftfahrtruppe: Die Entstehung, der Aufbau and die Organisation der österreichisch-ungarischen Heersluftwaffe 1912–1918. Hamburg, Germany: Diplomica Verlag, 1999.

This is Desoye’s published master’s thesis, which documents the brief life of the Austro-Hungarian army air wing from its inception to its demise in 1918. In doing so, it draws heavily on archival documents to detail the air service’s relationship with Austro-Hungarian industry, its organization and expansion, and its tactical and strategic doctrine during World War I.

Lackey, Scott W. The Rebirth of the Habsburg Army: Friedrich Beck and the Rise of the General Staff. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 1995.

In his revised PhD dissertation, he examines the achievements the first Chief of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, Friedrich Beck. Following the Prussian model, Beck’s General Staff overhauled the empire’s system of mobilization, created a new reserve in the Landsturm, and established a defensive alliance with Germany. In short, Beck created the army Conrad von Hötzendorf took to war in 1914.

Rechkron, Josef Rechberger, Josef Ritter von Lehnert, Artur von Khuepach, Heinrich Bayer von Bayersburg, and Hans Sokol. Geschichte der K. u. K. Kriegsmarine. 5 vols. Vienna and Graz, Austria: Böhlau, 1966.

With volumes commissioned and written at various points in time by Austro-Hungarian and, later, Austrian authorities—the last having been completed in 1966—this five-volume set, written by generations of historians at the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna, provides a comprehensive history of the Habsburg navy from 1500 to 1914. Many of the volumes have been digitized and are widely available online.

Rothenberg, Gunther E. The Army of Francis Joseph. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1976.

Still widely available, any broad examination of the Habsburg army must begin with Gunther Rothenberg’s foundational work, which remained, for many years, the only English-language study of the Austro-Hungarian army. Francis Joseph’s army, while a unifying force in the empire, was behind Europe’s Great Powers and could not wage a major war on its own. That this was never redressed reflected the dysfunction of imperial politics.

Sokol, Hans. Des Kaisers Seemacht: Die K.K. Osterreichische Kriegsmarine 1848 bis 1914. Vienna: Amalthea, 1980.

A history of the development of the Austro-Hungarian navy prior to the outbreak of World War I. In addition to his coverage of naval missions projecting Austro-Hungarian imperial power, Sokol’s coverage of the navy’s actions in international incidents, such as its support of the revolts in Crete in 1898, the Annexation Crisis of 1908, and the Boxer Rebellion (1900), are of particular interest.

Sondhaus, Lawrence. “Austria-Hungary: An Inland Empire Looks to the Sea.” In The Sea in History: The Modern World. Edited by N. A. M. Rodger and Christian Buchet, 180–190. Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press, 2017.

This book chapter provides an informative overview of the spasmodic development of the Austro-Hungarian navy as well as its embrace of maritime trade in the late decades of the 19th century. Sondhaus highlights the fact that despite being consistently underfunded and numerically inferior, it overachieved and held its own against the Great Power navies it faced.

Vego, Milan N. Austro-Hungarian Naval Policy, 1904–1914. Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1996.

A limited but useful introduction to the development of the Imperial and Royal Navy under Admiral Rudolf Montecuccoli, who guided the institution throughout much of the period under examination.

Wandruszka, Adam, and Peter Urbanitisch, eds. Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848–1918. Vol. 5, Die bewaffnete Macht. Vienna: Osterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1987.

This encyclopedic anthology details the organization and inner workings of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces from 1848 to 1914. With a useful introduction that positions the Habsburg armed forces in imperial society, the volume is topically divided, with the reorganization of the Habsburg army after the Ausgleich appropriately receiving the most extensive treatment.

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1858: Maximilian Njegovan – Grand Admiral of the Austro-Hungarian Navy

Maximilian Njegovan was born on this day to a Croatian family in Zagreb. His family had a long tradition of producing professional soldiers. He graduated at the Naval Academy in Rijeka, Croatia, and was one of the best students of his generation. He first commanded the torpedo boat Condor, but was soon assigned to much larger ships, and also performed administrative duties. During World War I (the Great War), he became the commander of the entire Austro-Hungarian Navy, one of very few people not of Germanic origin to reach this position. It is not widely known that the Austro-Hungarian Navy was the sixth largest in the entire world.

Njegovan’s flagship was the powerful Tegethoff, which belonged to the largest class of dreadnought battleships ever built by Austria-Hungary. The ship weighed around 20,000 tons and its main armament consisted of 305 mm guns. In some places its armor was as much as 28 cm thick, and the ship had over 1,000 crewmen.

The Grand Admiral preferred a cautious tactic during World War I. He implemented a “fleet-in-being” policy, which was based on keeping his fleet intact for as long as possible, thus keeping the enemy fleets tied down without actually risking any ships. German Emperor Wilhelm II allegedly tried to convince him to perform a naval attack on Venice, which Njegovan refused. Some suspect that this was the reason he was relieved of duty and replaced by Miklós Horthy, who later became the Regent of Hungary.

Njegovan was retired on 1 March 1918 and lived the rest of his life in Zagreb, where he died aged 71.

Legacy [ edit | edit source ]

Some of the traditions of the old Austro-Hungarian Army continue to be carried on in the modern Austrian Army. For example, the most famous regiment in the Bundesheer is the "Hoch und Deutschmeister Regiment", now known as Jägerregiment Wien based in "Maria Theresien Kaserne", named after Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. Many other regiments of the Bundesheer carry on traditions of the famous Austro-Hungarian regiments like "Kaiserjäger", "Rainer", etc.

State of the fleet

Overall because of too modest budgets and the lack of ambitious plans, the Austro-Hungarian fleet was aging and in 1914 consisted of virtually obsolete ships. The most recent dated back to 1903. The new ships initiated by the 1910 plan were the pre-dreadnoughts Radetzky of the class, Tegetthoff class, Admiral Spaun cruiser class, Tatra class destroyers and Torpedo Boats of the TB74 and 82 classes. War shipbuilding was limited to two light cruisers, four destroyers, nineteen destroyers, and nineteen U-Bootes.

Admiral Miklós Horthy de Nagybányatook charge of the Austro-Hungarian Navy in 1917. He also became later a statesman, who served as Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary between World Wars I and II and until 1944.

Austria-Hungary before World War I

Austria-Hungary was the first nation to declare war in 1914. Prior to this, it was a large and powerful empire that occupied a sizeable portion of Europe and included many different ethnic and language groups.

Europe’s largest entity

Before World War I, Austria-Hungary was the largest political entity in mainland Europe. It spanned almost 700,000 square kilometres and occupied much of central Europe – from the mountainous Tyrol region north of Italy to the fertile plains of Ukraine, to the Transylvanian mountains of eastern Europe.

Eleven major ethno-language groups were scattered across the empire: Germans, Hungarians, Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Slovak, Slovene, Croatians, Serbs, Italians and Romanians.

Like Germany, the Austro-Hungarian empire was a new state comprised old peoples and cultures. It was formed in 1867 by a compromise agreement between Vienna and Budapest.

A dual monarchy

The empire’s political organisation was complex and unusual because of its origins as two separate kingdoms (it was also known as the Dual Monarchy). The Austro-Hungarian emperor was also the crowned king of both Austria and Hungary.

Austria-Hungary was overseen by an imperial government responsible for matters of foreign policy, military command and joint finance. This government was comprised of the emperor, both prime ministers, three appointed ministers, members of the aristocracy and representatives of the military.

Each of the empire’s two monarchies continued to exist in their own right. They had their own parliament, prime ministers, cabinet and a degree of domestic autonomy. As one might expect in a political union of this kind, there were lingering dissatisfactions and frequent disagreements.

Franz Joseph

Franz Joseph had ruled the empire since its inception in 1867. In theory, the emperor’s power was absolute – but he usually ruled in the manner of a constitutional monarch, relying on the advice of his ministers.

Franz Joseph had a difficult relationship with Franz Ferdinand, his nephew and (from 1889) heir to the throne. The old emperor disliked Ferdinand’s more liberal political views. He considered him wishy-washy, too easily influenced and ill-equipped for holding together the fragile Dual Monarchy.

While Franz’s politics were undoubtedly conservative, he was no warmonger and certainly nobody’s fool. He often rejected demands for strong action or the deployment of the imperial army, the interests of which he guarded jealously.

Historians like Lewis Namier suggest that Franz Joseph was a reluctant ruler he was afraid of big decisions and decisive orders, in case they turned out to be wrong:

“Lonely, never sure of himself, and very seldom satisfied with his own performance he worked exceedingly hard from a compelling sense of duty, but without deriving real satisfaction from his work. Shy, sensitive and vulnerable, and apprehensive that he might cut a poor or ridiculous figure, he took refuge in a still and lifeless formalism, which made him appear wooden, and in a spiritual isolation, which made him seem unfeeling or even callous. He could not, and would not ‘improvise’: everything had to be fixed beforehand and no freedom was given to thought or to impulses.”

Economic development

Economically, the 1800s had been a beneficial period for Austro-Hungary in terms of its economic and financial development.

The empire shed its final feudal remnants and began developing and expanding capitalist institutions such as banking, industry and manufacturing. The National Austro-Hungarian Bank was formed, supplying credit and investment funds, as well as forming a vital financial link between the two halves of the empire.

Manufacturing and industrial production increased rapidly in the western half of the empire, while the east remained its agricultural heart, producing most of the Dual Monarchy’s food. Austro-Hungary’s annual growth was the second-fastest in Europe, behind that of Germany.

The imperial government invested heavily in railway infrastructure, chiefly because of its military benefits. By 1900, the empire had one of Europe’s best rail networks. Industrial growth and modernisation also led to improvements in trade, employment and living standards.

Military strength

The Dual Monarchy’s military force was essentially comprised of three armies: two belonging to the kingdoms of Austria and Hungary and a third newly created force called the Imperial and Royal Army.

There were considerable differences between the three. The two older armies were protected by their respective parliaments so received more funding and better equipment and training. The imperial army, in contrast, was perpetually short of qualified officers – and most of its officers were Austrian.

This onesidedness created problems because Austrian officers spoke German but the majority of soldiers were Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and others. To combat the language gap, enlisted soldiers were taught a set of 68 single-word commands. This allowed the Imperial and Royal Army to function, though with considerable difficulty in communication.

Most soldiers were conscripts, which did not help morale. Despite these difficulties, the Austro-Hungarian imperial army was as professional as could reasonably be expected. Its high command and its officers drew on Prussian military methods, and most regiments were comparatively well-equipped with modern small arms, machine-guns and artillery.

A historian’s view:
“Most would say that the Austro-Hungarian government decided to act as it did in 1914 because the monarchy’s ruling elite came to believe the monarchy’s interwoven external and internal problems and challenges, especially those in its South Slav regions… had become unmanageable and intolerable, calling for drastic action to change Austria-Hungary’s situation – and that the special nature, interests strongly influenced the choice of a violent rather than a peaceful solution.”
Holger Afflerbach

1. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was, in fact, a dual monarchy. It was formed by a merger of the two older kingdoms in 1867.

2. Though Austrians were dominant in the royal family, aristocracy and military command, the empire housed many different ethnic and language groups.

3. Like Germany, Austria-Hungary went through a significant period of industrial growth and modernisation in the second half of the 1800s.

4. The Austro-Hungarian government, which was led by Emperor Franz Joseph, was autocratic and dominated by aristocrats and militarists.

5. Austria-Hungary had a powerful modernised army, though its effectiveness was undermined by internal political and ethnic divisions, such as language barriers between officers and their men.

Austro-Hungarian Navy - History

The Greek ship Cefalonia was not sunk, but taken as a war prize

Torpedo Boat 52 & U-boats
After the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Austria-Hungary declared war against the Kingdom of Serbia, on July 28, 1914. Stationed in the Bocche di Cattaro (today Bay of Kotor), Georg was given command of Torpedo boat 52, which was part of a 10 torpedo boat fleet patrolling the Straights of Otranto, the crucial entrance, from the Mediterranean, into the Adriatic Sea.

Whoever held this stretch of ocean commanded the Adriatic. Allied cruisers had been spotted entering Otranto, but hadn't been challenged as of yet. Discussions among the torpedo boat crews inevitably touched on U-boat warfare, which Georg felt would give the Austro-Hungarian Navy an edge in defending their coastline. On the evening of April 16, 1915, he was given the unexpected order, to give over his command of​ Torpedo boat 52 and return to Pola (Pula). The next day, Georg received his new commission as captain of U-boat SM U-5, christened 6 years earlier by Agathe Whitehead , by now his wife of four years.

In 1914, the Austro-Hungarian U-boat fleet commanded by Franz Ritter von Thierry, consisted of seven largely experimental craft. Operating mainly in the Adriatic Sea, they seldom ventured outside of the Otranto Straits. Their limited range and small size were capable of only a few day missions. They were the ‘stepchildren’ of the Imperial High Command who was mainly interested in dreadnaughts and found it difficult to fund the new invention. This deplorable state of affairs meant captain and crew had to rely on their own ingenuity to maintain their craft, even make their own spare parts.

SMS Monarch
In the spring of 1914, Georg was part of the staff on board the SMS Monarch which was on a Mediterranean training mission with the Austro-Hungarian Navy dreadnoughts Viribus Unitis, Tegetthoff and the pre-dreadnought Zrínyi. Amongst other ports of call were Egypt and the Holy Land, with a visit to the Austro-Hungarian hospice in Jerusalem. A few months later, the tragic assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie took place on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, thus lighting a match to the arms race that had been building up in the various Empires worldwide.

Photo: Courtesy of von Trapp family

SM U-6 with Georg and Crew, circa 1913

Continued Training & Promotions
While still in the South China Sea, Georg graduated to Cadet 1. Class on July 1, 1901, had celebrated two birthdays, and rang in the new century 1900. He continued his training in Fiume (Reijka) and was promoted to Linienschiffsfaehnrich (ship of the line Ensign) on May 1, 1903. In 1904, he completed the officer’s sea-mine course, 1907 the officer’s torpedo course, as well as a course on “how to fly a hot air balloon”. On November 1, 1908, at age 28, he became Linienschiffsleutnant (ship of the line Battleship Lieutenant) stationed to Fiume (Reijka) where the first U-boats (submarines) were being built at the Whitehead Torpedo Factory . He volunteered to train in this new craft which initially was meant to only defend the coastline. The Whitehead Torpedo Factory had built two Holland Class submarines, SM U-5 and SM U-6, as part of a plan to evaluate foreign submarine design. Georg would later go on to train in and captain these submarines.

Early U-Boats

Both SM U-5 and SM U-6 U-boats were commissioned into the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the early 1900s and served as training vessels – making up to ten cruises a month, for the next 4 years. The double-hulled, tear dropped shaped submarines were just over 105 feet (32 m) long and, depending on whether surfaced or submerged, displaced between 240 and 273 metric tons (265 and 301 short tons). They were powered by twin gasoline engines and battery-powered electric motors when diving. The two 45-centimeter (17.7 in) bow torpedo tubes featured a unique, cloverleaf-shaped hatch design that rotated on a central axis. The submarine could carry up to 4 torpedoes.

Sinking the Léon Gambetta (1915)

Life After the Navy– Founded Shipping Companies

The new year of 1919 heralded many changes. Georg had been born, raised, and lived on the Austro-Hungarian Empire's Adriatic Coast. When this area was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy with the post-war land redistribution, he and his family were given Italian citizenship. However, they could not stay in their homeland on the coast, since Georg was on the war criminals ’wanted list’ for sinking Italian ships during WWI. Therefore, he and his family decided to opt to move to inland Austria.

Georg threw himself into two new enterprises. By early 1920, with the intent of providing seafaring jobs to former Austrian Navy personnel, Georg with two Partners founded Vega-Reederei-Hamburg/Greiswald. The enterprise was a fleet of small schooners, plying the waters of the North and Baltic Sea. Eventually, they had offices in Vienna, Austria and Hamburg, Germany. A year later they had their first 600 tdw schooner, GERTRUD, flying the new Austrian flag, and the following year their second schooner the TONI was added. The company was sold a few years after. However, in 1921 while still managing Vega-Reederei-Hamburg/Greiswald, Georg founded his second ship merchant enterprise, the Rhein-Donau-Express-Schiffahrt’s-A.G. For the next nine years Georg build up this successful and lucrative maritime business, capturing so much of the Rhein and Donau river shipping market that his fellow competitors eventually bought him out.

Awarded–Military Maria Theresa Order
Despite the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, many years after WWI the Austrian military sought to commemorate and award WWI veterans their due service recognitions. Based on Georg's extraordinary wartime accomplishments and his previous decorations, he was encouraged to apply for the highest military war service honor in Austria, the Maria Theresa Order. In 1921, he submitted his first application for the award, yet was informed that it lacked sufficient details. In 1923, he applied again, this time adding with more detailed descriptions on the significance of his submarine warfare actions and their contributions to naval warfare. In 1924, he received this prestigious award. With this award, he was elevated to the title 'Baron'.

SM U-6
On July 1, 1910, two years after arriving in Fiume, Georg was given the command of SM U-6 which he held until 1913. He intimately came to know the capabilities of the Holland type U-boats, and what it took to command them.

Gross Registered Tonnage is a ship's total

internal volume expressed in "registered tons". ​Each ton is equal to 100 cubic feet (2.83 m3). Gross registered tonnage measures the total permanently enclosed capacity of a vessel as its basis for volume.

Georg's Naval Training
In 1894, at age 14, Georg Ritter (Knight) von Trapp followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine stationed in the Adriatic Sea. He was accepted into the Maritime-Academy at Fiume (today Rijeka, Croatia), called k.u.k. Marine-Akademie, the officer training school of the Austrian-Hungarian Imperial Navy. To qualify, one had to have graduated with honors from middle school and pass an entrance exam.

The Academy taught thirty-one subjects including German, Italian, French, English, oceanography, meteorology, shipbuilding, ship machine building, naval tactics, naval law, naval signals, ship maneuvers, sailing vessel rigging, etiquette, as well as learning to play an instrument. Georg chose the violin . Further lessons included the importance of valor and honor, which were to become the cornerstone of life for a naval officer.

French Submarine Curie Becomes SM U-14
In an effort to replace the five larger, undelivered U-7 Class submarines (that the Austrians had to sell to the Germans at the outset of the war) the Austro-Hungarian Navy now focused on salvaging the largely intact French submarine Curie, sunk in Pola (Pula) harbor after getting entangled in the harbor defenses. On December 21, 1914, the day after her sinking, the salvage crews raised the submarine in five stages. Finally brought to the surface on February 2, 1915, she was cleaned refurbished, renamed SM U-14 and ready to be put into service.

From mid-October 1915 to January 1918 Georg von Trapp took over the SM U-14 command. As second Commander, after its rechristening, he was its' most successful. In early February 1916, SM U-14 and SM U-4 were on joint patrol near Durazzo (today Durrës, Albania). On February 7, SM U-4 missed scoring a hit on the British Birmingham-class cruiser, HMS Lowestoft, who subsequently released a depth charge that damaged SM U-14. With both fuel tanks leaking and all of her externally mounted torpedoes crushed, Georg and crew just made it back to port and put in for needed repairs.

For 8 months, from February to November 1916, SM U-14 went through an extensive refit and modernization. A new, German-style, conning tower replaced the French-designed wet lookout platform. She was equipped with more powerful diesel engines, increasing her power output from 480 to 840 brake horsepower (360 to 630 kW). Larger fuel tanks were installed, nearly quadrupling her range, up from her former maximum of 1,700 nautical miles (3,100 km), to 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km). After a cost of 655,000 Kronen it became the Austro-Hungarian Navy’s largest submarine.

Baron Captain Georg von Trapp, c irca 1915

Last Days & Last Salute
By the end of 1917, even though the Austro-Hungarian Empire was looking to end the war, the German Empire insisted that “surrender would only be in victory” and so WWI dragged on. Conditions for civilians and the Austro-Hungarian forces became increasingly dire. Food shortages across the Crown States created gangs of local bandits and defections from the Navy. Slow chaos was taking place across the Adriatic coast. The officers and crews were very aware of the increasingly dire situation.

While waiting to command one of the two new U-boats being built in Fiume (Rijeka), on May 1, 1918, Georg was made Korvettenkapitaen (Corvette Captain) and took over as commander of the U-boat Station in the Bocche di Cattaro (Bay of Kotor). Here, after four years, three months, and fourteen days having fulfilled their sworn duty and given all to Crown and country, on November 1, 1918, the surrender order came from the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal War Navy. Baron Captain Georg Ritter von Trapp had the honor of raising and lowering the naval flag in Cattaro (today Kotor, Montenegro) for the very last time. With a 21 cannon salute, the 140-year-old Austrian Imperial Navy ended. In a bittersweet moment, at the very last, SM U-14 entered the Bocche (harbor), flag waving, one last time. It was time to go home. An era and a 24-year Naval career had ended.

Georg stood as one of the most successful and decorated submarine captains of the WWI Austro-Hungarian Navy. All the torpedoes he fired were Whitehead torpedos which by now were installed in all the navies around the world. His multi-ethnic crew from across the Empire felt a close bond of love and respected for their captain. The record he was most proud of, was that not one officer or sailor died under his command. The Austro-Hungarian Naval flag, given in honor to him, stayed proudly displayed in his homes throughout the rest of his life. Despite his profession, he was a proponent of peace over war.

Photo: Courtesy of Vega Reederei

The sinking of the battleship-cruiser Léon Gambetta, 1915

German postcard from a picture of German-Austrian painter, Alexander (Alex) Kircher ​

Iron & Steam
Georg’s subsequent furlough was followed by an assignment to the navigation staff, on the protected torpedo cruiser, SMS Zenta. On his second circumnavigation, Georg’s training was moving into the new maritime age of iron and steam. Leaving Pola on November 10, 1899, calling on Port Said, Suez, Aden, and Colombo they reached Singapore on January 3, 1900, continuing on to Hong Kong, January 22nd. Here news of the unrest in China caused a change of travels plans to stay in Asia. Passing through the strait of Formosa (today Taiwan Strait) the SMS Zenta survived a typhoon, arriving late in Shanghai harbor to a cheering reception. With orders, to continue north for coal refueling she continued onwards. Her ships log finds her in Nagasaki, Kagoshima, and Sasebo from May 25th to May 30th.

FAMILY HISTORY: Georg's Naval Career

The Evening Republican, April 30, 1915

Meadville, Pennsylvania, USA

Photo: Courtesy of von Trapp family

Corvette SMS Saida II

Watercolor by artist August Freiherr von Ramberg

© 2015-2021 Stichting Georg & Agathe Foundation. All rights reserved.

Baron Captain Georg von Trapp

– SM U-5, French ship Léon Gambetta, 12,416 GRT

– SM U-5, Italian ship Nereide, 225 GRT

– SM U-5, Greek ship Cefalonia, 1,034 GRT ( Prize)

– SM U-14, British ship Teakwood, 5,315 GRT

– SM U-14, Italian ship Antonio Sciesa, 1,905 GRT

– SM U-14, Greek ship Marionga Goulandris, 3,191 GRT

​– SM U-14, French ship Constance, 2,469 GRT

U-boats commanded by Captain Georg von Trapp & the ships he and his crew sank (1 prize) :

  • April 27, 1915
  • Aug 5, 1915
  • Aug 29, 1915
  • Apr 28, 1917
  • May 3, 1917
  • Jul 5, 1917
  • Aug 23, 1917

Austro-Hungarian Navy U-boat Captains, circa 1917

Captain Georg von Trapp, second row from the bottom, sixth man in on the left, from left to right

​​Austro-Hungarian Navy Coat-of-Arms

Georg's years of experience and mature, well-trained crew had successfully tracked and sunk the French armored cruiser, Léon Gambetta . The ensuing tragedy for the sailors could have been avoided, had the French cruiser not left without an accompanying ship, whose job it was to help with rescue operations. Consequently, there was no one to aid the sailors. Seeing the tragedy unfold, Georg scanned the horizon through his periscope, but the sea was empty of any possible help. His small U boat could not take on more weight! SM U-5 dove beneath the waves, where the exhausted crew was left to take in what had just occurred. With two well-placed torpedo hits, SM U-5 had proven the viability of submarine warfare as a stealth craft with destructive power. This was to become the new maritime defense strategy for the ages.

Captain Georg von Trapp was honored with the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s Knight's Cross of the Leopold Order and the German Empire's Iron Cross. He was soon celebrated and promoted by the Austrian press, he found his image printed on postcards and youngsters wore sailor’s hats embroidered with his name. He, on the other hand, confronted the true cost of war, fellow navy men drowned from SM U-5’s actions. Georg tremendously regretted not being able to help in the rescue effort. In his book “Biss zu letzten Flaggenschuss” (To the Last Salute), written in 1935, it muses: “So this is what the war looks like! Here behind him are hundreds of drowned sailors, people who have done nothing to him, who have fulfilled their duty as he himself has, against whom he has nothing personal, with whom, on the contrary–already through their same profession–he feels himself connected”. With his second in command, Hugo von Seyfferditz, Georg shares: “…our handiwork is horrible….”….. “Now, we have the ‘salad’ – (mess)…. What will we now do with these Frenchman? Couldn’t they even take along one vessel? It’s unbelievable irresponsibility. How should we now help them? What a huge mess!”

Five months later, August 5, 1915, Georg went on to sink the Italian submarine Nereide off the island of Pelagosa after the Nereide’s failed torpedo attack on the SM U-5. On August 29, 1915, while on patrol, Georg was able to capture as a prize, the 1,034-ton Greek steamer Cefalonia off Durazzo (today Durrës, Albania).

Four years later, on July 1, 1898, at the age of 18, Georg graduated Cadet 2. Class. Together with his classmates, he was assigned to a schooling ship, the corvette SMS Saida II. She carried 42 officers and 313 seamen. Her world circumnavigation, took them from Malta through the Suez Canal, heading east through the Indian Ocean, the Marquesas Islands and on to Australia. This wooden sailing ship represented a fighting ship from a bygone era and was quite a sight to behold in foreign ports.

She was welcomed with open arms wherever she docked. The Melbourne newspaper ‘The Argus’ wrote upon her arrival there: “At 2,400 tons, she is a wooden vessel of the old-fashioned type of naval architecture. She is armed with 11 large guns and three rapid-firing guns. She possesses great breadth of beam, high bulwarks, large roomy decks, tall raking masts, and can spread large quantities of canvas. She has however, auxiliary power in the shape of steam engines of 1,200 horsepower… After the anchors were dropped last night the Austrian Consul and various naval officers made the usual complimentary visit to the commandant and officers”.

At the request of the SMS SAIDA II’s Fregatten Kapitaen Guido Couarde, she was granted an extension of her trip, by Emperor Franz Josef I. The excitement of the cadets was cut short when the first rumblings of unrest on mainland China of the secret ‘Boxer’ society began. On June 9, 1899, orders were sent to return to home port at Pola, Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Pula, Croatia).

WWI Memoir
In 1935, Georg wrote and published his WWI memoir Bis zum letzten Flaggenschuss (To the Last Salute) describing his submarine experiences during War World I. It became the most widely read book on the Austro-Hungarian Navy, within Europe, even read by the past German Kaiser Wilhelm I. For a time, it was required reading for Austrian High School history curriculum. From 1925 to 1938, he lectured and gave radio interviews about his naval career in Austria and Germany.

Trapp Family Singers Manager

In 1933 the Austrian A.C. Lammer Bank failed and with it, the von Trapp and Whitehead families lost a large part of their wealth. Georg had previously invested in the start-up Austrian bank as a patriotic act to help support the Austrian impoverished post-WWI economy. Before and after writing his WWI memoir, his family had begun getting recognized for their musical ability. At the beginning of the von Trapp musicians' career, Georg performed on stage and radio a few times with his family: singing folk song and playing quartets as first violin. When the family's repertoire changed from folk songs to early chorale music, Georg moved from "front-of-house" to "back-of-house", taking care of transportation, logistics, equipment, and contracts, etc. He toured every season with his family, often driving the group between U.S. cities, attending to concert needs, as well as giving radio and newspaper interviews. Additionally, Georg hosted their summer Trapp Family Music Camp and played violin with his children in a family Quartet. He is acknowledged by his family as "the quiet support behind the family's success." For more information visit .

Prior to WWI

  • 1898 – Crown Jubilee Medal for Armed Forces, Bronze
  • 1900/1901 – War Medal
  • 1901 – Silver Bravery Medal 2. Class
  • 1908 – Military Jubilee Cross
  • 1911 – Military Merit Cross, 3. Class ​

During & Post WWI

Ships Effected: ​

​ 14 ships, total tonnage of 61,328 GRT: Sunk 60,294 GRT (11 ships 47,653 GRT & 2 warships 12,641 GRT) and Prize 1,034 GRT (1 ship)

Archduke Ferdinand & wife Sophie Assassination

Decorated WWI Hero.
Baron Captain Georg von Trapp served the 20th century Austro-Hungarian Navy for 24 years and was one of their most decorated commanders.

13th–19th Century Austrian Imperial Navy

Between the 13th–18th century, there had been only minor attempts to establish an Austrian Navy mainly focused on defending its waterways (rivers). In 1797, with the Treaty of Campo Formio, the Venetian naval fleet and facilities came under Austrian Imperial rule and were the foundation of the future Austrian Navy.

19th–20th Century k.u.k. Kriegsmarine

In 1867, the Imperial Navy became the Austro-Hungarian Navy after the formation of the Dual Monarchy, formally the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal War Navy (in German: kaiserliche und königliche Kriegsmarine, abbreviated as k.u.k. Kriegsmarine, in Hungarian: Császári és Királyi Haditengerészet, abbreviated as Cs. és Kir. Haditengerészet). In the later part of the 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Navy was in the process of modernizing its fleet. The new innovations of the industrial age of coal-fired steam engines, torpedo boats, iron cruisers and eventually ironclads with gigantic mounted turrets, were the wave of the future. Vessels with more speed, firepower, and stronger hulls were being built. Empires the world over were each revamping their navies as well, to reflect the new might of the ages. Engineers found themselves inventing ever newer ideas to present to the Admiralties. The last wooden sailing ships had been turned into schooling vessels that circumnavigated the globe a few last times.

Returning to the now aging U-boats, Georg saw that SM U-5 still needed regular venting from the gasoline fumes. Her speeds under water were still slow, and the periscopes still did not retract quickly enough. Operating them was a constant balancing act of vigilance and tricky choices. Nonetheless he understood the viability of the submarine as an attack craft and hoped to use the SM U-5 successfully to help bring an early end to the war.

On April 27, 1915 he got his chance. Out on patrol, after days of searching, he and his crew discovered the unidentified cruiser that had been spotted - a French “Victor Hugo” type - using the cover of darkness to evade detection.

Photo: ©Georg & Agathe Foundation

Photo: Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University

In these early U-boat days, Georg's time was filled with intense, dedicated training in this defensive craft. As a pioneer and first-generation submariner trainee, it took immense courage and a sense of adventure to volunteer for this naval technology in its infancy. The mechanics and operating procedures were learned in real time.

The invention was so new that no one understood its abilities. Without an existing training manual, each day was a learning curve and the continued near mishaps became the guidelines for manufacturing improvements. The early submarine designers had given very little thought to the operating crews.

SM U-5 and SM U-6 were incredibly uncomfortable as well as dangerous. The gasoline motors ventilated into the craft threatening the crew with carbon monoxide stupor. Some submarines kept white mice in cages to warn of impending danger (like canaries in a coal mine). Entire crews often succumbed and only had one man was left standing to get the U-boat back into harbor.

Navigational maps of underwater obstructions were nonexistent and commanders had to receive orders, by relay flags, viewed through the thick-glassed periscopes. For diving emergencies, early submarines were equipped with a phone buoy that would be floated to the top to establish contact. Later models offered a device that made oxygen to prolong the survival rate below, to 72 hours, eventually 96.

1935 Baron Captain Georg von Trapp

​Portrait for his WWI memoir, Bis zum letzten Flaggenschuss (To the Last Salute)

The Great War / WWI Begins (1914)

Photo: SM U-5, circa 1915, Courtesy of von Trapp family

Photo: Die k.u.k. Kriegsmarine, Edition Winkler Hermaden, reprint

SMS Zenta, circa 1899

The Capture of the Forts at TAKU

Early 20th Century by Fritz Neumann ​

1920s Commerical Registry

One of two shipping companies founded by Georg

Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal War Navy & 4 Years Training

Photo: Kriegsarchiv Wien (War Archive Vienna)

Inspiring the Next Generations

The SMS Zenta had been launched in 1897 and represented one of the new iron ships in the Austro Hungarian fleet, a transition away from wooden vessels. Her overall length was 96.88 meters (317 ft 10 in) and a beam of 11.73 meters (38 ft 6 in). Her two four-cylinder vertical triple-expansion steam engines, each drove a single propeller shaft with eight Yarrow boilers for an average total of 8,160 indicated horsepower (6,080 kW), achieving a maximum speed of 21.87 knots (40.50 km/h 25.17 mph).

She also had the extra protection of an armor deck, two layers of 12.5 millimeter (0.49 in) plates and 50 millimeters (2.0 in) over the engine and boiler rooms. Further, she was armed with two 45 centimeter (17.7 in) torpedo tubes, eight 40-caliber Škoda 12 centimeter (4.7 in) quick-firing guns, eight 44-caliber 4.7 centimeter (1.9 in) Škoda guns, and two 33-caliber 4.7 centimeter Hotchkiss guns.

the city of Tientsin (Tianjin) in defense of the Peiho River delta, the coastal gateway to Peking. Taking Tientsin, upstream, was crucial to freeing the embattled Westerners, still further upriver, in the capital city. On June 3rd, upon arriving at TAKU, the captain and a detachment of one officer, two midshipmen, and 30 sailors took the train to Peking, for a requested meeting with the legations. Behind them, the railway lines came under attack, cutting off their return route. Marooned in the capital, as hostilities escalated, the French, Austro-Hungarian and Italian legations decided to evacuate to the defendable French Embassy. The following day the Austrian legation buildings were set afire by the “Boxers”. On June 7th, the SMS Zenta sent a further detachment of 73 men to Tientsin, to help hold the railway against Boxer forces. On July 8th, Eduard Thomann Edler von Montalmar, captain of the SMS Zenta, was wounded by hand grenade shrapnel and died soon after of his injuries in Peking. In the effort to bring the rebellion to an end, another detachment from the SMS Zenta’s crew took part in the September 22nd, storming and taking of fort Pei tang. Of all their engagements, during the Boxer Rebellion, the Austro-Hungarian Navy seamen fought the most bitter combats in the attacks against the fort of Pei Tang.

Honored & Remembered
In 1995 the only military officers training institute for the Austrian Armed Forces, the Theresianische Militärakademie (Theresian Military Academy) founded by Empress Maria Theresia, selected to honor Baron Captain Georg von Trapp for its Academy Battalion Company A's graduating class's namesake. Academy tradition is that every graduating class chooses a person from Austrian war history as their inspiration and name for their class. Eighty-eight graduates chose "Ritter von Trapp" as their example of: personal bravery in the face of the enemy (for which Georg received the Military Order of Maria Theresa), leadership as a U-boat commander and military know-how during WWI. The official graduation was January 18, 1995. Two years later, July 11-15, 1997, the graduates attended an official ceremony and celebration in Stowe, Vermont.

Captain Georg von Trapp

Stationed in the Adriatic Sea, the Austro-Hungarian U-boat fleet during WWI consisted mainly of units manufactured in Kiel, Germany, Pola (Pula), and Fiume (Rijeka), Austro-Hungary. They were in service throughout the war against Italian, French, and British shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.

1901–1909 Making Lieutenant & U-boat Beginnings

Example of inside a German U-boat 1918

Photo: ©Georg & Agathe Foundation

1935 WWI Memior,

Bis zum letzten


For four days, Georg and his crew stalked and calculated the cruisers route. Using the full moon to illuminate his target, he and his crew executed the first ever underwater, night-time attack in the Adriatic. At a 500 meter distance, 2 torpedos, running at 40 knots, were launched. After 2 impacts, 10 seconds apart, the cruiser listed and sank 9 minutes later, beneath the Mediterranean Sea.

Fort Pei Tang
As part of a 100 strong detachment of Austro Hungarian Navy sailors, and an allied force of 8500 men comprised of approximately 1800 Germans, 1500 French, and 5000 Russians, Georg was ordered to take the fort. After an early morning heated exchange of ship to shore shelling, they advanced under heavy fire. Wading through mud and running across mined land, they stormed toward the fort. Most men were injured and killed from the exploding landmines. Not even the cavalry was spared. Finally scaling its mudbrick wall defenses, the fighting was over by late evening. Allied flags were hoisted over the captured fort.

For his part in the fort Pei Tang offensive, Georg was later awarded the Silver Bravery Medal 2. and 2. Class and War Medal. Class. He was on board the SMS Kaiserin und Königin Maria Theresia, which, together with the SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth, SMS Aspern and a company of 160 Austrian marines had arrived to assist. This force went on to help bring the situation in Peking under control. The bloodshed was finally brought to an end with the Chinese Dowager Empress Cixi surrender.

With the boxer uprising over, the SMS Zenta had completed its East Asia mission. In late July 1901, she departed Chefu (Zhifu) to the sounds of the Radetzky march being played. She finally arrived back in Pola (Pula) on October 1, 1901 (almost 2 years after her departure) to a hero’s welcome and the award of the silk Flag of Honour for her Chinese actions.

Georg never shared much of this experience with his children what he did share were some interesting anecdotes from a short furlough into the Chinese countryside.

FREE: Updates and history trivia

  • July 1, 1910–1913 – SM U-6
  • July 28, 1914 – Torpedo Boat 52
  • April 17, 1915 – SM U-5
  • October 14, 1915 – SM U-14
    (ex- French submarine Curie)
  • May-November 1918 – Submarine ​base Commander at Cattaro

Honoring the von Trapp
​and Whitehead Heritage ​​​​


SM U-14 , circa 1917

Submarine Pioneer (1910–1914)

k.u.k. Marine-Akademie, circa 1900

Fiume (Rijeka, Croatia) Officer Training School of the Austrian-Hungarian Imperial Navy

45,669 Gross Nautical Tonnage Sunk
With the new and improved SM U-14 back in action, from April to October 1917, Georg sank 11 vessels with a total of 45,669 GNT (gross nautical tonnage). On April 28, 1917, while on patrol off the coast of Greece he sank the 5,315-ton British tanker, Teakwood, which was headed from Port Arthur (Texas, USA) to Port Said (Egypt). On May 3rd, again on patrol in the same area, he sank the 1,905-ton Italian steamer Antonio Sciesa. In July, Georg was able to conduct a ruse on the French fleet that was blocking the harbor at Corfu (Greece), by hoisting the French tri-color the Submarines former national flag, and passed unchallenged. Continuing, the SM U-14 was able to sink the Greek steamer Marionga Goulandris, near Cape Matapan (Greece).

On August 20th, again successfully evading the Otranto Barrage (between Italy and Greece), SM U-14 headed through the Straits of Otranto, and over the next 11 days sank five ships, with a combined tonnage of 24,814 GNT (over half of her total tonnage sunk). Departing from the submarine base at Cattaro (Kotor, Montenegro), Georg and crew headed into the Ionian Sea and sank the French steamer Constance on August 23rd, northeast of Malta. On August 24th, SM U-14 sank the British steamer Kilwinning, loaded with coal and general cargo, heading for Port Said (Egypt). On August 26th, the British steamer Titian was sunk while on en route to Alexandria (Egypt). On the night of August 27th and 28th, the 3,627-ton turret deck British steamer Nairn was sunk near Benghazi (Libya), on her way from Malta to Port Said (Egypt) with coal. On August 29th, the Italian steamer cargo ship Milazzo was sunk east of Malta. At 11,744 tons, the Milazzo was the largest ship sunk by SM U-14 and the largest cargo ship sunk by an Austro-Hungarian submarine. On September 1st, Georg concluded his patrol and returned to Cattaro (Kotor, Montenegro).

During a five-day span in October, three more ships fell to the young Captain's skill. On October 19, 1917, 150 nautical miles (280 km 170 mi) from Malta, the British ship Elsiston carrying military stores between Malta and Suda Bay (Crete), was sunk. On the same day, the 3,618-ton British ship Good Hope, laden with iron ore for Middleborough (Massachusetts, USA), was sunk. The Italian steamer Capo di Monte, met its end 100 nautical miles (190 km 120 mi) from Candia (today Heraklion, Crete), while on her way from Karachi (India) to Malta.

Improved Tátra class destroyers (1918)

Four other 120 mm armed units were ordered on 22 December 1917, but never started due to the lack of steel. These rampant shortages were not the only ones and plagued the entire industrial effort of the Empire, due mostly to the genera allied blockade against central powers. Their specifications were the same as the previous Ersatz Tátra, to the excption of the powerplant, which were now Danubius turbines, and the armament, which now comprised not only brand new 120 mm/45 (4.7 in) guns but also two 90 mm/45 AA guns and the same pair of twin torpedo tubes banks.

Watch the video: Austro-Hungarian Navy in WW1


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