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  SMS Wolf (Wolf IV)
Kaiserliche Marine
Auxilliary Cruiser

11,200 Tons
135m x 17.1m x 7.9m
6 x 15cm guns
3 x 5.2cm guns
4 x 500mm torpedoes
465 mines
FF.33e "Wolfchen"

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AWM c1917
Ship History
Built by Flensburger Schiffbau Gesselschaft during 1913 as Hansa freighter Wachtfels of 5809 GRT. Commissioned on May 16, 1916 as a "Hilfskreuzer" (armed merchant raider) or auxiliary cruiser in the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy), the fourth ship bearing this name. Placed under the command of Captain Karl August Nerger.

Armed with six 15 cm guns, three 5.2-cm guns and several smaller caliber weapons, four 500mm torpedo tubes plus 465 sea mines. Also, a Friedrichshafen FF.33 seaplane nicknamed "Wolfchen" (Little Wolf) with fuselage number 841. Piloted by Leutnant-flieger Matthaus Stein and co-piloted by Oberflugmeister Paul Fabeck who was also the plane's mechanic.

Although her top speed was only 11 knots, SMS Wolf planned to use deception including a fake funnel and masts which could be erected or lowered to change her appearance plus false sides to keep her weapons hidden until the last possible moment. The vessel had a coal bunker capacity of 8,000 tons giving the ship a range of over 32,000 miles.

Wartime Patrol
On November 30, 1916 Wolf departed Kiel with a crew of 348 men. Initially escorted by a SM UU-66 (U-66) submarine from Skagerrak to the North Atlantic, she passed north of Scotland, around Iceland and south down the Atlantic Ocean then around the Cape of Good Hope, where she laid some sea mines, then into the Indian Ocean. She dropped mines off Colombo on Sri Lanka and Bombay, India. Then entered the waters off Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Dutch East Indies and back around the Cape of Good Hope north in the Atlantic Ocean and back to Kiel. During the voyage, Wolf destroyed 35 vessels and two warships totaling approximately 110,000 tons. Captured vessels cargo and crews were transfered aboard Wolf including coal and essential metals.

After intercepting a radio message, Wolf stalked SS Matunga bound for Rabaul and captured her on August 6, 1917 forty-six crew and passengers were taken Prisoners Of War (POWs). Afterwards, the pair steamed for a week until reaching Fofak Harbor (Offak Harbor) on Waigeo Island where 500 tons of coal and liquor were transferred off the captured vessel. On August 26, 1917 Matunga was scuttled a few miles out to sea by SMS Wolf.

On September 26, 1917 south of Maldives captured the Hitachi Maru after a short battle. Afterwards, anchored together at Suvadiva Atoll where the captured vessel's cargo was removed over the next month. On November 7, 1917 Hitachi Maru was scuttled among the Cargados Carajos Islands.

During February 1918 after 451 days at seas Wolf returned to Kiel, completing the longest voyage of a German warship during World War I without any support. Aboard were 467 Prisoners Of War (POWs) captured during the voyage. In addition she carried substantial quantities of rubber, copper, zinc, brass, silk, copra, cocoa, and other materials captured. Afterwards, Captain Nerger was awarded the highest German decoration, the Pour le Mérite.

For the remainder of the war, the Wolf was employed in the Baltic Sea. Postwar, she was ceded to France and sold to Cie. Messageries Maritimes of Paris, refitted and renamed Antinous. During 1931, scrapped in Italy.

Crew member Theodor Plivier, who became later a revolutionary, communist and famous author. In his first novel Des Kaisers Kulis (The Emperor's Coolies) describes his experience on board the Wolf. The book was transformed in a theatrical play, too, and forbidden after the National Socialist Party (Nazis) came to power.
The Wolf: How One German Raider Terrorized the Allies in the Most Epic Voyage of WWI
The Cruise Of The Raider Wolf by Roy Alexander

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Last Updated
August 4, 2020


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