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SMS Breslau 2.jpg
SMS Breslau
Career (German Empire) Kaiser
Name: Breslau
Namesake: City of Breslau
Builder: A.G. Vulcan
Laid down: 1910
Launched: 16 May 1911
Commissioned: 1912
Fate: Transferred to the Ottoman Empire 16 August 1914
Career (Ottoman Empire) Ottoman Navy Ensign
Name: Midilli
Namesake: Island of Midilli
Acquired: 16 August 1914
Fate: Mined & sunk off Imbros, 20 January 1918
General characteristics
Class and type: Magdeburg class
Displacement: 4,550 tons
Length: 136 m (450 ft)
Beam: 14 m (46 ft)
Draught: 5.48 m (18.0 ft)
Propulsion: 4 screws, 16 Schulz-Thorneycroft boilers, 25,000 hp (19 MW)
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h)
Complement: 370
Armament: As constructed
12 × 105 mm (4.1 in) / 45 caliber
120 mines
2 x 19" torpedo tubes
As Midilli
8 x 150mm (5.9in) guns
120 mines
2 x 19" torpedo tubes

SMS Breslau was a Magdeburg-class light cruiser of the German Kaiserliche Marine, launched on 16 May 1911 and commissioned in 1912. The ship was transferred to the Ottoman Empire in August 1914, to entice the Ottomans to join the Central Powers in World War I. The ship was renamed Midilli, and served alongside the other German ship transferred to the Ottoman Empire, the battlecruiser SMS Goeben. Breslau was mined and sunk in January 1918, with the loss of the majority of her crew.

Service history

The Breslau flying the Turkish flag, known as the Midilli.

In 1912 Breslau was attached to the German Mittelmeerdivision (Mediterranean Division) along with the battlecruiser Goeben under the command of Admiral Wilhelm Souchon. At the outbreak of the First World War, Breslau and Goeben were to interdict French transports transferring troops from Algeria to France however, due to concentrations of French and British warships, Breslau only succeeded in conducting a nuisance bombardment of the embarkation port of Bône on 4 August 1914.

The pursuit of Goeben and Breslau by the British Mediterranean Fleet lasted until 10 August when the two ships passed through the Dardanelles en route to Constantinople where they were officially transferred to the Turkish Navy, Breslau being renamed Midilli - the Turkish name for the Aegean island of Lesbos - though retaining her German crew.

SMS Breslau

For most of the war Breslau operated in concert with Goeben in the Black Sea. On 19 January 1918 Breslau and Goeben returned through the Dardanelles to the Aegean where they engaged the Royal Navy flotilla that was stationed there to intercept them. The German ships out-gunned their opposition, sinking two monitors, M28 and HMS Raglan, but disaster struck when they ran into a minefield. Breslau struck a mine and sank immediately, with the loss of 330 men; Goeben was damaged but managed to escape.

The future Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz served on this ship as an ensign.

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