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Type: BB
Class: HELGOLAND - four ships in class
Builder: Wilhelmshaven Naval Dockyard
Completed: August, 1911
Displacement: 22,440 tons

Dimensions: (in feet and inches)

548' 7" x 93' 6" x 26' 11"
Belt: 3.2" - 12"
Bulkheads: 3.5" - 8.3"
Battery: 6.7"
Barbettes: 2.4" - 12"
Turrets: 2.75" - 12"
CT: 4" - 12"
Machinery: 3-shaft 4-cyl. VTE, 15 Schulz-Thornycroft boilers; 28,000ihp.  Coal:  3,150 tons.  Oil:  200 tons. Range:  5,500nm at 10 knots
Speed: 20.3 knots
12 12" / 50 cal. 6x2
14 5.9" / 45 cal. 14x1
14 3.45" / 45 cal. 14x1
6 19.7" TT submerged
Compliment: 1,113






Notes:  OSTFRIESLAND was the second ship of the class, ordered in the 1908-09 Program.  The class was a marked improvement on the preceding NASSAU -- nearly 20% larger, with corresponding improvements in armor.  The main battery guns were increased in size to 12" (30.5cm), and magazines and shell rooms were located directly below the turrets.  The three funnels were closely spaced amidships, which outwardly distinguished them from the NASSAU class.  Each ship slightly exceeded designed speed on trials.  They were noted as being good sea boats, with a small turning circle.  OSTFRIESLAND had her funnels raised in 1915.  She was fitted with torpedo nets; these were removed early in 1916.  The 3.45" guns proved to a disappointment; not only were they generally mounted in unworkable positions, but their "hitting power" proved to be too light against their intended targets.  The aftermost pair were removed in 1913, and the remainder in 1916-17.  They were replaced by four 3.45" (88mm) anti-aircraft guns, mounted on the aft superstructure.


OSTFRIESLAND was commissioned into the German Navy as a member of the 1st Battle Division (along with her sister ships).  OSTFRIESLAND was present at Jutland on 31 May 1916, with Vice Admiral Schmidt (second in command of the German forces present) aboard.  During the battle, she fired 111 rounds from her 12" guns and 101 rounds from her 5.9" guns.  Early in the battle, OSTFRIESLAND fired upon the British light cruiser SOUTHAMPTON, then at the light cruisers BIRMINGHAM and NOTTINGHAM, but scored no hits.  Later, OSTFRIESLAND was one of at least six German battleships firing at the British battleship WARSPITE; during that action, WARSPITE took 13 heavy-caliber shell hits, but it is nearly impossible to credit any particular ship with specific hits.  OSTFRIESLAND claimed "several" hits with her third and fourth salvos, and corresponding reports from WARSPITE appear to confirm this.  However, the exact number is unknown.  OSTFRIESLAND then joined in with seven other battleships in firing on the destroyer NESTOR (which had been disabled in an earlier action); NESTOR blew up and sank  (80 of her crew were rescued by German destroyers and became prisoners of war.)   Just after midnight, OSTFRIESLAND joined THÜRINGEN in firing on the armored cruiser BLACK PRINCE, which had approached far too close to the German line in the darkness.  In the brief action that followed, BLACK PRINCE fired two salvos at OSTFRIESLAND but scored no hits.  Subsequently, BLACK PRINCE was sunk with the loss of all hands.  While returning to port, OSTFRIESLAND struck a mine (laid by the minelayer ABDIEL on 4 May 1916).  The mine, thought to be a 300-pounder, blew a hole nearly 40' and 16' wide below the starboard wing turret.  Slowed to a crawl by the damage, quick work by her damage control parties allowed OSTFRIESLAND to increase her speed to 15 knots within four hours.  But as she approached the Jade, an escorting German seaplane thought they'd sighted a submerged British submarine, and dropped bombs on the "contact".  To avoid the "submarine", OSTFRIESLAND made a violent turn to port.  That turn ripped open her bulkheads further, and for a time, it appeared that OSTFRIESLAND might sink.  However, damage control parties were able to slow the flooding, and she reached port without further incident.  At Jutland, one of her sailors was killed, and another ten were wounded.  OSTFRIESLAND was dry-docked at Wilhelmshaven for repairs, which lasted nearly two months.  (Details from Jutland are from Campbell's "Jutland"; see Bibliography.)


Following World War I, OSTFRIESLAND was allocated to the United States as reparations; she was transferred there in April, 1919.  In July, 1921, OSTFRIESLAND was used as a target vessel for bombing tests off the coast of Cape Henry, Virginia.  On the first day of testing (20 July), U. S. Army Air Corps aircraft, led by Colonel Billy Mitchell, dropped 69 bombs of sizes up to 2,200 lbs. on the anchored ship.  Thirteen hits were scored, but no serious damage was done.  On the second day, eleven 1,100 lb. bombs were dropped; three direct hits were scored, and leaking caused OSTFRIESLAND to settle nearly three feet deeper into the water.  Four hours later, a second attack was made by aircraft, dropping six 2,200 lb. bombs; no direct hits were scored, but a near-miss opened her hull to the sea, and OSTFRIESLAND sank within ten minutes.  The tests on OSTFRIESLAND (against an anchored target with no damage control crews aboard) led many to believe that the battleship could easily be vanquished by airpower.  And while that conclusion proved to be undoubtedly true, it was not for the reasons accepted at the time; it is almost certain that had those tests been done under "battle conditions", the results would have been much different.



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