Sunday, 14 November 2021


One of the ship models that we saw during our recent visit to the Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre was of the German military yacht Grille.

The model of the Grille in the Prince Philip Collections Centre.

The name translates into English as Cricket, and she was built in 1934/35 for the German Kriegsmarine as an 'aviso' (despatch boat), but her actual task was to act as the state yacht. She was laid down in Hamburg by Blohm + Voss in June 1934, launched on 15th December that year, and commissioned on 19th May 1935.

The Grille during her service in the Kriegsmarine.

Unlike many similar ship in other navies, Grille was armed and fitted for use as an auxiliary minelayer. She was also fitted with experimental high-pressure steam turbines which required frequent modifications during her early years of service. In the run up to the outbreak of the Second World War she was used as a training ships and target vessel as well as performing her duties as the state yacht.

Until March 1942 her war service was mainly confined to minelaying in the North Sea and acting as gunnery training ship in the Baltic, but from then until the end of the war she acted as headquarters ship to the commander of naval forces in Norway.

At the end of the war she was seized by the British as war reparations, who disarmed her and then sold her to a Lebanese shipping company to be used as a passenger ship in the Mediterranean although she may have been intended to be used by the company's owner as his personal yacht.

The disarmed Grille alongside in Beruit harbour.

She seems to have been damaged in a collision with another ship in March 1947, as a result of which she had to go into drydock for repairs. In November 1948 a Jewish frogman attached a limpet mine to her hull, and when this exploded it blew a hole in the hull below the waterline. The damage was not very serious, and she was was quickly repaired.

In April 1951 Grille was sold to the North American Smelting and Refining Company, who transferred the ship to the Doan Salvage Yard in Bordentown, New Jersey, where she was broken up later that year.

The ship's characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 3,430 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 115m (377ft) (waterline); 135m (443ft) (overall)
    • Beam:13.5m (44ft)
    • Draft: 4.20m (13.8ft)
  • Propulsion: Two Benson-high-pressure steam boilers providing steam to two geared turbines (22,000hp) each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 26 knots
  • Range: 9,500 nautical miles
  • Complement: 248
  • Armament: 3 × 127mm (5-inch) SK C/34 guns; 4 × 3.7mm (1.5-inch) SK C/30 anti-aircraft guns; 4 × 20mm (0.79-inch) C/30 anti-aircraft guns; 228 mines

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