Ausro - Hungarian Navy, Kaiserlich und Koniglich or k.u.k Kriegsmarine

The Austro-Hungarian Navy was the naval force of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The official name in German was the Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine (Imperial and Royal Navy, abbreviated and better known as the K.u.K Kriegsmarine).

The origin of the Austrian navy goes back its possession of the nautical city state of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea in 1382. Two fleets were maintained, one an oceangoing force in the Adriatic, the second an armed flotilla along the Danube River (which cuts through Vienna and eventually empties into the Black Sea). The Adriatic force expanded in 1797 with the Austrian acquisition of Venice with it the naval shipyards, docks and arsenal. By 1833 the Adriatic fleet had more than forty ships and was the sixth largest in the world. In 1853 the Austrian navy moved its main base to Pula (now in Croatia) and changed its command language to German from Italian after the loss of the state of Venice.
On the out brake of World War-I the major Austrian searsenal (naval base) was at Pula, which contained one of the largest floating dry-docks in the Mediterranean. Supplementary bases included the excellent harbor of Cattaro (Kotor, today’s Montenegro), the most southerly point of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Trieste (Italy), which voluntarily accepted Habsburg sovereignty in 1382. Both Trieste and Pula had major shipbuilding facilities

European naval arms race
Among the many factors giving rise to World War-I was the naval arms race between Great Britain and Imperial Germany. However, that was not the only European naval arms race. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy were in a race of their own for domination of the Adriatic Sea.
When the guns of war blew at the beginning of World War-I, the K.u.K. Navy was the seventh largest in the world. By 1915 a total of 33,735 naval personnel were in the K.u.K, it contained 3 large new ‘Dreadnought’ type battleships, nine smaller pre-dreadnought battleships, 9 Cruisers, 25 Destroyers, several flotillas of Torpedo Boats, and 7 Submarines.
Successes were few as the fleet spent most of the war bottled up by a larger force of Allied vessels in the Adriatic.
The Austro-Hungarian navy continued in service until the end of World War I.
World War I
On the declaration of war between Austria and Italy Apart from one major fleet sortie on May 23rd, 1915, and an aborted one in June 1918 when dreadnought `Szent Istvan` was lost, the Austro-Hungarian heavy ships spent the entire war as a fleet-in-being within the Adriatic Sea, holding down a large portion of the Italian and French battle fleets as well as units of the Royal Navy. Most of the action in the Adriatic that took place involved the well-handled destroyers, submarines and to a lesser extent light cruisers of the Austrian Navy.

The initially small Austrian submarine force was unable to play a role outside the Adriatic, and by early 1915 the Germans were sending U-boats into the Mediterranean, in part to attack the Allied fleet off the Dardanelles. As Italy had declared war on Austro-Hungary but not Germany, the German boats operated under the Austrian ensign and were temporarily commissioned into the Austrian Navy. Once Germany and Italy had gone to war in August 1916, German U-boats operated under their own flag.
Most of the damage done to the allies by the Austrians was from their submarines. A total of 28 mainly newly built Austrian U-boats lurked in the Adriatic and Mediterranean during the war, many of them quite deadly.
They sank 117 ships during the War, amounting to a total gross tonnage of 220,121 tons.
This impressive record included - damaging French dreadnought `Jean Bart`, and sinking:
Armored cruisers - French `Leon Gambetta`, Italian `Giuseppe Garibaldi` Destroyers - British `Phoenix`, French `Fourche` and `Renaudin`, Italian `Impetuoso` and `Nembo` Submarines - French `Circe`, Italian `Nereide`

K.u.K. Submarine classes their history and specifications
U-1 class:
The U-1 was a costal submarine, an American Simon lake design 2 units built (U-1 & U-2) under license at the naval yard in Pula, completed in 1909.

Displacement (srf/sub tons): 230/249
Dimensions (L*B*D meter): 30.5*4.8*3.9
Propulsion: 2*720hp gasoline engines, 2*200hp electric motors, 2 shafts
Speed (srf/sub knots): 10.3/6.0
Range (srf/sub n/miles@knots): 950@6.0/40@2.0
Diving depth (meter): unknown
Complement: 17 officers and enlisted
Torpedo: 2*17.7"(450mm) bow torpedo tubes, 1*17.7" stern torpedo tube, total of 5 torpedoes
Mines: none
Armament: 1*37mm main deck gun
U-3 class:
The U-3 was a costal submarine, a German design 2 units built (U-3 & U-4) by Germania at Kiel, completed in 1908.

Displacement (srf/sub tons): 240/300
Dimensions (L*B*D meter): 42.3*4.5*3.8
Propulsion: 2*600hp karosene engines, 2*380hp electric motors, 2 shafts
Speed (srf/sub knots): 12.0/8.0
Range (srf/sub n/miles@knots): 1,200@12.0/40@3.0
Diving depth (meter): unknown
Complement: 21 officers and enlisted
Torpedo: 2*17.7"(450mm) bow torpedo tubes, total of 3 torpedoes
Mines: none
Armament: none

Italian AMC `Citta di Catania` patrolling the northern end of the Strait of Otranto was attacked by U-3 (Lt Cdr Karl Strnad) on the 12th of August 1915, but not hit. U-3 is believed to have been rammed and badly damaged in return, and was unable to submerge. Allied destroyers were called up and next morning on the 13th she was sighted on the surface and sunk by French destroyer `Bisson`s` gunfire; 7 men were lost including Lt Cdr Strnad, and 14 survivors picked up.
U-4, torpedoed and sank Italian armored cruiser `Giuseppe Garibaldi` in the central Adriatic in July 1915
U-5 class:
The U-5 was a costal submarine, an American Holland design 2 units (U-5 & U-6) partly built in the US and shipped for completion to Whitehead in Fiume- at the time part of Austro-Hungary (Croatia today), completed in 1909.

Displacement (srf/sub tons): 240/273
Dimensions (L*B*D meter): 32.1*4.2*3.9
Propulsion: 2*500hp gasoline engins, 2*230hp electric motors, 2 shafts
Speed (srf/sub knots): 10.8/8.5
Range (srf/sub n/miles@knots): 800@8.5/48@6.0
Diving depth (meter): unknown
Complement: 19 officers and enlisted
Torpedo: 2*17.7"(450mm) bow torpedo tubes, total of 4 torpedoes
Mines: none
Armament: none
U-5, torpedoed and sank French armored cruiser `Leon Gambetta` in the southern Adriatic in April 1915.
U-6, 13th May 1916, Southern Adriatic Sea in Strait of Otranto, 12m ENE of Cape Otranto,   attempting to break through the Otranto Barrage at night, U-6 (Lt Cdr Hugo von Falkenhausen) fouled the nets of patrolling fishing drifter `Calistoga`, surfaced and was shelled by her and the `Dulcie Doris` and `Evening Star II`. The Austrian boat was scuttled and all 15 crew saved.

U-10 class:
The U-10 was a patrol submarine, design and built by the German company AG Weser. The 5 units (U-10, U-11 & U-15 to U-17) were built in sections in Germany and transported by rail to be riveted together at Pula, completed in 1915.

Displacement (srf/sub tons): 126/140
Dimensions (L*B*D meter): 27.9*5.2*2.7
Propulsion: 1*600hp diesel engine, 1*120hp electric motor, 1 shaft
Speed (srf/sub knots): 6.5/5.5
Range (srf/sub n/miles@knots): unknown
Diving depth (meter): unknown
Complement: 17 officers and enlisted
Torpedo: 2*17.7"(450mm) bow torpedo tubes, total of 2 torpedoes
Mines: none
Armament: as built none had deck gun, but in late 1916 all were armed.

U-11 with a 66mm weapon, the others with a 37mm gun.
U-10, 9th July 1918, heavily damaged by a mine, U-10 (Lt Cdr Johann von Ulmansky) was beached between Caorle and the estuary of the Tagliamento River. She was salvaged and towed to Trieste, but not repaired before the end of the war; all her crew of 13 were saved.
U-12, torpedoed and damaged French dreadnought `Jean Bart` in the Adriatic Sea in December 1914.
U-12, (Lt Cdr Egon Lerch) was on patrol off Venice and on the 6th of August 1915 damaged by Italian destroyer `Rossolina Pilo`. Two days later an explosion was observed in a defensive minefield and divers sent down. The wreck of U-12 with her stern damaged was found 7.6 miles bearing 104 degrees from the Punta Sabbioni lighthouse in the Venetian lagoon; all 13 crew were lost with her.
U-16, 17th October 1916, during a convoy attack, U-16 (Lt Cdr Oerst von Zopa) torpedoed Italian destroyer `Nembo`, but was then sunk herself. She may have been rammed and badly damaged by one of the convoyed ships, Italian steamer `Borminda` (or `Bermida`), and scuttled. Or otherwise sunk by the exploding depth charges of `Nembo` which had not been set to `safe` before she went down; 11 of U-16s` crew including her CO were lost and two survivors picked up.
U-20 class:
The U-20 was a costal submarine; design was based on the boats built by Whitehead at Fiume for the Royal Danish Navy in 1911. The 4 units (U-20 to U-23) were built by Whitehead, completed in 1916-17.

Displacement (srf/sub tons): 173/210
Dimensions (L*B*D meter): 38.8*4.0*2.8
Propulsion: 1*450hp diesel engine, 1*160hp electric motor, 1 shaft
Speed (srf/sub knots): 12.0/9.0
Range (srf/sub n/miles@knots): unknown
Diving depth (meter): unknown
Complement: 18 officers and enlisted
Torpedo: 2*17.7"(450mm) bow torpedo tubes, total of 2 torpedoes
Mines: none
Armament: 1*66mm main deck gun

4th July 1918, northern Adriatic Sea, west of Trieste - torpedoed once by Italian submarine F-12. The attack on U-20 (Lt Cdr Ludwig Muller) by the surfaced F-12 took place on the night of the 4th/5th from a range of 650 yards, all her crew were lost. U-20s` salvaged midships section and conning tower is on display at the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna
U-23, 21st February 1918, southern Adriatic Sea, off Valona (Vlore), Albania in the Strait of Otranto U-23 (Lt Cdr Klemens von Bezard) was first sighted on the surface by Italian destroyer `Airone` which attempted to ram. Once submerged the destroyer sunk her with a towed explosive paravane; all her crew were lost.

U-27 class:
The U-27 was a costal submarine; based on the German UB-II design and built under license by Pula Naval Yard- 6 units (U-27 to U-32) and Danubius Yard at Fiume- 2 units (U-40 & U-41), all completed in 1917.

Displacement (srf/sub tons): 264/301
Dimensions (L*B*D meter): 36.9*4.4*3.7
Propulsion: 2*270hp diesel engines, 2*280hp electric motors, 2 shafts
Speed (srf/sub knots): 9.0/7.0
Range (srf/sub n/miles@knots): unknown
Diving depth (meter): 50
Complement: 23 officers and enlisted
Torpedo: 2*17.7"(450mm) bow torpedo tubes, total of 4 torpedoes
Mines: none
Armament: 1*75mm main deck gun
U-30,  (Lt Cdr Friedrich Fahndrich) sailed from Cattaro (Kotor) on the 31st of March 1917 for Mediterranean patrol between Malta and Crete, and was never seen again. Some sources suggest she disappeared around the 1st or 2nd, cause unknown, but possibly mined in the Otranto Barrage or an accident off Cape Otranto; all her crew were lost.

Back to History Index

Image Country Year Description
Austria 1913 Pre World War-I poster stamp depicting a U-Boat
Austria 1917 Poster stamp depicting an Austo- Hungarian Navy U-Boot
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