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Imperial and Royal Navy
Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine

The most powerful German state up to 1866 was Austria, and she had her own "Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine" (Imperial and Royal War Navy) from 1379 until the defeat of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1918. The German phrase kaiserlich und königlich, typically abbreviated as k.u.k., stands for "imperial and royal". It refers to the Court of the Habsburgs in a broader historical perspective. Some modern authors restrict its use to the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary from 1867 to 1918. The ubiquity of this phrase in all administrative matters made it a synonym for the Habsburg administration.

As of mid-2008 Google was aware of only five instances of "Imperial and Royal War Navy", about 185 instances of "Imperial Austrian Navy", about 525 instances of "Royal Austrian Navy", about 1,270 instances of "Imperial and Royal Navy", about 11,000 instances of "Austro-Hungarian Navy" and an equal number of "Austrian Navy", about 22,000 instances of "KuK Kriegsmarine", about 67,000 instances of "Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine". There were, for comparison, over 5,000,000 references to [the] "Royal Navy" and over 20,000,000 to the "US Navy".

The Austro-Hungarian navy was initially a coast defence force, and included also a flotilla of monitors for the Danube. On account of the development of the Italian navy, Austria found it necessary for her self-defense to have a fleet of her own. It was administered by the naval department of the ministry of war. The Austro-Hungarian naval flag consisted of three bars - red, white, and red and green divided vertically, with two shields side by side, one for Austria, the other for Hungary.

The headquarters of the fleet was at Pola, which was the principal naval arsenal and harbor of Austria; while another great naval station was Trieste. A good deal of money had been spent on the improvement of Pola. It was able to undertake battleship construction if required, but had been devoted chiefly to the needs of the seagoing fleet. Well situated at the head of the Adriatic, at the southern end of the province of Kustenland, Pola formed as it were a dividing point between the routes up the Gulf of Quarnero to Fiume on the one hand and up the Gulf of Venice to Trieste on the other. In addition to these three naval stations, a fourth had been established in the last two or three years before the war at Sebenico, on the Dalmatian coast, some 70 miles to the south-east. Sites for fortifications were approved and a wireless station erected. The place was already in use as a torpedo station for the flotillas constantly training along the Dalmatian coast which produced a number of skilful and dashing young officers and seamen.

For guns and armor Austria had no need to go abroad, having noted and well-equipped resources in the Skodawerke establishment at Pilson in Bohemia and the Witkowitz works in Moravia.

Tegetthoff was Marine Commandant from 1868 to 1871, and formulated an ambitious program, as did his four successors, but they failed to obtain approval from the country.

In 1875 the Austro-Hungarian iron-clad fleet consisted of four casemate ships, the Custozza, Lissa, Erzherzog Albrecht, and Kaiser, each with from fourteen to sixteen guns, engines from 800 to 1000 horse-power, and a tonnage of from 6000 to 7000. There are also 7 ironclad frigates. The first-class, comprising the Erzherzog Ferdinand Max and the Hapsburg, had sixteen guns, engines of 800 horse power, and a tonnage of 5200 ; the second, consisting of the Kaiser Max, the Don Juan d'Austria, and the Prinz Eugen, were being converted into casemate ships; and the third, the Salamander and Drache, had fourteen guns, engines of 500 horse-power, and a tonnage of 3120. The unarmored fleet consisted of three frigates, eight corvettes, five gunboats, one torpedo ship, five schooners, two aviso steamers, two yachts, two Danube monitors, one factory ship, and ten training ships. The number of ironclads had remained unchanged since 1872; of the unarmored ships, one gunboat and two steamers had been placed on the non-effective list, and two corvettes and two schooners had been added.

Siegfried Popper was an Austrian naval architect who was long the Chief Constructor Austro-Hungarian Navy. In 1869 he entered the Austrian naval service as Assistant Constructor. In 1891 he was appointed Chief Constructor, and all the newer ships of the Austro-Hungarian Navy were designed by him, and built under his supervision and direction. In 1904 the King of Italy conferred on him the rank of Constructor General.

Under the auspices of Archduke Maximilian, the navy received fresh impulse. Admiral Tegethoff followed in the footsteps of the imperial Prince, and understood how to lead the fleet to a brilliant victory.

The central management of the navy was in the hands of the section of the Imperial Ministry of War which it concerns, and the head of the same was also commander-in-chief. The port admiralty of the principal military port, Pola, and the command of the sea district in Triest, were placed directly under his charge.

The naval fleet in the early 1890s for financial reasons had scarcely that care and attention which it deserved. And this was to be regretted the more since Austria and Hungary, in their extensive sea-coast districts, possessed excellent material for the manning of their ships. And the 116 different Austro-Hungarian ports of the Adriatic Sea, moreover, form settled markets for pretty valuable trade.

The floating material of the navy, including all the school-ships, tenders, hulks, and remorqiieurs, consisted of 125 ships and boats. The I Chief class: ships of the navy, to which belong the ships of the operative fleet and those for special purposes. The operative fleet contained (1) battle ships (iron-clad), and, indeed, 2 turret ships, 8 casemated ships, and 1 armed frigate ; (2) the cruisers - that is, 7 torpedo-ships, 5 torpedo- boats ; (3) the torpedo-boats - namely, 23 first class, Nos. IX.-XXXIV. second class, Nos. I.- VIII. third class ; (4) advice-boats, wheel steamers, 3 ; (5) train-ships, 1 torpedo-depot ship. 1 workshop ship, 1 material-transport ship, and 1 ship arranged for the transport of the sick ; (6) 2 small monitors on the Danube. Ships for special purposes include (1) station and mission ships - namely, 2 frigates, 8 corvettes, 6 cannon-boats, 3 screw steamers ; (2) 6 vessels for harbor and coast service. II. Chief class : school-ships and their second ships, 1 artillery school-ship, 1 consort, 1 torpedo and sea -mining school-ship, sailing brigs, school-ship for sailors - namely 1 sailing corvette and 1 sailing schooner, and, finally, 1 second ship of the occasional casern ship (sailing schooner). The III. chief class contains 4 hulks.

The armament of the navy in the early 1890s consisted of Uchatius and Krupp guns, the former of which were made at home. The contingent of the navy is furnished mostly by the three supply districts of the sea-coast countries. The period of service was twelve years - four in active service, five in the reserve, and three in the sea defence (Seewchr). The crews were combined into a sailor corps, which was again resolved into two depots of six companies each. The peace establishment amounted to 6890 men, which was increased in war to 13,752. The corps of sea officers, including the midshipmen, numbered 533 officers and cadets 9 in peace, 757 in war.

The training of the crews - and these were, on the average, schooled seamen - for service on the war ships took place in the depots, which the sailors afterwards left for the ships appointed to service. For volunteer youths there was an apprentice school-ship and a mechanical school. Only the artillery and torpedo crews were trained on the various school-ships. The midshipmen were also prepared there for their duties, while the naval academy for higher scientific instruction was at the service of the officers.

The Austro-Hungarian navy did not have foreign stations, yet regular training voyages were made outside of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Page last modified: 10-01-2012 19:23:05 ZULU