Background

Under the terms of the Armistice that ended WW1, most of the German High Seas Fleet was to be surrendered to the allied forces. Consequently, on November 21st 1918, the fleet arrive in the Firth of Forth, and from there the ships were sent to Scapa Flow, then the base of the British High Seas Fleet. There followed a long period of wrangling while the allies decided how to split the spoils of war - amongst which was the German fleet.

Photograph of the Köln, Orkney Library archive.

Magnifying glass. A Photograph of sailors on board the Karlsruhe, from the Orkney Library archive.

Isolated aboard their ships, what news the German maintenace crews had from home was bad. Poorly paid and provisioned (the German economy having collapsed), the crews became increasingly dispondent. Finally, on the 21st June 1919, acting in response to reports in The Times newspaper that the armistice was about to fail, and hostilities recommenced, Admiral von Reuter took the chance to make sure that the fleet would not fall into anyone's hands, and at 10:30 hrs executed the pre-arranged order to scuttle the ships at anchor...

The fate of each of the vessels is documented briefly below:

Battleships:

Konig: Still at Scapa Flow
Markgraf: Still at Scapa Flow
Kronprinz Wilhelm: Still at Scapa Flow
Prinzregent Luitpold: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1931
Kaiser: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1929
Kaiserin: Raised by Metal Industries in 1936
Koning Albert: Raised by Metal Industries in 1935
Grosser Kurfurst: Raised by Metal Industries in 1938
Bayern: Raised by Metal Industries in 1934. Her four main turrets remain
Baden: Beached, Sunk off Portsmouth as a target in 1921

Battlecrusiers:

Moltke: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1927
Seydlitz: Raised by Cox and Danks in1928
Hindenburg: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1930
Von Der Tann: Raised by Cox and Danks 1930
Derfflinger: Raised by Metal Industries in 1939. Spent WW2 behind Rysa Little

Light Cruisers:

Karlsruhe: Still at Scapa Flow
Köln: Still at Scapa Flow
Dresden: Still at Scapa Flow
Brummer: Still at Scapa Flow
Bremse: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1929
Emden: Not Scuttled, given to France
Frankfurt: Beached, floated by Royal Navy and given to the U.S.A.
Nurnberg: Beached, refloated and sunk as a target off Portsmouth 1921

Destroyers:

S Boats: Built by Schichau Yard, Elbing

S32: Raised by Cox and Danks in1925
S36: Raised by Cox and Danks in1925. Beached on Cava, still there.
S49: Beached, retained by Britain
S50: Beached, retained by Britain
S51: Beached, retained by Britain
S52: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1924
S53: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1927 but foundered under tow
S54: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1924 but drifted onto Flotta then foundered whilst under tow
S55: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1925
S56: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926
S60: Beached, given to Japan
S65: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926

V Boats: Built by Vulcan Yard, Stettin

V43: Beached, given to the U.S.A.
V44: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1925
V45: Raised by Scapa Flow Salvage in 1924
V46: Beached, given to France
V70: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1929
V73: Beached, retained by Britain
V78: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1925
V80: Beached, given to Japan
V81: Beached, foundered on way to breakers
V82: Beached, retained by Britain
V83: At Scapa Flow off Rysa Little
V100: Beached, given to France
V125: Beached, retained by Britain
V126: Beached, given to France
V127: Beached, given to Holland
V128: Beached, retained by Britain
V129: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1925

B Boats: Built by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg

B98: Arrived at Scapa Flow with mail on 21/06/1919 as fleet was sinking. Seized by RN. Wrecked on Sanday after breaking her tow south.
B109: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926
B110: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926
B111: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926
B112: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926

G Boats: Built by Germaniawerft, Kiel

G38: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1928
G39: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1927
G40: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926
G86: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926
G89: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926
G91: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1925
G92: Beached, retained by Britain
G101: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926
G102: Beached, given to U.S.A.
G103: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1923 the foundered
G104: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1926

H Boats: Built by Howaldtswerke, Kiel

H145: Raised by Cox and Danks in 1928

Further reading

History

Photograph of the Cox and MacKenzie, Orkney Library archive.

Magnifying glass. A Photograph of Cox and MacKenzie from the Orkney Library archive. Commodore MacKenzie was the principle salvage officer for both Cox and Danks and Metal Industries.

Scapa Flow - The Story of Britain's Greatest Naval Anchorage in Two World Wars. by Malcolm Brown and Patricia Meehan
ISBN-10: 1405007850

The Grand Scuttle: The Sinking of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919 Dan Van Der Vat
ISBN-10: 1843410389

This great Harbour Scapa Flow W.S. Hewisont
ISBN-10: 1843410265

Cox's Navy by Tony Booth
ISBN-10: 1844151816

The Bull and the Barriers by Lawson Wood
ISBN-10: 0752417533

From Jutland to Junkyard by S.C. George
ISBN-10: 1841580015

German Battlecruisers 1914-18 (New Vanguard) [Illustrated] by Gary Staff (Author), Tony Bryan (Illustrator)
ISBN-10: 1846030099

Scapa Flow: From Graveyard to Resurrection by Simon Mills
ISBN-10: 1899493042

The Story of Scapa Flow by Geoffrey Cousins
ASIN: B001UN686Q

Scapa Flow in War and Peace by W.S. Hewison and Nancy Hewison
ISBN-10: 0952535009

Scapa Flow: The reminiscences of men and women who served in Scapa Flow in the two World Wars by Malcolm Brown
ASIN: B0006C3842

Scapa Flow by Ludwig Von Reuter
ASIN: B000L9OMEA

From Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: v. 5: Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904-19 by Arthur J. Marder
ISBN-10: 0192151878

German Warships 1915-1945 by Erich Groener
ISBN-10: 0870217909

Dive Guides

Scapa Flow Dive Guide by Lawson Wood
ISBN-10: 1905492111

Dive Scapa Flow By Rod Macdonald
ISBN-10: 185158983X

The Naval Wrecks of Scapa Flow by Peter L Smith
ISBN-10: 0907618200