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Tag: First World War

Szent István: Hungary’s Battleship

As a land-locked country with no coastline, it may come as a surprise to learn that Hungary has ever needed or wanted a battleship. But, in the years before World War 1, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The empire’s political system meant that, when Admiral Montecuccoli announced the building of a new generation of battleship in 1908, the Hungarian parliament could insist that one of the new class be built in Hungary, and be named Szent István, for Hungary’s patron saint.

Funding for this new class of ships was initially refused by the parliaments, on the grounds that the army needed the money to administer Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had recently been annexed into the empire. None the less, the first keel was laid down on 24th July 1910, but only after Montecuccoli had persuaded the Emperor to authorise construction on credit, and personally guaranteed a 32 million Kronen credit.

The Sinking of SMS Wien

On the 10th of December 1917, the Austro-Hungarian Monarch class battleship SMS Wien (Vienna) was attacked in port at Trieste. All three ships of the Monarch class had been relegated to harbour duties in 1914, since they were obsolete and due to be replaced by the new dreadnought battleships of the Improved Tegetthoff class. Although the first Improved Tegetthoff was scheduled to be laid down in 1914, the outbreak of war meant that no work was done on their construction, and so the operational life of the Monarch class was extended.

SMS Wien at anchor in Cattaro
SMS Wien at anchor in Cattaro