Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshaven was a German shipbuilding company in Wilhelmshaven, a coastal town in Lower Saxony - North Germany - on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.
The predecessor of the Kaiserliche Werft was founded 1853 under an agreement of the Großherzogtum Oldenburg (Grand Duchy of Oldenburg) and the Königreich Preußen (Kingdom of Prussia). The object of this agreement was a protection of Oldenburg´s merchant fleet by Prussian navy on the one hand, on the other to enlarge the Prussian sphere of influence in the western part of Germany. When the Jade-Vertrag (Jade Treaty) was signed about 3.10 km² of Oldenburgian territory at the Jade Bight was ceded to Prussia.
The first years the naval base was only used as an arsenal, depot and repair facility for the developing Prussian fleet. Building up of necessary harbours, slipways, dockyards, workshops, etc. followed some years later.
After the Prussian victory over Austria in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, the Norddeutscher Bund (North German Confederation) was founded and the shipyard was handed over from Prussia to this new confederation. The shipyard was officially opened 1869 by the Prussian King Wilhelm I. First known as Königliche Werft, the shipyard was now named Marinewerft des Norddeutschen Bundes (Naval Shipyard of the North German Confederation). With the proclamation of the German Empire in 1871 it received the final name Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshaven.
Forced by the needs of the rapidly growing German imperial navy it became necessary to enlarge shipbuilding capacities. Under the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his fleet commander Grand Admiral von Tirpitz the shipyard was immediately extended. It soon became the greatest and most important of the three German imperial shipyards, beginning with about 3000 co-workers in 1880 and at last about 21,000 end of 1918, capable to build the largest and strongest warships of that time.
With the end of World War I the shipyard was closed for a short time, after that it was opened again, now named Reichsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven and at last, some years later Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven.
Ships built by Kaiserliche Werft with laid down/commissioned data (selection):
- 1859/1873, Aviso
, first ship of the Kaiserliche Werft (Serial No. 1)
- 1874/1878, Ironclad turret-ship SMS Grosser Kurfürst
- 1876/1879, Gunboats SMS Wolf and
- 1883/1886, SMS Charlotte
- 1887/1889, Schwalbe-class cruisers SMS Schwalbe and SMS Sperber
- 1890/1894, Armoured ships SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm and SMS Heimdall
- 1893/1895, Light cruiser SMS Geier
- 1895/1898, Kaiser Friedrich III-class pre-dreadnought battleship SMS Kaiser Friedrich III
- 1896/1900, Pre-dreadnought battleship SMS Kaiser Wilhelm II
- 1899/1902, Pre-dreadnought battleship SMS Wittelsbach
- 1900/1904, Deutschland-class pre-dreadnought battleship SMS Schwaben
- 1904/1907, Deutschland-class pre-dreadnought battleship SMS Hannover
- 1907/1909, Nassau-class battleship SMS Nassau
- 1908/1911, Helgoland-class battleship SMS Ostfriesland
- 1910/1912, Magdeburg-class light cruiser SMS Strassburg
- 1911/1914, König-class battleship SMS König
- 1913/1917, Derfflinger-class battlecruiser SMS Hindenburg
- 1915/----, Mackensen-class battlecruiser Serial No. 35, Ersatz A, construction stopped after launching, broken up 1922
- 1917/----, Conversion of 7 merchant-submarines to cruiser U-boats, including Deutschland to U-155