|Builder:||Joh. C. Tecklenborg Ship Yard, Geestemünde|
|Launched:||1914 as Pungo|
|In service:||1 November 1915|
|Fate:||taken as war reparations by the UK, sunk as German freighter Oldenburg 7 April 1945|
|Displacement:||9,800 tons (4,788 gross register tons (GRT))|
|Propulsion:||1 × 3-cylinder triple expansion; 5 × boiler; 3,200 hp|
|Range:||8,700 nm at 12 kn|
Disguised as a neutral cargo ship to enable it to get close to targets, the Möwe was effective at commerce raiding, sinking 40 ships in the course of the war.
Built by the Joh. C. Tecklenborg yard at Geestemünde, she was launched as the freighter Pungo in 1914 and operated by the Afrikanische Fruchtkompanie for F. Laeisz of Hamburg. After an uneventful career carrying cargoes of bananas from the German colony of Kamerun to Germany she was requisitioned by the Imperial German Navy for use as a minelayer. Her conversion took place at Imperial shipyard at Wilhelmshaven in the autumn of 1915, and under the command of Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien, she entered service on 1 November that year.
First raiding voyage
Möwe slipped out of Wilhelmshaven on 29 December 1915 for her first task, to set a minefield in the Pentland Firth, near the main base of the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. This was completed in severe weather conditions. A few days later the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS King Edward VII struck one of the mines; despite attempts to tow her to safety she sank. Möwe then moved down the west coast of Ireland to France. There she laid another mine field off the Gironde estuary, which sank a further two ships.
This part of her mission complete, Möwe then moved into the Atlantic, operating first between Spain and the Canary islands, and later off the coast of Brazil. On January 16, 1916, the Möwe encountered a lightly armed British merchant ship and after a small battle, the British ship was scuttled. In three months she caught fifteen ships, two of which were sent, with cargo and prisoners, to port as prizes; the rest were sunk. She returned to Germany, and a hero's welcome, on 4 April 1916. Richard Stumpf records that there were a number of Africans amongst the crew upon this arrival. Felix von Luckner served aboard SMS Möwe before his journey with SMS Seeadler in late 1916 to late 1917.
Interlude as Vineta
In an effort to maintain security, Möwe was renamed Vineta, after another auxiliary cruiser which had been withdrawn from service. In this guise she set out on a series of short cruises during the summer of 1916 to attack Allied shipping off the coast of Norway. This only brought one success, however, before she was ordered in for a refit prior to another sortie into the Atlantic.
Second raiding voyage
Departing on 23 November 1916, Möwe had even more success on her second cruise into the Atlantic.
On 6 December 1916, she captured and sank the Canadian Pacific Steamship freighter SS Mount Temple outbound from Halifax to Liverpool. Mount Temple′s cargo included 700 horses bound for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France and many crates of dinosaur fossils collected from Alberta's Red Deer River badlands by Charles H. Sternberg destined for the British Museum of Natural History. On 12 December, it was the turn of SS Georgic, sunk along with her cargo of 1,200 horses that would have been used on the Western Front.
In four months she had accounted for another 25 ships totalling 123,265 GRT. One of these, SS Yarrowdale, was sent as prize to Germany and, as Dohna-Schlodien had recommended, was outfitted as a commerce raider herself. Möwe also retained SS Saint Theodore as a collier, before arming and commissioning her as the auxiliary Geier. Geier operated in this role for six weeks, accounting for two ships sunk, before being disarmed and scuttled by Möwe prior to returning home. On 10 March, she was damaged in action against an armed New Zealand merchant ship Otaki off the Azores in the Atlantic. Armed with a single 120mm stern gun, the Otaki fought a gallant but doomed action. The Möwe was hit several times and a serious fire was put out with difficulty. The Otaki, however, was hit some thirty times before sinking. Otaki's captain Archibald Bisset Smith was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, finally going down in his ship with the British colours still flying”. Five of her crewmen were killed and another ten men were wounded. The damage forced the raider to return course for Germany.
In March 1917 Möwe again successfully ran the British blockade, ironically at the same time as Yarrowdale, now the auxiliary cruiser SMS Leopard, was cornered and sunk by the same blockading force. Möwe arrived home safely on 22 March 1917.
On her return Möwe was taken out of service as a raider, being reckoned too valuable as a propaganda tool to be risked again. She served in the Baltic as a submarine tender, before becoming the auxiliary minelayer Ostsee in 1918. After the Treaty of Versailles, she went to Britain, to be operated by Elders and Fyffes as the freighter Greenbrier. In 1933 she was sold to a German shipping company. As the freighter Oldenburg, it served the route between Germany and occupied Norway in World War II.
On 7 April 1945 she was attacked by Bristol Beaufighters of Coastal Command aircraft from No. 114 Squadron RAF, No. 455 Squadron RAAF, and No. 489 Squadron RNZAF at her moorings sheltering off the coast of Norway—near the village of Vadheim in Sogn og Fjordane county. Following an intense strafing and rocket attack, holed by their rockets and strafed by cannon fire, she burned and sank.
In three raiding voyages Möwe captured and sank 40 ships, grossing in excess of 180,000 GRT. She also laid mines which accounted for two more ships and a capital warship. This made her the most successful German raider in either the First or the Second World War.
|11 Jan 16||Corbridge||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,687||Retained as prize; scuttled 30 Jan 16|
|11 Jan 16||Farringford||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,146||sunk|
|13 Jan 16||Dromonby||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,627||sunk|
|13 Jan 16||Author||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,496||sunk|
|13 Jan 16||Trader||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,608||sunk|
|15 Jan 16||Ariadne||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,035||sunk|
|15 Jan 16||Appam||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||7,781||Retained as prize; detached 17 Jan 16; returned 28 Mar 17|
|16 Jan 16||Clan McTavish||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||5,816||sunk in action|
|20 Jan 16||Edinburgh||Sailing ship||United Kingdom||1,473||sunk|
|4 Feb 16||Luxembourg||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,322||sunk|
|6 Feb 16||Flamenco||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,540||sunk|
|8 Feb 16||Westburn||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,300||Retained as prize; detached 9 Feb 16 to Santa Cruz de Tenerife|
|9 Feb 16||Horace||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,109||sunk|
|24 Feb 16||Maroni||Cargo ship||France||3,109||sunk|
|25 Feb 16||Saxon Prince||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,471||sunk|
|6 Jan 16||King Edward VII||Pre-dreadnought battleship||Royal Navy||16,350 t disp||Scotland|
|13 Jan 16||Bayo||Cargo ship||Spain||2,776||Gironde|
|13 Jan 16||Belgica||Cargo ship||Spain||2,068||Gironde|
|22 Feb 16||Duckbridge||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||1,491||Scotland|
|27 Jul 16||Eskimo||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,326||Taken as a prize|
|2 Dec 16||Voltaire||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||8,618||sunk|
|4 Dec 16||Hallbjørg||Cargo ship||Norway||2,586||sunk|
|6 Dec 16||Mount Temple||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||9,792||sunk|
|8 Dec 16||Duchess of Cornwall||Sailing ship||United Kingdom||152||sunk|
|8 Dec 16||King George||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,852||sunk|
|9 Dec 16||Cambrian Range||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,235||sunk|
|10 Dec 16||Georgic||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||10,077||sunk|
|11 Dec 16||Yarrowdale||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,652||retained as prize; |
detached to Swinemunde, 31 Dec 16.
Converted to auxiliary cruiser Leopard
|12 Dec 16||Saint Theodore||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,992||Commissioned as auxiliary cruiser Geier; |
scuttled 14 Feb 17
|18 Dec 16||Dramatist||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||5,415||sunk|
|26 Dec 16||Nantes||Sailing ship||France||2,679||sunk|
|2 Jan 17||Asnieres||Sailing ship||France||3,103||sunk|
|5 Jan 17||Hudson Maru||Cargo ship||Japan||3,798||sunk/released|
|7 Jan 17||Radnorshire||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,310||sunk|
|9 Jan 17||Minteh||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||2,890||sunk|
|10 Jan 17||Netherby Hall||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,461||sunk|
|15 Feb 17||Brecknockshire||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||8,423||sunk|
|16 Feb 17||French Prince||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,766||sunk|
|16 Feb 17||Eddie||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||2,652||sunk|
|24 Feb 17||Katherine||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||2,926||sunk|
|4 Mar 17||Rhodanthe||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||3,061||sunk|
|10 Mar 17||Esmeraldas||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||4,678||sunk|
|10 Mar 17||Otaki||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||9,575||sunk in action|
|13 Mar 17||Demeterton||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||6,048||sunk|
|14 Mar 17||Governor||Cargo ship||United Kingdom||5,524||sunk|
In 1917 the imperial Bild- und Filmamt in Berlin produced Graf Dohna und seine Möwe, one of the best-known propaganda films of World War I. The distributor was Paul Davidson; part of the production the Projektions-AG »Union« (PAGU), Berlin. The film was first released on 2 May 1917 in the Deutsches Opernhaus (Deutsche Oper Berlin) in Berlin.
- Englund, Peter (2012). The Beauty and the Sorrow. An Intimate History of the First World War. New York: Vintage. p. 232.
- "Ships - Georgic". Count Dohna and His SeaGull. smsMoewe.com. March 4, 2007.
- Tanke, Darren H.; Rondeau, Robin M. (June 15, 2005). "Diving on the D/S Oldenburg Vadheim, Norway, 2005". Dinosaurs in the Deep. ssMountTemple.com. Archived from the original on January 1, 2006.
- Schmalenbach p137
- Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). Encyclopedia Americana. .
- Schmalenbach p140
- Schmalenbach p137-8
- Hoyt, Edwin P. Elusive Seagull (Frewin 1970). ISBN 0-09-101570-7.
- Hoyt, Edwin P. The Phantom Raider (Ty Crowell Co. 1969). ISBN 0-690-61732-1.
- Schmalenbach, Paul German raiders: A history of auxiliary cruisers of the German Navy, 1895–1945 (Naval Institute Press 1979) ISBN 0-87021-824-7.
- Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien: S.M.S. "Möwe", Gotha 1916.
- Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien: Der "Möwe" zweite Fahrt, Gotha 1917.
- Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien: El Möwe. Relato de la prim. campaña de este crucero alem. en el Atlantico, por su command., el Cap. de corbeta Conde de Dohna-Schlodien, Ciudad Mexico c. 1917.
- Conde de Dohna-Schlodien: El Möwe, Buenos Aires 1917.
- Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien: A "Möwe" kalandjai, Budapest 1917.
- Reinhard Roehle (ed.): Graf Dohnas Heldenfahrt auf S.M.S. "Möwe". Nach Berichten von Teilnehmern dargestellt. Mit 4 Einschaltbildern, 4 Textabbildungen und 1 Kartenskizze, Stuttgart/Berlin/Leipzig 1916.
- Hans E. Schlüter: S.M.S. "Möwe": ihre Heldenfahrt und glückliche Heimkehr. Nach Berichten von Augenzeugen und anderen Meldungen, Leipzig 1916.
- Graf Dohna: Der „Möwe“ Fahrten und Abenteuer, Stuttgart/Gotha 1927.
- Kapitän zur See a. D. Hugo von Waldeyer-Hartz: Der Kreuzerkrieg 1914–1918. Das Kreuzergeschwader. Emden, Königsberg, Karlsruhe. Die Hilfskreuzer, Oldenburg i. O. 1931.
- Eberhard von Mantey: Die deutschen Hilfskreuzer, Berlin 1937.
- John Walter: Die Piraten des Kaisers. Deutsche Handelszerstörer 1914–1918, Stuttgart 1994.
- Albert Semsrott: Der Durchbruch der "Möwe". Selbsterlebte Taten und Fahrten von Kapitän Albert Semsrott, Stuttgart 1928.
- Otto Mielke: S M Hilfskreuzer "Möwe". Der erste Blockade-Durchbruch. SOS Schicksale deutscher Schiffe, Vol. 125, München 1957.
- Otto Mielke: Hilfskreuzer "Möwe" (2. Teil). SOS Schicksale deutscher Schiffe, Vol. 130, München 1957.
- Count Dohna and His SeaGull
- Marauders of the Sea, German Armed Merchant Raiders During World War I - Möwe
- What Lies Beneath: The D/S Oldenburg Expedition, Vadheim, Norway 2005
- Count Dohna and his "Möwe", German film from 1917 with English titles 
- Audacity & Gold Bars - The First Voyage Of The SMS Möve I THE GREAT WAR Special