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SMS Dresden

The SMS Dresden was a German light cruiser of the Dresden-class, commisioned in 1908. It was the sister ship of the famous commerce raider SMS Emden. While the Emden still had traditional triple-expansion engines, the Dresden was the first German cruiser to be equipped with the new Parsons turbines. At the outbreak of war in 1914, the Dresden had been stationed in the Carribean for a year, and was preparing for the return journey to Germany. However, orders were changed to prepare for commerce raiding. The Dresden then headed for the South Atlantic and went around Cape Horn, sinking British merchantmen along the way. In December, she rendezvoued with the German East-Asiatic Squadron at Easter Island. In company with Vice-Admiral von Spee's other ships, which were SMS Scharnhorst, SMS Gneisenau, SMS Leipzig, and SMS Nuernberg; the Dresden participated in the victorious Battle of Coronel. Together with SMS Leipzig she damaged and forced the escape of the British cruiser HMS Glasgow. Approximately one month later, SMS Dresden was the only German cruiser to escape at the disastrous Battle of the Falkland Islands, her turbine engines proving faster than her expansion-engined squadron mates. The ship then headed south back around Cape Horn to the maze of channels and bays in southern Chile. Until March, 1915; the ship evaded Royal Navy searches while paralyzing British trade routes in the area. On March 8th, the Dresden put into the Cumberland Bight on the island of Mas-a-Tierra. Due to lack of supplies and parts for the worn-out engines, the ship ceased to be operational. Six days later, British warships found the elusive German cruiser. After a few shots were fired, the Dresden ran up a white flag and sent the-then Lieutenant Canaris, who would become a famous Kriegsmarine admiral during the Second World War, to negotiate with the British. However, this was just a ruse to buy time so the Dresden's crew could abandon ship and scuttle her. At 11:15 AM the SMS Dresden slipped under the waves with her war ensign proudly flying.