Scapa Flow: WW1 Battleship Wrecks up For Sale on eBay

Scapa Flow – SMS Markgraf was the third battleship of the four-ship König class. She served in the Imperial German Navy during World War I.

The battleship was laid down in November 1911 and launched on 4 June 1913. She was formally commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 1 October 1914, just over two months after the outbreak of war in Europe.

SMS Markgraf
SMS Markgraf, an iconic battleship that took part in the battle of Jutland and was scuttled in Scapa Flow

Markgraf was armed with ten 30.5-centimeter (12.0 in) guns in five twin turrets and could steam at a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). Markgraf was named in honour of the royal family of Baden. The name Markgraf is a rank of German nobility and is equivalent to the English Margrave, or Marquess.

Markgraf displaced 25,796 t as built and 28,600 t fully loaded, with a length of 175.4 m, a beam of 29.5 m and a draft of 9.19 m. She was powered by three Bergmann steam turbines, with steam provided by three oil-fired and twelve coal-fired boilers, which developed a total of 40,830 shp (30,450 kW) and yielded a maximum speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph).

SMS Markgraf
SMS Markgraf shortly before completion now on the seabed at Scapa Flow

The ship had a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at a cruising speed of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) Her crew numbered 41 officers and 1,095 enlisted men.

She was armed with ten 30.5 cm (12.0 in) SK L/50 guns arranged in five twin gun turrets: two superfiring turrets each fore and aft and one turret amidships between the two funnels. Her secondary armament consisted of fourteen 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/45 quick-firing guns and six 8.8 cm (3.5 in) SK L/45 quick-firing guns, all mounted singly in casemates.

As was customary for capital ships of the period, she was also armed with five 50 cm (20 in) underwater torpedo tubes, one in the bow and two on each beam. Markgraf’s 8.8 cm guns were removed and replaced with four 8.8 cm anti-aircraft guns.

SMS Markgraf
SMS Markgraf was the third battleship of the four-ship König class

The ship’s armored belt consisted of Krupp cemented steel that was 35 cm (14 in) thick in the central portion that protected the propulsion machinery spaces and the ammunition magazines, and was reduced to 18 cm (7.1 in) forward and 12 cm (4.7 in) aft.

In the central portion of the ship, horizontal protection consisted of a 10 cm (3.9 in) deck, which was reduced to 4 cm (1.6 in) on the bow and stern. The main battery turrets had 30 cm (12 in) of armor plate on the sides and 11 cm (4.3 in) on the roofs, while the casemate guns had 15 cm (5.9 in) of armor protection. The sides of the forward conning tower were also 30 cm thick.

Along with her three sister ships, König, Grosser Kurfürst, and Kronprinz, Markgraf took part in most of the fleet actions during the war, including the Battle of Jutland on 31 May and 1 June 1916.

At Jutland, Markgraf was the third ship in the German line and heavily engaged by the opposing British Grand Fleet; she sustained five large-calibre hits and her crew suffered 23 casualties. Markgraf also participated in Operation Albion, the conquest of the Gulf of Riga, in late 1917.

The ship was damaged by a mine while en route to Germany following the successful conclusion of the operation.

After Germany’s defeat in the war and the signing of the Armistice in November 1918, Markgraf and most of the capital ships of the High Seas Fleet were interned by the Royal Navy in Scapa Flow. The ships were disarmed and reduced to skeleton crews while the Allied powers negotiated the final version of the Treaty of Versailles.

SMS Markgraf
SMS Markgraf

On 21 June 1919, days before the treaty was signed, the commander of the interned fleet, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, ordered the fleet to be scuttled to ensure that the British would not be able to seize the ships. Unlike most of the scuttled ships, Markgraf was never raised for scrapping; the wreck is still sitting on the seabed.

The ship is now a popular dive site, lying at a depth of 45 m. She turned over as she sank and the hull faces upwards. She is the most intact of the battleships with some holes in her superstructure where salvagers have gained access to obtain non-ferrous metals and most accessible armoured plate has been removed.

The remains of the Markgraf are being sold on behalf of the current owner Mr Clark, a diving contractor who purchased the 3 remaining battleships in Scapa Flow and one of four remaining light cruisers in 1981 (see my other listings).

Mr Clark purchased Markgraf with a view to performing further commercial salvage operations however the protection of the wrecks as scheduled monuments has prevented him from doing this. Mr Clark has now retired and Markgraf is being offered for sale complete with her contents, is being offered for sale.

Markgraf is a Scheduled Monument according to the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Areas Act 1979 and there is currently a desire to include Markgraf in a Historic Marine Protected Area.

Although further salvage of Markgraf is not prohibited, (it is subject to obtaining the necessary permits from Historic Environment Scotland and the required Marine Licenses) it is most unlikely any salvage operations of a commercial nature will be permitted.

Currently recreational divers are permitted to access the waterspace around Markgraf however they are NOT permitted to touch, enter or to go within one metre of the wreck.

The new owner will be able to dive on Markgraf, including touching and entering the wreck, and also to salvage items from Markgraf (subject to gaining the necessary permissions). They will own a warship with a greater displacement than HMS Ark Royal and if they purchase all 4 wrecks, will have a sizable naval fleet amongst the largest in the world.

It may be possible to generate revenue through tourism or the recovery of materials from the wreck however any purchaser will need to satisfy themselves of these possibilities.

The sale will be according to the Conditions of Sale (Wrecks) (See Photo)

The sale will require the consent of the Ministry of Defence. Details of the purchasing entity are to be provided within 5 days of acceptance of offer. We will then apply for consent. It will take several weeks to obtain consent from the Ministry of Defence.

The purchasing entity will be required to provide an indemnity in favour of Mr Clark. The wording of the indemnity will be similar to that provided by Mr Clark to the MoD.

UK VAT will be added to the winning bid (20%)

A non-refundable deposit of 10% of the purchase price is to be paid within 48hrs of acceptance of offer.

Balance of funds to be paid prior to the “date of entry” unless otherwise agreed.

The “date of entry” will be 5 days after consent from the MoD has been received.

Further information can be found here:

Buy your own battleships here eBay

For any further information please contact Andrew Crawford on +44 (0) 7824 568 156 or

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Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE