Archive of the month: photos of the small cruiser MEDUSA

In the series "Archive of the Month", the German Maritime Museum (DSM) / Leibniz Institute of Maritime History presents a special treasure from the archive every month. Fittingly for the cold season, DSM archivist Dr. Christian Ostersehlte will be showing a 101-year-old photo collection in February showing a small cruiser providing ice relief near Riga.

In the 1920s, the Reichsmarine was occasionally called upon to provide ice relief, especially on the German Baltic coast. Although warships were not icebreakers as a type of ship, their engine power, the particularly stable construction of the hull and its strong bracing made those in charge think of icebreaking operations on seaways from time to time. The German icebreaker fleet of civilian administrations at that time was rather limited to ports and their approaches.

The small cruiser MEDUSA, built in 1900/01 at AG "Weser" in Bremen for the Imperial Navy, remained with the forming Reichsmarine after World War I and was stationed in the Baltic Sea in the summer of 1920. Its missions included port visits to Sweden, Norway, and Finland from 1921 until it was decommissioned in 1924. From February 3 to 9, 1922, the Latvian port of Windau (Ventspils) was visited, and during this time (January 24 to February 12) a mission for ice relief in the Gulf of Riga was carried out, which is vividly shown in a photo collection of 16 photographs.

The MEDUSA crew and their cruiser in the ice. Credit: DSM

MEDUSA in the ice of the Gulf of Riga. Credit: DSM

Assistance for the Danish cargo steamer KURLAND. Credit: DSM

In the few free hours, the crew passed the time and built a snowman. Credit: DSM

The set includes 16 photos. Credit: DSM

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