The two small cruisers Dresden
were the most famous german ships of this kind in World War I. Technically, they did not differ much from their predecessors, but both ships had a different engine system. While the Emden
still had triple expansion engines, the Dresden
was used as a testbed for geared turbines.
were stationed in overseas stations at the outbreak at the war, Emden
was part of the East Asian Squadron while Dresden
was operating in the Caribbean.
When the other German ships left their station at Tsingtau July 1914, the Emden
stayed there as the only ship. Fearing that the ship could be surprised in the outpost it was send to the Island of Pagan at the Marianas where it met the rest of the East Asian Squadron. There the cruiser was detached for merchant warfare in the Indian Ocean a task that the ship fulfilled very successful in the next two and a half months. In this time, the Emden
destroyed or captured a total of 23 ships, shelled the harbor and oil tanks at Madras (22.09.1914) and destroyed the Russian cruiser Schemtschug
and the French destroyer Mousquet
at Penang (29.10.1914).
When attacking the radio station on the Cocoas islands on 09.11.1914, the Emden
was surprised by the Australian cruiser Sydney
while about 50 members of its crew operating on the island. With its 15 cm guns, the Sydney
could attack the German ship outside the range Emdens
guns and after 90 minutes the German cruiser was a burning wreck. The ship was then set on a reef to prevent sinking, 134 of the 376 crew members lost. The wreck of the Emden
was left on the reef for 35 years and broken down in the 1950s.