KDM Niels Juel (1918)

Niels Juel, c.1938. Note the sponson gun mounts along the superstructure. Photo in the collection of the US Navy History & Heritage Command.

Ship Class
Laid Down

Laid down as a monitor in 1914, Niels Juel was redesigned as a training cruiser during construction. Commissioned 23 May, 1923, she frequently served as the flagship of the Royal Danish Navy, or as the royal yacht when the ruling family wanted to go abroad. She spent the 1920s visiting countries from South America to the Mediterranean and the Baltic, and decommissioned in 1931. Niels was modernized from 1935 to '36, recommissioning in July. She participated in the 1937 Spithead Review, alongside such famous ships as the HMS Hood and Germany's Admiral Graf Spee, but her 1939 cruises kept getting cancelled due to the increasing likelihood of War in Europe. With her crew still returning from leave, Niels was unable to resist the German invasion of Denmark, but remained active in a training role, as the Germans allowed the Danes to keep their ships. She attempted to escape to Sweden when the Germans moved to seize the fleet on 28 August, 1943, but was blocked by German ships and attacked by aircraft. She was beached and scuttled, but the Germans raised her, and refitted her in Kiel. Recommissioning as Nordland in September, 1944, she operated as a training ship in Poland until February, 1945, when she returned to Kiel. Nordland was scuttled again on 3 May. She was partially dismantled by over-eager unauthorized salvagers post-War, and the remains were sold to a German firm by the Danes in 1952. The lower portion of her hull is still in place under the seabed, about 28m (92 feet) down.