SMS Leipzig was a Bremen class light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...
, of the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
Imperial Navy. It was named after the German city of Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...
The ship was stationed off the west coast of Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...
at the outbreak of war in 1914. She soon joined Admiral Maximilian von Spee
Maximilian von Spee
Vice Admiral Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee was a German admiral. Although he was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the counts von Spee belonged to the prominent families of the Rhenish nobility. He joined the Kaiserliche Marine in 1878. In 1887–88 he commanded the Kamerun ports, in German West...
's East Asiatic Cruiser Squadron and participated in the Battle of Coronel
Battle of Coronel
The First World War naval Battle of Coronel took place on 1 November 1914 off the coast of central Chile near the city of Coronel. German Kaiserliche Marine forces led by Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee met and defeated a Royal Navy squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher...
, where the German squadron virtually wiped out a smaller Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...
force sent to stop them.
Within a few weeks of Coronel, a force led by two Royal Navy battlecruiser
Battlecruisers were large capital ships built in the first half of the 20th century. They were developed in the first decade of the century as the successor to the armoured cruiser, but their evolution was more closely linked to that of the dreadnought battleship...
s, HMS Invincible
HMS Invincible (1907)
HMS Invincible was a battlecruiser of the British Royal Navy, the lead ship of her class of three, and the first battlecruiser to be built by any country in the world. She participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight in a minor role as she was the oldest and slowest of the British battlecruisers...
and HMS Inflexible, had assembled at the Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...
. Admiral Spee's squadron of two armored cruisers (SMS Scharnhorst
SMS Scharnhorst was an armored cruiser of the Imperial German Navy, built at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. She was the lead ship of her class, which also included her sister . Scharnhorst and her sister were enlarged versions of the preceding ; they were equipped with a greater...
and SMS Gneisenau
SMS Gneisenau was an armored cruiser of the German navy, part of the two-ship . She was named after August von Gneisenau, a Prussian general of the Napoleonic Wars. The ship was laid down in 1904 at the AG Weser dockyard in Bremen, launched in June 1906, and completed in March 1908, at a cost of...
) and three light cruisers, appearing at Stanley
Stanley, Falkland Islands
Stanley is the capital and only true cityin the Falkland Islands. It is located on the isle of East Falkland, on a north-facing slope in one of the wettest parts of the islands. At the 2006 census, the city had a population of 2,115...
for a planned raid on the port installations, was caught by surprise by the presence of the faster and more powerful battlecruisers and was destroyed at the Battle of the Falkland Islands
Battle of the Falkland Islands
The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on 8 December 1914 during the First World War in the South Atlantic...
While Scharnhorst and Gneisenau engaged the battlecruisers, Admiral von Spee ordered his light cruisers to try to escape. SMS Leipzig was caught and sunk several hours after the start of the engagement by the faster and more heavily gunned British light cruisers HMS Cornwall
HMS Cornwall (1902)
HMS Cornwall was a 9,800 ton Monmouth-class armoured cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was launched at Pembroke, Wales in 1902, and commissioned in 1904....
and HMS Glasgow
HMS Glasgow (1909)
HMS Glasgow, the sixth ship of that name, was launched on the Clyde at Govan in 1909 and was a Town-class light cruiser.On the outbreak of the First World War, she was operating off the coast of South America under Captain John Luce, and on 16 August 1914 she captured the German merchant ship SS...
. She was severely battered by Glasgow before rolling over and sinking, leaving only 18 survivors.