PROPULSION: (1936): 1 x Burmeister and Wain (Elmer) diesel engine
(1946): 1 x MAN diesel auxiliary motor developing 550 horsepower and driving 1 x shaft; (1965): 1 x Maschinenfabrik-Augsburg-Nurnberg diesel direct reversible engine with reduction gear developing 750 horsepower; (1980): 1 x Caterpillar D399 diesel engine developing 1,200 horsepower to 1 x shaft; 3 x Masts for 23 x Sails of 22,300sq ft area.
German leader Adolf Hitler was pressing the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) to increase the number of naval officers for his impending war plans so an additional tall ship was needed to support the Barque Segelschulschiff Gorch Foch used in training naval cadets. The shipbuilder chosen was Blohm und Voss and the vessel was formally commissioned at the Hamburg dock on September 17th, 1936 as the "Horst Wessel". The Horst Wessel was named after a Nazi party member and SA Storm Trooper that killed in a street brawl with Communists in 1930. Hitler, and a number of his personal bodyguards with staff, were aboard for the commissioning ceremony.
The Horst Wessel served as flagship of the Kriegsmarine sail training fleet home-porting out of Bluecher Piers Kiel, Germany. The fleet consisted of Gorch Fock, Albert Leo Schlageter and Horst Wessel. The Horst Wessel combined a traditional three-masted barque with a modern steel hull rather than wood. The Foremast was 147.3 feet (44.9 meters) high with square sails, the Mainmast at 147.3 feet (44.9 meters) high (also square sails) and the Mizzenmast measuring 132 feet (40.2 meters) high, though with gaff rigging. She carried twenty-two total sails across her three masts as well as sails on her bowsprite, this with a total sail area of 2,070 meters squared (22,300 feet squared). Under sail, the Horst Wessel managed 17 knots (31 km/h) and about 7.5 knots when using her diesel engine. She featured a running length of 295 feet (89 meters) with a width of 40 feet (12 meters) and a draught of 17 feet (5.2 meters). All told, she displaced at 1,750 tons under full load as built.