The Odyssey of the Admiral Pretzel
Almost forgotten in the recesses of naval history the destroyer Admiral Pretzel remains one of the mightiest battleships of its class ever built and the first German warship in history free of frogs.
Commissioned to an Hamburg graveyard in 1911 by Kaiser Willhelm II after a night of excessive drinking, His Imperial Majesty later forgot about the matter and refused to pay the bill after being told that a graveyard and a shipyard were completely different places.
The beginnings of this powerful ship couldn’t have been less auspicious. Serious damage was inflicted to the hull during the christening ceremony when the champagne bottle thrown by Countess Von Bulka cracked the bow and the countess fell down the stand and crushed several foreign dignitaries. In the subsequent pandemonium somebody leant on the ships side, still in the dry dock the forty thousand tons ship tipped over and smashed the top hat of the British ambassador who had the bad luck to be wearing it at the time. The British Foreign Office received the ambassadors remains inside an envelope but the top hat was never recovered. A bitter string of outraged letters of protest addressed to the Kaiser followed suit but the Foreign Office had his address wrong and they ended up in the Kaiser’s personal barber domicile. Illiterate and blind the letters never reached His Imperial Majesty.
It wasn’t until one year later that the ship was seaworthy again and a new inauguration ceremony was scheduled in Vienna to coincide with the Kaiser’s birthday. The cream of the Empire gathered for the momentous occasion and the Kaiser commissioned his tailor a bath suit made of solid gold to commemorate the event, so there was great disappointment when everybody arrived to Vienna just to find out there is no sea there. The ship has to be carried back to Hamburg and all the guests had to help because the ox were eating grass in nearby Salzburg and had left note not to be disturbed. To top the disaster Kaiser Willhelm persisted on trying his new swimsuit and throw himself in an irrigation channel and almost drowned dragged to the bottom by his heavy swimwear. Only the speedy intervention of a passerby that arrived three hours later saved His Majesty’s life although his mustache never recovered from the experience. Before the accident it pointed proudly upwards but from that day on it fell carelessly downward given the Emperor’s face the aspect of a bottom feeder. This incident is mentioned in several history treaties as the first indication of the decline Austro-Hungarian Empire, although the Kaiser Willhelm worked for Germany most of his career as professional Kaiser.
The calamities associated to this tragedy made the unhappy Kaiser leave the Admiral Pretzel to rust in the backyard of his Prussian castle until the beginning of the Great War of 1914 when big ships with guns became fashionable again.
After one year fighting in the Mediterranean the Admiral Pretzel amassed a brilliant record of victories: it sunk two destroyers, damaged severely the British cruiser HMM Duke of Ellington and during the greatest naval battle of the war chipped the stern’s paint coating of the French destroyer Croissant de Mer which had to abandon the battle and head to port to have it repainted. It also sunk the destroyer Pulgarcito of the Spanish navy only to discover later that Germany was not at war with Spain and that the Spanish captain was there fishing tuna for a sandwich.
During operations by the coast of Crimea the 99 mm guns showed his operational capacity by blowing the the toe of one foot belonging to a Turk shepherd. For the bravery of this action the captain earned the iron cross although the aging Kaiser accidentally pinned it in his eye and the brave captain had to retire after a seagull carried away his other eye mistaken it for a crustacean.
But it was its last suicidal mission that might have earned a place on war history for the Admiral Pretzel. With the war almost lost for Germany the ship was sent in the most secret and dangerous mission ever devised. It was so secret that nobody knows to this day what it was or if the ship succeeded in carrying it out. Men participating in the operation have repeatedly refused to comment on the operation on the grounds of being dead.