WILHELMSHAVEN, or WILHELMSHAFEN, a town of Germany, and the chief naval station and war harbour of the empire on the North Sea, situated on the north-west shore of the Jade Busen, a large shallow basin formed by inundations and united with the sea by the Jade, a channel 3 m. long. Pop. (1885), 19,422; (1905), 26,012, of whom 8227 belonged to the navy or army. The ground on which it stands (4 sq. m.) was purchased by Prussia from the grand-duke of Oldenburg in 1853, when the Prussian navy was being formed. The construction of the harbour and town was begun in 1855, and the former was opened in 1869. Though reckoned a part of the Prussian province of Hanover it is completely surrounded on the landward side by Oldenburg territory. The town is laid out on a regular plan and ample scale, and the streets are wide and shaded with trees. The main thoroughfare is the Roonstrasse, which, running E. and W., passes the market-square, upon which stand the town hall and the post office. There are two Evangelical and two Roman Catholic churches, a gymnasium, schools for warrant officers and engineers and other naval educational institutions. The original harbour, constructed in 1855-1869, consists of an inner and outer basin. To the south-east of the inner harbour a large new harbour has been more recently constructed for war vessels in commission. This so-called new harbour (170 acres in area and 265 ft. deep) is connected by means of a lock (571 ft. long) with the new harbour entrance, which was completed in 1886. On the north it is connected with the fitting-out basin (3832 ft. long, 446 ft. wide), which again is connected by a lock (158 ft. long) with the outer basin (617 ft. long, 410 ft. wide), and so with the old harbour entrance. North of this the " third entrance " has been recently constructed, with two enormous locks, one of which in an emergency could be used as an additional dock. On the west side of the fitting-out basin lies the shipbuilding basin (1237 ft. long by 742 ft. wide), with three dry-docks (of which two are each 453 ft. long, 85 ft. wide and more than 30 ft. deep, whilst the third is 394 ft. long), and also with two slips of the largest size. Further new docks (each about 617 ft. by 97 ft.), capable of containing large battle-ships, were completed in 1906. A torpedo harbour lies to the south-east of the new harbour. The three entrances to the old and new harbours are sheltered by long and massive moles; and the whole complex of docks, building slips, machine shops, etc., forms the government dockyard, which is enclosed by a lofty wall with fourteen iron gates. The establishment is defended by strong fortifications. The commercial harbour lies on the south side of the town at the east end of the Ems-Jade canal. The industries of the place are almost exclusively connected with the requirements of the dockyard, and embrace machine shops, iron foundries and boiler works. Wilhelmshaven is visited for its sea-bathine. Itpossesses depots for artillery and mines, a meteorological observatory and a signalling station. A battalion of marines is stationed here. Since 1 900 the development of the naval establishment and of the town has been exceptionally rapid, coincident with the growth of the German navy, and with the shifting of political and naval activity from the Baltic to the North Sea.
See Eberhard, Fiihrer durch Wilhelmshaven und seine Umgebung (Wilhelmshaven, 1906) ; L. v. Krohn, Vierzig Jahre in einem deutschen Kriegshafen (Wilhelmshaven, 1905).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)