German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer
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Admiral Scheer in Gibraltar
|Career (Nazi Germany)|
|Laid down:||25 June 1931|
|Launched:||1 April 1933|
|Commissioned:||12 November 1934|
|Fate:||Sunk by bombs|
9 April–10 April 1945
|Class and type:||Deutschland class cruiser|
|Displacement:||12,100 t standard;|
16,200 t full load
|Length:||186 m (610 ft)|
|Beam:||21.65 m (71.0 ft)|
|Draught:||7.34 m (24.1 ft)|
|Propulsion:||Eight MAN diesels,|
|Speed:||28.5 knots (53 km/h)|
|Range:||8,900 nmi. at 20 knots|
(16,500 km at 37 km/h)
|Armament:||6 × 280 mm (11 inch)|
8 × 150 mm (5.9 inch)
6 × 105 mm (4.1 inch)
8 × 37 mm
10 × 20 mm
8 × 533 mm (21 inch) torpedo tubes
|Armor:||turret face: (160 mm)|
belt: (80 mm)
deck: 40 mm)
|Aircraft carried:||Two Arado 196 seaplanes, one catapult|
The vessel was named after Admiral Reinhard Scheer. Originally classified as an armored ship (Panzerschiff) in Germany, in February 1940 the Kriegsmarine reclassified the remaining two ships of this class as heavy cruisers. The term pocket battleship was used by the British. The ship was one of the few that was considered to be male, meaning that its crew referred to the ship as he instead of the usual she.
The ship was launched on April 1, 1933 and christened by Frau Marianne Besserer, daughter of Admiral Reinhard Scheer.
During World War II, Admiral Scheer, under Captain Theodor Krancke, was by far the most successful capital ship commerce raider of the war, with a raid as far as the Indian Ocean. Near the end of the war, he was bombed by the RAF while docked in Kiel, causing him to capsize and sink. After the war the upturned hull was partially scrapped, with what remained being buried under rubble as the dock was filled in to make a "car park".
Spanish Civil War
His first mission began in July 1936 when he was sent to Spain to evacuate German civilians caught up in the Spanish Civil War. He also spied on Soviet ships carrying supplies to the Republicans and protected ships delivering German weapons to Nationalist forces. On 31 May 1937 he bombarded Republican installations at Almería in reprisal for an air attack on his sister ship Deutschland two days earlier. By the end of June 1938 he had completed eight deployments to Spain.
Towards the end of its Spanish deployments, Admiral Scheer served in April 1938 as polling booth for the extraterritorial vote of German and Austrian clerics, studying at the German college of Santa Maria dell'Anima, on the question of the German annexation of Austria ("Anschluss"). For this purpose, he anchored in the harbour of Gaeta. In contrary to the overall German result, these clerical votes rejected the Anschluss with over 90%, an incident which was coined as "Shame of Gaeta" (Vergogna di Gaeta, Schande von Gaeta) at the time.
World War II
His wartime career began on 4 September 1939 when RAF Bristol Blenheim bombers attacked him at Wilhelmshaven. He was hit by three bombs, which failed to cause major damage, and flak downed four of the attackers. He underwent an overhaul whilst his sister ships set out on commerce raiding. Deutschland accounted for two ships before returning home, but Admiral Graf Spee sank nine before he was discovered by the Royal Navy, damaged, and then scuttled following the Battle of the River Plate. Although these pocket battleship raids had not been hugely successful, the concept of commerce raiding had been demonstrated. Admiral Scheer was modified during the early months of 1940: the heavy command tower was replaced with a lighter structure, and he was reclassified as a heavy cruiser.
Admiral Scheer sailed on 14 October 1940 and his first target was convoy HX-84 from Halifax Nova Scotia, which had been identified by B-Dienst radio intercepts. His seaplane located the convoy on 5 November 1940 and, believing it to be unescorted, the Scheer closed in. However, as the convoy appeared over the horizon, one vessel sailed out to challenge him. The Jervis Bay, commanded by Captain Edward Fegen, was an armed merchant ship and was the only defence for the convoy. Owing to insufficient Allied warship numbers at this early stage in the war, convoys received destroyer escorts only on the last three days of their journey. Jervis Bay was hopelessly outclassed, but the German ship had to deal with him before pursuing the convoy, which had already begun to scatter and make smoke. Admiral Scheer succeeded in sinking five other ships, and setting the tanker 'San Demetrio' on fire - later salvaged, but his haul would have been far greater, but for the sacrifice of Jervis Bay. The attack led to a change in Admiralty policy: subsequent large convoys were usually escorted by battleships or battlecruisers — which had significant implications for the Royal Navy's other commitments.
The Royal Navy sent out several ships to trap the commerce raider Admiral Scheer, but he slipped away to the south to rendezvous with Nordmark, his replenishment oiler. Over the next two months, he sank several ships, capturing supplies and transferring prisoners to Nordmark, meeting them at Planquadrat Anadalusien, or other ships which he took as prizes. He spent Christmas 1940 at sea in the mid-Atlantic, several hundred miles from Tristan da Cunha, before making a foray into the Indian Ocean in February 1941. He found two more ships, but the second of these managed to send out a distress signal which attracted various British cruisers. He managed to sink a coal ship as he escaped the closing net and slipped back into the Atlantic. Captain Krancke sailed northwards, passed through the Denmark Strait and eventually reached Kiel on 1 April 1941, having steamed over 46,000 nautical miles (85,000 km) and sinking 16 merchant ships.
Admiral Scheer did not sortie again until 2 July 1942 when he set off on an abortive attempt to intercept Arctic convoy PQ-17. In August 1942 he sailed into the Arctic Ocean to hunt convoys and establish a German presence in the USSR's Arctic region, known as Unternehmen Wunderland. He bombarded the Soviet meteorological station at Cape Zhelaniya on 25 August, and then sank an armed ice breaker, the Aleksandr Sibiryakov off the Nordenskiöld Archipelago, but failed to find a convoy which was in the area. The icebreaker's crew managed to send word to the station of Novy Dikson. He moved on to shell Novy Dikson harbour and deployed troops there. The garrison, however, had an old field howitzer, which opened fire on the ship, causing minor damage to the equipment on board. Admiral Scheer recalled the troops and did not sink any of the vessels in the harbour, but badly damaged the ships Dezhnev (SKR-19) and Revolutsioner which lay anchored there. He returned to Narvik without finding any allied convoys owing to persistent bad weather and fog in the Kara Sea.
Following Hitler's anger at the alleged failings of the Kriegsmarine, its commander-in-chief, Grand Admiral Erich Raeder was replaced by Admiral Karl Dönitz, and the German surface fleet rarely left port thereafter. In the autumn of 1944 Admiral Scheer provided artillery support to retreating German army units on the Sorve Peninsula in the Baltic Sea. Throughout January and February 1945 he was engaged in further coastal bombardment operations, but his gun barrels were worn out by March and he returned to Kiel. It was here, on the night of 9 April 1945, during a general RAF bombing raid on the dockyard by over 300 aircraft, that he was struck and capsized at his berth. Most of his crew were ashore at the time, but 32 men were killed. The wreck of Admiral Scheer was buried when the inner harbor was filled with debris after the war.
|5 November 1940||SS Mopan||British||5,389||Sunk|
|5 November 1940||HMS Jervis Bay||British AMC||14,164||Sunk in combat|
|5 November 1940||SS Maidan||British||7,908||Sunk|
|5 November 1940'||SS Trewellard||British||5,201||Sunk|
|5 November 1940||SS Kenbane Head||British||5,225||Sunk|
|5 November 1940||SS Beaverford||British||10,142||Sunk|
|5 November 1940||SS Fresno City||British||4,995||Sunk|
|24 November 1940||SS Port Hobart||British||7,448||Sunk|
|1 December 1940||SS Tribesman||British||6,242||Sunk|
|17 December 1940||SS Duquesa||British||8,652||Captured|
|17 January 1941||SS Sandefjord||Norwegian||8,083||Captured|
|20 January 1941||SS Barneveld||Dutch||5,597||Sunk|
|20 January 1941||SS Stanpark||British||5,103||Sunk|
|20 February 1941||SS British Advocate||British||6,994||Captured|
|20 February 1941||SS Grigorios C.||Greek||2,546||Sunk|
|21 February 1941||SS Canadian Cruiser||British||6,992||Sunk|
|22 February 1941||SS Rantau Pandjang||Dutch||2,542||Sunk|
|25 August 1942||SS Aleksandr Sibiryakov||Soviet||1,384||Sunk in combat|
- KzS Wilhelm Marschall - 12 November 1934 - 22 September 1936
- KzS Otto Ciliax - 22 September 1936 - 31 October 1938
- KzS Hans-Heinrich Wurmbach - 31 October 1938 - 31 October 1939
- KzS / KADM Theodor Krancke - 31 October 1939 - 12 June 1941 (Promoted to KADM on 1 April 1941.)
- KzS Wilhelm Meendsen-Bohlken - 12 June 1941 - 28 November 1942
- FK Ernst Gruber - 28 November 1942 - 1 February 1943
- KzS / KADM Richard Rothe-Roth - 1 February 1943 - 4 April 1944 (Promoted to KADM on 1 April 1944.)
- KzS Ernst-Ludwig Thinemann - 4 April 1944 - 9 April 1945
- List of World War II ships
- List of Kriegsmarine ships
- List of naval ships of Germany
- List of ship launches in 1933
- List of ship commissionings in 1934
- List of shipwrecks in 1945
- Operation Wunderland
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Admiral Scheer|
- Deutschland-Class.dk Admiral Scheer
- German-Navy.de Admiral Scheer
- Maritimequest Admiral Scheer photo gallery