Kriegsmarine

Destroyer Mogador running aground after having been hit by a 15-in round

Operation Catapult – Attack on Mers-el-Kébir: British vs French

Operation Catapult was the code name given to the naval military action by Britain to ensure the French fleet did not fall into German hands following the signing of the armistice. “Provided, but only provided, that the French fleet will sail forth-with for British harbors pending negotiations, his Majesties government give their full consent to …

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Wilhelm Gustloff as a hospital ship. Danzig, 23 September 1939

Wilhelm Gustloff – The Greatest Maritime Disaster in History

The sinking of MV Wilhelm Gustloff by the Soviet Submarine S-13 resulted in the greatest maritime disaster in history with the largest loss of life at sea. At 55 degrees 07 minutes north, 17 degrees 41 minutes east lies the broken and dead body of a once proud and majestic ship. Above her amongst the …

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Tirpitz, escorted by several destroyers, steaming in the Bogenfjord in October 1942

Operation Zitronella: Tirpitz role at Spitzbergen

Since her commissioning in February 1941 the Tirpitz operated in the Baltic conducting trials and training her crew as well as participating in some minor operations in connection with the invasion of the Soviet Union of January ’42. She then steamed to Norwegian waters with the intent of being teamed with other German warships for …

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U-110 and HMS Bulldog lowering her whaleboat (left) David Balme on HMS Bulldog (right)

Lt.Cmdr. David Balme, captor of first Enigma, passed away

David Balme, the Royal Navy Officer who seized a top-secret Enigma machine and codebook while storming a captured German U-Boat has died at the age of 95. Lieutenant Commander David Balme, who died on Sunday, was credited with helping to shorten the Second World War by two years after he led the boarding party that raided U-110, east …

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Maritime Communications – Communications Officer of PC-486

Battle for Maritime Communications during World War II

In 1938, Germany had only 3 “pocket” battleships, 6 light cruisers, 7 destroyers, 12 torpedo boats, and 36 submarines—many of which were unfit for ocean service[1]. The British Home Fleet alone had: 15 battleships, 62 cruisers, 7 aircraft carriers, 178 destroyers, and 56 submarines[2]. As the war drew closer, German naval planners were convened by …

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Capture of U-570 and its Enigma Cipher Machine

The Germans used the Enigma cipher machine for their military communications before and during WWII. In August 1941, the British managed to capture an Enigma coding machine from U-570. The first and only U-Boat to be captured by an aircraft… On the morning of August 27, 1941, U-570 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Hans-Joachim Rahmlow was patrolling submerged about …

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The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Kearny (DD-432) following the repair of her torpedo damage in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts (USA), on 31 March 1942. (Credits: U.S. Navy)

Undeclared War in the Atlantic: US Navy vs. UBoats

In October 1941, the United States was the only major industrial power still neutral. But that status was becoming increasingly tenuous. Off its east coast, America sailed a dangerous diplomatic course between two belligerents involved in a shooting war in the Atlantic Ocean. The country’s situation off the west coast was little better; there the question of shooting …

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Painting of the Battle of the Barents Sea, World War II. The ship depicted is the German destroyer Friedrich Eckoldt. (Credits: Irwin J. Kappes via Wikimedia)

Last Hurrah of the Surface Kriegsmarine – Battle of Barents Sea

Battle of Barents Sea Unlike the Kriegsmarine’s U-boats, which he embraced, Adolf Hitler had a love-hate relationship with its surface fleet, one complicated by his own irresolution and ignorance regarding how to use it. The German navy’s relationship with the Führer was further muddied by a power struggle pitting surface ship proponents, led by the Kriegsmarine’s commander in chief …

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