- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2001 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Of the heavy ships only the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and the light cruisers Nurnberg and Leipzig remained afloat (the latter a virtual wreck after being accidentally rammed by Prinz Eugen off Gdynia October 1944). All these were in Danish ports when the war ended.
The burnt out wreck of the pocket Battleship Lutzow scuttled in shallow waters in Swinemunde harbour fell into the hands of the Russians. At Kiel, the British found the wreck of the pocket Battleship “Admiral Scheer”, which had capsized after being hit by five bombs during a six hundred bomber raid on the night of the 9th and the 10th of April, and the wreck of the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper, painted in black and brick red camouflage so that their outlines would merge with the dockside buildings. She had settled on the bottom of the dock after being hit in the final Bomber Command raid over Germany on the 3rd of May. Out in Kiel Bay lay the desolate abandoned wreck of the light cruiser Emden which had been badly damaged during an air raid in April. British forces also took possession of the wreck of the light cruiser Koln lying on the bottom of the dock in Wilhelmshaven which had been heavily bombed on the 3rd of April.
Apart from Prinz Eugen, Nurmberg and Leipzig, only fifteen destroyers, eleven torpedo-boats, about two dozen minesweepers, and a few smaller craft were all that remained of the Kriegsmarine’s surface fleet. During the course of the war, the Germans had lost two battleships, two battlecruisers, three pocket battleships, two old dreadnought battleships of 1908 vintage, three heavy cruisers, four light cruisers, forty four destroyers, fifty-six torpedo-boats, seven armed merchant cruisers, twenty-three minelayers, one hundred and forty-six S-boats, one hundred and nineteen minesweepers, one hundred and sixty-three R-boats, twelve escort vessels, thirteen U-bootsjagelboote, sixty-four Sperrbrecher, thirty nine miscellaneous converted merchant auxiliaries, eight hundred and twenty-one patrol vessels and armed trawlers, whalers, drifters etc., some six hundred naval ferry barges and artillery barges and eight hundred and twenty-one U-boats. The Germans also lost most of their mercantile marine 2,035 ships grossing 3,675,655 tons.
The Allies lost 5,142 merchant ships grossing 21,543,026 tons in all theatres and from all causes, including action by Japanese and Italian forces. 69.23% of this huge total being accounted for by U boats (2,927 ships grossing 14,915,921 tons of which only 138 ships grossing 687,790 tons or 4.7% of the total were sunk during the final year of the war). In addition, U-boats accounted for 175 allied warships and auxiliaries (including 2 battleships, 3 aircraft carriers, 3 escort carriers, and 48 destroyers) totalling some 243,000 tons.
Apart from one despicable incident when Kapitanleutnant Eck commander of U35 machine gunned the survivors of the torpedoed Greek steamer Peieus on 13th of March 1944, the Kriegsmarine fought bravely and fairly, preserving discipline and morale in the face of impossible odds during the final year of the war, so that when the waters finally closed over the tortured ruins of the third Reich, the black, white and red swastika ensign of the Kriegsmarine was still bravely flying.