German weather ship Sachsenwald

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History
Nazi Germany
Name: Sachsenwald
Namesake: Sachsenwald
Builder: DeSchiMAG, Seebeck
Yard number: 631
Launched: June 1939
Acquired: January 1940
Fate: Sunk on 6 August 1944 off Les Sables-d'Olonne
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Converted trawler
Tonnage: 650 GRT
Displacement: 1,425 t (1,402 long tons)
Length: 62.85 m (206 ft 2 in)
Beam: 8.53 m (28 ft)
Height: 5.03 m (16 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.43 m (14 ft 6 in)
Installed power: 1,000 PS (740 kW; 990 ihp)
Propulsion: Triple expansion engine
Speed: 12.5 knots (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph)
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 60
Armament:
  • 1 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) deck gun
  • 1 × 3.7 cm (1.5 in) AA gun
  • 2 × 2 cm (0.79 in) quad AA guns
  • 2 × 2 cm (0.79 in) AA guns
  • 2 × 1.5 cm (0.59 in) AA guns
  • depth charges

Sachsenwald was a weather ship of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during the Second World War. She was built in 1938/39[1] as a commercial trawler and operated out of Cuxhaven as PC318, but was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine in January 1940 after being interned in Murmansk by Soviet authorities after the outbreak of war.[2] Initially serving as a supply ship allocated to Basis Nord, Sachsenwald was intended for use in Operation Sea Lion before being converted for use as a weather ship under the designation Wetterbeobachtungsschiff 7.[3][4][2]

Bismarck survivors[edit]

Sachsenwald was returning from a 50-day operational cruise in the Atlantic under her commander, the experienced trawler skipper Ernst Wilhelm Schütte, when she received orders on 27 May 1941 to move to the area where the Bismarck was known to be.[3] After sailing through heavy seas, and being briefly attacked by a Bristol Blenheim with machine gun fire, she reached the debris field left after the sinking of Bismarck on 28 May. After several hours searching the field, which contained only bodies and debris, Sachsenwald communicated with two U-boats which were also searching the area.[3] Finally, late in the night, they discovered a raft containing two survivors, and took them on board. They were Matrosengefreite Walter Lorenzen and Otto Maus.[3][a] Sachsenwald continued to search the area, recovering an empty raft from Bismarck but failed to find any more survivors. She briefly communicated with the Spanish cruiser Canarias, which was also searching the area, before making for the French coast on 31 May, escorted by several patrol boats.[3] She reached it without incident, discharging the survivors, and tying up at Bordeaux on 1 June.[3]

Sinking[edit]

On 29 August 1941, WBS7 was re-designated a vorpostenboot, named Vorpostenboot 414 (V-414)[5] and was assigned to the 4th Outpost Flotilla (4. Vorpostenbootflotille) in the Bay of Biscay and operating out of Bordeaux.[3] In August 1944 she formed part of a seven-ship convoy, consisting of V-414, Otto, Höheweg, M-263, M-486 and FT-3 which was carrying ammunition from St. Nazaire to La Pallice.[4] They were intercepted early in the morning of 6 August by Force 26, which was carrying out Operation Kinetic.[3] The task force, consisting of the cruiser HMS Bellona, and the destroyers HMS Ashanti, HMS Tartar, HMCS Haida and HMCS Iroquois, attacked the convoy, sinking six of the ships, including V-414.[4] The wreck lies in 180 feet (55 m) of water.[4]

Notes[edit]

a. ^ A number of internet sources state that Sachsenwald recovered five Bismarck survivors. This appears to be a widely repeated error based on a faulty source. The official report of Sachsenwald's commander states only two survivors were picked up, Lorenzen and Maus.[3]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gröner 1993, p. 205.
  2. ^ a b Gröner 1988, p. 205.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Fishing Vessel 'Sachsenwald': Report Regarding The Rescue Mission 'Bismarck': 30 May 1944" (PDF). kbismarck.com. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d "V-414 (ex-Sachsenwald) (+1944)". wrecksite.eu. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  5. ^ Gröner 1993, p. 214.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Gröner, Erich (1988). Hilfsschiffe II: Lazarettschiffe, Wohnschiffe, Schulschiffe, Forschungsfahrzeuge, Hafenbetriebsfahrzeuge (I). Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815–1945 (in German) V (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4804-0. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1993). Flußfahrzeuge, Ujäger, Vorpostenboote, Hilfsminensucher, Küstenschutzverbände (Teil 1). Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815–1945 (in German). VIII/1 (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4807-5. 
  • Ludovic Kennedy Pursuit: The Sinking of the Bismarck

Coordinates: 46°32′N 2°09′W / 46.533°N 2.150°W / 46.533; -2.150