SS Scharnhorst (1934)

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Nazi Germany
Owner: Norddeutscher Lloyd[1]
Operator: Norddeutscher Lloyd
Port of registry: Bremen
Route: Bremen – Far East
Builder: DeSchiMAG, Bremen[1]
Yard number: 891[2]
Launched: 18 December 1934[citation needed]
Completed: 1935[1]
In service: 3 May 1935[2]
Homeport: Bremen
Fate: sold
Name: Japanese aircraft carrier Shin'yō
Operator: Imperial Japanese Navy
Acquired: 1942
Commissioned: 15 December 1943[2]
General characteristics
  • as built: 18,184 GRT[1]
  • tonnage under deck 13,618
  • 10,712 NRT[1]
Beam: 74.1 ft (22.6 m)[1]
Depth: 41 ft (12 m)[1]
Installed power: 26,000 shp (19,000 kW)[citation needed]
Propulsion: twin steam turbines, turbo-electric transmission, twin screw[1]
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)[4]
Sensors and
processing systems:
direction finding equipment, echo sounding device, gyrocompass[1]

SS Scharnhorst was a Norddeutscher Lloyd ocean liner that was launched in 1934 and completed in 1935, as the first big passenger liner built in the German Third Reich. Under German merchant flag she was the second liner named after General Gerhard J. D. von Scharnhorst (1755-1813), the famous Prussian army reformer and military theorist. She was converted into an Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier named Shin'yō in 1942 and sunk by a US submarine in 1944.


DeSchiMAG in Bremen built Scharnhorst and her sister ship Gneisenau for NDL, completing them in 1935.[1] Blohm + Voss in Hamburg built a third sister ship, Potsdam.[1]

Scharnhorst was used as a test-bed for new high-pressure, high-temperature boilers, as the Kriegsmarine wanted to evaluate the performance of the machinery before it installed the boilers in new capital ships.[6] Gneisenau had conventional reduction gearing from her turbines to her propeller shafts, but Scharnhorst and Potsdam had turbo-electric transmission.[1][4][5] Scharnhorst had twin AEG turbo generators that supplied current to electric motors on her propeller shafts.


The three sister ships worked NDL's express service between Bremen and the Far East, and at 21 knots (39 km/h)[4] were some of the fastest ships on the route.[5]

The outbreak of the Second World War in Europe in 1939 trapped Scharnhorst in Japan. In 1942 the Imperial Japanese Navy acquired her and had her converted into the escort carrier Shin'yō.[7] She was sunk in the Yellow Sea on 17 November 1944 by the United States Navy submarine Spadefish.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Lloyd's Register, Steamships and Motor Ships (PDF). London: Lloyd's Register. 1937. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "NDL Page 3: 1915-1939". Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL). Simplon – The Passenger Ship Website. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Stille 2006, p. 43
  4. ^ a b c d Harnack 1938, p. 549
  5. ^ a b c Talbot-Booth 1942, p. 405
  6. ^ Polmar, Genda & et al. 2006, p. 262.
  7. ^ Stille 2006, p. 42.


  • Harnack, Edwin P (1938) [1903]. All About Ships & Shipping (7th ed.). London: Faber and Faber. p. 549. 
  • Polmar, Norman; Genda, Minoru; et al. (2006). Aircraft Carriers : A History of Carrier Aviation and its Influence on World Events. Washington, DC: Potomac Books. ISBN 1-57488-663-0. 
  • Stille, Ben (2006). Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Carriers: 1921–1945. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-84603-009-3. 
  • Talbot-Booth, E.C. (1942) [1936]. Ships and the Sea (Seventh ed.). London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd. pp. 405, 518.