Sea defense zone

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A sea defense zone (Seeverteidigung) was a tactical area in the organization of the Kriegsmarine intended to provide operational command of all German naval forces, within a given geographical area, in the event of actual enemy attack on the coastline of occupied Europe.

History[edit]

The first sea defense zones were established in the spring of 1940 to protect the large amount of coast line which Germany had acquired after invading the Low Countries, Denmark, Norway, and France. Originally, commanders of the sea defense zones were known as "coastal commanders" (Küstenbefehlshaber). In the summer of 1940, in preparation for Operation Sea Lion, the Kriegsmarine established seven "sea command sectors" (Seebefehlsstellen) which were commanded by officers ranked Kapitän zur See. All of the sea command sectors had been disestablished by the end of 1941.

Original Sea Command Sectors (1940)

  • Seebefehlsstelle Antwerpen - Antwerp (Sep 1940 - May 1941)
  • Seebefehlsstelle Boulogne - Boulogne-sur-Mer (Aug - Oct 1940)
  • Seebefehlsstelle Dünkirchen - Dunkirk (Aug - Oct 1940)
  • Seebefehlshaber Le Havre - Le Havre (Aug - Oct 1940)
  • Seebefehlshaber Rotterdam - Rotterdam (Jun 1940 - Dec 1940)
  • Seebefehlshaber Ostende - Ostend (Aug - Oct 1940)
  • Seebefehlshaber West - Calais (Aug 1940 - Mar 1941)

In the spring 1940, the Kriegsmarine began to reorganize coastal defense under a new position known as Kommandant der Seeverteidigung (Sea Defense Zone Commander). Between 1941 and 1945, the sea defense zones were expanded and retracted, gaining and losing territory to other zones or to the advance of allied or Red Army (Soviet) forces. Logistically, the sea defense zones were strictly a Navy command, but were integrated into the Atlantic Wall which was generally overseen by the German Army.

Command and control[edit]

Sea defense zones were normally commanded by an officer ranked as either Kapitän zur See or Konteradmiral. The sea defense zone commander answered to a Navy regional commander and would take tactical control over all shore forces in a given area should an enemy launch an attack against a segment of German coastline.

The only units permanently assigned to a sea defense zone were naval artillery batteries and anti-aircraft units. These units also maintained their own administrative chain of command in addition to falling under operational control of a sea defense zone. During an actual enemy attack, the sea defense commander became the direct superior for all Navy units in the zone's geographical area. This included all harbor defense units as well as naval infantry regiments. Typically, the sea defense zone commander would appoint as a deputy the commander of a major German port. The defense zone commander would himself report to a naval region commander who then acted in the capacity as a ground forces divisional commander. The ultimate command authority for all sea defense zones were the Navy Group commanders.

List of sea defense zones[edit]

Defense zone Established Headquarters Region Group Disestablished
"Albanien" Sep 1943 Tirana Adriatic South Jan 1945
"Attika" Feb 1941 Corinth Oct 1944
"Baltischen Inseln" Sep 1944 Lithuania Eastern Baltic North Nov 1944
"Bergen" Apr 1940 Hardanger Central Norway Apr 1944
"Boulogne" July 1940 Boulogne France West Dec 1940
"Brest" Brest
"Bretagne" Sep 1944
"Calais" Calais Dec 1941
"Dänische Inseln" Apr 1944 Copenhagen Denmark North May 1945
"Dalmatien" Sep 1943 Split Adriatic South Apr 1944
"Dodekanes" Dec 1943 Porto Lago Oct 1944
"Drontheim" Jul 1940 Trondheim Northern Norway North May 1945
"Dünkirchen" Dunkirk France West Dec 1941
"Elbe-Weser" Nov 1944 Cuxhaven German Bight North Jan 1945
"Estland" Feb 1944 Lithuania Eastern Baltic Sep 1944
"Französische Riviera" Sep 1943 Toulon Southern France West Jan 1944
"Gascogne" Jul 1941 Bordeaux Atlantic Coast
"Hammerfest" Mar 1942 Nordkinnhalvøya Polar Coast North
"Harstad" Jan 1945 Narvik May 1945
"Istrien" Sep 1943 Susak Adriatic South Dec 1944
"Italienische Riviera" Nizza Southern France
"Kanalinseln" Jul 1942 Channel Islands Channel Coast West Jul 1944
"Kirkenes" Mar 1941 Porsangerfjorden Polar Coast North Mar 1942
"Kreta" Jun 1941 Crete Aegean Sea South Oct 1944
"Kristiansand-Süd" May 1940 Langesund Southern Norway North Aug 1940
"Languedoc" Jan 1941 Toulon Southern France West Jul 1944
"Lemnos" Jul 1941 Lemnos Aegean Sea South Apr 1944
"Lettland" Jan 1942 Libau Eastern Baltic North Sep 1944
"Libau" Apr 1941 Jan 1943
"Loire" Dec 1940 Carnac Atlantic Coast West Jun 1944
"Mecklenburg" Apr 1945 Heiligendamm Western Baltic North May 1945
"Mittelholland" Nov 1944 Amsterdam Netherlands West
"Molde" May 1940 Stadtlandet Central Norway North
"Narvik" Jun 1940 Narvik Polar Coast
"Norddalmatien" Apr 1944 Sebenico Adriatic South Nov 1944
"Nordfriesland" Nov 1944 Husum German Bight North May 1945
"Nordgriechenland" Apr 1944 Thessaloniki Aegean Sea South Oct 1944
"Nordholland" Jun 1940 Scheveningen Netherlands West Feb 1945
"Nordjütland" Apr 1940 Frederikshavn Denmark Nov 1944
"Normandie" Feb 1941 Cherbourg Channel Coast Jun 1944
"Oslofjord" Apr 1941 Larvik Norway North May 1944
"Ostende Aug 1940 Calais Channel Coast West Dec 1941
"Ostfriesland" Feb 1944 Tidofeld German Bight North Apr 1945
"Ost und Westpreußen Dec 1944 Gotenhafen Eastern Baltic North Jan 1945
"Ostpreußen" Jan 1945 Pillau May 1945
"Pas de Calais" Dec 1941 Calais Channel Coast West Oct 1944
"Peloponnes" Sep 1943 Kalamata Aegean Sea South Sep 1944
"Polarküste" Jul 1940 Finnfjordbotn Polar Coast North Apr 1945
"Pommern" Nov 1944 Swinemünde Western Baltic
"Saloniki" Feb 1941 Kevalla Aegean Sea South Apr 1944
"Sandnessjöen" Jul 1940 Rörvik Northern Norway North May 1945
"Schleswig-Holstein und Mecklenburg" Nov 1944 Kiel Western Baltic
"Seine-Somme" Feb 1941 Le Havre Channel Coast West Sep 1944
"Stavanger" May 1940 Haugesund Central Norway North May 1945
"Südddalmatien" Apr 1944 Split Adriatic South Nov 1944
"Südholland" Jun 1940 Middelburg Netherlands West
"Südjütland"[N 1] Apr 1940 Copenhagen
"Tromsö" Jul 1940 Finnfjordbotn Polar Coast North May 1945
"Ukraine"[N 2] Nov 1941 Nikolajew Black Sea Independent Dec 1942
May 1943 Dec 1943
"Westkrim"[N 3] Aug 1942 May 1943
"Westadria"" Sep 1943 Lido bei Venedig Adriatic South Apr 1945
"Westgriechenland" Aug 1943 Patras Aegean Sea Oct 1944
"Westpreußen" Jan 1945 Gotenhafen Eastern Baltic North Mar 1945

References[edit]

  • Lohmann W. & Hildebrand H., Die Deutsche Kriegsmarine, Verlag Hans-Henning Podzun, Bad Nauheim (1956)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ From 1940 to 1944 the command was known in its full title as "Der Kommandant im Bereich Südjütland und Dänische Inseln". The name was shortened to simply "Südjütland" in April 1944.
  2. ^ Originally established as Seekommandant "V" before changing names in January 1942 to Seekommandant "U". By the summer of 1942 was known by the final name of Kommandant der Seeverteidigung Ukraine. Reestablished in May 1943 after being disbanded the previous winter.
  3. ^ Established in August 1942 as Seekommandant "X". By the start of 1943 was known as Seekommandant Kaspisches Meer. Shifted that summer to the command's final name of Kommandant der Seeverteidigung Westkrim. Merged with the Ukraine sea defense zone in May 1943.