Admiral Graf Spee
|Ship Class||Deutschland-class Heavy Cruiser|
|Ordered||23 Aug 1932|
|Laid Down||1 Oct 1932|
|Launched||30 Jun 1934|
|Commissioned||6 Jan 1936|
|Sunk||17 Dec 1939|
|Displacement||12,100 tons standard; 16,023 tons full|
|Machinery||8 MAN diesel engines|
|Power Output||52,050 SHP|
|Range||8,900nm at 20 knots|
|Armament||6 11-in guns (2 triple turrets), 8 5.9-in guns, 8 21-in torpedo tubes (2 quadruple)|
|Armor||5.5-in turret face, 2.3-in midships belt, 1.6-in deck|
|Aircraft||2 Arado 196 seaplanes|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe "pocket battleship" heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, originally known as Panzerschiff C and Ersatz Braunschweig was named after WW1 Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee. Her construction was rather advanced for her time, particularly her speed when compared with her contemporaries; she was built with the philosophy that she must be faster than enemies that out-gunned her, while she must also be stronger than enemies that were faster than she was. She spent part of her early career patrolling the coast of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. On 21 Aug 1939, together with tanker Altmark as her supply ship, Admiral Graf Spee was sent by Berlin to raid merchant ships in the South Atlantic that were Britain bound. Between Sep and Dec 1939, she sank nine merchant ships in the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, but no lives were lost in any of these sinkings; the captain of Admiral Graf Spee abided strictly by the rules of naval warfare when it came to attacking enemy civilian ships.
ww2dbaseTo counter Admiral Graf Spee's actions, British and French ships formed eight task forces to hunt down Admiral Graf Spee and the Deutschland, which was on a similar mission. The Admiral Graf Spee was found by British Hunting Group G at River Plate in South America on 13 Dec 1939. After a 90-minute intense battle against heavy cruiser Exeter and light cruisers Ajax and Achilles, Admiral Graf Spee sustained damage and fled for the neutral port of Montevideo. Neutrality laws required Montevideo to eject the German ship from its ports after 72 hours. With the Admiral Graf Spee's diesel engines unreliable, the British knew Captain Hans Langsdorff of the German heavy cruiser must be a little stressed about his situation. The British played a successful mental tactic against the German captain, tricking him in believing that a large British and French fleet waited outside the port for the German cruiser. Langsdorff bought the deception, and scuttled his ship on 17 Dec 1939. He committed suicide three days later.
ww2dbaseIn 1997 one of Admiral Graf Spee's secondary gun turrets were raised and restored. They are now on display outside Montevideo's National Maritime Museum. The rest of the ship is in the process of being raised, and may be restored in the future for display.
ww2dbaseSources: the Second World War, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Feb 2006
Admiral Graf Spee Operational Timeline
|1 Oct 1932||The keel of the future pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee was laid down.|
|30 Jun 1934||Admiral Graf Spee was launched.|
|6 Jan 1936||Admiral Graf Spee was commissioned into German service.|
|21 Aug 1939||German warship Admiral Graf Spee and her tanker Altmark departed Germany on a raiding mission against British shipping.|
|11 Sep 1939||HMS CUMBERLAND on passage to Rio de Janeiro. Aircraft sighted German pocket battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE and tanker ALTMARK but enemy ships escaped interception.|
|30 Sep 1939||The German pocket-battleship, Admiral Graf Spee (KapitÃ¤n Zur See Hans Langsdorff), intercepted her first victim, the SS Clement, off Brazil. But the 5,084-ton ocean-going tramp steamer reported the pocket-battleship as the Admiral Scheer, a report that confused the eight Raider Hunting Forces formed jointly by the British Admiralty and the French Ministry of Marine.|
|15 Oct 1939||German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee refueled from tanker Altmark.|
|9 Dec 1939||German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee sailed toward the River Plate estuary on the border of Uruguay and Argentina to attack a reported convoy departing from Montevideo, Uruguay. Meanwhile, Royal Navy Force G (light cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Achilles, soon to be joined by heavy cruiser HMS Exeter) was already en route toward the area in search of Admiral Graf Spee.|
|13 Dec 1939||HMS CUMBERLAND ordered to join EXETER, AJAX and ACHILLES off Plate estuary after ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE had sought refuge in Montevideo following her defeat in Battle of the River Plate.|
|14 Dec 1939||HMS CUMBERLAND joined other ships in Plate estuary awaiting departure of ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE.|
|17 Dec 1939||Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled by her own crew at Montevideo, Uruguay.|
|17 Dec 1939||HMS CUMBERLAND at Montevideo after ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE scuttled.|
|27 Mar 1945||Argentina declared war on the Axis alliance. The interned sailors of the Admiral Graf Spee (since Dec 1939) were now considered prisoners of war.|
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