German auxiliary cruiser Stier
|Career (Germany)||Merchant Navy Flag of Nazi Germany|
|Class and type:||Merchant vessel|
|Owner:||ALL (Atlas Levant Line)|
|Fate:||Requisitioned by Kriegsmarine, 1939|
|Career||War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945)|
|Recommissioned:||10 May 1942|
|Reclassified:||Auxiliary cruiser, 1939|
|Fate:||sunk South Atlantic, 27 September 1942|
|Displacement:||11,000 (4,778 GRT)|
|Length:||134 metres (440 ft)|
|Beam:||17.3 metres (57 ft)|
|Draught:||7.2 metres (24 ft)|
|Propulsion:||1 x 7 cyl Diesel; 3,750HP|
|Range:||50,000 nm @12k|
6 x 150 mm,|
1 x II 37 mm,
2 x II 20 mm,
2 x torpedo tubes
|Aircraft carried:||2x Arado Ar 231|
Built by Germaniawerft in 1936 as the freighter Cairo, she was operated by the Atlas Levant Line (ALL) until being requisitioned for Kriegsmarine services in November 1939. After merchant warfare operations in the Baltic Sea, she was converted into a mine layer and was planned to be used during Operation Sealion. After this operation was canceled, the now renamed Stier was modified into an auxiliary cruiser in April 1941, first at the Wilton shipyard Rotterdam and later at Oderwerke, Stettin, and Kriegsmarinewerft, in Gotenhafen (Gdynia).
On 10 May 1942 she left Germany for operations in the Atlantic. Moving by stages down the English Channel, and after an engagement with British coastal forces on the 13th which saw the loss of 2 torpedo boats (German) and one MTB (British), Stier reached Royan in occupied France on the 19th. From there she departed under the command of FK (later KzS) Horst Gerlach for operations in the South Atlantic. However after a cruise of only 4 ½ months, in which she engaged and sank 3 ships, she had a fatal encounter on 27 September 1942; the ship was sunk during a battle with an American cargo ship the SS Stephen Hopkins, which was also lost.
During her operation, which lasted four and a half months, the Stier sank 4 ships with 29,409 tons (GRT).
Closing in foggy conditions the 2 ships sighted each other around 0852 at a distance of 4,000 yards. Gerlach sent his men to action stations; the master of the Stephen Hopkins was suspicious of the unidentified vessel and did the same. The Stephen Hopkins had a small defensive armament (1 × 4 inch gun astern, and several machine guns), but when firing commenced, around 0855, she put up a spirited defence. She scored several hits on Stier, damaging her engines and steering gear. However, overwhelmed by fire from Stier, the Hopkins drifted away; by 10 am she had sunk. Forty-two of her crew were killed in the action, and three more died later; the 16 survivors finally reached Brazil 31 days later. Stephen Hopkin's commander, Captain Paul Buck, was posthumously awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal for his actions. So was US Merchant Marine Academy cadet Edwin Joseph O'Hara, who single-handedly fired the last shots from the ship's 4-inch gun.
Meanwhile Stier had been fatally damaged; unable to make headway, and not responding to the helm, Gerlach made the decision to abandon ship and scuttle her. She sank at 11.40 am.
All but 2 of her crew survived; they were rescued by the supply ship Tannenfels, which was accompanying Stier at the time of the action.
|4 June 1942||SS Gemstone||British||4,986||Sunk|
|6 June 1942||SS Stanvac Calcutta||Panamanian||10,170||Sunk in combat|
|9 August 1942||SS Dalhousie||British||7,250||Sunk|
|27 September 1942||SS Stephen Hopkins||American||7,181||Sunk in combat|
- Paul Schmalenbach (1977). German Raiders 1895–1945. ISBN 0 85059 351 4.
- August Karl Muggenthaler (1977). German Raiders of World War II. ISBN 0 7091 6683 4.
- Stephen Roskill (1956). The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume II.