German auxiliary cruiser Komet
|File:Komet (auxiliary cruiser).jpg|
|Career (Germany)||Merchant Navy Flag of Nazi Germany)|
|Builder:||Bremen Vulkan, DeSchiMAG|
|Launched:||16 January 1937|
|Fate:||Requisitioned by Kriegsmarine, 1939|
|Career (Germany)||Kriegsmarine Jack|
|Commissioned:||2 June 1940|
|Reclassified:||Auxiliary cruiser (1940)|
|Fate:||Sunk on 14 October 1942 after hit by a torpedo near Cap de la Hague.|
|Displacement:||7,500 tons (3287 GRT)|
|Length:||115.5 metres (379 ft)|
|Beam:||15.3 metres (50 ft)|
|Draught:||6.5 metres (21 ft)|
|Propulsion:||2 Diesel engines|
|Speed:||16 knots (30 km/h)|
|Range:||35,100 nautical miles (65,000 km)|
|Armament:||(1940) 6 × 15 cm, 1 x 7.5 cm, 1 x 3.7 cm, 4 x 2 cm, 6 x 53.3 cm torpedo tubes, 30 x EMC mines|
|Aircraft carried:||2 Arado Ar 196 A-1|
Komet (German for comet) (HSK-7) was an auxiliary cruiser of the German Kriegsmarine in the Second World War, intended for service as a commerce raider. Known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 45, to the Royal Navy she was Raider B. The name Komet means a comet in German language.
She was sunk by British Motor Torpedo Boats in October 1942.
Construction and conversion
Launched on 16 January 1937 as the merchant ship Ems at DeSchiMAG shipyards in Bremen for Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL), she was requisitioned at the start of the Second World War in 1939, converted into an auxiliary cruiser at Howaldtswerke in Hamburg, and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine on 2 June 1940. The ship was 115.5 m long and 15.3 m wide, had a draught of 6.5 m, and registered 3,287 gross register tons (GRT). She was powered by two diesel engines that gave her a speed of up to 16 knots (30 km/h).
As commerce raider, Komet was armed with six 15 cm guns, one 7.5 cm gun, one 3.7 cm and four 2 cm AA guns, as well as 6 torpedo tubes. She also carried a small 15-ton fast boat ("Meteorit", of the "LS2" class) intended to lay mines and a seaplane of the type Arado 196 A1. Her crew numbered 274.
Initial raiding voyage
Breakout into the Pacific
After a long period of negotiations between Germany and the Soviet Union, the Soviets agreed to provide Germany with access to the Northern Sea Route through which Germany could access both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Although the two countries had signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (with secret protocols dividing eastern Europe) and an undisclosed German–Soviet Commercial Agreement (1940) (extensive military and civilian aid pact), the Soviet Union still wished to maintain the veneer of being neutral, and thus, secrecy was required. Initially, the countries had agreed to send 26 ships, including four armed merchant cruisers, but because of a variety of difficulties, this was soon reduced to one ship, the Komet.
Prior to being sent to the Northern Sea Route, the Komet was equipped with a special strengthened bow and a special propeller suitable for ice navigation. Under the command of Kapitän zur See (later Konteradmiral) Robert Eyssen, HSK7 departed for her first raiding voyage from Gotenhafen on 3 July 1940 with a crew of 270. With the consent of the then neutral Soviet Union, Komet initially made its way along the Norwegian coast disguised as the Soviet icebreaker Semyon Dezhnev. While waiting in Teriberka Bay in July and August because of Soviet security concerns, she took the fake name the Donau. With assistance from Soviet icebreaker Lenin, she passed through the several Arctic Ocean passages in August. She later also received help from Joseph Stalin. In early September, the Komet crossed the Bering Straits into the Pacific Ocean. The passage navigation was an amazing achievement in itself but would have ended in disaster had it not been for the Russian assistance, whose help had been at a price — 950,000 Reichsmarks was the reported payment to them.
From there he sailed down to the Japanese island of Lamutrik and met the Orion and Kulmerland in mid-October. After a conference on strategy, the three captains decided to work together, concentrating on the New Zealand to Panama passage taken by most of the Allied merchant ships. They decided on Japanese disguises — Komet and Kulmerland had the names Manyo Maru and Tokio Maru painted on their hulls. By the time they sank the Holmwood and Rangitane, Komet had already been at sea for 140 days and Eyssen admitted in his war diaries that he had become depressed and frustrated at not having encountered the enemy.
Raiding in South Pacific waters
In early November, Komet resupplied and refueled in Japan, disguised as the Japanese merchantman Manio Maru. Komet operated with the Orion, disguised as Mayebashi Maru, and the supply ship Kulmerland, posing as the Tokio Maru. During the month of November, Komet sank five Allied merchant ships, with a combined tonnage of about 41,000 tons, that had been waiting off the island of Nauru to load phosphate. On 27 December 1940 she shelled the phosphate processing and loading facilities on Nauru. Cooperating with the German auxiliary cruiser Orion, she sank two more British ships in August 1941 and captured the Dutch 7,300 ton freighter Kota Nopan which was sent as a prize to Bordeaux.
Komet then sailed through the West and East Pacific, around Cape Horn and north through the Atlantic, returning to Cherbourg (France), thus circumnavigating the globe. She reached Hamburg on 30 November 1941 after a voyage of 516 days and about 100,000 nautical miles (190,000 km).
Her second raid, under the command of Kapitän zur See Ulrich Brocksien began in early October 1942. However, only a week out of Hamburg, on 14 October, she was attacked by British Motor Torpedo Boats near the Cap de la Hague. She was hit by a torpedo from MTB 236 and sank with no survivors.
The wreck of HK Komet was discovered by wreck hunter Innes McCartney off Cap Le Hague in July 2006 and was surveyed by a team led by him in 2007. She is in two halves and upside down, with a large part of the center section blown away by the explosion that sunk her. She lies in a depth of 70.0 metres (229.7 ft).
- 1941-08-14 Australind 5,020 GRT
- 1941-08-17 Kota Nopan 7,322 GRT
- 1941-08-19 Devon 9,036 GRT
In concert with Orion
- 1940-11-25 Holmwood 546 GRT
- 1940-11-27 RMS Rangitane 16,712 GRT
- 1940-12-06 Triona 4,413 GRT
- 1940-12-07 Vinni 5,181 GRT
- 1940-12-07 Komata 3,900 GRT
- 1940-12-08 Triadic 6,378 GRT
- 1940-12-08 Triaster 6,032 GRT
- "Hilfskreuzer Komet". www.scharnhorst-class.dk. http://www.scharnhorst-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/komet.html. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
- Philbin III, Tobias R., The Lure of Neptune: German-Soviet Naval Collaboration and Ambitions, 1919 - 1941, University of South Carolina Press, 1994, ISBN 0872499928, page 131-7
- Philbin III, Tobias R., The Lure of Neptune: German-Soviet Naval Collaboration and Ambitions, 1919 - 1941, University of South Carolina Press, 1994, ISBN 0872499928, page 138-9
- Philbin III, Tobias R., The Lure of Neptune: German-Soviet Naval Collaboration and Ambitions, 1919 - 1941, University of South Carolina Press, 1994, ISBN 0872499928, page 140-1
- Rangitane story
- "The Komet raider". http://argo.net.au/. http://argo.net.au/andre/raiderKOMETENFIN.htm. Retrieved February 24, 2007. [dead link]
- Innes McCartney. "Komet that turned fireball". Divernet - Diver Magazine Online. http://www.divernet.com/Wrecks/wrecks_general/159386/komet_that_turned_fireball.html. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
- "The Armed Merchant Raider HK "KOMET"". www.periscopepublishing.com. http://www.periscopepublishing.com/KOMET%20exhibition.htm. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
- 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 (1954). The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume I.
- Stephen Roskill (1954). The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume 2.