German auxiliary cruiser Pinguin

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Career Merchant Navy Ensign of Germany (1938-1945)
Name: Kandelfels
Owner: Hansa
Builder: AG Weser
Launched: 1936
Christened: Kandelfels
Fate: Requisition by Kriegsmarine, 1939
Career War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945)
Name: Pinguin
Namesake: Penguin
Builder: DeSchiMAG, Bremen
Yard number: 5
Acquired: 1939
Recommissioned: 6 February 1940
Reclassified: Auxiliary cruiser, 1940
Nickname: HSK-5
Schiff 33
Raider F
Fate: Sunk in the Indian Ocean, 8 May 1941
General characteristics
Displacement: 17,600 long tons (17,900 t)
Length: 155 m (509 ft)
Beam: 18.7 m (61 ft)
Draft: 8.7 m (29 ft)
Installed power: 7,600 hp (5,700 kW)
Propulsion: 2 × 6-cylinder diesel engines
Speed: 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Range: 60,000 nmi (110,000 km; 69,000 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Endurance: 207 days
Complement: 401
Armament: 6 × 150 mm (5.9 in) guns, 1 × 75 mm (3.0 in) gun, 2 × 37 mm anti-aircraft guns (1x2), 4 × 20 mm anti-aircraft cannons (2x2), 2 × torpedo tubes, 300 × mines
Aircraft carried: 2 × Heinkel He 114B floatplanes; later, 1 × Arado Ar 196A-1

The Pinguin was a German auxiliary cruiser (Hilfskreuzer) which served as a commerce raider in World War II. The Pinguin was known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 33, and designated HSK 5. The most successful commerce raider of the war, she was known to the British Royal Navy as Raider F. The name Pinguin means penguin in German.

Early history

Formerly a freighter named Kandelfels, she was built by AG Weser in 1936, and was owned and operated by the Hansa Line, Bremen. In the winter of 1939/40, she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine (KM) and converted to a war ship by DeSchiMAG, Bremen. Her main armament was taken from the obsolete battleship Schlesien.

Raider voyage

Pinguin was one of the first wave of raiders sent out by the Kriegsmarine, sailing on 15 June 1940 under the command of Fregattenkapitän (later Kapitän zur See) Ernst-Felix Krüder.

Slipping through the Denmark Straits, Pinguin made for her patrol area in the Southern Ocean.

In 10½ months at sea she accounted for 28 ships, totalling 136,000 tons (GRT).

Her most successful coup was the capture, on 14 January 1941, of most of the Norwegian whaling fleet in Antarctica, totalling three factory ships and 11 whalers. These were sent back as prizes to Europe, arriving in Bordeaux, occupied France in March 1941. One of the whalers was retained as an auxiliary raider, being re-named Adjutant.


On 8 May 1941, Pinguin was sunk in a battle with the British heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall. She was the first auxiliary cruiser of the Kriegsmarine to be sunk in the war. 532 lives, among them 200 prisoners, were lost when Pinguin blew apart when the mines stored on board took a hit and exploded. Cornwall rescued 60 crew members and 22 prisoners who were originally crew of the 28 merchant ships the raider had either sunk or captured.

Raiding career

1940-07-31 Domingo de Larrinaga 5,358 GRT In the vicinity of the Ascension Islands, bound for Newcastle with 7,000 tons of grain.
1940-08-27 Filefjell 6,901 GRT Vicinity of Madagascar
1940-08-27 British Commander 5,008 GRT Vicinity of Madagascar, in ballast.
1940-08-27 Morviken 7,616 GRT Vicinity of Madagascar
1940-09-12 Benavon 5,872 GRT East of Madagascar, bound for Leith carrying Hemp and Rubber.
1940-09-16 Nordvard 4,111 GRT Prize; to Bordeaux
1940-10-07 Storstad 8,998 GRT Prize; Auxiliary minelayer Passat
1940-11-19 Nowshera 7,920 GRT
1940-11-20 Maimoa 10,123 GRT
1940-11-21 Port Brisbane 8,739 GRT
1940-11-30 Port Wellington 8,303 GRT
1941-01-14 Ole Wegger 12,201 GRT Prize
1941-01-14 4 whale-catchers Pol 7-10 app 300 GRT each Prizes; Pol 9 rechristened as auxiliary raider Adjutant
1941-01-14 Solglimt 12,246 GRT Prize
1941-01-14 Pelagos 12,083 GRT Prize
1941-01-14 7 whale-catchers Star 14, 19-24 app 300 GRT each Prizes
1941-04-25 Empire Light 6,828 GRT
1941-04-28 Clan Buchanan 7,266 GRT
1941-05-07 British Emperor 3,663 GRT

Sunk by mines from Pinguin and Passat

Nimbin 1,052 GRT
Millimumul 287 GRT
Cambridge 10,846 GRT
City of Rayville 5,883 GRT First US merchantman to be sunk by enemy action in WW2


  • 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. 
  • H J Brennecke (1954). Ghost Cruiser HK33. 

External links

Coordinates: 3°30′0″N 57°48′0″E / 3.5°N 57.8°E / 3.5; 57.8

de:Pinguin_(Hilfskreuzer) hu:Pinguin (segédcirkáló) it:Pinguin (HSK 5) no:«Pinguin» (1939) pl:HSK Pinguin ru:Пингвин (вспомогательный крейсер)