German auxiliary cruiser Widder

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Career (Nazi Germany) Merchant Navy Flag of Nazi Germany
Owner: HAPAG
Builder: Howaldtswerke, Kiel
Launched: 1930
Christened: Neumark
Homeport: Kiel
Fate: 1939 requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine
Career (Nazi Germany) War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945)
Namesake: Aries
Operator: Kriegsmarine
Builder: Blohm & Voss
Yard number: 3
Acquired: 1939
Recommissioned: 9 December 1939
Renamed: Widder, 1939
Neumark, 1940
Reclassified: Auxiliary cruiser, 1939
Homeport: Kiel
Nickname: HSK-3
Raider D
Fate: 1941 decommissioned
Career (Great Britain) Royal Navy Ensign
Namesake: Ulysses
Acquired: circa 1945
Renamed: Ulysses
Fate: Sold, 1950
Career (Germany) Germany
Acquired: 1950
Renamed: Fechenheim
Fate: Wrecked near Bergen, 1955
General characteristics
Class and type: Merchant vessel
Displacement: 16,800 (7851 GRT)
Length: 152 m (499 ft)
Beam: 18.2 m (60 ft)
Draught: 8.3 m (27 ft)
Propulsion: one geared turbine,
four boilers;
6,200 hp (4,600 kW)
Speed: 14 kn (26 km/h)
Range: 34,000 nmi (63,000 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)
Endurance: 141 days
Complement: 364
Armament: 6 × 150 mm,
1 × 75 mm,
1 × II 37 mm,
2 × II 20 mm,
4 × TT,
92 mines
Aircraft carried: 2 × Heinkel He 114B

Widder (HSK 3) was an auxiliary cruiser (hilfskreuzer) of the German Navy that was used as a merchant raider in the Second World War. Known to the KM as Schiff 21, to the Royal Navy she was Raider D. The name Widder (Ram) represents the constellation Aries in the German language. The name was given after the horoscope sign of the ship's master, Kapitän zur See Helmuth von Ruckteschell.

Early history

Built for HAPAG, the Hamburg America Line, at Howaldtswerke, Kiel, she was launched in 1930 as the freighter Neumark. After an uneventful career she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine for use as a commerce raider. She was converted for this purpose by Blohm & Voss in the winter of 1939, and commissioned as the raider Widder on 9 December of that year. She sailed on her first and only raiding voyage in May 1940.

Raider voyage

Widder sailed as part of the German Navy’s first wave of commerce raiders, sailing on 6 May 1940 under the command of KK (later FK) Helmuth von Ruckteschell.

Leaving Germany on 6 May 1940, she made for Bergen, in Norway. On 13 May the Widder confronted the British submarine HMS Clyde on surface, enjoining an exchange of gunfire which lasted for over an hour, with no hits for either side. After the engagement, the cruiser sought shelter in Sandsfjord. On 14 May she sailed to open sea, crossing the Arctic Circle the next day. After refuelling from the auxiliary ship Nordmark, she slipped through the Denmark Strait. Over a 5 ½ month period she captured and sank ten ships, totalling 58,644 GRT.

Having completed her mission, she returned to occupied France on 31 October 1940.

Later history

Deemed unsuitable as a merchant raider, Widder was re-christened Neumark, and used as a repair ship in Norway. After the war she was taken into British service as Ulysses, then sold back to Germany as Fechenheim in 1950 before being wrecked off Bergen in 1955. Her hull was scrapped shortly after.

She was one of only two German auxiliary cruisers to survive the war, after one 1940 cruise. Her captain, Helmuth von Ruckteschell, was one of only two German naval commanders convicted of war crimes at the end of the war.

Raiding career

  • 1940-06-13 British Petrol 6,891 gross register tons (GRT)
  • 1940-06-26 Krosfonn 9,323 GRT
  • 1940-07-10 Davisian 6,433 GRT
  • 1940-07-13 King John 5,228 GRT
  • 1940-08-04 Beaulieu 6,114 GRT
  • 1940-08-08 Oostplein 5,059 GRT
  • 1940-08-10 Killoran 1,817 GRT
  • 1940-08-21 Anglo-Saxon 5,596 GRT
  • 1940-09-02 Cymbeline 6,317 GRT
  • 1940-09-08 Antonios Chandros 5,866 GRT


  1. Paul Schmalenbach (1977). German Raiders 1895–1945. ISBN 0 85059 351 4. 
  2. August Karl Muggenthaler (1977). German Raiders of World War II. ISBN 0 7091 6683 4. 
  3. Stephen Roskill (1954). The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume I. 

External links

de:Widder (Hilfskreuzer) it:Widder (HSK 3) hu:Widder (segédcirkáló) ja:ヴィダー no:«Widder» (1939) pl:HSK Widder ru:Виддер (вспомогательный крейсер)