German cruiser Prinz Eugen

German cruiser Prinz Eugen

The "Prinz Eugen" (German, pronounced|ɔɪˈgeːn, the stressed "e" as "é" in French) was an enlarged "Admiral Hipper"-class heavy cruiser which served with the Kriegsmarine of Germany during World War II.

She was named after Prince Eugene of Savoy ("Prinz Eugen" in German).

"Prinz Eugen" was the third ship of the "Hipper"-class heavy cruisers. Like her sister ships, "Admiral Hipper" and "Blücher", she was built in the mid-1930s. During the planning and design stage, she was known as "Kreuzer J" (Cruiser J). Her keel was laid at the Krupp Germania shipyard in Kiel on 23 April 1936, and her full cost would be 104.5 million Reichsmark. "Prinz Eugen" was launched on 22 August 1938 and commissioned on 1 August 1940. Considered a "lucky ship", she survived to the end of the war, although she participated in only two major actions at sea. The ship sank following Operation Crossroads at Kwajalein Atoll in 1946.

Early war

The "Prinz Eugen" suffered repeated damage before deployment. On 2 July 1940, the ship suffered minor bomb damage from RAF Bombers. A year later on 23 April 1941, the ship struck a magnetic mine. [ [ The Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen] ]

Operational History

Unternehmen Rheinübung

On 24 May 1941, "Prinz Eugen" fought alongside "Bismarck" in the Battle of the Denmark Strait against HMS "Hood", hitting the British battlecruiser three times and starting a huge fire. Doubt had been cast on whether or not "Prinz Eugen" struck "Hood", citing that "Hood" was not her target. However "Prinz Eugen's" Gunnery Officer, Paul Schmallenbach, rejects this, confirming Eugen's target was also Hood. [Chesneau 2002, p. 156.] "Prinz Eugen's" war diary, as recorded by Captain Brinkmann, observed:

Both ships initially fire at "Hood". The semaphore order from Fleet: "Engage opponent farthest to the left", was not instituted until after the 6th salvo, with a target shift to "King George" [the Germans mistakenly identified "Prince of Wales" as "King George"] . After the impact of 05:57 of the 2nd salvo from "Prinz Eugen", a rapidly spreading fire at the level of the aft mast was observed. [ [ Online Archive: War Diary of the heavy cruiser "Prinz Eugen" (18 May 1941 - 01 Jun 1941). (1.7 MB). ZIP file] ]

"Prinz Eugen" damaged HMS "Prince of Wales" also, hitting that battleship four times. The "Hood" was sunk during the engagement and the "Prince of Wales" damaged, but the German ships were still shadowed by other British warships.

Later that day, she was detached to continue commerce raiding on her own. "Prinz Eugen" escaped the British ships, and headed south to rendezvous with the tanker "Spichern" and prepare for eventual commerce raiding in the Atlantic. After encountering engine problems, the ship made for a French port on 29 May. After narrowly avoiding several British heavy units which were looking for "Bismarck", she arrived at Brest, France, on 1 June 1941. The port was regularly bombed by the RAF, and on the night on 1 July, "Prinz Eugen" was hit on the port side behind the bridge. The bomb detonated in the forward main artillery command centre, killing 60 of the crew.

Unternehmen Zerberus: The Channel Dash

After the loss of "Bismarck", Hitler banned further Atlantic surface raids. Fearing an Allied invasion of Norway, he wanted all capital ships back in home waters. Together with the battlecruisers (or battleships) "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau", "Prinz Eugen" made the "Channel Dash" - "Operation Cerberus" - back to Germany during 11 February12 February 1942.

"Prinz Eugen" left Germany for Norway in February 1942. On 23 February, she was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS "Trident", destroying her stern. After some preliminary patch-up repairs in Trondheim, the cruiser returned to Kiel on 16 May 1942 to receive a new stern. "Prinz Eugen" was not operational again until January 1943. Two attempts to relocate to Norway, where she could threaten Allied convoys, failed and she was assigned instead to training duties in home waters. [ [ Prinz Eugen Operational History] ]

Baltic deployment

From August 1944 onward, "Prinz Eugen" was deployed to shell advancing Soviet troop concentrations along the Baltic coast and to transport German refugees to the west. On 15 October 1944, she collided with the light cruiser "Leipzig" in heavy fog in the Baltic Sea, nearly cutting the smaller ship in two. For 14 hours, the two ships drifted, locked together, until they could be separated. [ [ Prinz Eugen Operational History] ] "Prinz Eugen" was repaired at Gotenhafen (Gdynia) and continued her tasks of shelling Soviet land forces for 26 days of the siege [4,871 20,3cм rounds and 2,644 10,5см rounds were fired. When she left Danzig there were only 40 20,3см rounds left in the magazines.] , and evacuating German refugees. On 29 March 1945, she left Gotenhafen for the last time with a load of refugees, reaching Swinemünde on 8 April 1945. The ship then departed for Copenhagen, arriving on 20 April 1945. Lack of fuel meant that she could not leave port again.

After the war


At the end of the war, she was one of only two operational German cruisers left (the other was the light cruiser "Nürnberg"), and was surrendered to British Royal Navy forces in Copenhagen on 8 May 1945.On 26 May the "Eugen" left Copenhagen with "Nürnberg", and sailed to Wilhelmshaven under escort by the British. "Prinz Eugen" arrived on 28 May, remaining in dry dock until December 1945. On 5 January 1946, the ship was handed over to the United States Navy.

USS "Prinz Eugen"

She was awarded to the United States and commissioned into the US Navy as the unclassified miscellaneous vessel USS "Prinz Eugen" (IX-300). Her very large GHG passive sonar array was removed and installed on the submarine USS|Flying Fish|SS-229|6 for testing. [Friedman 1994, p. 62.] After examination and tests, she was allocated to the target fleet for the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests. She survived the "Able" and "Baker" tests (July 1946), but was too radioactive to have leaks repaired. In September 1946, she was towed to Kwajalein Atoll and capsized on 22 December 1946 over Enubuj reef, where she remains to this day (coord|8|45|9.49|N|167|40|59.60|E|). In 1978, her port propeller was salvaged and is preserved at the German Naval Memorial at Laboe.

Commanding officers

* Helmuth Brinkmann - 1 August 1940 - 1 August 1942
* Wilhelm Beck - 1 August 1942 - 8 October 1942
* Hans-Erich Voss - 8 October 1942 - 28 February 1943
* Werner Ehrhardt - 28 February 1943 - 5 January 1944
* Hansjürgen Reinicke - 5 January 1944 - 8 May 1945
* A. H. Graubart, USN - January 1946 - May 1946


After the annexation of Austria in 1938, some former Austrian naval officers were reactivated and served with the Kriegsmarine. The naming of the ship was a tribute to the maritime tradition of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. On 21 November 1942, "Prinz Eugen" was presented the bell of the Austro-Hungarian dreadnought "Tegetthoff" (scrapped in Italy in 1924) by the Italian naval attaché assigned to Berlin. The four main gun turrets were named after the Austrian towns of Graz, Braunau, Innsbruck and Wien (Vienna).


* Chesneau, Roger (2002). "Hood - Life and Death of a Battlecruiser". London: Cassell Publishing. ISBN 0-304-35980-7. An overall history, including her peace-time career.
* Robert Jackson (2002). "The Bismarck". Weapons of War: London. ISBN 1-86227-173-9
* Friedman, Norman. (1994) "U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History". United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. ISBN 1-55750-260-9
* [ The Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen]
* [ Prinz Eugen War Diary]

See also

* List of World War II ships
* List of Kriegsmarine ships
* List of naval ships of Germany
* List of ship launches in 1938
* List of ship commissionings in 1940
* List of ship decommissionings in 1945
* List of shipwrecks in 1946
* 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen

External links

* [ Prinz Eugen - British Armed Forces Website]
* [ Prinz Eugen - An Illustrated Technical History]
* [ "The Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen"] at []
* [ "Prinz Eugen" technical data] – From German naval history website []
* [ Maritimequest Prinz Eugen photo gallery]
* [ Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen]

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