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Encyclopedia > DKM Admiral Graf Spee
Admiral Graf Spee
Career Image:Kmensign.png
Laid down: October 1, 1932
Launched: June 30, 1934
Commissioned: January 6, 1936
Fate: Scuttled December 17, 1939
General Characteristics
Displacement: 12,100 t standard; 16,200 t full load
Length: 610 ft (186 m)
Beam: 71 ft (21.6 m)
Draft (max.): 24 ft (7.4 m)
Armament: Six 11 inch (280 mm) guns (2 triple turrets), eight 5.9 inch (150 mm) guns, eight 21 inch (530 mm) torpedo tubes (2 quadruple)
Rate of fire: 11 inch guns: 2.5 rounds/minute/gun 5.9 inch guns: 67ndash;8 rounds/minute/gun
Gun range: 11 inch guns at 40° (armor-piercing shells): 36,475 m
Estimated gun life: 11 inch guns: ca. 340 rounds; 5.9 inch guns: ca. 1,100 rounds
Munitions supply: 11 inch (280 mm) guns: 105–120 rounds/gun
Armor: 5.5 inch (140 mm) turret face, 2.3 inch (58 mm) midships belt, 1.6 inch (41 mm) deck
Aircraft: Two Arado 196 seaplanes, one catapult
Propulsion: Eight MAN diesels, two screws, 52,050 hp (40 MW)
Speed: 28.5 knots (53 km/h)
Range: 8,900 nautical miles at 20 knots (16,500 km at 37 km/h)
or 19,000 nautical miles at ~10 knots (35,000 km at ~18.5 km/h)
Crew: 1,150

Admiral Graf Spee was a pocket battleship (Panzerschiff, later changed to heavy cruiser) launched by Germany in 1934 and named after the World War I Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee. Although Admiral Graf Spee is often called Graf Spee for short, it must not be confused with the uncompleted World War I German battle cruiser SMS Graf Spee.

Admiral Graf Spee sailed from Wilhelmshaven, Germany in August 1939, her mission to act as a raider in the South Atlantic. Supported by her supplyship, the tanker Altmark she was required to sink Allied merchant ships, disturb their routing and draw Allied naval units off their stations in other parts of the world, while avoiding combat with strong enemy forces.

The cruise of Admiral Graf Spee with ships sunk

In 1939 Admiral Graf Spee sank a number of merchant ships in the south Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean, the first on September 30, 1939. The crews of these ships were transferred to her tanker Altmark. Later, these 299 crewmembers were released by force in Norwegian territorial waters by British naval ships.

The Allies formed seven hunting groups in the Atlantic and one in the Indian Ocean to look for her, totalling three battleships, four aircraft carriers, and 16 cruisers. More groups were assembled later.

On December 13, 1939, she was found by the British Hunting Group G — the 8 inch (200 mm) gunned cruiser HMS Exeter, and 6 inch (150 mm) gunned light cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Achilles — and the battle of the River Plate ensued. After taking spectacular-looking but actually relatively superficial damage and retreating to the neutral port of Montevideo, the ship was scuttled by Captain Hans Langsdorff to avoid risking the crew in what he thought would be a losing battle.

In 1997 one of Admiral Graf Spee's secondary gun turrets was raised and restored, and can now be found outside Montevideo's National Maritime Museum.

In February 2004 a salvage team began work raising the wreck of Admiral Graf Spee. The operation is in part being funded by the government of Uruguay, in part by the private sector, as the wreck is now a hazard to navigation. The first major section, the 27-ton heavy gunnery control station, was raised on 25 February 2004. It is expected to take several years to raise the entire wreck. Film director James Cameron is filming the salvage operation. After it has been raised it is planned that the ship will be restored and put on display at the National Marine Museum in Montevideo.

Most of the surviving sailors do not approve, considering the wreck to be an underwater historical monument which must be respected; one of them, Hans Eupel, former specialist torpedo mechanic, 87 years old in 2005, added "this is madness, too expensive, and senseless. It is also dangerous, as one of the three explosive charges we placed did not explode."

  • The Recovery of the Graf Spee (in Spanish) (http://www.uolsinectis.com.ar/especiales/extra/html/actualidad/200402090001/nota.htm)

Commanding Officers

  • Kapitän zur See Konrad Patzig: January 1936 – October 1937
  • Kapitän zur See Walter Warzecha: October 1937 – October 1938
  • Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff: October 1938 – 17 December 1939

External links

  • The Battle of the River Plate - The death of a commander and a gentleman (http://www.ocean98.org/spee.htm)
  • Grafspee.com (http://www.grafspee.com/)
  • The Graf Spee Project: Recovering a WWII German Battleship (http://www.lummifilm.com/grafspee/)

  Results from FactBites:
Langsdorff of the Grafspee (144 words)
Prince of Honor details the Battle of the River Plate (HMS Ajax, HMS Achilles and HMS Exeter against Panzerschiff Admiral Graf Spee.); documents Spee's raider cruise and scuttling in Montevideo; explains the evacuation of Spee's crew to Buenos Aires and Captain Langsdorff's suicide.
Kriegsmarine: Admiral Raeder's Navy' outlines the history of the Z-Plan.
Admiral Raeder's Navy clearly resolves outstanding questions regarding the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee.
  More results at FactBites »



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