The sinking of Scharnhost

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 904
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by paul.mercer » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:41 pm

Gentlemen,
Various accounts of the moment Scharnhorst actually sank record a tremendous underwater explosion which apparently caused the bows to be blown off (from the few pictures of the wreck that are available). Would the explosion be caused by a magazine exploding - even though she was under water when it happened, or would it have been boiler explosions to cause same effect?

User avatar
Ersatz Yorck
Member
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:56 pm

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:45 am

Just speculating here, but a boiler explosion would hardly have the force to blow off part of the ship, and it seems improbable it would blow of the bows.

An ammo explosion seems more likely. Explosions on sinking ships are not uncommon, compare for example with Barham. OTOH the forward turrets of the Scharnhorst had had their magazines flooded early in the action.

User avatar
HMS26
Junior Member
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:19 pm

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by HMS26 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:00 pm

I’m of the same belief that only ammunition storage could offer such an explosion so to rip a capital ship apart.

Anyhow, the loss of Scharnhorst was just another shameful action on Kriegmarine’s part. One would imagine that after losing Bismarck, the Germans would’ve learned to plan more adequately their surface actions knowing to what extremes Royal Navy would go in defending the sea-lanes. Just another example of German infancy in naval matters IMHO.
As I see it, IF they really wanted the results of such superbly built and effective ships like Bismarck, Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Admiral Hipper etc., they would’ve kept them together as much as possible as a Fleet-in-being either based in Norway or in France. Not sending them piecemeal against a strong and experienced Navy as the RN! The raiding part was done superbly by the U-Boats. The surface Fleet had to keep RN Home Fleet’s surface units from attempting protection of the convoys. That and a much better Luftwaffe activity.
If Germany’s capital ships were kept in unison with each other – as a Fleet – I think that they could’ve at least be a more of an impediment for the Home Fleet.

But enough of this; I‘m getting out of topic. :silenced:

Paul L
Senior Member
Posts: 317
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 9:04 pm
Location: Vancouver Canada

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by Paul L » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:18 am

HMS26 wrote:I’m of the same belief that only ammunition storage could offer such an explosion so to rip a capital ship apart.


As I see it, IF they really wanted the results of such superbly built and effective ships like Bismarck, Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Admiral Hipper etc., they would’ve kept them together as much as possible as a Fleet-in-being either based in Norway or in France. Not sending them piecemeal against a strong and experienced Navy as the RN! The raiding part was done superbly by the U-Boats. :

Agree about the first statment, but the second is puzzling. From what I've read the one thing the RN feared the most was germans using each capital ship as a lone surface raider, forcing them to dilute and spread out their forces in time and space. In point of fact this was one component in Grand Admiral Raeders plan....unfortunatly for him, the other part included a battlefleet at home that he probably envisage featuring H class battleships plus GZ carriers.

Read more here....
RAEDER VERSUS WEGENER Conflict in German Naval Strategy

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Raeder+ve ... 0138056199
"Eine mal is kein mal"

User avatar
HMS26
Junior Member
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:19 pm

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by HMS26 » Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:37 pm

Well, I totally agree on that Paul L.
My point is aimed at whatever strategy Raeder envisaged for Bismarck and Tirpitz. You don’t mess with that sort of strategy while facing RN and its assets. And because of that I also find British Admiralty’s fears of lone raiders as unfounded as they can be. You fear submarines that you can’t see or know about their whereabouts not a full-size battleship who’s every movement can hardly be unnoticed with the kind of intelligence Britain had at that time. The very fact that the whole hunt was carried out that way and with that intensity stays proof for that IMO.

ede144
Member
Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:09 pm

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by ede144 » Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:22 pm

HMS26 wrote:Well, I totally agree on that Paul L.
My point is aimed at whatever strategy Raeder envisaged for Bismarck and Tirpitz. You don’t mess with that sort of strategy while facing RN and its assets. And because of that I also find British Admiralty’s fears of lone raiders as unfounded as they can be. You fear submarines that you can’t see or know about their whereabouts not a full-size battleship who’s every movement can hardly be unnoticed with the kind of intelligence Britain had at that time. The very fact that the whole hunt was carried out that way and with that intensity stays proof for that IMO.
Raeder was expecting a war not befor 1944, than he would have following units to work with: 3 Panzerschiffe, SH, GH, BS, TP, 4 Battleships H Class and at least GZ. This would have the RN given a lot of headage.
Raeder was fully aware that the KM could not win a war at sea which he told his staff.

regards
ede

Paul L
Senior Member
Posts: 317
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 9:04 pm
Location: Vancouver Canada

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by Paul L » Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:49 pm

The reason the admiralty feared loan raiders sweeping the oceans sinking their convoys was because ....from their POV
{A} ....capital ship attacking convoy with maybe a cruiser or two escort equals total destruction of the convy.
{B} ....world support for the UK in any clash with resurgent nazi was weak at best even in the late 1930s . If foriegn conovys get destroyed , they may not sail at all in future.
{C}....despite what people may believe, finding any loan ship on the ocean is damn near impossible until late in WW-II when large numbers of radar equipped bombers are able to constantly patrol the oceans etc etc, based on Ultra 'near-real time' intercepts of German naval RF traffic... which told them were to look for them. :shock:

I would also point out that Uboats were not submarines but submersibles at that time. This makes a huge difference, since their underwater endurance is only a fraction of 1% of their surface endurance. Finally UK naval intell on Germans was tactically useless until 1943/44 and bearly of any operational value during 1941/42 and at best of some strategic value in 1940. Its not hard to write an alternative history where the Ultra-Enigma break through is set back a further two years, which makes it of minor value in any war effort.

German Admiral Heye only envisaged his fleet of surface raiders to last only a year. Historically the German surface raiders did allright by that comparison running riot for the first two years of the war. O'Hara reports 13 major surface raider sortie and sank, crippled or captured 180 vessels at the loss of two of their own raiders [ 2 out of 10] over first two years of war. Thats 32:1 kill ratio [64 vs 2] . Mind you HSK did much better and this points the way to an alternative history. The HSK sank 133-142 merchant vessels for the loss of 6 HSK over 3-4 years of war.

Since these HSK vessels were either captured or commondeered from civilian fleet , the cost of activating & arming all 9 HSK was less than the cost/resources or time of building a single minesweeper! From what I could gather from various sources , Germany had acccess to about 70 large fast modern diesel powered merchant ships that could become HSK, in the first years of the war.
"Eine mal is kein mal"

User avatar
RNfanDan
Supporter
Posts: 424
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 4:06 pm
Location: USA

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by RNfanDan » Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:01 pm

What was "Scharnhost"? A battleship just a bit too short to fit the letter "R" into its name in two places? :dance:
Image

Paul L
Senior Member
Posts: 317
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 9:04 pm
Location: Vancouver Canada

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by Paul L » Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:04 am

RNfanDan wrote:What was "Scharnhost"? A battleship just a bit too short to fit the letter "R" into its name in two places? :dance:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerhard_von_Scharnhorst
"Eine mal is kein mal"

User avatar
aurora
Senior Member
Posts: 696
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:31 pm
Location: YORKSHIRE

Re: The sinking of Scharnhost

Post by aurora » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:41 am

At 0757 Adm.Fraser,not satisfied that Scharnhorst had indeed sunk-called for the battle area to be cleared,except for ships with torpedoes and a destroyer with a searchlight ie,light up the area and if she was still afloat -sink her.One ship with torpedoes was Matchless-who was hoping for another attack. At 0800 Matchless went to Action Stations-a large scrambling net hung over the side.

There was a huge sea running and as Matchless got closer-she saw a great deal of wreckage and red lights twinkling in the water.There were cries coming from the blackness and there was a great glow where Scharnhorst was and a large explosion was heard just as searchlights were switched on-the sea was covered in debris as they proceeded to pick up survivors.

A cable away Scorpion was sweeping the area with her searchlight,but the huge sea was sweeping survivors along the destroyers sides and into oblivion.Only 36 survivors-30 in Scorpion and 6 in Matchless-no officers.No one saw Scharnhorst sink; but the CO Of Scorpion- Lt Cdr Clouston sweeping the area- signalled to the flagship at 0830 "Satisfied that Scharnhorst is sunk"
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim

Post Reply