Home · Intro · Technical · History · Additional · On-line Archive · Models · Articles · 
Guestbook · Forum · Glossary · Help us · Books · Other · 

Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine

Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer in Berlin on 12 December 1941.

Present: Chief of the OKW [Generalfeldmarschall Keitel].
General Jodl.
Kapitän zur See von Puttkamer

1. General situation. The situation in the Atlantic will be eased by Japan's successful intervention. Reports have already been received of the transfer of some battleships from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is certain that light forces, especially destroyers, will be required in increased numbers in the Pacific. The need for transport ships will be very great, so that a withdrawal of American merchant vessels from the Atlantic can be expected; the strain on British merchant shipping will increase. This calls for intensified submarine warfare on the British supplies. Likewise the situation with regard to surface warfare by auxiliary cruisers and armored cruisers will probably change in our favor. Stationing the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU in the Atlantic is a step in the right direction; the situation could be improved considerably if Dakar were available as a base, and for this reason the Seekriegsleitung now, as always, is in favor of consolidating the French position in northwest Africa. The danger of major operations against the west coast will also decrease for the present, so that it will be possible to slow up reinforcement of the defenses along the west coast; in view of the scarcity of material, transport facilities, gasoline, etc., such a respite would be very welcome.

The Führer does not wish to postpone the speedy reinforcement of the fortifications, especially as he does not feel that a great deal of material will be required.

Questions put by the Führer:

    a. Does the Commander in Chief, Navy, believe that the enemy will in the near future take steps to occupy the Azores, the Cape Verdes, and perhaps even to attack Dakar, in order to win back prestige lost as the result of the setbacks in the Pacific?

    b. Is there any possibility that the U.S.A. and Britain will abandon East Asia for a time in order to crush Germany and Italy first?

As regards "a", the Commander in Chief, Navy, does not believe that such steps are imminent. The U.S. will have to concentrate all her strength in the Pacific during the next few months. Britain will not want to run any great risks after her severe losses of big ships [Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk on 10 December]. It is hardly likely that transport tonnage is available for such occupation tasks or for bringing up supplies. However, a firm consolidation of Dakar is desirable for the reasons given above.

As regards "b", it is improbable that the enemy will give up East Asia even temporarily; by so doing Britain would endanger India very seriously, and the U.S. cannot withdraw her fleet from the Pacific as long as the Japanese fleet has the upper hand.

2. Submarine warfare. A report is made on the disposition of the submarines with the help of a map (not included). At present 36 submarines are in or en route to the Mediterranean. It is proposed to station 50 submarines in the Mediterranean: 20 in the eastern area, and 30 in the western and Gibraltar areas.

This leaves 36 boats at present, 3 of which are in northern Norway, and 5 in the south; the latter are transporting the crew of ship "16" [Atlantis].

6 large submarines are to proceed as quickly as possible to the east coast of America.

In January there will be a large increase in the number of submarines. Up to now there have been long delays due to shortage of labor, the Eastern Campaign, etc.

New orders for the conduct of submarine warfare have been issued in accordance with instructions.

3. Transport of submarines to the Black Sea (See Annexes 1 and 2). Ten months are necessary to transfer boats weighing 250 tons. The Führer therefore gives up the idea of such transfers; he inquires whether It is possible to transfer S-boats. The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that this is possible, but he requests that for the time being only the boats intended for delivery to Rumania and Bulgaria should be transferred, as the new German boats are urgently needed in the Channel. If necessary, the question can be reopened in the spring. The Führer agrees.

4. Shipping space in the Mediterranean (See Annex 3). The order given to the Commander in Chief, Navy, at the last conference for the speedy construction of transport vessels of about 1,000 tons each in Black Sea and Italian shipyards is being carried out with the utmost dispatch. Plans have been drawn up for 40 ships of 1,200 tons each; engines have been provided from minesweeper stocks. For the present, eight building slips are available in Italy. Detailed plans are being drawn up at a German shipyard so that production of the plates can commence as soon as the material and the quota permits are available. This is the only cause for delay.

The Führer instructs the Chief of the OKW to adjust this matter.

Work cannot be recommenced at Nikolayev until oil and coal supplies can be brought up. Iron is available there; probably the plates can be rolled there to the necessary degree of thickness.

5. Oil situation (See Annex 4). The situation is very critical. The Navy's requirements have been cut by fifty per cent; this has caused an intolerable restriction on the mobility of our vessels. By 1 January 1942, 90,000 tons will have been handed over to the Italians. Supplies by inland routes are inadequate. Rumanian exports to us and to Italy have ceased entirely. The reason is incorrect financial treatment of Rumania, who is demanding gold from us to back her currency.

The Führer states that the Minister of Economics will give the gold to Rumania as demanded, and discusses other measures to improve the Rumanian situation. He recommends limiting the personnel of our supply organizations there to the utmost. Once the gold has been paid we can rely on renewed supplies of oil from Rumania.

6. Through the Commanding Admiral, France, Admiral Darlan has offered to give the German Navy information which he posses concerning the disposition of British naval forces due to his knowledge of British intelligence methods in the past.

The Führer sanctions the exchange of intelligence on the British Navy between Admiral Darlan and the German naval office.

7. In private conference. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests and obtains permission for a talk with Admiral Darlan, who has suggested such a talk both through Ambassador Abetz and Admiral Schultze. The Führer agrees very readily and explains his views on relations with France.

signed: Raeder

Annex 1

Investigation by the Technical Branch of the Submarine Division of the Seekriegsleitung on 5 December 1941 concerning the transfer of submarines to the Black Sea.

1. Transfer overland and down the Danube River.

The transfer of submarines overland and then down the Danube River is out of the question. It would be feasible only with boats up to Type IIB, and even then a great loss of time would be involved as the boats would have to be taken apart to a large extent: The conning tower would have to be removed, and all heavy parts, especially the engine installation and battery, would have to be dismantled. This question was exhaustively studied some months ago. The findings were so unfavorable that the plan had to be abandoned.

2. Transfer of boats of Type IID via the Atlantic and Mediterranean, taking into consideration the need for underwater towing through the Dardanelles and the Bosporus.

a. If refueled in Norway, western France, and Italy, the boats can proceed under their own power as far as Greece.

b. Opinion on underwater towing: Type IID boats are equipped with a towing hook. This can be slipped both from the bridge and from the inside of the conning tower.

Communication with the tug towing the submerged boat is provided only by sonic telegraphy. This means of communication is not considered suitable, however, as it can be heard too far away. So far, underwater towing experiments have been carried out only with Type IIB and IIC boats. These tests showed that towing is possible. Some of the essential conditions are as follows:

    (1) Towing speed must not become too high or depth-keeping devices cannot be controlled. The maximum speed should probably not exceed 6 to 7 knots.

    (2) The most suitable speed for diving is 4 knots.

    (3) The tug must be capable of 11 to 12 knots when not towing the submarine, as the loss in speed is great, amounting to 3 to 4 knots.

    (4) The submarine must continue to make use of periscope and steering gear.

    (5) The towing cable must be about 200 meters long and 8 centimeters thick.

It is necessary for boats that are to undertake such an operation to participate in towing maneuvers beforehand, as it is difficult to manage the submarine under such conditions.

c. Evaluation of the navigational conditions: Information available on navigational and weather conditions indicate that it is not advisable to attempt to tow submerged submarines through the Dardanelles and the Bosporus. In addition, the tug would have difficulties navigating the buoyed channel, which is often not reliably marked, particularly since the currents on the surface and at different depths may vary greatly.

It must also be assumed that the tug will be required to take on a pilot. The weasel might have to stop while the pilot is taken aboard; in such an event the submarine would not be able to maintain her depth. Quite apart from this, it can hardly be assumed that the ship in tow would not be detected; the towing cable would be seen.

when the tug tries to avoid other vessels or when other vessels cross its wake, the submarine may be seriously endangered.

No opinion can be ventured by this office as to the effect of barrages or patrols in the approaches to the straits or in the straits themselves.

In summary, it must be reported that the operation cannot be recommended, especially considering the difficult navigational conditions, unless complete agreement has been reached with the Turks, and the measures described are taken merely in an attempt to hide the undertaking as far as possible from the world at large.

d. If submarines of Type IID are withdrawn from the training flotillas, Type VII submarines meant for operational use would have to take their place.

signed: Lange

Annex 2

Transfer of Submarines Overland to the Black Sea.

Investigation has produced the following information:

1. Only boats of Types IIa and IIb can be transported, as their weight still amounts to about 140 tons after the engines have been dismantled and the keel, parts of the upper deck and the conning tower, etc., have been removed. This weight can just barely be handled for overland transport by two 70 ton trucks.

2. The total period required for the transfer, from the time the boats are decommissioned until they are again ready for action in the Black Sea, was estimated at the time at about ten months, including allowance for delays; the actual transportation would take about six weeks.

However, these figures apply only to the conditions prevailing in spring, i.e., the state of the superhighway during that season, the water level and the conditions on the Elbe and the Danube Rivers.

Whether these conditions prevail in autumn and winter, or to what extent they might vary, can be ascertained only by inquiries directed to the appropriate inland waterways offices and similar authorities, but these will have to know approximately when the transport is to take place in order to be able to give information of a somewhat reliable nature.

3. The following steps must be taken to prepare the boats for transfer:

    a. They must be lightened by removing all extra equipment, the engine, including the batteries, and by removing the conning tower, keel, steering gear, hydroplane, screws, and parts of the upper deck.

    b. Supporting framework for transport on the special superhighway trucks with a carrying capacity of 70 tons must be constructed and installed.

    c. Simple pontoons for transport on waterways must be constructed and installed.

    d. Probably it will be necessary to adapt the slipways available at Uebigau and Ingolstadt.

    e. The dismantled parts must be installed again in a Rumanian shipyard; subsequently diving and trim tests and short trials will be necessary.

Investigations made so far concerning the transport of the small Finnish submarines, which weigh 100 tons, but have a radius of action of only 375 miles, show that it would be quite possible to transfer the boats by rail, which would considerably reduce the time required for transport. Further details must be obtained from the Reich railroad, however.

Annex 3

Memorandum on Shipping Space.

1. Present situation in regard to shipping space:

a. In the Mediterranean for transport to Africa:

    (1) German ships or non-French ships taken over by Germany in French territorial waters:

    Present numbers:
    13 damaged ships totalling
    8 ships totalling
    Total: 21 ships totalling
    35,684 BRT
    30,334 BRT
    66,018 BRT
    Total losses to date: 24 ships totalling 102,766 BRT

    (2) Italian ships. Details as to numbers and tonnage of the ships committed by the Italians cannot be obtained. The number of ships varies according to the requirements of the various Italian supply areas. The Italians are supplementing and taking the place of German ships no longer available in sufficient numbers to transport German troops. Occasionally there have been temporary shortages of shipping space as the result of heavy losses, since sufficient reserves had not been provided.

b. In the Mediterranean for shipments in the Aegean Sea:
    Present numbers:
    5 German ships totalling
    5 Italian ships (chartered) totalling
    2 Bulgarian ships (chartered) totalling
    1 Rumanian ship (chartered) totalling
    7 Spanish Ships*
    9 Greek ships (prizes)
    29 ships totalling
    12,583 BRT
    18,660 BRT
    6,779 BRT
    3,032 BRT
    2,564 BRT
    12,906 BRT
    56,524 BRT
    Damaged: 2 ships totalling:
    Total: 31 ships totalling
    2,751 BRT
    59,275 BRT
    Total losses to date:
    3 German ships totalling
    2 Italian ships totalling
    2 Bulgarian ships totalling
    3 Rumanian ships totalling
    1 Spanish ship totalling
    3 Greek ships totalling
    14 ships totalling
    7,342 BRT
    7,203 BRT
    7,980 BRT
    10,427 BRT
    807 BRT
    5,965 BRT
    39,724 BRT
* These ships are German property operated by a Spanish cover firm.

c. In the Black Sea:

    Present numbers:
    1 Bulgarian ship totalling
    6 Rumanian ships totalling
    5 Hungarian Ships
    12 ships totalling
    1,994 BRT
    24,577 BRT
    4,051 BRT
    30,622 BRT
    Damaged: None:
    Total losses to date:
    1 German ship
    1 Italian ship
    1 Rumanian ship
    1 Hungarian ship
    4 ships totalling
    9,307 BRT
2. Reserves in the various transport areas:

a. In the Mediterranean for transports to Africa:

    (1) German ships: The following are still operating in commercial traffic, carrying bauxite, ore, and coal: 10 ships totalling 26,495 BRT

    On account of their weak loading gear, narrow hatches, and low speed, these ships cannot be used for transport military supplies and troops. Besides, the transport of supplies important to the war economy would be greatly limited if the ships were withdrawn from their present tasks.

    (2) Italian shipping:

    (a) Despite the efforts made for months by the Naval Attaché in Rome, the German Admiral with the Italian High Command, and the Commanding Officer, Supply and Transports in Rome, it has been impossible to obtain from the Italians a list of the Italian ships available; hence the German Navy still lacks absolutely essential knowledge of current reserves in the Italian merchant marine.

    (b) Unlike in Germany, in Italy the Italian Armed Forces cannot requisition ships for military purposes without sanction from the Ministry of Transportation. Admiral Riccardi is forced to request the Transportation Minister Host-Venturi to make merchant vessels available. If the request is refused, Riccardi's only resort is the Duce. It is therefore practically impossible for the German Navy to obtain additional ships for supply shipments, except for those carried out together with the Italians, as the Africa transports. The ruling at present existing in Italy must be altered so that when the German Navy requests ships for war purposes Admiral Riccardi has the power to dispose of commercial shipping.

b. Mediterranean (Aegean): No reserves are available; they can be drawn only from the Italian ships available in the Mediterranean.

c. Black Sea: The same applies as under "b". Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary are beginning to press for release of their ships for commercial shipping.

3. Improvement in the transport vessel situation through new construction:

a. Construction under way or planned in Italy:

    (1) For Germany:

    (a) 6 ships of 3,500 BRT each, totalling 21,000 BRT, are to be built by the Transportation Ministry under the Italo-German combined program; material will be provided from the Transportation Ministry quota, while labor and building slips will be supplied by the Italians. They are to be started early in 1942, and finished early in 1943.

    (b) 20 transports of 1,200 tons displacement and 14.75 knots, totalling 24,000 tons.

    All arrangements have been made; construction now depends entirely on approval of the allotment. The plans were made by the Navy. Material has been requested from the OKW. The OKW cannot pass on allocations beyond the naval quota. The question must be dealt with according to the Führer's decision on the over-all situation.

    Specifications will be finished in three weeks. Minister of Transportation Host-Venturi in Italy has put eight to ten building slips and the necessary labor at our disposal. The ships will be ready by summer or autumn of 1942.

    (c) 22 naval barges, each with capacity of about 105 tons, totalling 2,300 tons. Material is supplied by the Navy; they are being built in Palermo. 4 naval barges have been completed and transferred to Africa; a further 11 naval barges will be ready by the end of December; an additional 7 will be completed by the end of February.

    (2) For Italy:

    (a) Being completed:
    Ready for operations at the end of 1941: 10 ships of 9,000 BRT with a speed of 15 to 16 knots, totalling 90,000 BRT.
    Date of completion not yet known: 10 tankers of 9,000 BRT, totalling 90,000 BRT.

    (b) To be started in 1942:
    Italo-German combined program. The number and size of the ships has not yet been decided; the same amount of material as for the 6 ships for the Reich Ministry of Transportation will be supplied by that ministry.
    Planned Italian war construction program.
    10 tankers of 9,000 BRT totalling 90,000 BRT
    18 steamers of 4,000 BRT totalling 72,000 BRT
    10 steamers of 2,000 BRT totalling 20,000 BRT

Minister Host-Venturi has obtained sanction from the Duce for the new war construction program. According to information from the former, the material necessary to complete the vessels now under construction and to build the ships planned under the new construction program will be provided by Italy.

Shipyard capacity is available for the entire program including German constructions.

b. Aegean Sea: In the Aegean it is possible to build only submarine chasers (wooden vessels) and small wooden ships which can be used for distribution of supplies among the islands.

c. Black Sea:

    (1) Nikolayev shipyard: This shipyard will not be available for construction of ships until spring of 1942 because of the lack of coal and oil. It is planned to build 20 transports vessels of 1,200 tons displacement and 14.75 knots each, totalling 24,000 tons, of the same type as those being built by the Italian Navy. The shipyard will have to stop work on 15 December because of the fuel shortage.

    (2) Naval barges: Orders have been placed for 23 naval barges with a capacity of about 100 tons each, totalling 2,400 tons. Of these, 5 barges have been completed; by the end of December 1941, 10 will be completed; by the end of February 1942 the remaining 8 will be completed.

    (3) Hungarian yards: Of the 3 Hungarian shipyards, all located in Budapest, one is completely occupied, according to information received, and the other two are shipyards for small craft with few workers; they have facilities for vessels with 500 ton hulls.

    (4) Bulgarian and Rumanian shipyards: These shipyards are fully occupied with the construction of naval barges and with ship repairs. Besides, they are not suitable for building large vessels.

4. Improvement of the transport vessel situation by other measures. Since the effects of the program outlined under "3" will not begin to show until 1943, the following steps have been taken:
    a. Requested from the French Government through the Armistice Commission: 18 transports totalling 59,775 BRT (10 to 14 knots), 4 tankers totalling 28,464 BRT.

    b. Being transferred from French North Africa to Italy: 2 Dutch ships totalling 2,500 BRT.

    c. Negotiations are being carried on with the German administrator of the French shipping company "Compagnie France Navigation" for the purchase or charter of 7 ships totalling 16,000 BRT.

    d. Negotiations are under way for the purchase of 6 Turkish coastal vessels totalling 2,000 BRT. The purchase of 2 ships has been concluded and negotiations for additional Turkish steamers are under way.

    e Preparations have been made to transfer 5 Dutch motor vessels seized by the German Navy via Spain to Tripoli. The first ship is to attempt to break through in the middle of December. The 5 ships of 500 BRT each total 2,500 BRT.

    f. At the request of the Naval High Command 2 ships totalling 700 BRT have been bought by the Spanish cover firm. The purchase of further vessels is complicated by foreign exchange difficulties.

Annex 4

The Fuel and Diesel Oil Situation of the Navy as of 6 December 1941.

Fuel Oil.

Total stocks at seventy one bases amount to 365,000 tons. Of these 365,000 tons, 221,000 tons are ready for immediate use. Because of the chemical properties of the remaining 138,000 tons they must first be mixed with Rumanian fuel oil or German lignite tar oil to make them fit for use; at present this is possible only on a small scale, as these components are not available in sufficient quantities.

Monthly addition: 48,650 tons from German home production.

At present there are no imports from Rumania for financial reasons; the Rumanian government has demanded immediate payment of 20,000,000 reichsmarks in gold, according to General Thomas.

Consumption: The Navy requires about 100,000 tons per month. Beginning 1 December 1941, a sharply reduced quota has been ordered, fixing monthly consumption at 50,000 tons, which is 50% of the requirements.

Effect: Allocations to all units with the exception of those engaged in submarine training (target ships, recovery vessels, etc.) have been drastically cut.

As a result of this, the time allowed for firing practice, training of the fleet units, and practice maneuvers must be reduced to a minimum, and only about 15,000 tons of fuel oil per month are available for operations.

Deliveries to Italy: The serious supply situation of the Italian Navy calls for immediate assistance. By 1 January 1942 the Italian Navy will have received 90,000 tons of fuel oil from the stocks of the German Navy. Of these; 29,000 tons have been delivered, the remaining 61,000 tons, which will be transported in railway tank cars from France (Lyons), Gotenhafen, Wesermünde, and the Ruhr, are to reach their destination by 1 January 1942. 1,500 railway tank cars will be used; one train consists of about forty tank bars with a capacity of 500 tons.

These 90,000 tons of fuel oil will be sufficient to supply the Italian Navy until about the middle of January 1942 providing they do not use more than 60,000 tons per month. Thereafter supplies will depend mainly on the extent of deliveries of Rumanian fuel oil to Italy. It must be remarked that the German Navy is not in a position to send further supplies of fuel oil to the Italians.

Summary: As the Navy at present receives only 48,650 tons from German Home production and will have to hand over an additional 61,000 tons of fuel oil to the Italians by 1 January 1942, total stocks will drop from 365,000 tons to 304,000 tons. Of these, 104,000 tons will not be ready for use. It must also be remembered that merchant shipping is applying to the Naval High Command in increasing measure for allocations of fuel oil, e.g., 2,400 tons per month for supplies to Norway. The total stock of fuel oil must not drop below 200,000 tons at the very least, if naval forces in the seventy one bases are to be supplied.

Diesel Oil

Total stocks at seventy one bases amount to 97,000 tons. Of these, 78,000 tons are of naval quality and 19,000 tons are of the usual commercial quality for merchant vessels.

Monthly addition: 40,000 tons.

Naval consumption: 45,000 tons per month (of these submarines alone will require about 20,000 tons per month beginning January 1942); thus stocks will be reduced by 5,000 tons per month. It must also be borne in mind that as a result of the drastic cut in the quotas for concerns supervised by the "Rüstungsinspektion", the factories working for the Navy are applying to the Navy to an increasing extend for supplies of Diesel oil (e.g., in December the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg asked for 500 tons, and the Mannheimer Motorenwerke for 100 tons). The same applies to merchant shipping. Stocks must not be allowed to fall below 60,000 tons if the seventy one bases are to be able to supply our vessels.


Battleship Bismarck Book
The Battleship Bismarck.
The Complete History
of the Ship.

KBismarck.com Naval Gift Shop

Naval & military gifts

Back to Main

Copyright © 1998-2019 KBismarck.com