German auxiliary cruiser Komet
Komet (German for comet
A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet...

) (HSK-7) was an auxiliary cruiser of the German Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 in the Second World War, intended for service as a commerce raider. Known to the Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 as Schiff 45, to the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 she was Raider B.

She was sunk by British motor torpedo boat
Motor Torpedo Boat
Motor Torpedo Boat was the name given to fast torpedo boats by the Royal Navy, and the Royal Canadian Navy.The capitalised term is generally used for the Royal Navy boats and abbreviated to "MTB"...

s in October 1942.

Construction and conversion

Launched on 16 January 1937 as the merchant ship Ems at DeSchiMAG shipyards in Bremen for Norddeutscher Lloyd
Norddeutscher Lloyd
Norddeutsche Lloyd was a German shipping company. It was founded by Hermann Henrich Meier and Eduard Crüsemann in Bremen on February 20, 1857. It developed into one of the most important German shipping companies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was instrumental in the economic...

 (NDL), she was requisitioned at the start of the Second World War in 1939, converted into an auxiliary cruiser at Howaldt
Howaldt is a German family name.* August Howaldt, founder of the German shipyard Howaldtswerke* Georg Ferdinand Howaldt, German sculptor, brother of August Howaldt* Hans Howaldt, submarine commander and grandson of August Howaldt- References :...

swerke in Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine on 2 June 1940. The ship was 115.5 m long and 15.3 m wide, had a draught of 6.5 m, and registered . She was powered by two diesel engines that gave her a speed of up to 16 knots (30 km/h).

As a commerce raider, Komet was armed with six 15 cm guns, one 7.5 cm gun, one 3.7 cm and four 2 cm AA guns, as well as six torpedo tubes. She also carried a small 15-ton fast boat ("Meteorit", of the "LS2" class) intended to lay mines and an Arado 196 A1
Arado Ar 196
-See also:-Bibliography:* Dabrowski, Hans-Peter and Koos, Volker. Arado Ar 196, Germany's Multi-Purpose Seaplane. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1993. ISBN 0-88740-481-2....

 seaplane. Her crew numbered 274.

Breakout into the Pacific

After a long period of negotiations between Germany and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, the Soviets agreed to provide Germany with access to the Northern Sea Route
Northern Sea Route
The Northern Sea Route is a shipping lane officially defined by Russian legislation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean specifically running along the Russian Arctic coast from Murmansk on the Barents Sea, along Siberia, to the Bering Strait and Far East. The entire route lies in Arctic...

 through which Germany could access both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Although the two countries had signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

 (with secret protocols dividing eastern Europe) and an undisclosed German–Soviet Commercial Agreement (1940)
German–Soviet Commercial Agreement (1940)
The 1940 German-Soviet Commercial Agreement was an economic arrangement between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed on February 11, 1940 by which the Soviet Union agreed in period from February 11, 1940 to February 11, 1941, in addition to the deliveries...

 (extensive military and civilian aid pact), the Soviet Union still wished to maintain the veneer of being neutral, and thus, secrecy was required. Initially, the two countries had agreed to send 26 ships, including four armed merchant cruisers, but because of a variety of difficulties, this was soon reduced to one vessel, the Komet.

Prior to being sent on the Northern Sea Route, the Komet was equipped with a specially strengthened bow and a propeller suitable for navigating through ice. Under the command of Kapitän zur See (later Konteradmiral) Robert Eyssen
Robert Eyssen
Robert Eyssen was a Konteradmiral with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross...

, HSK7 departed for her first raiding voyage from Gotenhafen (now Gydnia in Poland), on 3 July 1940 with a crew of 270. With the consent of the then neutral Soviet Union, Komet initially made her way along the Norwegian coast disguised as the Soviet icebreaker Semyon Dezhnev
Icebreaker Semyon Dezhnev
There have been several icebreakers known as Semyon Dezhnev.Early in World War II Germany made arrangements with the Soviet Union for the German auxiliary cruiser Komet to transit the Northern Sea Route across the top of Siberia, so it could raid allied merchant shipping in the Pacific Ocean.As a...

. While waiting in Teriberka
Teriberka is a rural locality in Kolsky District of Murmansk Oblast, Russia, located on the Barents Sea coast, at the mouth of the Teriberka River.-History:...

 Bay in July and August because of Soviet security concerns, she took the fake name the Donau. With assistance from the Soviet icebreaker Lenin
Lenin (icebreaker)
Icebreaker Lenin, built at Newcastle upon Tyne and completed in June 1917, was the largest Russian icebreaker of her time. Her design was supervised by Russian naval architect and author Yevgeny Zamyatin. This icebreaker was named St...

, she passed through the several Arctic Ocean passages in August. She also later received help from the Joseph Stalin
Icebreaker Joseph Stalin
The Icebreaker Joseph Stalin was the first Soviet icebreaker built at a domestic shipyard.Owing to many delays, it took over two years to finish. It was built at the Ordzhonikidze Yard in Leningrad between 1937 and 1938....

. In early September, the Komet crossed the Bering Strait into the Pacific Ocean. The passage navigation was an amazing achievement in itself but would have ended in disaster had it not been for the Soviet assistance, whose help had been at a price – 950,000 Reichsmarks
German reichsmark
The Reichsmark was the currency in Germany from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.-History:...

 was the reported payment.

Once in the Pacific, Eyssen sailed down to the Japanese island of Lamutrik and met the Orion and Kulmerland in mid-October. After a conference on strategy, the three captains decided to work together, concentrating on the New Zealand to Panama passage taken by most of the Allied merchant ships. They decided on Japanese disguises – Komet and Kulmerland had the names Manyo Maru and Tokio Maru painted on their hulls. By the time they sank the Holmwood and Rangitane, Komet had already been at sea for 140 days and Eyssen admitted in his war diary that he had become depressed and frustrated at not having encountered the enemy.

Raiding in South Pacific waters

In early November, Komet resupplied and refueled in Japan, was disguised as the Japanese merchantman Manio Maru. She operated with the Orion
German auxiliary cruiser Orion
Orion was an auxiliary cruiser of the German navy which operated as a merchant raider during World War II. Built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg in 1930/31 as the freighter Kurmark, she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine at the outbreak of World War II and converted into the auxiliary cruiser Orion,...

, disguised as Mayebashi Maru and the supply ship Kulmerland
Kulmerland (ship)
The Kulmerland was a supply ship of the Kriegsmarine that operated during the Second World War in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. It was named after the Kulmerland region of Prussia, with the city of Kulm, which in 1920 was made part of the Polish Corridor.It supplied German auxiliary ships ...

, posing as the Tokio Maru. During December, Komet and Orion sank five Allied merchant ships
German attacks on Nauru
There were two German attacks on Nauru in December 1940. These attacks were conducted by auxiliary cruisers between 6 and 8 December and on the 27th of the month. The raiders sank five Allied merchant ships and inflicted serious damage on Nauru's economically important phosphate-loading...

, with a combined tonnage of about 41,000 tons, that had been waiting off the island of Nauru
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

 to load phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

 (of which Komet sank three).. On 27 December 1940 she shelled the phosphate processing and loading facilities on Nauru. Cooperating with the Orion, she sank two more British ships in August 1941 and captured the Dutch 7,300 ton freighter Kota Nopan which was sent as a prize to Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...


Return voyage

Komet then sailed through the West and East Pacific, around Cape Horn
Cape Horn
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island...

 and north through the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, returning to Cherbourg (France), thus circumnavigating the globe. She reached Hamburg on 30 November 1941 after a voyage of 516 days and about 100000 nautical miles (185,200 km).

Second raid

Her second raid, under the command of Kapitän zur See Ulrich Brocksien began in early October 1942. However, only a week out of Hamburg, on 14 October, she was attacked by British motor torpedo boat
Motor Torpedo Boat
Motor Torpedo Boat was the name given to fast torpedo boats by the Royal Navy, and the Royal Canadian Navy.The capitalised term is generally used for the Royal Navy boats and abbreviated to "MTB"...

s near the Cap de la Hague
La Hague
La Hague is a region on the tip of the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy, France.La Hague is a picturesque place of Precambrian granite cliffs, coves and small fields surrounded by hedges. It faces the Channel Islands and there any many cousins on both side of the Alderney race.The dialect of the...

. She was hit by a torpedo from MTB 236 and sank. There were no survivors.

Komet discovered

The wreck of HK Komet was discovered by wreck hunter Innes McCartney off Cap de la Hague in July 2006 and was surveyed by a team led by him in 2007. She is in two halves and upside down, with a large part of the center section blown away by the explosion that sank her. She lies in 70 metres (229.7 ft) of water.

Raiding career

Victims: (Source)
  • 1940-11-25 Holmwood
  • 1940-12-07 Vinni
  • 1940-12-07 Komata
  • 1941-08-14 Australind
  • 1941-08-17 Kota Nopan (captured)
  • 1941-08-19 Devon

Sunk together with Orion
  • 1940-11-27 RMS Rangitane
  • 1940-12-06 Triona
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