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Prinz Eugen

(IX-300: dp. 19,250 (f.); l. 655-; b. 71-; dr. 15-; s. 32 k.; cpl. 830; a. 8 8-, 12 4.1-, 12 37mm., 12 21- tt., 4 aircraft, 1 catapult; cl. Prinz Eugen)

Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), an Austrian general, fought France and the Ottoman Empire during various wars.

Prinz Eugen was laid down in 1936 by the Krupp Germania Werft Yards, Kiel, Germany; launched 20 August 1938; and commissioned in the German Navy 1 August 1940.

After shakedown in the Baltic Sea, Prinz Eugen entered the North Atlantic with the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941. Her guns set HMS Hood afire, shortly before Bismarck's gunfire exploded Hood's magazine, causing Hood to sink immediately 24 May 1941, leaving only three survivors. Detached from Bismarck 24 May under orders from Admiral Lutjens, she was operating in mid-Atlantic when British aircraft sank Bismarck 27 May. After an unsuccessful search for enemy targets off the Azores, she returned to her base at Brest, France, 1 June, for overhaul.

While at Brest, an Allied air strike destroyed her damage control center and her main gunnery control room, killing 52 of the crew 2 July 1941. Still vulnerable to Allied air attacks upon Brest, she escaped from that port with battle cruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst 11 February 1942, and returned via the English Channel to Germany, arriving on the 13th.

Commencing operations in Norwegian waters in February 1942, she was entering Trondheim Fjord, Norway, when her stern was heavily damaged by a torpedo from British submarine Trident. After the removal of 40 feet of her stern and the installation of two temporary rudders, she departed Trondheim Fjord 16 May, fought off a sizeable air attack, and arrived without further damage at Kiel 18 May for completion of repairs.

Ready for battle by 1943, she served as a training ship, and then patrolled with Scharnhorst. In October 1943 she became flagship for German forces in the Baltic Sea. She provided fire support for Panzer operations against the Russian Army at Tukums, Gulf of Riga, 19 August 1944. Her bow was replaced following a collision with light cruiser Leipzig in October 1944. During the remainder of the war, she provided fire support for German ground forces along the Baltic coast.

Prinz Eugen surrendered to the British at Copenhagen, Denmark, 7 May 1945, and was taken to Wilhelmshaven, Germany. She became property of the U.S. Navy, and was classified IX-300. In January 1946 she steamed, with an American and German crew, commanded by Captain A. H. Graubart, USN, to Boston, arriving on the 24th. Proceeding via Philadelphia and the Panama Canal to the Pacific for atomic bomb tests, she survived an atomic explosion at Bikini 25 July 1946, and was towed to Kwajalein where she began to list significantly 21 December. Despite an attempt to beach her, at Enubuj, she capsized and sank 22 December 1946. Into 1970 she remains rusting on a coral reef at Enubuj, Kwajalein Atoll.

Published: Mon Aug 24 14:48:48 EDT 2015