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A group of German minesweepers moored together

Minesweeper flotillas of the Kriegsmarine were administrative units grouping German minesweepers together. There were three types of minesweeper flotillas, these being the standard minesweepers, auxiliary minesweepers, and "mine barrage" vessels. Flotilla commanders operated from a shore office and were usually commanded by an officer ranked as a Korvettenkapitän. All minesweeper flotillas were under the command of the Führer der Minensuchboote (Leader of Minesweepers) which, by 1940, had been divided into three separate offices for minesweeper activities in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and off the coast of France.

When operationally deployed, the minesweepers were under a separate chain of command under the authority of harbor security commanders.[1]

Minesweeper flotillas[]

The standard German minesweeper flotilla of World War II contained between seven and fifteen minesweeper class vessels. The first minesweeper flotilla of the Kriegsmarine was formed in 1936 from pre-existing units of the Reichsmarine which had maintained two minesweeper and one auxiliary minesweeper flotillas during the inter-war years.

Auxiliary Minesweeper flotillas[]

In addition to the standard minesweeper flotillas, twenty "auxiliary minesweeper" (R boat) flotillas (Räumboots-Flottille) were formed during the Second World War.[2]

Mine Barrage flotillas[]

Mine barrage flotillas (Sperrbrecherflottille) were composed of auxiliary naval ships and merchant vessels converted to enter minefields and initially detonate enemy mines. These Sperrbrecher vessels were heavily armored and were occasionally outfitted as anti-aircraft platforms. The Kriegsmarine first organized the mine barrage vessels into Speerbrechergruppe (mine barrage groups) at the start of World War II. Each group contained various auxiliary vessels designated by roman numerals augmented by a naval tender.

Original mine barrage groups

  • Group One: Sperrbrecher X, XI, & XII
  • Group Two: Sperrbrecher I, II, III
  • Group Three: Never formed
  • Group Four: Sperrbrecher IV, V, VI
  • Group Five: Never formed
  • Group Six: Sperrbrecher VIII, IX

In June 1940, the Kriegsmarine formed a mine barrage unit in the Low Countries known as Sperrbrechergruppe Niederlande. Shortly thereafter, the Kriegsmarine began to designate mine barrage vessels with capitol letters, but only three such vessels were ever declared (Sperrbrecher A, B, & C). By late 1940, the mine barrage vessels were designated with standard numbers while the mine barrage groups were re-designated as flotillas. Eight flotillas were authorized with seven eventually formed; the standard rank for a mine barrage flotilla commander was Fregattenkapitän. As the Sperrbrecher ships were mostly auxiliary vessels, the flotillas were considered administrative in nature and operated from shore offices.

Mine barrage flotillas

Flotilla Formed Predecessor unit Operating areas Vessels assigned
1. Sperrbrecherflottille September 1940 1 Sperrbrechergruppe Baltic Sea (1940), German Bight (1942) Sperrbrecher 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 22, 27, 29, 36, 133, 138, 160, 161, 163, 164, 167, 169, 173, 176, 177
2. Sperrbrecherflottille June 1941 2, 4, & 6 Sperrbrechergruppe French Coast (1941), Normandy (1944) Sperrbrecher 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 16, 19, 20, 21, 32, 34, 35, 36, 122, 136, 137, 146, 153, 163, 168, 175, 178
3. Sperrbrecherflottille October 1940 1. Vorpostenflottille Baltic Sea (1940) Sperrbrecher 13, 14, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 120, 131, 139, 145, 148, 158, 161, 165, 166, 172, 181, 185
4. Sperrbrecherflottille September 1940 Sperrbrechergruppe Niederlande English Channel (1940), French Coast (1943) Sperrbrecher 21, 102, 120, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 167, 168, 170, 171, 183, 184
Flußsperrbrecher 201, 202, 203, 204
5. Sperrbrecherflottille November 1941 4. Sperrbrecherflottille North Sea Reserve unit for the 4th mine barrage flotilla. Disbanded to form the 8th flotilla in December 1941
6. Sperrbrecherflottille July 1941 2. Sperrbrecherflottille French Coast (1941) Sperrbrecher 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 19, 121, 134, 135, 157, 162, 170, 171, 174, 180
8. Sperrbrecherflottille December 1941 5. Sperrbrecherflottille North Sea (1941), Netherlands Coast (1943), Denmark Coast (1944) Sperrbrecher 26, 28, 33, 102, 145, 147, 148, 149, 150, 153, 154, 179, 185, 190
Flußsperrbrecher 201, 202, 203, 204, 205

Support craft and tenders[]

In addition to the standard Sperrbrecher craft, some flotillas possessed support and tender vessels for refit and supply duties

Mine barrage support vessels

  • Flak defense ship 28 (1st Flotilla)
  • Artillery boat K4 (1st Flotilla)
  • Control ship "Möwe" (1st Flotilla)
  • Control ship F4 (2nd Flotilla)
  • Night patrol ship "Togo" (3rd Flotilla)
  • Steamship "Frisia IX" (8th Flotilla)
  • Tender "Hamburg" (1st Flotilla)

References[]

  1. Lott, A., Most Dangerous Sea: A History of Mine Warfare and an Account of U.S. Navy Mine Warfare Operations in World War II and Korea, Naval Institute Press (1959)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 "Räumboots-Flottillen" (in German). Andreas Altenburger (webmaster). http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gliederungen/Sicherungsflott/RFlot.htm. Retrieved 2014-05-04. 

Notes[]

  1. Originally, the first flotilla contained the M1915 and M1916 class vessels M-66, M-89, M-111, M-122, M-132, and M-146. By 1938, the flotilla had been reformed with M1935 class vessels.
  2. Originally, the second flotilla contained the M1915 and M1916 class vessels M-98, M-104, M-117, M-133, and M-145. By 1939, the flotilla had been reformed with M1935 class vessels.
  3. Originally, the fourth flotilla contained the M1915 and M1916 class vessels M-61, M-82, M-84, M-89, M-111, M-132, M-134, and M-136. The flotilla was reformed in 1941 with M1935 class vessels.

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