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Nordmark seen as Bulawayo circa 1947 Photo RFA Northmark - Wikipedia

Built 1936

Launched 1937 as Westerwald

Commissioned Jan 1939 as Nordmark

Fate Captured May 1945

Tonnage 22,800 tons full load

Length 584 ft

Beam 72 ft

Draught 30 ft

Propulsion: Steam turbine with double reduction gearing, 21,590 shp (16,100 kW) 2 shaft

Speed 21 kt

Complement 133

To support naval operations in the Atlantic Ocean, the German Navy ran trials with various vessels in the 1920s and early 1930s. After testing two vessels of an intermediate type, the design evolved into the Dithmarschen-class. Six were built altogether, one of which was never completed. As Germany did not possess any ports on the Atlantic Ocean or any overseas bases, the Dithmarschen-class combined the roles fulfilled by tanker, repair ship, ammunition ship and dry cargo ship. The ships were even equipped with a small hospital. The main cargo were almost 9,000 tons of fuel oil and 400 tons of lubricating oil. As it was probable that the ships were underway for an extended time, the range was 12,500 nm at 15 knots. The maximum speed was 23 knots. A heavy armament was fitted, consisting of three 15 cm/L48 guns, two 3,7 cm and four 20 mm anti-aircraft guns and eight machine guns.

In October 1940 the Nordmark sailed from Gotenhaven disguised as the American tanker “Prairie” to avoid detection. In November she rendezvoused with U66 in mid Atlantic and carried out replenishment operations between the 14 to the 16 Nordmark then refuelled Admiral Scheer and whilst this was taking place the ship sent some of her engineers over to the Eurofeld to help repair her engines.  On December the 14 Nordmark refuelled and re-stored Admiral Scheer in the South Atlantic before taking POW’s off the ship and turning north to rendezvous and replenish the German raider Thor and other ships at a secret location.

On the 4 January the captured Norwegian tanker “Storstad” arrived to transfer her cargo to Nordmark, the next day she took the captured prize “Duquesa” in tow after she ran out of fuel.  On the 13 January 1941 she transferred some of her POW’s to the Eurofeld in preparation for a rendezvous with the Admiral Scheer on the 24, when she replenished the capital ship again and took off more POW’s, four days later the ship met the prize “Sandefjord” and transferred her prisoners along with some victualling stores.  On 9 February she met the raider “Kormoran” and after replenishing her with fuel and food supplies, took 170 prisoners on board.

On the 18 February the ship refuelled the German raider “Pinguin” and on the 9 March achieved her final rendezvous with Admiral Scheer. Taking off more prisoners who were later transferred to her sister “Ermland” before heading to Hamburg.  Nordmark had spent a total of 212 days at sea in which she had steamed 33,664 miles.

Nordmark had done the majority of her refuelling at sea using her astern position; there had been no need for her to refuel a ship travelling alongside.  She was always waiting in a known fixed position and the ship or U Boat to be supplied had plenty of time.  The ships of the Dithmarschen class carried a small float plane, an Arado 196 which was used as a spotter plane to enable them to see enemy ships and the vessels they were rendezvousing with.

In 1942 after a number of months spent in Hamburg, the ship was allocated for service in Norwegian waters in 1942 where she spent the next three years, supporting German Naval units at various bases along the Norwegian Coast.  Following the loss of most of the German heavy ships in Norway, the Nordmark was sent to Trondheim in 1944 as a Training ship for coastal craft.  At the beginning of 1945 she was again on the move, this time to Trondheim where she was to become a Harbour Depot Ship, though by the end of April 1945 she was at Copenhagen where she was captured by the allies on the 9th May 1945

Only two ships of the “Dithmarschen” class survived the war, “Ermland” struck a mine and was severely damaged off Nantes in 1942.  She was eventually sunk there as a block ship.  “Uckermark” exploded whilst tank cleaning at Yokohama in November 1942 and had to be scrapped, whilst “Franken” was bombed and sunk in the Baltic in April 1945.  The two surviving ships “Dithmarschen” and Nordmark” were both captured by British troops at the end of the war.

Both of the surviving ships were captured, “Nordmark” at Copenhagen and “Dithmarschen” at Bremerhaven.  “Nordmark” was given to Great Britain and “Dithmarschen” to the United States by the Inter-Allied Reparations Commission.

By One stop replenishment is history (


May 16 1940. Nordmark replenished raider Widder in South Atlantic

Jul 24 1940.  Nordmark rendezvoused with Widder for replenish in South Atlantic

Dec 14 1940. Nordmark refuelled Admiral Scheer in the South Atlantic

Dec 15 1940. Admiral Scheer transferred prisoners to Nordmark

Dec 22 1940. Admiral Scheer, Nordmark and Captured British Duquesa rendezvoused in South Atlantic

Dec 25 1940. Admiral Scheer, Nordmark, Duquesa and raider Thor rendezvoused in South Atlantic

Jan 02 1941. Nordmark replenishes raider Thor in South Atlantic

Feb 07 1941. Raider Kormoran, Nordmark and Duquesa rendezvoused in South Atlantic and transferred prisoners

Feb 18 1941. Duquesa is scuttled by Nordmark in mid South Atlantic

Apr 20 1941. Nordmark replenishes raider Atlantis in South Atlantic

Apr 23 1941. Italian submarine Perla enroute from Eritrea to France is replenished by Nordmark.

May 3/4 1941. Nordmark replenished U-105 and U-107 off Freetown.

Apr 19 1942. Nordmark rendezvoused in mid South Atlantic with raider Atlantis and supply ship Alsterufer.



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