Auxiliary Cruiser (Raider)


Class and type: Merchant vessel

Name: Kandelfels

The Pinguin was a German auxiliary cruiser (Hilfskreuzer) which served as a commerce raider in World War II. The Pinguin was known to the German Navy as Schiff 33, and designated HSK 5. The most successful commerce raider of the war, she was known to the British Royal Navy as Raider F. The name Pinguin means penguin in German language.

Formerly a freighter named Kandelfels, she was built by AG Weser in 1936, and was owned and operated by the Hansa Line, Bremen. In the winter of 1939/40 she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine (KM) and converted to a war ship by DeSchiMAG, Bremen. Her main armament was taken from the obsolete battleship Schlesien.

Pinguin was one of the first wave of raiders sent out by the German navy, sailing on the 15 June 1940 under the command of FK (later KzS) Ernst-Felix Krüder.

Slipping through the Denmark Straits, Pinguin made for her patrol area in the Southern Ocean.   In 10 ½ months at sea she accounted for 28 ships, totalling 136,000 tons (GRT).

Her most successful coup was the capture, on 14 January 1941, of most of the Norwegian whaling fleet in Antarctica, totalling three factory ships and 11 whalers. These were sent back as prizes to Europe, arriving in Bordeaux, occupied France, in March 1941. One of the whalers was retained as an auxiliary raider, being re-named Adjutant.

On 8 May 1941, Pinguin was sunk in a very unequal battle with the heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall. She was the first auxiliary cruiser of the German Navy to be sunk in the war. 532 lives, among them 200 prisoners, were lost when Pinguin blew apart when the mines stored on board took a hit and exploded. HMS Cornwall rescued 60 crew members and 22 prisoners who were originally crew of the 32 merchant ships the raider had either sunk or captured.

Commander:  Ernst-Felix Krüder (Knights Cross with Oak Leaves)

    Wartime Crew: 420

    Sail date: 22 June 1940

    Ship Number: 33

    HSK Number: V

    British Admiralty Letter: F

    Builder: Weser Werk, Bremen

    Launched: 1936

    Ships Sunk or Captured: 32 ships

    Tonnage Sunk: 154,710 gross register tons (GRT)

    Days at Sea: 320

    Tons/Day: (average) 483

    Sistership: Atlantis




31 July 1940

Domingo de Larinaga


27 Aug 1940



27 Aug 1940

British Commander


27 Aug 1940



12 Sep 1940



16 Sep 1940

Nordvard (Prize)


7 Oct 1940

Storstad (Prize)


19 Nov 1940



20 Nov 1940



21 Nov 1940

Port Brisbane


30 Nov 1940

Port Wellington


14 Jan 1941

Ole Wegger (Prize)


14 Jan 1941

4 Whale Catchers (Prizes)

300 each

14 Jan 1941

Solglimt (Prize)


14 Jan 1941

Pelagos Prize)


14 Jan 1941

7 Whale Catchers (Prizes)

300 each

25 Apr 1941

Empire Light


28 Apr 1941

Clan Buchanan (3)


7 May 1941

British Emperor


Sunk by mines from Pinguin and Passat

Nimbin  1,052 GRT

Millimumul  287 GRT

Cambridge   10,846 GRT

City of Rayville  5,883 GRT

Paul Schmalenbach (1977). German Raiders 1895–1945. ISBN 0 85059 351 4.

August Karl Muggenthaler (1977). German Raiders of World War II. ISBN 0 7091 6683 4.

Stephen Roskill (1954). The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume I.

H J Brennecke (1954). Ghost Cruiser HK33.

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