Prinz Eugen Surrenders in Copenhagen
In the last months of World War Two, German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen was stationed in the Baltic and provided to fire support to German troops fighting the Soviets. In mid-April 1945, the ship had fired her heavy guns so often no more ammunition of that size was available in the Germany.
Prinz Eugen sailed for Copenhagen in German occupied Denmark arriving on 20 April 1945.
After lying in Copenhagen for the remaining three weeks of World War Two the ship officially surrendered to the Royal Navy on 8 May 1945.
Known as “the lucky ship” of the German navy, Prinz Eugen was damaged a number of times in action yet never sank and was always able to be repaired.
Prinz Eugen under escort from Copenhagen to Wilhelmshaven after surrendering to the British Royal Navy. The ship was later turned over to the US Navy as a prize of war. The German officers and ratings continued to operate the ship under the watchful eyes of British Royal Navy officers and Royal Marines.
The photograph above is from the archive of the Australian armed forces. Their caption: “Acting as “air sentries”, aircraft of RAF Coastal Command in which many RAAF men are still serving kept a watchful eye on the two German cruisers Prinz Eugen and Nürnberg whilst they were on their way from Copenhagen to Wilhelmshaven under the terms of surrender.”
USS Prinz Eugen in Panama Canal
(photo US Navy HHC)
After being taken by the US Navy, the ship was commissioned into the US Navy as the USS Prinz Eugen, the only foreign ship ever commissioned into the US Navy since the days of sail. The US Navy had to get the ship to the US. Many of the German officers and crewmen volunteered to stay aboard and assist US Navy personnel to take the ship to the US. Halfway across the Atlantic the Prinz Eugen, which had received very little maintenance in the last year of the war, broke down and had to be towed the rest of the way to the US.
According to the website of the US Navy History and Heritage Command: “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.
The ship was named for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), an Austrian general, who fought France and the Ottoman Empire during various wars. sailed for Copenhagen in German occupied Denmark arriving on 20 April 1945. ”