The Stier underway.

Career (Nazi Germany)
Class and type: Merchant vessel
Owner: Atlas Levant Line
Builder: Germaniawerft
Launched: 1936
Christened: Cairo
Fate: Requisitioned by Kriegsmarine, 1939
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: Stier
Namesake: Taurus
Operator: Kriegsmarine
Yard number: 6
Recommissioned: 10 May 1942
Renamed: Stier, 1939
Reclassified: Auxiliary cruiser, 1939
Nickname: HSK-6

Schiff 23 Raider J

Fate: sunk South Atlantic, 27 September 1942
General characteristics
Displacement: 11,000 (4,778 GRT)
Length: 134 m (440 ft)
Beam: 17.3 m (57 ft)
Draught: 7.2 m (24 ft)
Propulsion: 1 x 7 cyl Diesel; 3,750HP
Speed: 14 knots
Range: 50,000 nm @12k
Endurance: 173 days
Complement: 324
Armament: 6 x 150 mm L/45,

1 x 75 mm L/35, 1 twin 37 mm, 4 single 20 mm, 2 x submerged 533 mm torpedo tubes

Aircraft carried: 2 Arado Ar 231
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The German auxiliary cruiser Stier (HSK 6) was a German auxiliary cruiser during World War II. Her Kriegsmarine designation was Schiff 23, to the Royal Navy she was Raider J.

The name Stier means "bull", and represents the Taurus constellation in German language. She was the last German raider to break out in the Atlantic in World War II.


[hide] *1 Early history

Early historyEdit

Built by Germaniawerft in 1936 as the freighter Cairo, she was operated by the Atlas Levant Line (ALL) until being requisitioned for Kriegsmarine services in November 1939. After merchant warfare operations in the Baltic Sea, she was converted into a mine layer and was planned to be used during Operation Sea Lion. After this operation was canceled, the now renamed Stier was modified into an auxiliary cruiser in April 1941, first at the Wilton shipyard Rotterdam and later at Oderwerke, Stettin, and Kriegsmarinewerft, in Gotenhafen (Gdynia).

Raiding voyageEdit

On 10 May 1942 she left Germany for operations in the Atlantic. Moving by stages down the English Channel, and after an engagement with British coastal forces on the 13th which saw the loss of two torpedo boats (German) and one MTB (British), Stier reached Royan in occupied France on the 19th. From there she departed under the command of FK (later KzS) Horst Gerlach for operations in the South Atlantic. After a cruise of 4 ½ months, in which she engaged and sank three ships, on 27 September 1942 the ship was sunk during a battle with an American cargo ship the SS Stephen Hopkins, which was also lost. [2][3]Stier sinking an allied merchant ship.During her operation the Stier sank 4 ships of 29,409 tons (GRT).

Final engagementEdit

On 27 September 1942 Stier encountered the Liberty ship SS Stephen Hopkins en route from Cape Town to Paramaribo.

Closing in foggy conditions the two ships sighted each other around 08:52 at a distance of 4,000 yards. Gerlach sent his men to action stations; the master of the Stephen Hopkins was suspicious of the unidentified vessel and did the same. The Stephen Hopkins had a small defensive armament (1 × 4 inch gun astern, and several machine guns), but when firing commenced, around 08:55, she put up a spirited defence. She scored several hits on Stier, damaging her engines and steering gear. However, overwhelmed by fire from Stier, the Hopkins drifted away; by 10 am she had sunk. Forty-two of her crew were killed in the action, and three more died later; the fifteen survivors finally reached Brazil 31 days later. Stephen Hopkin's commander, Captain Paul Buck, was posthumously awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal for his actions. So was US Merchant Marine Academy cadetEdwin Joseph O'Hara, who single-handedly fired the last shots from the ship's 4-inch gun. [4][5]Stier possibly showing battle damage during battle with Stephen Hopkins (speculation based on picture contents).Meanwhile Stier had been fatally damaged; unable to make headway, and not responding to the helm, Gerlach made the decision to abandon ship. Stier exploded and sank at 11:40 [1]. All but two of her crew survived and were rescued by the supply ship Tannenfels, which was accompanying Stier at the time of the action.

Raiding careerEdit

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
4 June 1942 SS Gemstone British 4,986 Sunk
6 June 1942 SS Stanvac Calcutta Panamanian 10,170 Sunk in combat
9 August 1942 SS Dalhousie British 7,250 Sunk
27 September 1942 SS Stephen Hopkins American 7,181 Sunk in combat


  1. ^ Turner, L.C.F. (1961). War in the Southern Oceans: 1935-45. Oxford University Press, Cape Town. pp. 148.
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