Z7 Hermann Schoemann


07 Sep 35: Laid down

16 Jul 36: Launched

09 Sep 37: Commissioned

Sep 39: Assigned to the 2nd DD FLOT, engaged in laying the West Wallmine barrage.

03-05 Oct 39: Conducted mercantile warfare with Z14, Z15, and torpedo-boats Grief, Falke, and Albatros in the Kattegat and Skagerrak. Upon completion of the mission, she returned to Wilhelmshaven.

17-19 Oct 39: Z4, Z6, and Z7 with torpedo boats Leopard, Iltis, and Wolf conducted mercantile warfare in the Skagerrak.

Nov 39: The 2nd DD FLOT, now Z5, Z6, and Z7 conducted exercises out of Swinemunde.

12/13 Nov 39: Sortied into the Thames Estuary with 6xDD to lay offensive minefields.

18 Dec 39: An attempt to lay a minefield in the Thames Estuary with 2xDD was aborted due to navigational problems.

06 Jan 40: Successful minelaying expedition in the Thames Estuaryconducted by 3xDD and 1xML. Z7 with 2xDD acted as escort for the minelaying force.

25-26 Jan 40: Sortie into the Skagerrak with 5xDD was aborted due to heavy weather.

09/10 Feb 40: Escorted two groups of 3xDD each laying minefields, the first off Shipwash (which sank six ships of 28,500 tons) and the second off Cromer Knoll (which accounted for three ships of 11,855 tons. Two other destroyers served with Z7 in the escort function.

18/20 Feb 40: With 2nd DD FLOT (Z5, Z6, Z7, and Z1) and torpedo boatsLuchs and Seeadler employed as a screen for Gneisenau, Scharnhorst andHipper. Detached to conduct mercantile warfare in the Skagerrak.

07 Apr 40: Scheduled to sail with Group 2 (Trondheim) in the Norwegianinvasion force, but machinery problems forced her to remain in Germany.

20/24 Apr 40: With 2xDD escorted Scharnhorst from Norway to Germany. She participated in the successful defense against RAF attacks en route.

09/10 May 40: Escorted 4xML with Z4, Z8, and the torpedo boat Grief inlaying a barrage off the Great Fisherman’s Bank. British units sortie to intercept, but German S-boats intervene and badly damaged the RNdestroyer Kelly.

04 Jun 40: Departed Kiel with Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, Hipper, Z10, Z15and Z20 to attack Allied evacuation convoys off northern Norway.

07 Jun 40: Hipper and the destroyers are detached from the battlecruisers to attack shipping that has been sighed. The mission was compromised by the fact it required almost an entire day for the destroyers and the Hipper to refuel from a tanker and the battlecruisers.

08 June 40: One transport, one tanker, and one trawler are sunk. See the section on the Hipper for a more complete description of this action. A torpedo from Z7 finished off the tanker, the Norwegian OilPioneer,

09 Jun 40: Returned to Trondheim with Hipper and the other three destroyers.

10/11 Jun 40: Sortied with Gneisenau and Hipper and Z10, Z15, and Z20 into the Arctic without results.

21/23 Jun 40: Escorted the damaged Scharnhorst with Z10, Z15, Z20 from Trondheim to Germany. The torpedo boats Frief, Kondor, Falke, and Jaguarjoin the force while it was underway. An attack by six Swordfish is repelled. Arrived Kiel 23 June.

Late Jun 40: Proceeded to Wilhelmshaven and entered dock for refit.

Nov 40: Confined to home waters, in and out of the dock. Her engineering condition was “catastrophic.”

20 Jun 41: Sailed for Norway with Z20 and Z16.

21 Jun 41: Arrived Bergen. Forced to enter the dock to repair problems that surfaced in her main feed pump during the short passage north.

04 Jul 41: Continued passage north with 4xDD to deployment area on the Arctic coast of Norway. Z4 and Z10 joined the force during the Bergenlayover.

10 Jul 41: Arrived Kirkenes, far northern Norway. Soviet naval units, including destroyers, had been successfully intervening in the XIXMountain Corp’s advance toward Murmansk by landing reinforcements in the path of the Germans and with shore bombardment fire.

12 Jul 41: Sortied to attack Soviet shipping on the Murman Coast withZ4, Z10, Z16, and Z20.

13 Jul 41: Encountered a convoy of one Soviet auxiliary escort, SKR22(Passat), a former fishing trawler armed with 2x45mm guns and two Soviettrawlers off Cape Teriberka. 0248: Z7 with two other destroyers opened fire. In forty minutes they collectively expended 80% of their main battery ammunition. The escort, which resisted gallantly, was sunk with one of the trawlers. The other escaped. On their passage back to Kirkenes the Germans repelled two Soviet air attacks.

22 Jul 41: Sortied to attack Soviet naval forces with Z4, Z16, and Z20. (Condenser problems forced Z10 to sit this mission out). A large Soviet air attack was repelled that evening.

23 Jul 41: The Germans search for a Soviet destroyer reported in the area, but without luck.

24 Jul 41: Z7 encountered the Soviet survey ship Meridian betweenTeriberka and Iokanga. She opened fire and by her third salvo, the soviet ship is in flames a dramatic improvement in gunnery compared to the engagement of the 13th. After this success, the German flotilla returned to Kirkenes, beating off several Soviet air attacks on the way.

29 Jul 41: Another anti-shipping sortie was aborted early when British carrier born aircraft from Victorious and Furious attacked Kirkenes.

Aug 41: Employed in convoy escort duties in the Barents Sea between Tromso and Kirkenes.

22 Aug 41: Carried out a depth charge attack off Loppa. No Alliedsubmarines were in the area at the time.

23 Aug 41: Z7 suffered severe damage from broken teeth in her starboard gearing.

27 Aug 41: Departed the Arctic coast for Germany.

Sep 41: Entered dock at Deschinag, Bermen for refit. Note that Z7 was unavailable for operations from June 1940 to June 1941. She served for two months only before she had to enter the dock once again.

24 Jan 42: Sailed from Kiel bound for Brest with Z4, Z5, and Z8. Z8 was mined and sunk in the English Channel during this passage.

26 Jan 42: Arrived Le Harve.

11 Feb 42: Participates in the Cerberus (Channel Dash) operation as partof the escort for Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, and Prinz Eugen.

12 Feb 42: Formed the rear guard of the German force (along with Z14).1340 hours fired upon attacking British MTBs from 6,600 yards. She successfully avoided the torpedoes fired at her and, with Z14, chased the MTBs away from the heavy units. In the subsequent attack by British Swordfish torpedo planes, the German fighter escort hit Z7approximately 50 times in her stern with 20mm cannon rounds. 1443:Opened fire at another group of MTBs, again with Z14. The British were quickly driven off and Z7 was able to suspend fire at 1449.

21 Feb 42: Sailed from the Elbe with Z4, Z5, Z14, and Z25 to escort PrinzEugen and Scheer to Norway. Heavy seas and gale force winds afflicted this force, causing Z7, for one, to suffer rolls of up to 35° and two crew washed overboard. Two depth charges broke loose and damaged her throwers. Finally, Z7 suffered five near misses in RAF attacks during the morning of the 22nd. On the 23rd Prinz Eugen was torpedoed by a British submarine.

23 Feb 42: Arrived Trondheim. Stationed in Trondheim as a part of theescort for Tirpitz and Scheer along with Z4, Z5, Z14 and Z25.

06 Mar 42: Sortied with Tirpitz, Z5, Z14, Z25, T5, and T12 to attack the Murmansk bound convoy PQ.12. The Germans missed this convoy, fortunately, as its escort and covering force collectively consisted of 2xBB, 1xBC, 1xCV, 1xCA, 1xCL, and 12xDD. However, the British bound convoy PQ.8, escorted by only two minesweepers and two corvettes was almost encountered instead.

07 Mar 42: Intercepted a Soviet steamer straggling from PQ,8. TheGerman destroyers have a difficult time sinking her: Z7 fired a torpedo, which missed after Z14’s gunfire wasn’t up to the challenge. Finally, Z7 and Z14 teamed up to sink her with their main batteries. Z7attempted to refuel from Tirpitz that night, but sea conditions prevented this mission from being accomplished. Z7 and Z25 were forced to return to Tromso to refuel.

Late Mar 42: Dispatched to Kirkenes to join the Arctic destroyer group.

11 Apr 42: Z7, Z24, and Z25 sortied against PQ.14. Poor weather and alack of initiative combined to make this mission a failure.

30 Apr 42: Z7, Z24, and Z25 sortied against PQ.15/PQ.11 and the light cruiser Edinburgh, torpedoed by U456 earlier in the day.

01 May 42: PQ.15 sighted southwest of Bear Island. The escort consisted of HMS destroyers Amazon, Bulldog, Beagle, and Beverley, and the corvette Snowflake. The sea was littered with ice floes and the convoy itself hugged the edge of the pack ice to reduce the directions from which the Germans could attack. Collectively the British brought 6×4.7″ and 3×4″guns and 14×21″ torpedo tubes to the battle in their four elderly and heavily modified ships (Beverley was the ex USN “four piper” Branch)compared to the German total of 5×5″ and 8×5.9″ guns and 24×21″ torpedo tubes. 1405: Z7 opened fire on one of the destroyers, claiming hits. She avoided a torpedo counterattack. During the afternoon the Germans made six attempts to break through to the convoy, exchanging gunfire and torpedoes from ranges between 9,000 to 14,000 meters. They managed to hit Amazon hard and torpedo and sink the Soviet steamer Tsiolkovskiwithout suffering any damage themselves. Z7 fired 380 rounds during the3 ¾ hours that passed before the Germans decided to search for the Edinburgh, the primary objective of their sortie.

02 May 42: The German destroyers located the heavily damaged Edinburgh. She was escorted by the destroyers Forrester and Foresight and the minesweepers Harrier, Niger, Gossamer, and Hussar. Z7 believed that Edinburgh was toothless and so she opened fire on Harrier, closing at 21knots in a heavy snowstorm to deliver a torpedo attack on the cruiser. When she was only 800 meters distant, Edinburgh opened fire very effectively. The time was approximately 0640 hours. Edinburgh’s second salvo hit twice in Z7’s number 1 and 2 turbine rooms, bring the German ship to a halt. She had only launched one torpedo and her #1 gun was out of action. She fired four more torpedoes under manual control at a destroyer target, 4,000 meters away, but all missed or were avoided. At 0730, abandon ship was ordered. Meanwhile Forrester and Foresightclosed and brought Z7 under fire, starting a fire in her mess decks, flooding magazines 1 and 2, and putting boiler room #2 out of service. Z24 and Z25 intervened, seriously damaging both British destroyers in the process. Z24 came alongside at 0750 to take off survivors while Z25 made smoke. In the pitching sea, this proved a difficult task, and not until 0815 was she able to disembark the majority of Z7’s crew. Z7sank shortly after at 72° 20′ N and 35° 15′ E when her scuttling charges exploded. Only eight of her crew died while 45 were wounded. (U88 also participated in rescue operations rescuing another 56 between 1300 and 1500 hours).

Z7 was revenged because Z24 had put another torpedo into Edinburgh which resulted in the British cruiser being scuttled. With both Forrester and foresight heavily damaged, this action was, in terms of results achieved, one of the most successful surface engagements conducted by the Germans during the war. Yet, Z24 and Z25 might have inflicted more damage by ignoring rescue operations at a time when the Edinburgh had just been torpedoed and both Forrester and Foresight were dead in the water. With a little more resolution, the engagement could have been a major German victory. In their defense, the Germans mistook the four minesweepers for destroyers and so believed they were facing a far larger force than was the case.