Z7 Hermann Schoemann

History

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 torpedoboats Grief, Falke and Albatros in the Kattegat and Skagerrak. Uponcompletion of the mission she returned to Wilhelmshaven.

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

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

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

18 Dec 39: An attempt to lay a minefield in the Thames Estuarywith 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 theminelaying force.

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

09/10 Feb 40: Escorted two groups of 3xDD each laying minefields, thefirst off Shipwash (which sank six ships of 28,500 tons) and the secondoff Cromer Knoll (which accounted for three ships of 11,855 tons. Twoother 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 sortieto 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 thebattlecruisers to attack shipping that has been sighed. The mission wascompromised by the fact it required almost an entire day for thedestroyers and the Hipper to refuel from a tanker and thebattlecruisers.

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

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

10/11 Jun 40: Sortied with Gneisenau and Hipper and Z10, Z15 and Z20into the Arctic without results.

21/23 Jun 40: Escorted the damaged Scharnhorst with Z10, Z15, Z20 fromTrondheim to Germany. The torpedo boats Frief, Kondor, Falke and Jaguarjoin the force while it was underway. An attack by six Swordfish isrepelled. 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 dock. Her engineeringcondition was “catastrophic.”

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

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

04 Jul 41: Continued passage north with 4xDD to deployment area on theArctic 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 thepath 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 auxilliary escort, SKR22(Passat), a former fishing trawler armed with 2x45mm guns and two Soviettrawlers off Cape Teriberka. 0248: Z7 with two other destroyers openedfire. In forty minutes they collectively expended 80% of their mainbattery ammunition. The escort, which resisted gallantly, was sunk withone of the trawlers. The other escaped. On their passage back toKirkenes 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 Sovietair attack was repelled that evening.

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

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

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

Aug 41: Employed in convoy escort duties in the Barents Sea betweenTromso 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 starboardgearing.

27 Aug 41: Departed the Arctic coast for Germany.

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

24 Jan 42: Sailed from Kiel bound for Brest with Z4, Z5 and Z8. Z8 wasmined 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. Shesuccessfully avoided the torpedoes fired at her and, with Z14, chasedthe MTBs away from the heavy units. In the subsequent attack byBritish 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 werequickly 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 afflictedthis force, causing Z7, for one, to suffer rolls of up to 35° and twocrew washed overboard. Two depth charges broke loose and damaged herthrowers. Finally, Z7 suffered five near misses in RAF attacks duringthe morning of the 22nd. On the 23rd Prinz Eugen was torpedoed by aBritish 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 theMurmansk bound convoy PQ.12. The Germans missed this convoy,fortunately, as its escort and covering force collectively consisted of2xBB, 1xBC, 1xCV, 1xCA, 1xCL, and 12xDD. However, the British boundconvoy PQ.8, escorted by only two minesweepers and two corvettes wasalmost 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 conditionsprevented this mission from being accomplished. Z7 and Z25 were forcedto 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 lightcruiser Edinburgh, torpedoed by U456 earlier in the day.

01 May 42: PQ.15 sighted southwest of Bear Island. The escort consistedof HMS destroyers Amazon, Bulldog, Beagle and Beverley and the corvetteSnowflake. The sea was littered with ice floes and the convoy itselfhugged the edge of the pack ice to reduce the directions from which theGermans 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 andheavily 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″ torpedotubes. 1405: Z7 opened fire on one of the destroyers, claiming hits.She avoided a torpedo counterattack. During the afternoon the Germansmade six attempts to break through to the convoy, exchanging gunfire andtorpedoes from ranges between 9,000 to 14,000 meters. They managed tohit 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 theEdinburgh, 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 theminesweepers Harrier, Niger, Gossamer and Hussar. Z7 believed thatEdinburgh 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 veryeffectively. The time was approximately 0640 hours. Edinburgh’s secondsalvo hit twice in Z7’s number 1 and 2 turbine rooms, bring the Germanship to a halt. She had only launched one torpedo and her #1 gun wasout of action. She fired four more torpedoes under manual control at adestroyer 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 inthe process . Z24 came along side at 0750 to take off survivors whileZ25 made smoke. In the pitching sea this proved a difficult task andnot 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 chargesexploded. Only eight of her crew died while 45 were wounded. (U88 alsoparticipated in rescue operations rescuing another 56 between 1300 and1500 hours).

Z7 was revenged because Z24 had put another torpedo into Edinburgh whichresulted in the British cruiser being scuttled. With both Forrester andForesight heavily damaged, this action was, in terms of resultsachieved, one of the most successful surface engagements conducted bythe Germans during the war. Yet, Z24 and Z25 might have inflicted moredamage by ignoring rescue operations at a time when the Edinburgh hadjust been torpedoed and both Forrester and Foresight were dead in thewater. With a little more resolution, the engagement could have been amajor German victory. In their defense, the Germans mistook the fourminesweepers for destroyers and so believed they were facing a farlarger force than was the case.