KMS Stier

"I admired him [captain Horst Gerlach] no end; he never complained". Mrs. Horst Gerlach

The raider KMS Stier, also known as Schiff (Ship) 23, was the nineth and last to be able to break out. Stier was originally the freighter Cairo, constructed in 1936 by Krupp. On 9 May 1942, captain Horst Gerlach and his ship left Germany for the 142-day long journey.
A vicious fight with British motor torpedo boats in the English Channel ensued. Stier ran through the gauntlet intact. She sank her first ship, Gemstone, on 4 June in the mid-Atlantic near the equator. The freighter radioed, but Gerlach got his second victim two days later. The merchantman, Stanvac Calcutta, gave a good fight and damaged Stier, and was later named as one of the United States "gallant ships".
Gerlach spent the next two months patroling the Africa-South America tracks, with no luck, which was not enhanced by his ship's low speed. On 29 July, Gerlach rendezvoused with KMS Michel's Ruckteschell. The two captains decided to act jointly, but success evaded them. They then parted and planned to meet again on 9 August. On that day, Stier sank her third ship, Dalhousie, just before Michel's arrival.
Neither Ruckteschell nor Stier's crew thought Gerlach was the best man for the strenuous job of raiding. On 27 September, a day of very poor visibility, Stier was jumped by the Liberty ship Stephen Hopkins at close range. The two ships traded shots. Gerlach thought that his opponent might be an armored merchant cruiser due to the seemingly extraordianary volume of gunfire. Stier was heavily damaged; Stephen Hopkins was sunk. It was apparent that Stier was doomed and Gerlach abandoned ship with a heavy heart. The Germans were picked up by the blockade-runner Tannenfels and returned to France. Stephen Hopkins, actually armed with a 4 incher, two 37mm, and four 50 and two 30 caliber machine-guns, was later named a "gallant ship".

Click on one of the thumbnails below to view the full picture.
Technical data and/or diagram of KMS Stier.
An overview of the tactics used by the raiders that led to their enormous success.
A map showing Stier's journey.
Horst Gerlach, captain of Stier.
The badly damaged Stier was on fire in several places, the worst outbreak being forward.
The auxiliary cruiser Stier in the South Atlantic, a photograph taken just two days before her sinking.
Stier as a peaceful merchantman. Her degaussing equipment is clearly visible.
The motorship Cairo of the Atlas Levant Line of Bremen which became the auxiliary cruiser Stier.
Stier (left), Dalhousie sinking; picture taken from Michel.

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