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Saturday, August 12th 2017, 7:55pm

Unternehmen Donnerschlag (Operation Thunderclap)

Posts regarding the upcoming German fleet exercises will be placed here. IC and OOC comments are welcome; please identify which are IC and which OOC.


Saturday, August 12th 2017, 8:00pm

The Admiralstab, Berlin, Wednesday, 31 March 1948

At the request of Generaladmiral von Fischel, Chief of Naval Operations, his Directors of Plans, Naval Intelligence, and Naval Operations were meeting to discuss the projected fleet exercise scheduled to commence in the following months. Kapitän zur See Heinrich Gerlach, Director of Naval Intelligence, came armed with the latest intelligence reports which he shared; the information cast a shadow on his peers’ expectations.

“Gentlemen,” he explained, “we have proceeded thus far on a false assumption. Unlike the Great War, the Royal Navy does not use Scapa Flow as its principal base. Wireless traffic analysis and agent reports suggests that heavy units of the Royal Navy are based at Invergordon and Cromarty, on the Scottish mainland.”

“Hmm,” muttered Kapitän zur See Karl-Friedrich Merten, Director of Naval Operations. “That explains why our submarine patrols have encountered nothing larger than a destroyer. But certainly the British still use the anchorage?”

“In time of war,” Gerlach observed, “they would do so without a doubt. Presently the British base nearly a dozen light cruisers on the Clyde, and these would no doubt deploy to Scapa Flow to enforce a blockade of the North Sea.”

Merten began to lay down markers on the chart that lay before them. “Cruisers on the Clyde…” he noted. “And lighter units no doubt?”

Gerlach nodded assent. “The numbers vary, from what we have learned.” He then continued, “At Cromarty we believe there to be three aircraft carriers, four heavy cruisers, and flotilla of destroyers. The cruisers are new ships, and only recently arrived, according our agents.”

Kapitän zur See Heinrich Bramesfeld, Director of Plans, spoke up at this point. “You reported that the British have disbanded their Western Approaches command. Have they not moved those ships elsewhere, perhaps to reinforce their weaknesses?”

“We have no confirmation,” Gerlach admitted. “It is probable that they will, eventually… At the moment, the only other force in play would be those ships based at Rosyth on the Firth of Forth – half a dozen cruisers and two flotillas of destroyers. There are, of course, light craft based further south…”

Merten finished adding markers to the chart, and then let out a long sigh. “The main force of the Royal Navy is concentrated then at Plymouth?” he asked.

“Such as it is,” Gerlach agreed. “The Royal Navy has large commitments to the Mediterranean and to the Far East. Neither does it help that they have laid up the elderly Queen Elizabeth-class battleships.”

All three officers fell silent as they did the calculations in their heads. The Royal Navy appeared to concede the North Sea to the Kriegsmarine, even though land-based aviation would balance the disparity in numbers. The proposed exercise was intended to determine how the British would react to a realistic threat; but there was a problem.

Bramesfeld spoke first, “these dispositions are but approximate – we need to confirm them.”

“I agree,” Merten replied. “Our submarine patrols need to be shifted southward, as does our air reconnaissance. It may also be necessary to delay the exercise.”

Fortunately no public mention had been made regarding it; indeed, given the intense training tempo of the Kriegsmarine, some of the units scheduled to participate could make use of the extra time. Gerlach decided it was his turn to bell the cat and suggested that they advise Konteradmiral Werner Graf von Bassewitz-Levetzow, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, of their recommendations.


Saturday, August 12th 2017, 8:26pm

Merten finished adding markers to the chart, and then let out a long sigh. “The main force of the Royal Navy is concentrated then at Plymouth?” he asked.

Not sure where I heard this, but apparently in the early 1990s, a Royal Navy officer was heard saying "It's good that the Cold War is finally over so that we can get back to our primary reason for existence: watching the French!"


Sunday, August 13th 2017, 10:46am

I'm sure I've heard a similar story in the past.

Good to see the Germans making some sound analysis, of course the obvious joint factor is that all those ports mentioned are beside extensive infrastructure, Scapa Flow is rather remote for supporting a fleet without expensive mobile support or construction work which is not feasible (financially justifiable) in peacetime.

Brock has a point though, with the formation of the Grand Alliance some attention has to be paid to securing the Channel and the Western Approaches and historically this is where most of the major naval bases are (thank you France). The disbandment of the Western Approaches command is seen by the Germans as the opposite of the strategy, it keeps 'em guessing!