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Operational History
25 January 1934 The building contract was placed with the Marinewerft, Wilhelmshaven (from 1935 the Kriegsmarine Werft, Wilhelmshaven), as Panzerschiff "D".
14 February 1934 The keel was laid and the construction took place on Slipway 2.
5 July 1934 The construction was stopped and the material scrapped. The reason was that the originally plans were modified to accomodate new specifications.
15 June 1935 The keel was laid afresh.
3 October 1936 Scharnhorst was launched. Christened by the widow of Kapitän zur See (Captain) Felix Schultz, commander of the armoured cruiser Scharnhorst, lost with his ship at the Battle of the Falkland Islands on 8 December 1914.
7 January 1939 Scharnhorst was commissioned and placed under the command of Kapitän zur See (Captain) Otto Ciliax.
Until July 1939 Trials and training in the Baltic Sea.
July - August 1939 Final construction in Wilhelmshaven, bow is modified.
Until November 1939 Battle training in the Baltic Sea.
21 November 1939 Together with Gneisenau, the Scharnhorst was sent south of Iceland to attack the Northern Patrol.
23 November 1939 The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau sinks the British auxiliary cruiser Rawalpindi.
27 November 1939 The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau returns to Wilhelmshaven.
18 - 20 February 1940
Operation "Nordmark"
The Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau, the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Wolfgang Zenker, Wilhelm Heidkamp and Karl Galster was sent to intercept British convoys between Bergen and England, but no ships was sighted.
7 - 12 April 1940
Operation "Weserübung"
The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau cover the invasion of Narvik. Battle with British battlecruiser Renown and cruiser Birmingham west of the Lofoten in bad weather.
4 - 10 June 1940
Operation "Juno"
The Scharnhorst was flagship in the Polar Sea operations together with Gneisenau , Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Karl Galster, Hans Lody, Erich Steinbrink and Hermann Schoemann.
8 June 1940 Battle with British aircraft carrier Glorious and the destroyers Ardent and Acasta. All British ships was sunk. The Scharnhorst was hit by a torpedo from the destroyer Acasta, damaging middle and starboard engine and Turret Cäsar.
10 June 1940 Returned to Trondheim.
June 1940 After emergency repairs in Trondheim, the Scharnhorst was sent back to Kiel for repairs. Unsuccessful air attacks by the RAF.
28 December 1940 First unsuccessful attempt to break out in the North Atlantic together with the Gneisenau. Operation is aborted after the Gneisenau is damaged by heavy seas.
22 January - 22 March 1941
Operation "Berlin"
Second successful attempt to break out into the North Atlantic by the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau.
3 February 1941 The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau break through the Denmark Strait.
4 February 1941 The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau reached southern Greenland.
8 February 1941 Convoy HX-108 was sighted but the attack was stopped after the British battleship Ramiles is detected covering this convoy. Scharnhorst unsuccessfully tried to pull the British battleship away of the convoy to enable the Gneisenau to attack the unprotected merchant ships.
22 February 1941 The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau sinks four merchant ships east of Newfoundland.
7 - 9 March 1941 Attack on convoy SL-67 is broken off as the British battleship Malaya is sighted. Two U-boats are ordered to attack the convoy and sink 5 merchant ships.
15 - 16 March 1941 The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau attack a convoy south-east of Newfoundland.
22 March 1941 The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst enter Brest. They sunk a total of 22 ships with a total of 115.600 tons during their North Atlantic Operations. The Scharnhorst sunk 8 ships with total of 49.300 tons.
March 1941 - February 1942 Stationed in Brest, target of many British air attacks. The Scharnhorst was hit by 5 bombs while temporarily anchored in La Pallice (south of Brest) which caused severe damage.
11 - 13 February 1942
Operation "Cerberus"
Flagship during the escape through the English Channel. The Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, escorted by 6 destroyers (Paul Jakobi, Richard Beitzen, Friedrich Ihn, Hermann Schoemann, Z-25, Z-29). Nine torpedo-boats of the 2nd and 3rd Flotillas (T-2, T-4, T-5, T-11, T-12, T-13, T-15, T-16 and T-17) would be joined later by Kondor, Falke, Seeadler, Iltis and Jaguar of the 5th Flotilla plus ten E-boats of the 2nd, 4th and 6th Flotilla, returned to Germany. The Scharnhorst was hit by two mines.
13 February 1942 At 12:30 the Scharnhorst entered Wilhelmshaven and made fast alongside the Fliegerdeich (Seydlitz Bridge).
14 February 1942 The Scharnhorst entered the floating dock at Wilhelmshaven to have the hull examined for the damage caused by the two mines she hit during Operation "Cerberus".
15 February 1942 The Scharnhorst was transferred to the Deutsche Werke shipyard, Kiel, as the examination of the hull proved that the damages caused by the mines was more serious than first thought.
Until January 1943 Damage repairs and maintenance service at Deutsche Werke shipyard, Kiel, and in Gotenhafen (Gdynia) as well as sea trials was carried out in the Baltic Sea.
10 - 11 January 1943
Operation "Fronttheater"
A squadron consisting of the Scharnhorst, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and the destroyers Friedrich Ihn, Paul Jacobi and Z-24 left Gotenhafen (Gdynia) and sailed for Norway.
11 January 1943 Due to warnings of air attack the German squadron returned to Gotenhafen (Gdynia).
23 - 27 January 1943
Operation "Domino"
A squadron consisting of the Scharnhorst, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and the destroyers Z-39 and Erich Steinbrinck left Gotenhafen (Gdynia) and sailed for Norway.
27 January 1943 Due to an unsuccessful refueling of the destroyers from the Scharnhorst the German squadron returned to Gotenhafen (Gdynia).
6 - 9 March 1943
Operation "Paderborn"
In the third attempt a squadron consisting of the Scharnhorst and the destroyers Z-28, Erich Steinbrinck and Friedrich Ihn set out for Norway. This time succesfully.
9 March 1943 The German squadron arrived in Bogen Bay near Narvik. 11 March the heavy cruiser Lützow and the light cruiser Nürnberg arrived to Bogen Bay and joined the Scharnhorst and the destroyers. Later also the battleship Tirpitz arrived and at that time the Nürnberg was transferred back to Germany.
Until 22 March 1943 The ships carried out exercised together.
22 March 1943 The Scharnhorst and Tirpitz was transferred to Altafjord. The Scharnhorst anchored in Langfjord (inlet to Altafjord). The Tirpitz in Kåfjord (inlet to Altafjord).
8 April 1943 A serious explosion happened in compartment III aboard the Scharnhorst. 17 crewmembers was killed and 20 injured. The cause of the explosion was never established but it was suspected that it could be sabotage from when the Scharnhorst was in dock in Gotenhaven earlier.
Until 6 September 1943 The repairs after the explosion of 8 April was completed in 14 days by the help of a repair ship. Afterwards exercises together with the Tirpitz and Lützow.
6 - 9 September 1943
Operation "Sizilien"
A squadron consisting of the Scharnhorst, the Tirpitz and 9 destroyers (Erich Steinbrink, Karl Galster, Hans Lody, Theodor Riedel, Z-27, Z-29, Z-30, Z-31, Z-33) attack the enemy base on Spitzbergen.
September - December 1943 Scharnhorst is first stationed in Kåfjord, then in Langfjord.
25 - 26 December 1943
Operation "Ostfront"
Under the command of Rear-Admiral Erich Bey, the Scharnhorst and destroyers Z-29, Z-30, Z-33, Z-34 and Z-38 tries to find and attack the convoy JW-55B on its way to Murmansk. The Scharnhorst was detected by British cruisers after she left her escorts. After several attempts, the British battleship Duke of York located the Scharnhorst.
26 December 1943 After several hours of hunt and battle, the Scharnhorst was sunk at 19:45 in the battle of the North Cape at 72°16´ North and 28°41´ East. 1.932 crewmembers was lost. 36 crew members survived.
The Discovery of the Scharnhorst
10 September 2000 The wreck of the Scharnhorst was discovered by the Norwegian navy in coorporation with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK - Norsk Riksringkasting) . The wreck was located by the survey vessel MS H. U. Sverdrup II.
28 September 2000 The wreck of the Scharnhorst was identified by the naval vessel H.No.M.S. Tyr. The wreck is very heavily damaged, and entangled in fishing gear. She is resting keel up in 290 metres depth. Mainly all of the hull in front of the superstructure has been reduced to scrap on the seabed. The aft part and the upper part of the superstructure is ripped off, and located some distance from the main wreck. None of the main turrets were located, but certainly not visible near the main wreck parts.

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