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Compiled by José M. Rico

The Bismarck in the Baltic Sea

Updated 19 February 2024

16 November 1935: Building contract placed with the Blohm & Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, construction number BV 509.

01 July 1936: Keel laid down on slipway 9 at the Blohm & Voss Shipyard.

14 February 1939: Launched. Christened by Dorothea von Loewenfeld, granddaughter of the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

April 1940: The first crew members come aboard.

23 June 1940: Enters floating dry dock No. V-VI for a three week period where the three propellers and the MES magnetic system are installed.

14 July 1940: Leaves the dry dock.

21 July 1940: Undergoes an inclining test (Krängungsversuch). In the “empty ship as completed condition” at 42,500 tons, the Bismarck has a metacentric height (GM) of 3,9 m.

24 August 1940: At 1230 the ship is officially commissioned at the Blohm & Voss Shipyard under Captain Ernst Lindemann. The battle flag is hoisted and the ship put into service with the Kriegsmarine.

25 August 1940: Air raid alarm. Bismarck's anti-aircraft battery fires 52 x 3.7 cm and 400 x 2 cm projectiles. No success.

31 August 1940: Air raid alarm. The anti-aircraft battery fires 46 x 3.7 cm projectiles. No success.

08 September 1940: Air raid alarm. The anti-aircraft battery fires 72 x 3.7 cm and 65 x 2 cm projectiles. No success.

10 September 1940: Air raid alarm. The anti-aircraft battery fires 6 x 3.7 cm projectiles. No success.

15 September 1940: The Bismarck leaves Hamburg for the first time. At 1658 hours, while steaming down the Elbe, collides with the bow tug Atlantik but neither ship is damaged, and at 1902, the Bismarck anchors in Brunsbüttel roads. During the night of 15/16 September, while anchored, there is an air raid alarm in which the anti-aircraft battery expends 13 x 10.5 cm, 136 x 3.7 cm, and 191 x 2 cm projectiles. No success observed.

16-17 September 1940: The battleship passes through the Kiel Canal assisted by tugboats. At 1448 on the 17th, the Bismarck enters the Kiel-Holtenau sluice, leaves the Kiel Canal, and then comes alongside Scheerhafen, Kiel.

17-24 September 1940: At Scheerhafen, Kiel.

24-28 September 1940: Made fast to Buoy A 12 (Kiel).

28 September 1940: Bismarck leaves Kiel escorted by the mine clearance vessel 13 until Cape Arkona, and then she arrives alone in Gotenhafen.

October-November 1940: Conducts trials in the Baltic Sea. While at Gotenhafen, the two 10.5 meter stereoscopic base rangefinders are installed above the foretop and after command posts. The four after 10.5 cm SK C/33 double mounts of the new C37 model are installed as well.

21 November 1940: Grand Admiral Erich Raeder visits the Bismarck in Gotenhafen.

05 December 1940: Leaves the Baltic and sails back to Hamburg to complete her outfitting.

07-08 December 1940: Passes through the Kiel Canal.

09 December 1940: Arrives in Hamburg.

16-31 December 1940: Korvettenkapitän Adalbert Schneider acts as Bismarck's Deputy Commander in substitution of Captain Lindemann on Christmas leave.

24 January 1941: Ready to sail again.

14 February 1941: A Japanese delegation from Japan's Naval Mission in Germany headed by Vice Admiral Naokuni Nomura visits the Bismarck.

06 March 1941: Leaves Hamburg and sails again to Gotenhafen.

07-08 March 1941: Passes through the Kiel Canal for the last time.

09-14 March 1941: Work on the ship's bottom inside the 40,000-ton floating dry Dock C at Deutsche Werke Kiel.

14-17 March 1941: Embarks supplies (ammunition, fuel, water...) at Scheerhafen, Kiel. On the 15th, embarks the first two Arado 196 (T3+IH and T3+AK) of a total air-wing of four.

17 March 1941: Departs Kiel and arrives in Gotenhafen.

18 March-April 1941: Conducts trials in the Baltic.

02 April 1941: Embarks the last two Arado 196 (T3+DL and T3+MK).

Late April 1941: Two new 2 cm Flak C/38 quadruple mounts are installed to both sides of the foremast above the searchlight platform.

05 May 1941: Adolf Hitler visits the Bismarck together with Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, the Chief of Fleet Admiral Günther Lütjens, and other personalities. The Führer stays aboard for four hours.

12 May 1941: Admiral Lütjens and the Fleet Staff embark in the Bismarck.

13 May 1941: Refuelling exercises at sea with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen.

14 May 1941: Exercises with the light cruiser Leipzig. As a result of these exercises, the 12-ton portside crane is disabled.

16 May 1941: Portside crane repaired.


18 May 1941 (Sunday): Operation Rheinübung commences.

19 May 1941 (Monday):

20 May 1941 (Tuesday):

21 May 1941 (Wednesday):

22 May 1941 (Thursday):

23 May 1941 (Friday):

24 May 1941 (Saturday):

25 May 1941 (Sunday):

26 May 1941 (Monday):

27 May 1941 (Tuesday):

9 June 1989: The wreck of the Bismarck is discovered at a depth of 4,790 meters (15,700 feet) by an expedition led by Dr. Robert D. Ballard.

Bismarck Baseline
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