Contributor: C. Peter Chen
This article refers to the entire M-class; it is not about an individual vessel.
ww2dbaseThe German Navy classified all of its standard minesweepers into the M-class umbrella designation.
ww2dbase36 vessels were of WW1-vintage, classified as the M1915 and M1916 sub-classes.
ww2dbaseThe preparation for war led to the first new sub-class in 20 years, M1935, which were versatile vessels that served not only as minesweepers, but also as convoy escorts, anti-submarine ships, and minelayers. Two major drawbacks with the M1915 sub-class was the expensive price tag for construction, and the usage of oil-fired boilers, which, with hindsight, would be suffering from fuel shortages. A total of 69 ships of this sub-class were built between 1937 and 1941. 34 of them were lost during the war.
ww2dbaseThe M1940 sub-class represented a simpler design that was less expensive to build. Coal-fired boilers were used to diversify the fuel source. 127 ships were built between 1941 and 1944, and 63 of them would be lost during WW2.
ww2dbaseThe M1943 sub-class was further simplified from its predecessor by introducing pre-fabricated parts. There were a further four sub-variants for minesweeping, anti-submarine warfare, torpedo warfare, and torpedo training. Only 18 M1943 ships were built.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, surviving M-class ships were turned over to the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union as reparations. Many of them, especially those now under British ownerships, were used in their intended role to remove mines along the European coast. A few were later turned over to France and Norway, while two ships were turned over to Italy. Between 1956 and 1957, 11 of them were returned to the Germans to join the West German Navy.
ww2dbaseIn the early 1950s, Romania built 4 minesweepers based on the M1940 sub-class design, known as Democratia-class minesweepers and named DB-13 through DB-16. Spain built 14 ships of the M1940 sub-class design, which it designated the Guadiaro-class; 7 of them were later modernized and remained in operation for more than 30 years.
Last Major Revision: May 2020
M-class Minesweeper Interactive Map
M-class Minesweeper Operational Timeline
|22 Nov 1935||The order for minesweeper M1 was issued.|
|9 Jul 1936||The keel of of M1 was laid down by StÃ¼lcken at the H. C. StÃ¼lcken Sohn shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.|
|3 Mar 1937||The order for minesweeper M18 was issued.|
|5 Mar 1937||M1 was launched at the StÃ¼lcken at the H. C. StÃ¼lcken Sohn shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.|
|1 Sep 1938||M1 was commissioned into service under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Hans Bartels.|
|6 Sep 1938||The keel of M18 was laid down by OderWerke in Stettin, Pommern, Germany.|
|24 Aug 1939||M1 ferried 230 naval infantry troops of the German Navy Marinestosstruppkompanie to the battleship Schleswig-Holstein during the preparations for the invasion of Poland.|
|16 Sep 1939||M18 was launched by OderWerke in Stettin, Pommern, Germany.|
|24 Feb 1940||M1 rammed and sunk four Danish fishing trawlers Ejjam (E 92), Gerlis (E 456), Merkator (348), and Polaris (E 504) off the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. There were four crewmen aboard each ship, and even though some survived the sinking initially, commanding officer Oberleutnant zur See Hans Bartels of M1 did not pick up any survivors, thus all of them would eventually be lost. Bartel suspected that the trawlers were reporting German movements to the British while flying the flag of a neutral nation.|
|19 Mar 1940||M18 was commissioned into service.|
|5 Oct 1940||British submarine HMS Tigris spotted a group of Axis warships (Italian submarine Maggiore Baracca, Italian submarine Reginaldo Giuliani, German minesweeper M-9, German minesweeper M-13, and German auxiliary Cap Hadid) and fired four torpedoes at the distance of about 2,500 yards, about 20 miles west of the French coast at 0815 hours. All torpedoes missed the targets, but two of the torpedoes were detonated some distance after missing the targets. British commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Howard Bone had originally mistaken one of the German ships as a third submarine, thus even though all four torpedoes missed, having seeing only two submarines after the detonations Bone thought he had destroyed one enemy submarine. Maggiore Baracca arrived at Pauillac, France in the evening, ending her first war patrol.|
|31 Oct 1940||Comandante FaÃ di Bruno departed Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France at 2000 hours, starting her fourth war patrol. She was escorted out of the port by German minesweepers M9 and M21.|
|31 Oct 1940||Leonardo da Vinci arrived at Bordeaux, France at 1900 hours, escorted into the harbor by German minesweepers M2 and M13.|
|4 Jan 1941||German minesweepers M-2 and M-10 departed Royan, Aquitaine, France at 1830 hours to make rendezvous with Italian submarine Alpino Bagnolini, but their journey was delayed and contact was not made on this date.|
|5 Jan 1941||Morosini departed Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France at 1004 hours, arriving at La Pallice, La Rochelle, France at 1910 hours. The Italian submarine was escorted by German minesweeper M9 and German submarine chasers UJ-D and UJ-E.|
|6 Jan 1941||Italian submarine Alpino Bagnolini, escorted by German minesweepers M-2 and M-10, departed Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Aquitaine, France at 0645 hours. They were later joined by German minesweeper Sperrbrecher III. They arrived at Le Verdon-sur-Mer, Aquitaine, France at 1915 hours.|
|17 Jan 1941||Harry Hopkins, while at a private dinner party with Scottish officials at the North British Railway Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, pledged American support for Britain.|
|3 Feb 1941||Alessandro Malaspina arrived at Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France at 1300 hours, ending her third war patrol. She was escorted into Le Verdon-sur-Mer by German minesweepers M9 and M21.|
|18 Feb 1941||Maggiore Baracca arrived at Pauillac, France at 1303 hours, ending her third war patrol. She was escorted into port by German minesweepers M6, M9, and M21 and German auxiliary cruiser Sperrbrecher 16.|
|8 Jul 1942||M18 provided gunfire support for a Finnish counter-attack against a Soviet offensive at Someri island in the Gulf of Finland.|
|15 Aug 1943||Before dawn, German seaplane tender Richthofen, torpedo boat T24, minesweeper M275, minesweeper M385, and Sperrbrecher 157 were caught by British cruiser Mauritius, destroyer HMS Ursa, and destroyer Iroquois in the Bay of Biscay off Les Sables d'Olonne, France. T24 laid a smoke screen and fired torpedoes at Iroquois, but all of them missed. British ships fired, sinking Sperrbrecher 157, and damaging all other ships; M385 was forced to beach to prevent sinking. HMS Iroquois suffered light damage in the engagement.|
|4 Nov 1943||M30 was lightly damaged by Soviet ground attack aircraft in the Gulf of Finland.|
|4 Nov 1943||M459 was lightly damaged by Soviet ground attack aircraft in the Gulf of Finland.|
|4 Nov 1943||M460 was lightly damaged by Soviet ground attack aircraft in the Gulf of Finland.|
|4 Nov 1943||M16 was badly damaged by Soviet ground attack aircraft in the Gulf of Finland.|
|4 Nov 1943||M18 was lightly damaged by Soviet ground attack aircraft in the Gulf of Finland.|
|3 Feb 1944||M18 was badly damaged in an American air raid on Wilhelmshaven, Germany.|
|22 Jun 1944||M18 supported the unsuccessful attempt to land Finnish forces on Narvi island.|
|4 Oct 1944||M18 began her part in Operation Krokodil SÃ¼d, laying mines in the southern exits of the Muhu Sound, Estonia.|
|12 Jan 1945||M1 was sunk in Nordbyfjord about 40 kilometers east of Bergen, Norway by bombs from British Lancaster bombers.|
|20 Mar 1945||M19 was sunk during an Allied air raid on Kiel, Germany.|
|20 Mar 1945||M16 was sunk during an Allied air raid on Kiel, Germany.|
|20 Mar 1945||M15 was sunk during an Allied air raid on Kiel, Germany.|
|20 Mar 1945||M18 was sunk during an Allied air raid on Kiel, Germany.|
|23 Mar 1945||M612 was launched by Neptun Schiffswerft und Maschinenfabrik Gmbh in Rostock, Germany.|
|1 Apr 1945||M612 was commissioned into service.|
|4 May 1945||M612 was ordered to sail to the eastern Baltic Sea to evacuate German troops surrounded by the Soviets.|
|5 May 1945||Some of the crew members of M612 mutinied, locking their officers in a cabin, so the entire crew would not needlessly lose their lives when the end of the war was near. They were stopped by a German torpedo boat near SÃ¸nderborg, Denmark, and 11 of the crew members responsible for the mutiny were arrested. After a quick military trial, all 11 were found guilty and were executed on the ship. Their bodies were dumped into the sea.|
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George Patton, 31 May 1944