Naval supply ship Altmark (1938-1942). This 1:100 scale model of the „Altmark“ is another masterpiece by Helmut Schmid. It is on display on deck 5 of the museum.
The „Altmark“ was a German supply and tanker ship of the Dithmarschen class built in 1937. These ships were intended to supply distant units with fuel and other goods. At the same time, they were equipped to carry booty and prisoners. They had a displacement of 20,858 tons, could reach a top speed of 25 knots and carried light armament.
The „Altmark“ was built at Howaldt in Kiel (Howaldtswerke AG) and put into service in 1938. At the beginning of the Second World War, on 1 September 1939, she met up with the „Admiral Graf Spee“ and delivered supplies (see our post from last December for more information on her history). By 6 December the two ships had met nine times and after the sinking of the „Graf Spee“ on 17 December, the „Altmark“ set off on her march back to Germany. In mid-February 1940, she reached Norwegian territorial waters. However, the authorities of the then still neutral country merely inspected the ship and allowed it to continue its journey. Soon after, the „Altmark“ was attacked by the British destroyer HMS „Cossack“ while still in Norwegian waters, killing eight people on board and freeing 299 prisoners. The event became known as the „Altmark Incident“ and caused both the Allies and Nazi Germany to lose confidence in Norway’s neutrality – allegedly accelerating pre-existing German plans to invade the country. After the incident, the „Altmark“ returned to Germany, where she was renamed the „Uckermark“.
In September 1942, she set out from France with 5,500 tons of fuel for Japan, where she arrived in November. On the 30th of the month, she anchored off Yokohama alongside the auxiliary cruiser „Thor“, the captured Australian liner „Nankin“ and the Japanese supply tanker „Unkai Maru No. 3“. At noon, a huge explosion on board the „Uckermark“ destroyed all four ships. The accident was probably caused by repair work near the tanks, which had not yet been completely cleaned up.