Tankboot No.1

Design history [1]
Before the war, the fleet did not have a tanker dedicated to support naval operations at sea. This situation made the ships dependent on bases with fuel depots, and reduced operationally flexibility. The navy found a makeshift solution in chartering commercial tankers flying the Dutch flag, which were employed for short periods of time. The downside of this approach was that:

  • The Navy had to plan far ahead to make sure sufficient tankers were available in the Netherlands East Indies. This required careful planning by the navy, and a flexible attitude with the shipping companies. As a rule, two to eight weeks passed between chartering a tanker and the ship becoming available for operations. One can imagine this arrangement did not work well in case of emergency.
  • The tankers were not suited for fleet operations: they did not have the equipment needed to refuel the fleet at sea, they were unarmed and too slow to keep up with the warships at cruising speed.
  • The use of tankers under charter was expensive in comparison to building and operating an own tanker.

    The need for a tanker designed specifically for support of fleet operations was felt clearly whenever international tensions would rise and as a result, naval operations increased. Therefore, the Minister of Defence asked for funds under the 1939 Navy Budget to construct a naval tanker designed specifically to support naval operations. The Minister of Defence also informed parliament that there was in fact an operational need for two tankers, so he did not exclude the possibility that funds for the construction of a second tanker would be asked for in a following Navy Budget. The second tanker never materialized.

    The ship authorized under the Navy Budget for 1939 was laid down in the Netherlands under the provisional name Tankboot No.1. The design had all the characteristics of an excellent fleet support ship: high speed, excellent armament and a large fuel capacity.[2] The German invasion of the Netherlands in May, 1940 prevented completion for the Royal Netherlands Navy. The German Kriegsmarine authorized the completion of the ship and commissioned her with the name Kärnten.

    In the years between May 1940 (the fall of the Netherlands) and March, 1942 (the fall of the Netherlands East Indies), the Royal Netherlands Navy was forced to continue the practice using commercial tankers. The Navy came close to purchasing a commercial tanker in South America in 1940 or 1941, but the deal broke when the Navy found out the tanker had a relatively complicated (diesel-electric) propulsion plant.[3]
  • [1]: This information is taken from [MB39], pp. 123-160 unless otherwise noted.
    [2]: More information on the arrangements for refueling while underway is much appreciated.
    [3]: Information in this paragraph taken from [Boss], volume 2. More information on this deal is appreciated.

    Tankboot No.1 as designed

    Construction Details
    Name Tankboot no.1 [1]
    Dockyard C. Van der Giessen & Zonen, Krimpen a/d IJssel
    Dockyardnumber 667
    Contract awarded October 28, 1939 [2]
    Laid down December 14, 1939
    Launched May 3, 1941 [3]
    Commissioned October 27, 1941 in the Kriegsmarine as Kärnten [4]
    [1]: It appears that this ship had not yet been given an official name. She is usually referred to with the provisional name Tankboot No.1
    [2]: GB110/1.1 says October 28, 1939. GB 110/1.3 says May 5, 1939.
    [3]: [MAB4] says launched May 4, 1941, [GRO4]: says launched May 3, 1941.
    [4]: [GRO4] says the Kriegsmarine commissioned the ship on September 20, 1941. This may have been provisional in order to conduct trials. The ship experienced problems with her propulsion plant. It is unlikely the Kriegsmarine would accept final delivery of any ship with defects. I suspect she was provisionally commissioned on September 20, 1941 for trials, and commissioned for operational service on October 27, 1941.

    Design Kriegsmarine [1]
    Displacement 5660 gross registered tons
    6900 tons deadweight [2]
    5660 gross registered tons
    15000 tons full load displacement
    Dimensions 132,1 (length over all)
    16,15 (maximum width)
    7,5 m (draught)
    Armament 2 x 120 mm [3]
    4 x 40 mm Bofors
    2 x 75 mm low-angle
    2 x 37 mm (4 x 37 mm from 1943)
    6 x 20 mm
    2 x 75 mm rocket launchers.
    Oil capacity   6640 metric tons
    Aircraft 1 floatplane [4] No aircraft
    [1]: Details taken from [GRO4] unless noted otherwise.
    [2]: GB110/1.3.
    [3]: Unknown which type 120 mm twin mount (High-Angle or Low-Angle) this was.
    [4]: Only mentioned by GB110/1.3.

    Propulsion details
    Design Kriegsmarine
    Machinery 2 x Werkspoor 4-stroke 8-cylinder diesel engines
    Performance 7000 bhp
    Shafts 2
    Max Speed 15,2 knots sustained
    17,1 knots on trials
    15,2 knots

    History [1]
    Captured undamaged but incomplete at the builder's yard in May 1940.
    Completed and commissioned in the Kriegsmarine in October, 1941 with the name Kärnten.
    Attached to the Tross-schiff Verband Nord from March 15, 1942.
    Moved to Norway, April 1942. Stationed at Skjomenfjord (Norway)
    At disposal of "Führer der U-boote, Norwegen" and attached to U-boat base at Kirkenes (Norway) starting August, 1942.
    Captured by Allied forces on May 15, 1945 while in transit between Skjomenfjord and Trondheim, escorted to Loch Eriboll (Scotland) arriving May 19, 1945.
    Transferred to the Soviet Navy on December 28, 1945 with new name or registration VB 415 [2].
    Renamed Polyarnik in 1964, served with the Soviet Pacific Fleet.
    Stricken from Naval Register in 1990 [3].
    Subsequent fate is unknown.
    [1]: History mainly taken from [GRO4], [MAB4], [SBB2] unless noted otherwise.
    [2]: [MAB4] says Kärnten was commissioned as on December 20, 1946 in the Soviet Northern Fleet with the name Polyarnik. It's possible she received this name much earlier than 1964.
    [3]: [MAB4] says stricken 1987.

    Tankboot 1 (ex-Kärnten) in Soviet service. (Official US Navy Photograph DN-SN-85-07209, released May 1985)

    GroJuMa Gröner / Jung / Maass   "Die Schiffe der Kriegsmarine und ihr Verbleib, 1939-1945".
    Boss Ph.M. Bosscher "De Koninklijke Marine in de Tweede Wereldoorlog".
    BuRo Busch / Röll   "Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939-1945"  (Information provided by J. Poehl).
    GB110 GB110 - Mededelingen van de Marinestaf

    GB110/1.1: Inleiding tot de strijd in Nederland, deel 1.
    GB110/1.3: De krijgsverrichtingen in de positie Hoek van Holland en van de maritieme middelen op de Nieuwe Waterweg en op de Maas, in mei 1940 en de periode hieraan voorafgaande.
    Gro4 Erich Gröner, Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945, Band 4 - Hilfsschiffe I (1986).
    MAB4 Boris V. Lemachko Marine Arsenal Sonderheft Band 4: Deutsche unter dem Roten Stern (1992).
    MB39 Marineblad 1939.
    SBB2 Siegfried Breyer Die Deutsche Kriegsschiffe 1935-1945, Band 2 (1994).

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