Built by Blohm & Voss in Bremen, Germany a freighter for HAPAG, the Hamburg-America Line. During construction, the engines from the liner SS New York were used in this ship which proved problems for the vessel afterwards. Laid down, launched and commissioned as Kurmark during 1930.
At the start of World War II, Kurmark and Neumark were requisitioned by the Seekriegsleitung (Naval Operations Command) and both converted into auxiliary cruiser. On December 9, 1939 commissioned into the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) and renamed Orion with Korvettenkapitän Kurt Weyher in command.
On April 6, 1940 departed
Germany disguised as a neutral vessel and reached the Atlantic Ocean and attached her first target SS Haxby. In May 1940 Orion rounded Cape Horn and entered the Pacific Ocean. In June 1940 operated off New Zealand. Known to the British as "Raider A". During the night of June 13-14, 1940 laid mines off Auckland that sank RMS Niagara five days later and caught two other ships, two trawler and an auxiliary minesweeper. Afterwards, Orion raided in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean attacking four other ships, one captured as a war prize and send to occupied France.
On October 20, 1940 rendezvous with Komet and supply ship Kulmerland and together sank seven ships. On November 27, 1940 the pair sink Holmwood and RMS Rangitane plus five other ships off Nauru before separating.
On October 20, 1940 off Lamutrik Island Orion rendezvous with Komet and supply ship Kulmerland and held a conference on strategy, deciding to work together, concentrating on the area between New Zealand to Panama. They decided on Japanese disguises, Komet assuming the identity of "Manyo Maru" (or Manio Maru). Orion poses as "Mayebashi Maru". Supply ship Kulmerland poses as "Tokio Maru". On November 27, 1940 the pair sink Holmwood and RMS Rangitane.
During December 1940, Komet and Orion sank five Allied merchant ships (Komet sank three), with a combined tonnage of about 41,000 tons, waiting off Nauru to load phosphate.
In early 1941, an Navy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 1 (Nakajima E8N Dave) was purchased by the German naval attaché to Japan, Vice-Admiral Paul Wenneker, and sent as cargo aboard supply ship Münsterland to supply it to Orion. On February 1, 1941 the vessels rendezvous off the Maug Islands in the Northern Mariana Islands. Orion became the only German vessel in World War II to employ a Japanese float plane.
Afterwards, Orion operated for six months in the Indian Ocean without finding any targets then began the voyage back to Germany. In July 1941 in the South Atlantic captured SS Chaucer and escorted the ship back to France. On August 23, 1941 arrived at Bordeaux after 510 days and 127,337 nautical miles at sea. In total, she sunk ten ships with a combined tonnage of 62,915 gross register tons, plus two more in cooperation with Komet. Afterwards, decommissioned as a raider.
During 1944, renamed Hektor and used for artillery training. In January 1945 renamed Orion and used to transport
refugees from Germany's eastern provinces across the Baltic Sea to ports in Germany and Denmark to escape advancing Soviet forces.
On May 4, 1945 picked up the crew of Schlesien this vessel departed bound for Copenhagen with over 4,000 aboard. While underway off Swinemünde (Świnoujście, Poland) attacked by a Soviet aircraft from the 51st mine-torpedo Aviation Regiment that scored two bomb hits setting the ship on fire and killed 150 aboard. The crew managed to beached the vessel on a sandbank.
During 1952, the wreckage was scrapped.
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August 4, 2020