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  SMS Cormoran
Armed merchant raider


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Kriegsmarine c1914

Ship History
Built by Germany during 1909 for the Russian Volunteer Fleet and named "Rjasan". She was used by the Russians as a combination mail, freight, passenger, and cargo hauler throughout the North Pacific.

World War I
This vessel was captured by the Germans in 1914 as their first prize of the war with Russia and Japan. The Rjasan steamed for Tsingtao where it was converted into an armed merchant raider and renamed SMS Cormoran after the original warship had serious engine failures.

On August 10, 1914 departed Tsingtao and sailed throughout the South Pacific, spending literally all of her time trying to avoid Japanese Navy warships. During late September, SMS Cormoran escaped from the Madang area prior to the arrival of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF).

On December 14, 1914 the Cormoran arrived at Apra Harbor off Guam with only 50 tons of coal remaining. Due to both the very unstable relationships between Germany and the U.S., and that Guam also had a very limited amount of coal, the Guam Military Governor refused to supply the Cormoran with more than a token amount of coal, hence, she was forced into internment on Guam. Over the next two years the crew became guests of the Guamanians, and relations were very good. Eventually, the crew moved off the ship and settled into a "normal" routine ashore.

Sinking History
On April 7, 1917 at the outbreak of the United States entry into World War I, Captain Adalbert Zuckschwerdt, ordered Cormoran to be scuttled into Apra Harbor, instead of turning her over to the Americans. Thirteen crew members went down with the ship and they were buried with full military honors in the Naval cemetery in Agana. The remainder of the crew was sent to Fort Douglas, Utah for the duration of the war. They were finally sent home to Germany on October 7, 1919. Later, the Tokai Maru sank almost directly beside her on August 27, 1943.

The hull of the Cormoran is intact. The engine room is easily accessible through the skylights, and most of the superstructure is relatively intact. Visibility averages 35-40', but can vary due to the tide and large ship traffic in the harbor. Visibility averages 35-40', but can vary due weather and tidal flow in the harbor.

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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