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Operation Safari - August 29th 1943
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Brief History:
On August 29th 1943, the German forces occupying Denmark tried to take control of the Danish armed forces. Both the Army and the Navy were still operating despite the German attack and subsequent occupation of Denmark on April 9th 1940.

In February 1941 the Germans requested that the Danish government surrendered twelve Danish torpedo boats to the German Navy. The Danish government gave in to these demands, but in the end the Germans took only the six fairly new torpedo boats "Dragen, Hvalen, Laxen, Glenten, Høgen and Ørnen", which were handed over - unarmed - to the Germans in April 1941.

As payment for these boats, the Germans agreed to supply the Royal Dockyard in Copenhagen with materials for the construction of six new torpedo boats. Some of the promised materials arrived, but since the Danish Navy suspected that the Germans would take the new boats when they were completed, the construction progressed very slowly, and was halted after 29/8 1943.

The officers in the Royal Danish Navy knew that there was a risk that the Germans would try to seize the navy, and had decided that if this happened the Danish vessels should try to break through to neutral Sweden. If this proved impossible the order was to scuttle the ships.

When at 0400 hrs. On the morning of the 29th the Germans attacked the Danish Naval Base at the Royal Dockyard (Holmen) in Copenhagen, it proved impossible for the Danish ships to leave the harbour. German guns placed around the harbour controlled the only way out, and the signal to scuttle the fleet was sent to the fleet. This signal also reached some of the few vessels stationed outside Copenhagen.

Due to luck on the Danish side and bad planning on the German side, the Danes were able to scuttle most of navy, and a few of the ships at sea made it to Sweden. Of the fifty-two vessels in the Danish Navy on the 29th of august, two were at Greenland, thirty-two were scuttled, four reached Sweden and fourteen were taken undamaged by the Germans. The Germans were later able to raise most of the scuttled ships, and fifteen of these were put into some kind of service by the German Navy.

Resterne af en stor del af den danske flåde
The remains of the Danish Navy

The fate of the Danish Naval Vessels:
(Ships not in active service are marked with an *)

Two Costal Defense ships:
Niels Juel - Scuttled in Isefjord by its own crew when damaged by German air attacks while trying to escape to Sweden.
Peder Skram(*) - Scuttled at the Royal Dockyard.

Eleven torpedo boats:
Hvalrossen, Makrellen, Sælen, Søhunden(*) and Nordkaperen - All scuttled at the Royal Dockyard.
Haien - Taken by the Germans at Korsør.
Havkatten (in the Sound) - Escaped to Sweden.
Havørnen - Beached and blown up at "Stammenakke" by its crew.
Narhvalen (in overhaul at the Royal Dockyard)(*) - Taken by the Germans.
Najaden(*) and Nymfen(*) - Under construction at the Royal Dockyard. Taken by the Germans, but not completed.

Six Mineships:
Lindormen, Lossen(*), Lougen, Laaland, Sixtus(*) and Kvintus(*) - All scuttled at the Royal Dockyard.


Twelve Submarines:
Rota, Bellona(*), Flora(*), Daphne, Dryaden(*), Havmanden, Havfruen(*), Havkalen, and Havhesten - All scuttled at the Royal Dockyard.
Ran, Triton and Galathea. (all laid up) - Taken but not used by the Germans.


Two floating workshops:
Henrik Gerner - Torched and scuttle at the Royal Dockyard.
Grønsund - Taken by the Germans.

Henrik Gerner
Henrik Gerner

Five Ocean Patrol Vessels:
Ingolf - Taken at sea in "Store Bælt" (Great Belt) by the Germans.
Beskytteren(*) and Islands Falk (*) - Taken by the Germans at the Royal Dockyard.
Hvidbjørnen - Scuttled in "Store Bælt" (Great Belt).
Maagen - At Greenland.

Thirteen Minesweepers:
Søhunden(*), MS 10, MS 8, Søbjørnen and MS 4. - Scuttled at the Royal Dockyard.
MS 1, MS 7 and MS 9 (Sorte Sara) - Escaped to Sweden.
Søløven, Søridderen and Springeren - Taken by the Germans at Korsør.
Søhesten - Taken by the Germans at Kalundborg.
Skagerak(*) - Taken by the Germans at the Royal Dockyard.


Three Survey Ships:
Hejmdal(*) - Partly destroyed at the Royal Dockyard.
Freja(*) - Taken by the Germans at the Royal Dockyard.
Ternen - At Greenland.

Royal Yacht Dannebrog - Property of the King - not violated by the Germans.

Other Vessels:
Hekla and Fyen (Stationed vessel) - Taken by the Germans.
Sleipner - Taken by the Germans.
Dampbåd A - Scuttled at Lunkebugten near Taasinge.

Of the fifty-nine patrol-cutters only nine made it to Sweden. The rest were taken by the Germans.

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Further reading
Flådens oprør, Per Wessel Tolvig (red.)
Flaadens skibe den 29. august 1943, og deres senere skæbne, R. Steen Steensen. (Artikel i Tidsskrift for Søvæsenet 1953).
Flådens skibe 1950, R. Steen Steensen.

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