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Operational History
25 January 1934 The building contract was placed with the Deutsche Werke, Kiel, as Panzerschiff "E" (Ersatz Hessen).
14 February 1934 The keel was laid.
5 July 1934 The construction was stopped and the material scrapped. The reason was that the originally plans were modified to accomodate new specifications.
6 May 1935 The keel was laid afresh.
8 December 1936 Gneisenau was launched. Christened by the widow of Kapitän zur See (Captain) Julius Maerker, commander of the armoured cruiser Gneisenau, lost with his ship at the Battle of the Falkland Islands on 8 December 1914.
Sea Trials and Final Outfitting
21 May 1938 Gneisenau was commissioned and placed under the command of Kapitän zur See (Captain) Erich Förste.
Afterwards, training and trials.
August - November 1938 Battle training in the North Atlantic.
October 1939 Raid to intercept Britain - Scandinavia trade together with the light cruiser Köln and the destroyers Wilhelm Heidkamp, Friedrich Ihn, Diether von Roeder, Karl Galster, Max Schulz, Paul Jakobi, Bernd von Arnim, Erich Steinbrink and Freidrich Eckoldt. No results.
21 November 1939 Together with the Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau was sent south of Iceland to attack the Northern Patrol.
23 November 1939 The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst sinks the British auxiliary cruiser Rawalpindi.
26 November 1939 The Gneisenau suffered severe sea damage during a heavy storm in the Shetland - Bergen Narrows.
27 November 1939 The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst returns to Kiel.
4 December 1939 Repairs completed. The Gneisenau transfers to Wilhelmshaven.
18 - 20 February 1940
Operation "Nordmark"
The Gneisenau, the Scharnhorst, the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Wolfgang Zenker, Wilhelm Heidkamp and Karl Galster was sent to intercept British convoys between Bergen and England, but no ships was sighted.
7 - 12 April 1940
Operation "Weserübung"
The Gneisenau was flagship of the fleet commander Vice-Admiral Lütjens. The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst cover the invasion of Narvik. Battle with British battlecruiser Renown and cruiser Birmingham west of the Lofoten in bad weather. The Gneisenau was hit once.
4 - 10 June 1940
Operation "Juno"
The Gneisenau was flagship in the Polar Sea operations together with the Scharnhorst, Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Karl Galster, Hans Lody, Erich Steinbrink and Hermann Schoemann.
8 June 1940 Battle with British aircraft carrier Glorious and the destroyers Ardent and Acasta. All British ships are sunk.
10 June 1940 Returned to Trondheim.
10-12 June 1940 Sailed into the Polar Sea with Admiral Hipper. Operations canceled, ships return to Trondheim again.
20 June 1940 Leaves Trondheim with Admiral Hipper again for operations between Iceland, the Faroers and Orkney. 40 nautical miles north-west of the island of Halten, Gneisenau is hit by a torpedo of the British submarine Clyde. Emergency repairs at Trondheim.
25 July 1940 Escorted by the light cruiser Nürnberg, the Gneisenau leaves Trondheim to return to Kiel.
28 July 1940 The Gneisenau arrived at Kiel.
July - December 1940 The Gneisenau was in dock.
28 December 1940 First unsuccessful attempt to break out in the North Atlantic together with the Scharnhorst. Operation is aborted after the Gneisenau is damaged by heavy seas.
22 January 1941
Operation "Berlin"
Second successful attempt to break out into the North Atlantic by the Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst.
3 February 1941 The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst break through the Denmark Strait.
4 February 1941 The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst reached southern Greenland.
8 February 1941 Convoy HX-108 was sighted but the attack was stopped after the British battleship Ramiles is detected covering this convoy. Scharnhorst unsuccessfully tried to pull the British battleship away of the convoy to enable the Gneisenau to attack the unprotected merchant ships.
22 February 1941 The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst sinks four merchant ships east of Newfoundland.
7 - 9 March 1941 Attack on convoy SL-67 is broken off as the British battleship Malaya is sighted. Two U-boats are ordered to attack the convoy and sink 5 merchant ships.
15 - 16 March 1941 The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst sink 16 merchant ships east of Newfoundland. Gneisenau is sighted by the British battleship Rodney which requests identification of the German ship. The Gneisenau replies "H.M.S. Emerald" and escapes.
22 March 1941 The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst enter Brest. They sunk a total of 22 ships with total of 115.600 tons during their North Atlantic Operations. The Gneisenau sunk 14 ships with total of 66.300 tons.
April 1941 The Gneisenau was hit by an aircraft torpedo and put into dock.
11 - 13 February 1942
Operation "Cerberus"
Break through the English Channel: The Gneisenau, the Scharnhorst and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, escorted by 6 destroyers (Paul Jakobi, Richard Beitzen, Friedrich Ihn, Hermann Schoemann, Z-25, Z-29). Nine torpedo-boats of the 2nd and 3rd Flotillas (T-2, T-4, T-5, T-11, T-12, T-13, T-15, T-16 and T-17) would be joined later by Kondor, Falke, Seeadler, Iltis and Jaguar of the 5th Flotilla plus ten E-boats of the 2nd, 4th and 6th Flotilla, returned to Germany. The Gneisenau was hit by a mine on the Brunsbüttel Roads on its way to Kiel.
26 - 27 February 1942 The Gneisenau was hit by a large bomb during an air attack. The complete bow section burns out and takes the ship out of action.
4 April 1942 The Gneisenau was sent to Gotenhafen to be decommissioned and reconstructed.
1 July 1942 The Gneisenau was withdrawn from service. The 28 cm (11") triple turrets should be replaced with 38 cm (15") twin turrets.
1944 After the sinking of the Scharnhorst, conversion work was stopped on the Gneisenau.
March 1945 The Gneisenau was sunk as a blockade ship in Gotenhafen.
Broken Down
1947 - 1951 The Gneisenau was broken up and scrapped.

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