The German auxiliary cruiser Stier (HSK 6) was a German auxiliary cruiser during World War II. Also known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 23, to the Royal Navy she was Raider J.
The name Stier means "bull", and represents the Taurus constellation in German language.
Built by Germaniawerft
in 1936 as the freighter Cairo
, she was operated by the Atlas Levant Line (ALL) until being requisitioned for Kriegsmarine
services in November 1939. After merchant warfare operations in the Baltic Sea
, she was converted into a mine layer and was planned to be used during Operation Sealion
. After this operation was canceled, the now renamed Stier
was modified into an auxiliary cruiser in April 1941, first at the Wilton
and later at Oderwerke
, and Kriegsmarinewerft, in Gotenhafen (Gdynia
On 10 May 1942
she left Germany for operations in the Atlantic
. Moving by stages down the English Channel
, and after an engagement with British coastal forces
on the 13th which saw the loss of 2 torpedo boats (German) and one MTB (British), Stier
reached Royan in occupied France on the 19th. From there she departed under the command of FK
) Horst Gerlach for operations in the South Atlantic. However after a cruise of only 4 ½ months, in which she engaged and sank 3 ships, she had a fatal encounter on 27 September 1942
; the ship was sunk during a battle with an American cargo ship the SS Stephen Hopkins
, which was also lost.
During her operation, which lasted four and a half months, the Stier sank 4 ships with 29,409 tons (GRT).
On 27 September 1942 Stier encountered the Liberty ship SS Stephen Hopkins en route from Cape Town to Paramaribo
Closing in foggy conditions the 2 ships sighted each other around 0852 at a distance of 4,000 yards. Gerlach sent his men to action stations; the master of the Stephen Hopkins was suspicious of the unidentified vessel and did the same. The Stephen Hopkins had a small defensive armament (1 x 4 inch gun astern, and several machine guns), but when firing commenced, around 0855, she put up a spirited defence. She scored several hits on Stier, damaging her engines and steering gear. However, overwhelmed by fire from Stier, the Hopkins drifted away; by 10 am she had sunk. 42 of her crew were killed in the action, and 3 more died later; the 16 survivors finally reached Brazil 31 days later.
Meanwhile Stier had been fatally damaged; unable to make headway, and not responding to the helm, Gerlach made the decision to abandon ship and scuttle her. She sank at 11.40 am.
All but 2 of her crew survived; they were rescued by the supply ship Tannenfels, which was accompanying Stier at the time of the action.