Following the end of World War I hostilities with the Armistice of Compiègne, the German High Seas Fleet was surrendered and escorted to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands to await a decision on its fate under the Treaty of Versailles. From the beginning of 1919, whilst moored in Scapa Flow, the 74 ships of the High Seas Fleet were staffed by crews totalling just under 5,000 German sailors. These sailors were kept confined to the ships with little recreation and dwindling food supplies while the victorious Allies debated their fate. Initially expecting to hear of the fate of his fleet on 21 June, Admiral von Reuter was not informed of an extension to the signing of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles until 23 June. Concerned that the Allies would seize the fleet, he gave the order for the fleet to be scuttled at around 11:20 on 21 June, resulting in the sinking of 52 of the 74 vessels.
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