The Admiral Scheer was one of three heavy cruisers built by the Reichsmarine – known as Deutschland-class cruisers – in response to the restrictions on the size of warships set out in the Treaty of Versailles. With the Germans employing a strategy of guerre de course (commerce raiding), in October 1940 the Admiral Scheer began her first commerce raiding operation, a sortie that lasted 161 days and covered 46,000 nautical miles (85,000 km), during which she sank 17 merchant ships. This included five British ships and the armed merchant cruiser Jervis Bay in the HX-84 convoy destined for Liverpool, England, from Halifax, Novia Scotia. She also captured Duquesa – a British supply ship carrying 3,500 tons of frozen beef and 15 million eggs – which the Germans kept to supply their own ships. The Admiral Scheer was the most successful German commerce raider of World War II, and somehow eluded the Royal Navy during this voyage of 1940–41.
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