The Construction and Sea Trials
Photo: The birthday of Bismarck 1 July 1936.

The building contract was placed on 16 November 1935 with the Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, as New Construction "F" later named Bismarck and the keel was laid on 1 July 1936.

Photo: The launching ceremony on 14 February 1939.

She spent 30 months on the ways before she was launched on 14 February 1939 by Frau Dorothea von Loewenfeld, the granddaughter of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. At 1334 the hull of Bismarck slowly glided into the water.

Photo: Captain Ernst Lindemann inspects the honor guard at 24 August 1940. The day Bismarck was commisioned.

The Bismarck was commissioned 18 months later on 24 August 1940 and placed under the command of Kapitän zur See (Captain) Ernst Lindemann.

Photo: 15 September 1940 the Bismarck leaves the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg for the first time. She's heading for the Baltic Sea for sea trials and battle exercise.

The Bismarck left the wharf at Blohm & Voss in Hamburg on 15 September 1940 for the first time and underwent her sea trials and battle practice in the Baltic Sea. The mighty ship was going down the channel of Elbe. From the Elbe the Bismarck entered the Kiel Canal and headed towards Kiel and the Baltic Sea.

Photo: 8 December 1940, the Bismarck returns up the Elbe to complete her yardwork at Blohm & Voss in Hamburg.

At the end of her trials, the ship was scheduled to return to Blohm & Voss in Hamburg so that the yard could give her the "finishing touches" it had not been able to complete by September. On 9 December 1940 the Bismarck was back in Hamburg.

On 24 January 1941, the finishing touches to the ship were completed but the Bismarck could not immediately return to the Baltic Sea to continue her sea trials and battle practice as it was intended to do. A sunken ore ship was blocking the Kiel Canal, and the thick ice that had formed during this exceptionally severe winter was delaying salvage work. The idea of making the long detour around Jutland (Denmark), was rejected by Berlin.

Photo: Bismarck during trials together with Prinz Eugen in March 1941.

The Bismarck remained at anchor in Hamburg until 6 March 1941. The Bismarck cast off from the wharf at the Blohm & Voss yard heading for Kiel via the Elbe and Kiel Canal. On 8 March 1941 the Bismarck reached Kiel. The sea trials and battle practice could continue.

Photo: From the surprise visit made of Hitler to inspect Bismarck (and Tirpitz) on 5 May 1941.

Admiral Günther Lütjens was placed in charge of Operation "Rheinübung" ("Exercise Rhine"). He took command of the task force in April 1941, just in time to receive the Führer. Adolf Hitler made a surprise visit to Gotenhafen on 5 May to inspect the Bismarck and Tirpitz (which had recently arrived to conduct her sea trials in the Baltic) and be briefed on Lütjens' plans for executing the forthcoming sortie although the actual date was kept vague. Raeder and Lütjens feared Hitler would veto the plan and keep Bismarck in German waters until at least Tirpitz was ready. Raeder did not attent the visit, to avoid questions).

Photo: By early May 1941, the Bismarck was ready for combat operations.

On Friday 16 May 1941, Admiral Lütjens advised the German Naval High Command that his task force was ready for operational deployment, and he was given the "green light" to proceed.