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Despite the popularity of the U-boats and larger surface vessels like the Bismarck and the Graf Spee, the vast majority of vessels within the Kriegsmarine served in the coastal forces. Although less frequently mentioned, these smaller ships gave crucial service during the war and continued to serve decades after VE day, either in the German Navy or in the navies of the victorious Allies. Indeed, Kriegsmarine minesweepers and their German crews, still in their old uniforms with the swastikas simply removed, continued to serve after 1945 under the control of the Royal Navy, engaged in the dangerous but necessary task of clearing old wartime minefields.
The ships and boats included in the coastal forces ranged from such minesweepers to torpedo boats, patrol boats and blockade breakers. These latter were merchant vessels, whose daunting task was to evade the Allied warships to bring essential supplies into Germany. Also included in the coastal forces was Hitler's personal yacht, the Ostwind. This book tells the often-forgotten story of the vessels that formed the backbone of the Kriegsmarine, and combines fascinating anecdotes, detailed technical information, and full-color artwork.