While looking for info regarding the fuel situation of the Kriegsmarine in 1942, I came across a document entitled
"OPERATIONS AND ORGANIZATION OF THE GERMAN NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEM DURING WORLD WAR II"
This is a 579-pages report by the USN Bureau of Supplies and Accounts written in 1953 and available online
I knew that the Kriegsmarine had problems to find bunker oil for its surface warships, but I didn't know the extent of the problem.
Even if the beginning of the war saw no problems (which came in part from losses sustained in Norway), the situation deteriorated very quickly from 1941 onwards.
As soon as 1942, the situation can only be described as awful - and the well known decision by Hitler to decommission the surface units makes sense in this light (even if Hitler's motives for the decision are stupid).
It sheds light on the unsustainability of any German naval expansion programm : any additionnal ship ran the risk of staying in harbor with empty bunker...
In this regard, the fuel-efficient U-boat were something of a mandatory expansion way for the Kriegsmarine - for want of any other sustainable growth.
An aspect not dealt with in the report is the inter-service rivalry for oil allocation - one may suspect that with more successes, the Kriegsmarine could have been able to get more oil, at the expense of the Luftwaffe or the Heer.
Here are a few quotes from the chapter dealing with oil:
RAdm Voss, one of the planning officers of 1 SKl, stated that until 1940, there was no real need for detailed planning in the procurement of fuel. However, from the end of 1940 to the middle of 1941, he said, it was apparent that there would eventually be a shortage. He continued:
"This shortage of fuel developed importantly after the start of the war with Russia, because the Italian Navy asked us to provide 140,000 tons fuel oil a month. That was beyond our capabilities. Before this demand of the Italian Navy was made, I submitted plans and suggestions on how to restrict the consumption of fuel in our Navy, so that we would to able to meet the more strinesnt demands of both navies. In the last quarter of 1941, this question became most urgent and the Chief of the naval Staff - I think it was Admiral Schniewind at the timo - accepted those plans, and we began to allocate fuel oil to two different consumers.
The files of OKW/Abwehr show that until December 1941, the only fuel on ration was gasoline. The diminishing stocks and drop in production, however, compelled the Admiralty to introduce fuel oil rationing on 1 January 1942. The need for the strictest fuel economy was impressed upon all commanding officers by means of lectures and orders.
In a report on the marine fuel oil situation made by GrAdm Raeder to Hitler in early 1942. CinC Navy stated that the Italian Navy was in continual need of fuel and that the Navy's stocks were running low. The passage of the Brest group through the Channel and onto Norway, he said, consumed 21,000 tons of fuel oil alone. By April 1st, he continued, the
Navy's reserve stocks had dwindled to 150,000 tons, Roumanian deliveries fell from 46,000 tons to 8,000 tons per month and, since that had been promised to the Italians, who urgently needed fuel for the Mediterranean campaign, further withdrawals had to be made from Navy stocks. He complained:
"The total allocation of black fuel oil for both the German and Italian navies for April (1942) has been
cut from 97,000 to 61,000 tons."
Study of CinC Fleet's files discloses that in February 1942 the fuel oil situation in Norway was critical.
At the end of March 1942 SKL informed the Naval Group Commands and the Fleet Command that, because of the fuel oil crisis and the necessity for holding fuel oil reserves for the Italian Navy's urgent convoys to North Africa, it had become necessary to further reduce oil consumption. Operations by heavy naval units which consumed fuel oil were to be suspended.
At the beginning of April 1942, SL ordered that even operations by light naval forces requiring fuel oil were to be suspended. The reason was an unexpected reduction in supplies of oil from Roumania. In May 1942, the fuel oil crisis had reached the stage where the Fleet Command reported that the cruiser "LÜTZOW", the destroyers and the torpedo boats would be put out of commission unless an additional 6,000 tons of fuel oil were sent for May.
In November 1942, CinC Fleet complained that for the past year the units of the fleet had been admonished, and by extremely small allocations compelled to save fuel oil. The training efficiency of the ships had been jeopardized, he said, and there was hardly any reserve of fuel oil left.
Hope it's of interest...