In the fall of 1939, the German heavy cruiser (referred to as a pocket battleship) Graf Spee seems to have command of the Atlantic. In the first three months of World War II, she was responsible for sinking 9 ships. The British sent three cruisers commanded by Commodore Henry Harwood to confront her. The battle took place on December 13, 1939 and the British came out on top. The Graf Spee headed for the neutral harbor of Montevideo, Uruguay. They were given only a short time to effect repairs and the British did their best to make them believe a British fleet of 6 or 8 ships awaited them. Rather than chance the loss of his men, the German captain ordered the Graf Spee scuttled.
This History Channel series, hosted by Prince Andrew, Duke of York, explores the dramatic rise and decline of British naval power over the last 500 years. Since its creation under orders of King Henry VIII, the Royal Navy heralded Britain's emergence as a global superpower, presiding over what was the largest colonial empire in world history. This documentary series explores the evolution of British sea power from wooden galleons and ships-of-the-line, through to ironclad dreadnoughts and modern aircraft carriers. Discover how the Royal Navy was created during the reign of King Henry VIII, travel with Sir Francis Drake aboard his famous ship Golden Hinde in 1577, admire Admiral Nelson's triumph at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and learn why so many illustrious ships were decommissioned at the end of the Falklands War.