Denmark Strait

The Denmark Strait (Danish: Danmarksstrædet) or Greenland Strait (Icelandic: Grænlandssund, 'Greenland Sound') is an oceanic strait between Greenland (to its northwest) and Iceland (to its southeast). The Norwegian island of Jan Mayen lies northeast of the strait.

Denmark Strait
Norwegian Sea map
Denmark Strait separates Iceland from Greenland in the upper left.
LocationBetween Iceland and Greenland
Coordinates67°N 24°W / 67°N 24°WCoordinates: 67°N 24°W / 67°N 24°W
Max. length300 miles (480 km)
Pack ice in the Denmark Strait


The strait connects the Greenland Sea, an extension of the Arctic Ocean, to the Irminger Sea, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It stretches 480 kilometres (300 mi) long and 290 kilometres (180 mi) wide at its narrowest, between Straumnes, the northwestern headland of the Westfjords peninsula of Hornstrandir, and Cape Tupinier on Blosseville Coast in East Greenland). The official International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) delineation between the Arctic and the North Atlantic Oceans runs from Straumnes to Cape Nansen, 132 km (82 miles) southwest of Cape Tunipier. From Straumnes to Cape Nansen the distance is 336 km (209 miles).


The narrow depth, where the Greenland–Iceland Rise runs along the bottom of the sea, is 191 metres (625 ft). The cold East Greenland Current passes through the strait and carries icebergs south into the North Atlantic. It hosts important fisheries.

The world's largest known underwater waterfall, known as the Denmark Strait cataract, flows down the western side of the Denmark Strait.[1]

Battle of the Denmark Strait

During World War II, the Battle of the Denmark Strait took place on 24 May 1941. The German battleship Bismarck sank the British battlecruiser HMS Hood, which exploded with the loss of all but three of its 1,418 crew; HMS Prince of Wales was seriously damaged in the engagement. Bismarck entered the Atlantic through the Strait, but damage sustained in the battle—combined with British aircraft search-and-destroy missions—led to its sinking three days later.

See also


  1. ^ To the Denmark Strait: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

External links

Battle of the Denmark Strait

The Battle of the Denmark Strait was a naval engagement on 24 May 1941 in the Second World War, between ships of the Royal Navy and the German Kriegsmarine. The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Hood fought the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were attempting to break out into the North Atlantic to attack Allied merchant shipping (Operation Rheinübung).

Less than 10 minutes after the British opened fire, a shell from Bismarck struck Hood near her aft ammunition magazines. Soon afterwards, Hood exploded and sank within three minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew. Prince of Wales continued to exchange fire with Bismarck but suffered serious malfunctions in her main armament. The British battleship had only just been completed in late March 1941, and used new quadruple gun turrets that were unreliable. Therefore, the Prince of Wales soon broke off the engagement. The battle was considered a tactical victory for the Germans but its impact was short-lived; the damage done to Bismarck's forward fuel tanks forced the abandonment of the breakout and an attempt to escape to dry dock facilities in occupied France, producing an operational victory for the British. Incensed by the loss of Hood, a large British force pursued and sank Bismarck three days later.

Denmark Strait cataract

The Denmark Strait cataract is an underwater waterfall found on the western side of the Denmark Strait in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the world's highest underwater waterfall, with water falling almost 3,505 metres (11,500 feet).

It is formed by the temperature differential between the water masses either side of the Denmark Strait, the eastern side being much colder than the western. Due to the different densities in the masses caused by this temperature difference, when the two masses meet along the top ridge of the strait, the colder, denser water flows downwards and underneath the warmer, lighter water, thus creating a downward flow of water, or waterfall.

It is thought that the Denmark Strait cataract has a flow rate exceeding 175 million cubic feet (5.0 million cubic meters) per second, making it 350 times as voluminous as the extinct Guaíra Falls on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, which was once thought to be the most voluminous waterfall on Earth, which was 12 times more voluminous than Victoria Falls.

The waterfall was jokingly called The Alan Davies Cascade, after the regular panelist on the television quiz show QI, in response to host Stephen Fry's mentioning its apparent lack of a name.

East Greenland Current

The East Greenland Current (EGC) is a cold, low salinity current that extends from Fram Strait (~80N) to Cape Farewell (~60N). The current is located off the eastern coast of Greenland along the Greenland continental margin. The current cuts through the Nordic Seas (the Greenland and Norwegian Seas) and through the Denmark Strait. The current is of major importance because it directly connects the Arctic to the Northern Atlantic, it is a major contributor to sea ice export out of the Arctic, and it is a major freshwater sink for the Arctic.

German battleship Bismarck

Bismarck was the first of two Bismarck-class battleships built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched in February 1939. Work was completed in August 1940, when she was commissioned into the German fleet. Bismarck and her sister ship Tirpitz were the largest battleships ever built by Germany, and two of the largest built by any European power.

In the course of the warship's eight-month career under its sole commanding officer, Captain Ernst Lindemann, Bismarck conducted only one offensive operation, lasting 8 days in May 1941, codenamed Rheinübung. The ship, along with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, was to break into the Atlantic Ocean and raid Allied shipping from North America to Great Britain. The two ships were detected several times off Scandinavia, and British naval units were deployed to block their route. At the Battle of the Denmark Strait, the battlecruiser HMS Hood initially engaged Prinz Eugen, probably by mistake, while HMS Prince of Wales engaged Bismarck. In the ensuing battle Hood was destroyed by the combined fire of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, who then damaged Prince of Wales and forced her retreat. Bismarck suffered sufficient damage from three hits to force an end to the raiding mission.

The destruction of Hood spurred a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy involving dozens of warships. Two days later, heading for occupied France to effect repairs, Bismarck was attacked by 16 obsolescent Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; one scored a hit that rendered the battleship's steering gear inoperable. In her final battle the following morning, the already-crippled Bismarck was severely damaged during a sustained engagement with two British battleships and two heavy cruisers, was scuttled by her crew, and sank with heavy loss of life. Most experts agree that the battle damage would have caused her to sink eventually. The wreck was located in June 1989 by Robert Ballard, and has since been further surveyed by several other expeditions.

HMS Achates (H12)

HMS Achates was an A-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the late 1920s. Completed in 1930, she initially served with the Mediterranean Fleet. She was sunk on 31 December 1942 during the Battle of the Barents Sea.

HMS Hood

HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1920, she was named after the 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, Hood had design limitations, though her design was revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction. For this reason, she was the only ship of her class to be completed. Despite the appearance of new and more modern ship designs over time, Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for 20 years after her commissioning, and her prestige was reflected in her nickname, "The Mighty Hood".

Hood was involved in several showing-the-flag exercises between her commissioning in 1920 and the outbreak of war in 1939, including training exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and a circumnavigation of the globe with the Special Service Squadron in 1923 and 1924. She was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet following the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Hood was officially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until she had to return to Britain in 1939 for an overhaul. By this time, advances in naval gunnery had reduced Hood's usefulness. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct these issues, but the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 forced the ship into service without the upgrades.

When war with Germany was declared, Hood was operating in the area around Iceland, and she spent the next several months hunting for German commerce raiders and blockade runners between Iceland and the Norwegian Sea. After a brief overhaul of her propulsion system, she sailed as the flagship of Force H, and participated in the destruction of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Relieved as flagship of Force H, Hood was dispatched to Scapa Flow, and operated in the area as a convoy escort and later as a defence against a potential German invasion fleet. In May 1941, the battleship Prince of Wales and she were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic, where they were to attack convoys. On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded, and sank within 3 minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew. Due to her perceived invincibility, the loss affected British morale.

The Royal Navy conducted two inquiries into the reasons for the ship's quick demise. The first, held soon after the ship's loss, concluded that Hood's aft magazine had exploded after one of Bismarck's shells penetrated the ship's armour. A second inquiry was held after complaints that the first board had failed to consider alternative explanations, such as an explosion of the ship's torpedoes. It was more thorough than the first board and concurred with the first board's conclusion. Despite the official explanation, some historians continued to believe that the torpedoes caused the ship's loss, while others proposed an accidental explosion inside one of the ship's gun turrets that reached down into the magazine. Other historians have concentrated on the cause of the magazine explosion. The discovery of the ship's wreck in 2001 confirmed the conclusion of both boards, although the exact reason the magazines detonated is likely to remain unknown since that area of the ship was destroyed in the explosion.

HMS Niger (J73)

HMS Niger was a Halcyon-class minesweeper of the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1936 and was sunk during the Second World War.

In fog on 5 July 1942 HMS Niger mistook an iceberg for Iceland’s North Western Cape and led six merchant ships of Murmansk to Reykjavík convoy QP 13 into Northern Barrage minefield SN72 laid one month earlier at the entrance to the Denmark Strait. Every ship detonated British mines. There were no crewmen lost aboard the Soviet freighter Rodina (4441 GRT), the Panamanian-flagged freighter Exterminator (6115 GRT), or the American freighter Hybert (6120 GRT); but 46 civilian crew and 9 Naval Armed Guards died aboard the American Liberty ship John Randolph (7191 GRT) and freighters Hefron (7611 GRT) and Massmar (5825 GRT); and there were only eight survivors of the 127 men aboard Niger. Only Exterminator could be salvaged. The value of the Northern Barrage was questioned following the accident.

HMS Suffolk (55)

HMS Suffolk, pennant number 55, was a County-class heavy cruiser of the Royal Navy, and part of the Kent subclass. She was built by Portsmouth Dockyard, Portsmouth, UK), with the keel being laid down on 30 September 1924. She was launched on 16 February 1926, and commissioned on 31 May 1928.

Irminger Sea

The Irminger Sea is a marginal sea of the North Atlantic Ocean.

It was named after Danish vice-admiral Carl Ludvig Christian Irminger (1802–1888), after whom also the Irminger Current was named.

King Christian IX Land

Not to be confused with King Christian X LandKing Christian IX Land (Danish: Kong Christian IX Land) is a coastal area of Southeastern Greenland in Sermersooq Municipality fronting the Denmark Strait and extending through the Arctic Circle from 65°N to 70°N.

Lancelot Holland

Vice Admiral Lancelot Ernest Holland, CB (13 September 1887 – 24 May 1941) commanded the British force in the Battle of the Denmark Strait in May 1941 against the German battleship Bismarck. Holland was killed during the battle.

Last battle of the battleship Bismarck

The last battle of the German battleship Bismarck took place in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 300 nmi (350 mi; 560 km) west of Brest, France, on 26–27 May 1941. Although it was a decisive action between capital ships, it has no generally accepted name.

On 24 May, before the final action, Bismarck's fuel tanks were damaged and several machinery compartments, including a boiler room, were flooded in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Her intention was to reach the port of Brest for repair. Late in the day Bismarck briefly turned on her pursuers (Prince of Wales and the heavy cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk) to cover the escape of her companion, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to continue further into the Atlantic. Early on 25 May the British forces lost contact with Bismarck, which headed ESE towards France while the British searched NE, presuming she was returning to Norway. Later on 25 May Admiral Lütjens, apparently unaware that he had lost his pursuers, broke radio silence to send a coded message to Germany. This allowed the British to triangulate the approximate position of the Bismarck and aircraft were dispatched to hunt for the German battleship. She was rediscovered in the late morning of 26 May by a Catalina flying boat from No. 209 Squadron RAF and subsequently shadowed by aircraft from Force H steaming north from Gibraltar.

The final action consisted of four main phases. The first phase late on the 26th consisted of air strikes by torpedo bombers from the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal, which disabled Bismarck's steering gear, jamming her rudders in a turning position and preventing her escape. The second phase was the shadowing and harassment of Bismarck during the night of 26/27 May by British destroyers, with no serious damage to any ship. The third phase on the morning of 27 May was an attack by the British battleships King George V and Rodney supported by cruisers. After about 100 minutes of fighting, Bismarck was sunk by the combined effects of shellfire, torpedo hits and deliberate scuttling. On the British side, Rodney was lightly damaged by near-misses and by the blast effects of her own guns. British warships rescued 111 survivors from Bismarck before being obliged to withdraw because of an apparent U-boat sighting, leaving several hundred men to their fate. The following morning, a U-boat and German weathership rescued five more survivors. In the final phase the withdrawing British ships were attacked on 27 May by aircraft of the Luftwaffe, resulting in the loss of the destroyer HMS Mashona.

List of waterfalls by height

The following is a list of waterfalls of the world by height. Underwater falls, such as the 3,505 m (11,499 ft) Denmark Strait cataract, are not included.

Each column (Waterfall, Height, Locality, Country) is sortable by using the up/down link in the column headings at the top of each column.

North Icelandic Jet

The North Icelandic Jet is a deep-reaching current that flows along the continental slope of Iceland. North Icelandic Jet advects overflow water into the Denmark Strait and constitutes a pathway that is distinct from the East Greenland Current. It is a cold current that runs west across the top of Iceland, then southwest between Greenland and Iceland at a depth of about 600 metres (almost 2,000 feet). The North Icelandic Jet is deep and narrow (about 12 mile wide) and can carry more than a million cubic meters of water per second. It was not discovered until 2004.

Northern Barrage

The Northern Barrage was the name given to an extensive series of defensive minefields laid by the British during World War II in order to restrict German access to the Atlantic Ocean. The barrage stretched from the Orkney to the Faroe Islands and on toward Iceland. Mines were also laid in the Denmark Strait, north of Iceland.

Operation Berlin (Atlantic)

Operation Berlin was a successful commerce raid performed by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau between January and March 1941. The commander-in-chief of the operation was Admiral Günther Lütjens, who subsequently commanded the famous cruise of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen.

The two ships aborted the operation in December 1940, but finally sailed from Kiel on 22 January 1941. They were spotted en route through the Great Belt and the British Admiralty was informed. Admiral Sir John Tovey sailed with a strong force (three battleships, eight cruisers and 11 destroyers), hoping to intercept the German ships in the Iceland—Faroe Islands Passage. Instead, Lütjens took his flotilla through the Denmark Strait into the Atlantic, where they were positioned to intercept convoys between Canada and Britain.

Convoy HX 106 was intercepted, but the attack was aborted when the escorting battleship HMS Ramillies was spotted. Lütjens had orders to avoid action with enemy capital ships. The British failed to make an accurate identification of the German battleships.

After refuelling, the German ships missed convoy HX 111, but happened upon an empty convoy returning to the U.S. Over 12 hours, five ships were sunk but the attack was reported. The squadron moved south to the Azores to intercept the convoy route between West Africa and Britain.

A convoy was sighted but, once again, was not attacked due to the presence of the battleship HMS Malaya. Instead, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau shadowed it, acting to guide in U-boat attacks.

The two ships moved back to the western Atlantic, sinking a solitary freighter en route. Two unescorted convoys were attacked and 16 ships were sunk or captured. One of these ships—Chilean Reefer—caused problems. It made smoke, radioed an accurate position and returned Gneisenau's fire with its small deck gun. Lütjens, uncertain of the freighter's capabilities, withdrew and destroyed it from a safe distance. During this action, HMS Rodney appeared, possibly in response to the radio calls. The German ships bluffed their way to safety while Rodney picked up survivors.

The German ships were ordered back to Brest. They met air and sea escorts on 21 March and docked the next day.

In total, they had sailed nearly 18,000 mi (16,000 nmi; 29,000 km) in 60 days and destroyed or captured 22 ships. They were supported by supply ships and the tankers Uckermark, Ermland, Schlettstadt, Friedrich Breme and Esso Hamburg.

Operation Rheinübung

Operation Rheinübung ("Exercise Rhine") was the sortie into the Atlantic by the new German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen on 18–27 May 1941, during World War II. This operation to block Allied shipping to the United Kingdom culminated with the sinking of Bismarck.


Tunu, originally Østgrønland ("East Greenland"), was one of the three counties (amter) of Greenland until 31 December 2008. The county seat was at the main settlement, Tasiilaq. Population in 2005 was around 3,800.

The county was made up of two former municipalities, Ammassalik Municipality and Ittoqqortoormiit Municipality. In 1974, the Northeast Greenland National Park was created from the vast and virtually uninhabited northern part of Illoqqortoormiut Municipality. It then covered the northern half of the county.

Tunu was bordered in the east by the Greenland Sea, Denmark Strait and the North Atlantic Ocean. To the west lies Kitaa, and to the north, Avannaa.

In 1988, the National Park was enlarged into Avannaa (North Greenland).


The Westfjords or West Fjords (Icelandic: Vestfirðir, ISO 3166-2:IS: IS-4) is a large peninsula in northwestern Iceland and an administrative district. It lies on the Denmark Strait, facing the east coast of Greenland. It is connected to the rest of Iceland by a 7-km-wide isthmus between Gilsfjörður and Bitrufjörður. The Westfjords are very mountainous; the coastline is heavily indented by dozens of fjords surrounded by steep hills. These indentations make roads very circuitous and communications by land difficult. In addition many of the roads are closed by ice and snow for several months of the year. The Vestfjarðagöng road tunnel from 1996 has improved that situation. The cliffs at Látrabjarg comprise the longest bird cliff in the northern Atlantic Ocean and are at the westernmost point in Iceland. The Drangajökull glacier is located in the north of the peninsula and is the fifth-largest of the country, but the only glacier of the region.

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