In early 1942 it was realised that the Tirpitz had become operational and, based in Norway, would pose a threat to Arctic Convoys supplying Russia or could possibly even break out into the Atlantic, as her sister ship the Bismarck had done, and threaten Transatlantic convoys.
The destruction or even crippling of this ship is the greatest event at sea at the present time. No other target is comparable to it.
Winston Churchill, 25th January 1942
The Royal Navy’s Home Fleet based at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys had just put to sea when a German battleship was identified off Norway. A torpedo attack was quickly organised, the only occasion that the Tirpitz was targeted whilst at sea.
Home, Northern Waters and North Atlantic
On the 4th, the Home Fleet sailed to the northward from Scapa and on the 5th the Commander-in-Chief reported that an outward-bound convoy to Russia had been shadowed by Focke-Wulf aircraft when about 300 miles north-east of Iceland.
In the evening of the 6th H.M. Submarine Seawolf reported an enemy battleship or 8-inch cruiser about 55 miles north-east of Trondheim steering N.E..
Subsequently this ship was identified as the Tirpitz, which was located and attacked with torpedoes by aircraft of the Home Fleet at 0930 on the 9th, about 80 miles west of the Lofoten Islands. No hits were claimed and Tirpitz was last seen steering towards Vestfjord. The Home Fleet has returned to Scapa.
From the Naval Situation Report for the week as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB 66/22/50
For more details on Royal Navy ships see Naval History Net.