During the First World War, Germany converted around twenty merchant vessels to act as commerce raiders. Flying the flags of neutral nations and equipped with disguised armament, these ships roamed the shipping lanes attacking Allied merchant vessels and laying mines. They loomed large as a threat to Allied shipping, but this perception was out of all proportion to either their numbers or effects. One of the most notorious of Germany's raiders was the Wolf. She operated between May 1916 and February 1918 and claimed thirteen victims. For much of the latter half of 1917 Wolf prowled the waters around Australia and the East Indies, in the course of which she laid a minefield off Cape Howe that would subsequently claim three merchant ships - Cumberland, Wimmera and Port Kembla.
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