Z17 Diether von Roeder was one of six Type 1936 destroyers built for the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) in the late 1930s. Completed in 1938, the ship spent most of her time training although she did participate in the occupation of Memel in early 1939. At the beginning of World War II in September, the ship was initially deployed to lay minefields off the German coast, but was soon transferred to the Skagerrak where she inspected neutral shipping for contraband goods. In late 1939, the ship helped to laid an offensive minefield off the English coast that claimed seven merchant ships.
During the German invasion of Norway in April 1940, Z17 Diether von Roeder was tasked to attack Narvik and participated in both the First and Second Naval Battles of Narvik. She was crippled by British destroyers during the first battle, but was able to severely damage a British destroyer during the second battle, before she had to be scuttled to prevent her capture.
Diether von Roeder had an overall length of 123.4 meters (404 ft 10 in) and was 120 meters (393 ft 8 in) long at the waterline. The ship had a beam of 11.8 meters (38 ft 9 in), and a maximum draft of 4.5 meters (14 ft 9 in). She displaced 2,411 long tons (2,450 t) at standard load and 3,415 long tons (3,470 t) at deep load. The two Wagner geared steam turbine sets, each driving one propeller shaft, were designed to produce 70,000 PS (51,000 kW; 69,000 shp) using steam provided by six Wagner water-tube boilers. Z17 Diether von Roeder had a designed speed of 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph), but she reached 41.45 knots (76.8 km/h; 47.7 mph) from 72,500 PS (53,300 kW; 71,500 shp) during her sea trials. The ship carried a maximum of 739 metric tons (727 long tons) of fuel oil which gave a range of 2,050 nautical miles (3,800 km; 2,360 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph). Her crew consisted of 10 officers and 313 sailors.
The ship carried five 12.7-centimeter (5.0 in) SK C/34 guns in single mounts with gun shields, two each superimposed, fore and aft of the superstructure. The fifth mount was positioned on top of the rear deckhouse. The guns were numbered from 1 to 5 from front to rear. Her anti-aircraft armament consisted of four 3.7-centimeter (1.5 in) SK C/30 guns in two twin mounts abreast the rear funnel and six 2-centimeter (0.8 in) C/30 guns in single mounts. The ship carried eight above-water 53.3-centimeter (21.0 in) torpedo tubes in two power-operated mounts. Two reloads were provided for each mount. She had four depth charge launchers and mine rails could be fitted on the rear deck that had a maximum capacity of 60 mines. ‘GHG’ (Gruppenhorchger?t) passive hydrophones were fitted to detect submarines and an active sonar system was installed by the end of 1939.