The Prinz Eugen was laid down in 1936 as a slightly modified and slightly larger version of the Admiral Hipper class of Heavy Cruisers. Launched in 1938, the Prinz Eugen was commissioned on August 1, 1940 during the first year of WWII.

In May, 1941, Prinz Eugen sailed with the Battleship Bismarck on Unternehmung Rheinübung (Operation Rhine Exercise) into the North Atlantic to disrupt Allied convoys but, instead of meeting a single allied merchant ship, she was intercepted by the British Battleships Hood and Prince of Wales south of Iceland. During the ensuing battle, the Hood was sunk and the Bismarck was damaged. Later that same day the Prinz Eugen broke off from the Bismarck for independent raiding but due to machinery failures, decided to head for France.

The Prinz Eugen remained at Brest, France until February 1942 when in consort with the Battle cruisers Scharnhost and Geneisenau, she broke through the English Channel and returned to Germany. Her stay in Germany was short, however, and a week later she sailed for Norway.

The day after arriving in Norway the ship was torpedoed by the British submarine Trident and sustained heavy damage to her stern. Parts of the stern had to be cut away and emergency rudders were fitted to the now transom stern of the vessel. She was able to successfully return to Germany for full repairs in May of 1942.

After repairs to the stern, the Prinz Eugen remained in the Baltic, supporting the Fleet Training Squadron or the Task Force for the rest of WWII. During this period she supported the withdrawal of troops from the Baltic states, bombarding the advancing Russian soldiers until she surrendered at Copenhagen. There, she was taken over by the British, but in December 1945 she was handed over to the United States as a war prize. The United States decided to test the Prinz Eugen in the upcoming Bikini Atom Bomb tests. She survived the blasts, only to capsize in Kwajalein atoll in December 1946. Her remains still lie there, with the extreme aft end of her hull projecting above the surface.