Operation Rheinübung ("Rhine Exercise") 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.
Germany’s naval leadership (under Admiral Erich Johann Albert Raeder) at the time firmly believed that defeat by blockade was achievable. However, they also believed that the primary method to achieve this objective was to use traditional commerce raiding tactics, founded upon surface combatants (cruisers, battle-cruisers, fast battleships) that were only supported by, submarines. Regardless of the method or manner, Raeder convinced the High Command (OKW) and Hitler that if this lifeline were severed, Britain would be defeated, regardless of any other factors.
Operation Rheinübung was the latest in a series of raids on Allied shipping carried out by surface units of the Kriegsmarine.