German submarine U-156 (1941)
Conning tower emblem of U-156
|Career (Nazi Germany)|
|Ordered:||25 September 1939|
|Builder:||AG Weser, Bremen|
|Laid down:||11 October 1940|
|Launched:||21 May 1941|
|Commissioned:||4 September 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk on 8 March 1943|
|General characteristics |
|Type:||Type IXC submarine|
|Displacement:||1,120 t (1,100 long tons) surfaced
1,232 t (1,213 long tons) submerged
|Length:||76.76 m (251 ft 10 in) overall
58.7 m (192 ft 7 in) pressure hull
|Beam:||6.76 m (22 ft 2 in) overall
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
|Height:||9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)|
|Draft:||4.7 m (15 ft 5 in)|
|Propulsion:||2 × MAN M 9V 40/46 supercharged 9-cylinder diesel engines, 4,000 hp (2,983 kW)
2 × SSW 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (746 kW)
|Speed:||18.3 knots (33.9 km/h) surfaced
7.3 knots (13.5 km/h) submerged
|Range:||13,450 nmi (24,910 km; 15,480 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
64 nautical miles (119 km; 74 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h) submerged
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)|
|Complement:||48 to 56|
4th U-boat Flotilla
(September 4–December 31, 1941)
2nd U-boat Flotilla (January 1, 1942–March 8, 1943)
|Victories:||20 ships sunk for a total of 97,504 gross register tons (GRT)
Three ships damaged for a total of 18,811 GRT
One warship damaged for a total of 1,190 tons
The German submarine U-156 was a Type IXC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine built for service during World War II. The keel for this boat was laid on 11 October 1940 at the AG Weser yard in Bremen, Germany, as yard number 998.
She was commissioned on 4 September 1941 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Werner Hartenstein (Knight's Cross) and took part in five patrols which included attacks on shipping and the refinery on the island of Aruba, as well as the sinking of the ocean liner Laconia west of Africa and torpedoing and damaging the American destroyer USS Blakeley.
The city of Plauen, Hartenstein's home city, adopted the submarine within the then popular sponsorship programme (Patenschaftsprogramm), organising gifts and holidays for the crew.
She was sunk east of the island of Barbados on 8 March 1943, with all her crew.
Built and commissioned in Bremen, the boat was assigned on September 1941 to the 4. Unterseebootsflottille for training. She conducted her first patrol from that same month, during which her crew trained, and at the end of which she arrived at her operations base in Lorient, France, in December 1941. From that moment, she was assigned to the 2. Unterseebootsflottille based at that port; from where all her operational patrols departed.
During the three patrols completed in 1942, U-156 sank 20 ships for a total of 97,504 gross register tons (GRT); in addition, three ships were damaged for a total of 18,811 GRT and one warship was damaged for a total of 1,190 tons.
During its second patrol, U-156 participated in Operation Neuland, which intended to disrupt traffic in the Caribbean; and included an attack on the oil refinery at Aruba island, ordered by captain Hartenstein.
At the beginning of the attack on the Lago Oil and Transport Company San Nicolaas refinery, the deck gun exploded because the cap or tampion in the muzzle of the gun, which prevented water from entering the barrel, was not removed before firing. This accident saved what was at the time the world’s largest refinery.
As a result of the accident, Matrosengefreiter (equivalent to Able Seaman or Leading Seaman) Heinrich Bussinger was killed, and Gunnery Officer Dietrich von dem Borne lost his right leg in the explosion. He was taken below and the boat submerged and left the waters off the coast of Aruba. Von dem Borne was put ashore on the island of Martinique for medical treatment and survived the war. That stop at a Vichy France owned territory in the Caribbean accelerated the decay of the full diplomatic recognition between that power and the U.S.A.
On 12 September 1942, U-156 hit the British troopship Laconia on the starboard side with a torpedo. The troopship, carrying 463 officers and crew, 80 civilians, 286 British Army soldiers, 1,793 Italian prisoners of war, and 103 Polish soldiers (guards) off the coast of West Africa, was hit by a second torpedo on Number Two hold and sank. After realising that the passengers were primarily POWs and civilians the U-boat started rescue operations while flying the Red Cross flag. A U.S. Army Air Corps bomber flying out of a secret South Atlantic airbase on Ascension Island attacked the U-boat. The U-boat abandoned the rescue effort and left the survivors to drift to Africa. Over half the survivors died. This incident led to German Admiral Dönitz issuing the Triton Null signal on 17 September 1942, which came to be known as the "Laconia Order"; the signal forbade submarine commanders from rescuing survivors from torpedoed ships.
During her fifth patrol, in which she sank no shipping and made no attacks, U-156 was attacked twice. As a result of the second attack, on 8 March 1943, she was sunk with all 53 hands east of the island of Barbados, in position Coordinates: by depth charges dropped from a US PBY Catalina (VP-53/P-1; Lieutenant E. Dryden).
The Catalina dropped four Mark 44 Torpex water-bombs at 13:15 from an altitude of 75 feet (23 m) to 100 feet (30 m) which straddled the submarine. Two bombs were observed to hit the water 10 feet (3.0 m) to 15 feet (4.6 m) starboard and just aft of U-156, lifting it and breaking it in two, followed by an explosion. At least eleven survivors were seen swimming in the water; the Americans dropped two rubber rafts and rations, and five men were seen to reach one of the rafts. The USS Barney was dispatched from Trinidad to rescue the survivors; the search was abandoned on 12 March 1943.
|1||Kptlt. Werner Hartenstein||24 December 1941||Kiel||10 January 1942||Lorient||18 days|
|2||Kptlt. Werner Hartenstein||19 January 1942||Lorient||17 March 1942||Lorient||58 days||33,492 GRT|
|3||Kptlt. Werner Hartenstein||22 April 1942||Lorient||7 July 1942||Lorient||77 days||53,617 GRT|
|4||KrvKpt. Werner Hartenstein||20 August 1942||Lorient||16 November 1942||Lorient||89 days||30,381 GRT|
|5||KrvKpt. Werner Hartenstein||16 January 1943||Lorient||8 March 1943||sunk||52 days|
|Total||294 days||117,490 GRT|
Note : Kptlt. = Kapitänleutnant - KrvKpt. = Korvettenkapitän
U-156 is credited with the sinking of 20 ships (including the motor boat Letitia Porter on board Koenjit), for a total of 97,504 GRT, further damaging three ships of 18,811 GRT and damaging one warship, the USS Blakeley, of 1,190 tons.
|Date||Time||Name of Ship||Nationality||Tonnage||Fate and location|
|16 February 1942||08.01||Pedernales||UK||4,317||damaged at|
|16 February 1942||08.03||Oranjestad||UK||2,396||sunk at|
|16 February 1942||09.43||Arkansas||USA||6,452||damaged at|
|20 February 1942||11.31||Delplata||USA||5,127||sunk at|
|25 February 1942||02.19||La Carrière||UK||5,685||sunk at|
|27 February 1942||10.35||Macgregor||UK||2,498||sunk at|
|28 February 1942||11.17||Oregon||USA||7,017||sunk at|
|13 May 1942||03.58||Koenjit||Netherlands||4,551||sunk at|
|13 May 1942||03.58||Letitia Porter||Netherlands||15||sunk at|
|13 May 1942||22.05||City of Melbourne||UK||6,630||sunk at|
|15 May 1942||02.54||Siljestad||Norway||4,301||sunk at|
|15 May 1942||20.59||Kupa||Yugoslavia||4,382||sunk at|
|17 May 1942||21.04||Barrdale||UK||5,072||sunk at|
|18 May 1942||10.18||Quaker City||USA||4,961||sunk at|
|18 May 1942||18.52||San Eliseo||UK||8,042||damaged at|
|21 May 1942||18.29||Presidente Trujillo||Dominican Republic||1,668||sunk at|
|25 May 1942||15.52||USS Blakeley||USA||1,190||damaged at|
|29 May 1942||01.03||Norman Prince||UK||1,913||sunk at|
|1 June 1942||23.51||Alegrete||Brazil||5,970||sunk at|
|3 June 1942||09.26||Lillian||UK||80||sunk at|
|24 June 1942||08.10||USS Willimantic||US Navy||4,857||sunk at|
|27 August 1942||01.00||Clan Macwhirter||UK||5,941||sunk at|
|12 September 1942||22.07||RMS Laconia||UK||19,695||sunk at|
|19 September 1942||15.46||Quebec City||UK||4,745||sunk at|
U-156 (foreground) and U-507 (background) on 15 September 1942
- Gröner, pp. 105-7.
- Doenitz, Grand Admiral Karl Memoirs, Ten Years and Twenty Days: Frontline Books, 1990, p. 255.
- Röll 2011, pp. 153–154
- Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). "Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945". Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German) IV (Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler). ISBN 3-8132-0514-2.
- Gröner, Erich (1985). "U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher". Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945 (in German) III (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4.
- Röll, Hans-Joachim (2011). Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartenstein: Mit U 156 auf Feindfahrt und der Fall "Laconia" (in German). Würzburg, Germany: Flechsig. ISBN 978-3-8035-0012-0.