German submarine U-203

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Bundesarchiv DVM 10 Bild-23-63-15, Kiel, Indienststellung U-Boot U 203.jpg
Commissioning of U-203 in Kiel, February 1941; note the coat of arms for Essen on the conning tower and the ice
Career (Germany) Kriegsmarine Jack
Name: U-203
Ordered: 23 September 1939[1]
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Laid down: 28 March 1940[1]
Launched: 4 January 1941[1]
Commissioned: 18 February 1941[1]
Fate: Sunk 25 April 1943 by British aircraft and a British warship. 10 dead, 38 survivors
General characteristics
Class & type: Type VIIC U-boat
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: Overall: 67.10 m (220.1 ft)
Pressure hull: 50.50 m (165.7 ft)
Beam: Overall: 6.20 m (20.3 ft)
Pressure hull: 4.70 m (15.4 ft)
Draught: 4.74 m (15.6 ft)
Propulsion: surfaced 3,200 hp
submerged 750 hp
Speed: surfaced 17.7 kn (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph)
submerged 7.6 kn (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph)
Range: surfaced 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
submerged 80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
Test depth: Calculated crush depth: 220 m (720 ft)
Armament:

4 × 53.3cm Torpedo tubes: four bow (14 torpedoes) and 26 TMA mines

  • 1 × 88/45 deck gun with 220 rounds
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine
1st U-boat Flotilla[1]
18 Feb 1941 - 25 Apr 1943
Commanders: Kptlt. Rolf Mützelburg[1]
18 Feb 1941 - 11 Sep 1942
Oblt. Hans Seidel [1]
11 Sep 1942 - 20 Sep 1942
Kptlt. Hermann Kottmann [1]
21 Sep 1942 - 25 Apr 1943
Operations: 11 patrols[1]
1st patrol:
5–29 June 1941
2nd patrol:
10–31 July 1941
3rd patrol:
20–30 September 1941
4th patrol:
18 October–12 November 1941
5th patrol:
25 December 1941–29 January 1942
6th patrol:
12 March–30 April 1942
7th patrol:
4 June–29 July 1942
8th patrol:
27 August–18 September 1942
9th patrol:
15 October–6 November 1942
10th patrol:
6 December 1942–7 January 1943
11th patrol:
3–25 April 1943
Victories: 21 ships sunk for a total of 94,270 GRT
three ships damaged for a total of 17,052 GRT

German submarine U-203 was a German Type VIIC submarine U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II.[1]

Built as 'Werk' 632 of Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft AG in Kiel, she was laid down on 28 March 1940, launched on 4 January 1941 and commissioned on 18 February under Kapitänleutnant Rolf Mützelburg.

U-203 carried out eleven patrols with the first flotilla and is credited with sinking 21 ships for 94,270 gross register tons (GRT) and damaging a further three for 17,052 GRT. She was a member of eleven wolfpacks.

She was sunk by British carrier-borne aircraft and a British warship southeast of Greenland in April 1943.

Service Record[edit]

1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols[edit]

On 24 June 1941, nineteen days into her first patrol while en route from Kiel to St. Nazaire in France, U-203 attacked and sank the GRT 4,956 GRT British merchant ship Kinross, which was part of Convoy OB 336. Later that day, she attacked the 4,402 GRT Norwegian ship Soløy, which was with Convoy HX 133.

Arriving at St. Nazaire on 29 June, the crew of U-203 stayed ashore for another eleven days before the boat made her second patrol. Seventeen days into it, she attacked Convoy OG 69 which was sailing to Gibraltar. On the 27th, U-203 sank the 2,475 GRT British merchant ship Hawkinge. The British Lapland and the Swedish Norita, also OG 69 merchant ships, were sunk the following day, adding a further 1,330 GRT and 1,516 GRT respectively to the U-boat's record.

Six days into her third patrol she joined a wolfpack attack on Convoy HG 73 On 26 September she sank the British ships Avoceta and Lapwing and the Norwegian Varanberg, destroying another 7,362 GRT of shipping. Avoceta's sinking killed 123 people. The Convoy Commodore was aboard, but was one of the few dozen survivors.

4th, 5th and 6th patrols[edit]

Sixteen days into her fourth patrol, on 3 November, U-203 attacked and sank the Empire Gemsbuck (5,626 GRT) and the Everoja (4,830 GRT), British merchant ships of Convoy SC-52.

Twenty-one days into her fifth patrol on 15 January 1942, U-203 sank a small (632 GRT) Portuguese ship, the Catalina. Two days later, the Norwegian ship Octavian would also be sunk. Four torpedoes were fired at the Canadian ship North Gaspe, which survived the attack. One torpedo detonated close to the ship, but none actually hit.

U-203's sixth patrol resulted in a total loss of 14,232 GRT to the Allies and two additional ships damaged, including the British merchant ships San Delfino and Empire Thrush. Damaged were the American tanker Henry F. Sinclair, Jr. and the Panamanian flagged tanker Stanvac Melbourne.

7th, 8th and 9th patrols[edit]

A seventh patrol beginning 4 June 1942, resulted in 32,985 GRT of shipping destroyed. The Brazilian Pedrinhas and the British Putney Hill were sunk on 26 June. Two days later the American Liberty Ship Sam Houston was torpedoed and then finished off with 43 rounds from the deck gun. The British Cape Verde was sunk on 9 July and the Panamanian tanker Stanvac Palembang on 11 July bringing the tally to five victories on this successful patrol.

The next 23 day sortie was unfruitful; however, the U-boat's commander, Rolf Mützelburg, died during this patrol on 11 September. Taking the opportunity to go swimming in the Atlantic southwest of the Azores, he dived from the conning tower and struck the deck with his head and shoulder when the U-boat lurched suddenly in the swell. The doctor from U-462, a 'Milk Cow' supply submarine, arrived the next day, but too late. Rolf Mützelburg was buried at sea on 12 September 1942 in position 36°14′N 31°21′W / 36.233°N 31.350°W / 36.233; -31.350. He was replaced by Kptlt. Hermann Kottman, who served as captain for the remainder of U-203's career.

Her ninth patrol, beginning 15 October 1942 and terminating 6 November, yielded two further ships sunk. The British merchantmen Hopecastle and Corinaldo (5,178 and 7,131 GRT, respectively) were sunk on 29 October and 30 October while traveling with Convoy SL-125.

Loss[edit]

U-203 undertook two more patrols, both unsuccessful. On 25 April 1943 while south of Cape Farewell, Greenland she was sunk by depth charges in position 55°05′N 42°25′W / 55.083°N 42.417°W / 55.083; -42.417. She had been attacked by Fairey Swordfish aircraft operating from the British escort carrier HMS Biter and the British destroyer HMS Pathfinder. Ten men were killed, there were 38 survivors.

Summary of Raiding History[edit]

U-203 sank 21 ships and damaged three others for a total of 111,322 GRT.

Date Ship Nationality GRT Convoy Fate[2]
24 June 1941 Kinross  UK 4,956 OB-336 Sunk
24 June 1941 Soløy  Norway 4,402 HX-133 Sunk
27 July 1941 Hawkinge  UK 2,475 OG-69 Sunk
28 July 1941 Lapland  UK 1,330 OG-69 Sunk
28 July 1941 Norita  Sweden 1,516 OG-69 Sunk
26 September 1941 Avoceta  UK 3,442 HG-73 Sunk
26 September 1941 Lapwing  UK 1,348 HG-73 Sunk
26 September 1941 Varangberg  Norway 2,842 HG-73 Sunk
3 November 1941 Empire Gemsbuck  UK 5,626 SC-52 Sunk
3 November 1941 Everoja  UK 4,830 SC-52 Sunk
15 January 1942 Catalina  Portugal 632 Sunk
17 January 1942 Octavian  Norway 1,345 Sunk
21 January 1942 North Gaspe  Canada 888 Damaged
10 April 1942 San Delfino  UK 8,072 Sunk
11 April 1942 Harry F. Sinclair, Jr.  USA 6,151 Damaged
12 April 1942 Stanvac Melbourne  Panama 10,013 Damaged
14 April 1942 Empire Thrush  UK 6,160 Sunk
26 June 1942 Pedrinhas  Brazil 3,666 Sunk
26 June 1942 Putney Hill  UK 5,216 Sunk
28 June 1942 Sam Houston  USA 7,176 Sunk
9 July 1942 Cape Verde  UK 6,914 Sunk
11 July 1942 Stanvac Palembang  Panama 10,013 Sunk
29 October 1942 Hopecastle  UK 5,178 SL-125 Sunk
30 October 1942 Corinaldo  UK 7,131 SL-125 Sunk

Patrol log[edit]

Patrol Departure Date Return Date Duration (Days)
1st Kiel 5 June 1941 St Nazaire 29 June 1941 25
2nd St Nazaire 10 July 1941 St Nazaire 31 July 1941 22
3rd St Nazaire 20 September 1941 Brest 30 September 1941 11
4th Brest 18 October 1941 Brest 12 November 1941 26
5th Brest 25 December 1941 Brest 29 January 1942 36
6th Brest 12 March 1942 Brest 30 April 1942 50
7th Lorient 4 June 1942 Brest 29 July 1942 56
8th Brest 27 August 1942 Brest 18 September 1942 23
9th Brest 15 October 1942 Lorient 6 November 1942 23
10th Lorient 6 December 1942 Brest 7 January 1943 23
11th Brest 3 April 1943 Sunk 25 April 1943 23

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "record". Uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  2. ^ "U-203 Successes". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2 February 2013.