German submarine U-203
Commissioning of U-203 in Kiel, February 1941; note the coat of arms for Essen on the conning tower and the ice
|Career (Nazi Germany)|
|Ordered:||23 September 1939|
|Laid down:||28 March 1940|
|Launched:||4 January 1941|
|Commissioned:||18 February 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk 25 April 1943 by British aircraft and a British warship. 10 dead, 38 survivors|
|General characteristics |
|Class and 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
1st U-boat Flotilla
18 February 1941 - 25 April 1943
|Commanders:||Kptlt. Rolf Mützelburg
18 February 1941 - 11 September 1942
Oblt.z.S. Hans Seidel 
11–20 September 1942
Kptlt. Hermann Kottmann 
21 September 1942 - 25 April 1943
5–29 June 1941
10–31 July 1941
20–30 September 1941
18 October–12 November 1941
25 December 1941–29 January 1942
12 March–30 April 1942
4 June–29 July 1942
27 August–18 September 1942
15 October–6 November 1942
6 December 1942–7 January 1943
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
Built as yard number 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.
1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols
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
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
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 . 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.
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 . 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.
U-203 took part in eleven wolfpacks, namely.
- Schlagetot (20 October - 1 November 1941)
- Raubritter (1–5 November 1941)
- Seydlitz (27 December 1941 - 7 January 1942)
- Ziethen (7–22 January 1942)
- Iltis (6–10 September 1942)
- Streitaxt (20–30 October 1942)
- Raufbold (11–22 December 1942)
- Spitz (22–31 December 1942)
- Lerche (10–16 April 1943)
- Meise (16–22 April 1943)
- Specht (23–25 April 1943)
Summary of Raiding Career
U-203 sank 21 ships and damaged three others for a total of 111,322 GRT.
|24 June 1941||Kinross||United Kingdom||4,956||OB-336||Sunk|
|24 June 1941||Soløy||Norway||4,402||HX-133||Sunk|
|27 July 1941||Hawkinge||United Kingdom||2,475||OG-69||Sunk|
|28 July 1941||Lapland||United Kingdom||1,330||OG-69||Sunk|
|28 July 1941||Norita||Sweden||1,516||OG-69||Sunk|
|26 September 1941||Avoceta||United Kingdom||3,442||HG-73||Sunk|
|26 September 1941||Lapwing||United Kingdom||1,348||HG-73||Sunk|
|26 September 1941||Varangberg||Norway||2,842||HG-73||Sunk|
|3 November 1941||Empire Gemsbuck||United Kingdom||5,626||SC-52||Sunk|
|3 November 1941||Everoja||United Kingdom||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||United Kingdom||8,072||Sunk|
|11 April 1942||Harry F. Sinclair, Jr.||United States||6,151||Damaged|
|12 April 1942||Stanvac Melbourne||Panama||10,013||Damaged|
|14 April 1942||Empire Thrush||United Kingdom||6,160||Sunk|
|26 June 1942||Pedrinhas||Brazil||3,666||Sunk|
|26 June 1942||Putney Hill||United Kingdom||5,216||Sunk|
|28 June 1942||Sam Houston||United States||7,176||Sunk|
|9 July 1942||Cape Verde||United Kingdom||6,914||Sunk|
|11 July 1942||Stanvac Palembang||Panama||10,013||Sunk|
|29 October 1942||Hopecastle||United Kingdom||5,178||SL-125||Sunk|
|30 October 1942||Corinaldo||United Kingdom||7,131||SL-125||Sunk|
|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|
- Edwards, Bernard (1996). Dönitz and the Wolf Packs - The U-boats at War. pp. 117, 123, 137. ISBN 0-304-35203-9.
- 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.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-203". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
- Hofmann, Markus. "U 203". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 31 January 2015.