German submarine U-230

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-230
Ordered: 7 December 1940
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Laid down: 25 November 1941
Launched: 10 September 1942
Commissioned: 24 October 1942
Fate: Blown up by her crew August 1944 when the Allies landed near Toulon, France[1]
General characteristics [2]
Class & type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke F46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 bhp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × electric motors, totalling 750 shp (560 kW) and max rpm: 296
Speed: 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Endurance: 9,000 nautical miles
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers and ratings
Armament:

U-230 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II.

She was laid down on 25 November 1941 at the Krupp yard in Kiel as yard number 600, launched on 10 September and commissioned on 24 October 1942 with Kapitänleutnant Paul Siegmann in command. She carried out three patrols and was a member of three wolfpacks before moving to the Mediterranean where she was scuttled by her crew when the Allies landed near Toulon, France.[3]

Fitting-out[edit]

U-230 was a U-boat that was equipped with a primitive type of radar; so primitive that the sensor, fixed forward of the conning tower, obliged the boat to circle the horizon searching for potential targets. She was later fitted with Metox, an early form of airborne radar detector; it replaced a piece of equipment known colloquially as the 'Biscay Cross', (after its first use in the bay of that name). This contraption had a disconcerting habit of breaking with monotonous regularity, (it was made of wood and wire).

First patrol[edit]

U-230's initial sortie began in January 1943 with a snow-storm. She made her way from Kiel to Bergen in Norway, where she loaded enough provisions, fuel and ammunition for a trip to "the United States and back to France". The boat then steamed northwest, heading for the gap between the Shetland and Faeroe Islands. The Metox detected an aircraft which unsuccessfully dropped four explosive devices on the crash-diving U-boat. It was only when the boat had reached a depth of 125 m (410 ft) that her headlong plunge was checked. More contact with aircraft was subsequently encountered, but their attacks were unsuccessful.

U-230's patrol area was 600 nmi (1,100 km) east of Newfoundland; it was reached despite the February storms. The weather was so bad that personnel on watch on the bridge were forced to wear rubber diving suits and eye masks. They had to be secured to the wildly pitching and yawing U-boat by steel belts. Below, it was no better, with bodies being hurled in all directions.

The discomfort was forgotten when another U-boat in the 'wolf-pack' reported the presence of a convoy. U-230 pursued the group of ships, preparing her equipment and weapons as she went. The sound of an explosion and the sight of flames caused a correction of course after a two-day chase. Once the right position was adopted, four torpedoes were fired. Three hits were recorded. The torpedo tubes then had to be re-loaded, no easy task in the mountainous seas. By the time this was accomplished, there was no sign of the convoy. U-230 then dived, to the relatively comfortable depth of 140 m (460 ft). The boat continued to follow the convoy, re-establishing contact rather dramatically by surfacing in its midst. The ships closest to the submarine all appeared to be damaged in some way; torpedoes were not necessary for their destruction, to fire them would have been pointless. U-230 dived once more.

SC 121[edit]

On 8 March, U-230 began hunting for another convoy, SC-121, comprising 65 ships. Finding it, the submarine almost collided with a freighter. A torpedo was launched at it from just 400 m (440 yd) away. The resulting explosion split the ship in two. U-230 fired two more torpedoes before coming under attack from ships of the escort and narrowly escaping serious damage from a disintegrating 10,000-ton cargo ship. It was later deduced that this vessel (an ammunition ship), had been attacked by another U-boat. U-230 tried to dive, but surface tension held the boat while escort ships bore down on the hapless submarine. After a wild rush by crew members to the forward torpedo room, the boat reached a depth of nearly 200 m (660 ft) before suffering sustained depth charge attacks. Eventually, the escorts withdrew; U-230 surfaced rather cautiously, ventilated the boat, charged her batteries and continued after the convoy.

SC 122[edit]

U-230, as part of a 40-boat pack, took up a new position under the direction of BdU, (U-boat headquarters), in an area of some 80,000 sq mi (210,000 km2) of the North Atlantic. The U-boats were hoping to intercept a convoy, SC-122, outward bound from Halifax, in Nova Scotia. The convoy was spotted by one of the group; all U-boats were ordered to converge on it. U-230 closed the convoy, with one of her lookouts exclaiming:"Shadows on [sic] port, distance 6,500. Its the whole herd!" There then followed some frenzied jockeying for position. The U-boat crewmen were constantly reminded of their wake, which was conspicuous in the moonlight. The submarine fired five 'eels' (U-boat slang for torpedoes), scoring three hits.

Return to base[edit]

The boat withdrew, signalling BdU that she had sunk a total of seven ships and damaged two more. Having expended all of her torpedoes, U-230 set sail for Brest in France. It was not all over yet however, as U-230 found. The Bay of Biscay was a hazardous area for U-boats, having to constantly crash-dive because of marauding British aircraft. Siegmann decided that it would be safer to travel on the surface at night, diving during daylight. At one point, the U-boat found herself in the middle of a fleet of French fishing boats. Having met up with her escort, U-230 sailed into Brest harbour in late March 1943, to be greeted by well-wishers, a band, senior officers, girls with flowers and an overhaul.

Second patrol[edit]

U-230 set out for her second patrol on 24 April 1943. She was initially accompanied by U-456. After safely negoiating the Bay of Biscay, the boat was instructed to head for an area in the mid-Atlantic where an east-bound convoy was expected. On 2 May, in much better weather than that of the first patrol, a ship was sighted which was seen to be from neutral Sweden and allowed to pass unmolested.

On 12 May, a convoy (reported by the captain to consist of 100 ships) was sighted; the boat worked its way into an attack position. As U-230 was about to commence her underwater assault, the vessels changed course. They sailed away at 11 knots, U-230 could not catch them while beneath the surface. It was a classic demonstration of the Type VII U-boat's inferior submerged speed which was no better than just over seven knots. She could only risk surfacing to move to a new attack position. The boat had barely started to do this when she was unsuccessfully attacked by "a twin-engined plane". It was decided that since the nearest land was too far away to be in range, the machine could only have come from an aircraft carrier.[4] The whole process was repeated a few hours later with a similar result. Many more times U-230 was attacked and many more times the boat's luck held. On one occasion a single-engined plane came too close to the boat and was shot down. The pilot was killed. Throughout this period U-230 had intercepted a steady stream of signals from other boats being attacked and sunk by aircraft. By the end of the patrol a total of eleven submarines had been lost.

Battle for survival[edit]

U-230 continued to harry the convoy and was heavily depth-charged (more than 200) in return. At one point the crew thought they had evaded the 'hunter' group, but it was merely allowing the 'killer' group of escort ships to replace it. Potash cartridges were distributed amongst the submarine's crew to help breathing. U-230 reached a depth of 280 m (920 ft), far below the test depth. Eventually, "the Tommies had given up the hunt" and U-230 surfaced after 35 hours underwater.

A sense of déjà vu enveloped the boat when a convoy was spotted, chased, and lost as it sailed away from them. The eerie feeling was maintained when an aircraft dropped several bombs on the diving U-boat, including a smoke bomb (to indicate the U-boat's position to the follow-up forces). Siegmann decided that discretion was the better part of valour and ordered the boat to leave the area quickly on the surface. More air attacks followed, but U-230 continued to defy the odds. The boat dived to 300 m (980 ft), a total of 300 depth charges vainly seeking her out. Once again, U-230 had escaped, suffering a lot of damage, including a ruptured fuel tank which had caused a line of rainbow colours to spread on the surface. This trail had led the British to assume that their enemy was mortally wounded and that their presence was no longer required.

To make up for the loss of fuel, U-230 was ordered to rendezvous with U-634 for a transfer of diesel oil. Almost two nervous hours were needed before the operation was complete. Although she now had enough fuel to reach Brest, enemy aircraft had other ideas. Over the next few days, U-230 endured a steady stream of air and depth charge attacks. While dealing with one of these, a fire broke out in the control room. It was fought by several men with extinguishers. On another occasion the boat suffered a surprise attack by a B 24 Liberator fitted with a Leigh Light. This led Siegmann to the conclusion that the British had a whole range of new and effective weapons.

Return[edit]

U-230 reached Brest on 28 May 1943. The band was missing, but the girls with flowers were there. The boat would have to go into dry dock where she remained until the end of June.

Chesapeake Bay[edit]

U-230 took 24 mines for laying in Chesapeake Bay, opposite the US Navy Base at Norfolk on the eastern coast of the United States. She also took a new crew member, a doctor, whose sea-going experience was nil. The boat departed without ceremony on 5 July. She was due to meet-up with U-506 and U-533 from Lorient. The idea was that the three boats would combine their anti-aircraft firepower while crossing the Bay of Biscay. That theory was severely tested when the small fleet was attacked by three Liberators and a Sunderland flying boat. In the ensuing battle, the Sunderland was shot down, but not before a gunner on U-230 was wounded. The encounter ended when all three U-boats dived.

Laying the mines[edit]

The wounded gunner was treated by the doctor, who, duty complete, retreated to his berth from which he hardly moved for the rest of the patrol, a victim of extreme seasickness. U-230 arrived in Chesapeake Bay on 27 July, several crew members caught sight of the illuminated American coast, but due to the frequency of shipping, she was not able to lay her mines until some hours later, on the 28th. With her task completed in short order, the boat withdrew.

She was soon back in the "old routine - diving three or four times daily before aircraft." On 30 July, the boat's signals officer received three distress calls, all in the Bay of Biscay, from the same spot. U-230 could do nothing for the "milch cows", (U-tankers); indeed, their loss jeopardized the boat's chances of refuelling at sea. On 3 August the submarine received the disturbing news that its Metox, far from giving a warning of enemy radar, was acting as a homing beacon. The device was hurriedly switched off.

The fuel situation[edit]

Having steamed toward a number of unkept refueling rendezvous, U-230 found herself 300 nmi (560 km) east of Barbados on 13 August. By now, her fuel state was critical; just two tons of diesel oil remained in her tanks. She received instructions to meet another U-boat, U-117. This boat had exhausted all her fuel and was drifting, a sitting duck, but she met U-634, who was also there for replenishment. U-117 never arrived. Discussions between Siegmann and Dahlhaus (U-634 '​s captain), resulted in U-634 moving 150 nmi (280 km), to the west and informing Headquarters of the situation. BdU's response was to direct that U-634 must share her remaining fuel with U-230 which would be sufficient to reach a new rendezvous with another supply boat: U-847. A total of five U-boats reached the mid-Atlantic refueling point. U-230's Executive Officer, Herbert Werner, could not believe the casual attitude (to air attack) being displayed by U-847:

"What's the matter with you people, don't you have any respect for aircraft?"

His opposite number (Commander Herbert Kuppisch) replied:

"We haven't seen any since we passed Greenland."

U-847 was sunk by aircraft just hours later. All were hands lost.[5]

The relentless hunt by anti-submarine forces and air elements continued; indeed, it seemed to increase in intensity as the boat neared its home base. U-230 evaded everything thrown at her and when the rocks of Brittany were sighted on 8 September, she had been at sea almost ten weeks. After the boat had tied up, Frederich, the Chief, presented Siegmann with a cup of fuel, claiming that was all that he could extract from the tanks. Siegmann replied: "...that is how efficiently I operate. I always provide a margin of safety."

Re-fit[edit]

U230's re-fit included the installation of anti-aircraft guns and the Bug, a new type of radar detector that replaced the obsolete Metox. New torpdoes had also been developed.

Third patrol[edit]

U-230's third patrol began on 4 October 1943. As always the highly dangerous Bay of Biscay had to be crossed. It was decided that a series of decoys would be released in an effort at confusing British radar; they proved to be more of a hindrance than a help. At one stage two of these devices became entangled on the bridge, providing an ample radar-return just when it was not wanted. For a second time a French fishing fleet provided temporary cover. A constant series of aircraft were detected by the 'Bug', forcing the boat to dive frequently. Having broken into the North Atlantic, the boat was instructed to attack a convoy southeast of Greenland.

It was decided to attack on the surface at night, but that was not so easy as the convoy seemed to have escaped. It was only after those on the bridge sniffed the air for funnel smoke that the first shapes were detected. Four torpedoes were fired, one hit its target. As the night descended into chaos, a homing torpedo was also fired, U-230 dived to avoid it and the wrath of the escorts. Surfacing later to reload her torpedo tubes, the boat came across a corvette alongside a sinking ship, taking off survivors. Siegmann decided not to worsen the situation and turned his submarine away from the rescue scene. A pursuing destroyer, fitted with an infra-red searchlight, showed no such compunction, bearing down on the U-boat which departed the area with some alacrity. The submersible lost the escort in rising seas, but she had not given up attacking the convoy. Two hours before dawn, contact was renewed and one hit was scored. A combination of tenacious defence and the on-coming daylight ensured that the boat would have to dive to evade the air threat.

The pattern of chase, attack by aircraft, and dive was repeated every time U-230 tried to re-establish contact with the convoy. Then, on the evening of 26 October, the boat found herself surfaced inside the convoy's security cordon. All five torpedo-tubes were rapidly emptied, (including a 180° turn so that the single stern tube could be used). Two, or possibly three hits were registered. The detonations caused three pursuing escort ships to break off their chase. U-230, all her torpedoes expended, headed for home. The Bay of Biscay gauntlet was run once more, the aerial assault continuing into port. The boat was only relatively safe when she moved into the massive reinforced concrete pens specially constructed to house submarines.

The Mediterranean[edit]

U-230s captain received orders to break into the Mediterranean; when he passed the information on to the officers, the news was greeted with stoicism. During the evening of 26 November, the boat departed Brest once more, only to turn due south almost immediately. The tension increased from 6 December when the boat approached the Strait of Gibraltar, where the British were determined to challenge any enemy passage. Full advantage was taken of the strong current in the narrows. At one stage it was realised that U-230 was not the only presence in the current. The boat's hydrophones picked up the sound of dolphins playing and "talking to each other". The sound of detonating depth charges soon drove them back into the Atlantic.

By the afternoon of 7 December it was possible to see the North African and European coasts with one sweep of the periscope; U-230 was now in the Mediterranean. She was instructed to make for Toulon. A potential suicide mission had been relatively uneventful.

She was based in the French city until August 1944 when she ran aground and was subsequently scuttled by her crew,[3] causing U-boat operations in the Mediterranean to cease. Command was transferred to Oberleutnant zur See Heinz-Eugen Eberbach, son of general Heinrich Eberbach, on 12 August 1944. The crew managed to capture a fishing trawler and headed first for Italy, but later decided to head for Spain and internment instead when she received news about the course of the war in Italy. On 27 August 1944, the destroyer USS Ericsson's radar picked up the trawler. The American warship was ordered to investigate and found the damaged fishing trawler with an inoperative engine and fifty Germans aboard. The crew of U-230 was taken prisoner. The trawler was taken in tow. In Baie de Cavalaire the prisoners were turned over to the troop landing craft LCI-954 for delivery to the commander of Task Force 84.

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date Ship Name Nationality Displacement Fate[6]
7 March 1943 Egyptian  United Kingdom 2,868 Sunk
24 July 1943 HMS LST-418  Royal Navy 1,625 Sunk
24 July 1943 HMS LST-418  Royal Navy 1,625 Sunk
9 May 1944 USS PC-558  United States Navy 335 Sunk

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed, German submarine losses in the World Wars, 1997. p. 214. Arms and Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3
  2. ^ Gröner 1985, pp. 72-74.
  3. ^ a b Kemp, p. 214.
  4. ^ Herbert A. Werner (1969). Iron Coffins. Holt Rinehart Winston. p. 120. 
  5. ^ Werner
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-230". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
Bibliography
  • 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. 

External links[edit]

  • Hofmann, Markus. "U-230". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-230". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014.