German submarine U-403

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Name: U-403
Ordered: 23 September 1939
Builder: Danziger Werft, Danzig
Yard number: 104
Laid down: 20 May 1940
Launched: 26 February 1941
Commissioned: 25 June 1941
Fate: Sunk by a French aircraft, in August 1943, west of Dakar
General characteristics
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
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: 15,170 km (8,190 nmi) at 10 kn (19 km/h) surfaced
150 km (81 nmi) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers and ratings
Armament: 5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four bow, one stern)
14 × G7e torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
1 × 8.8 cm (3.46 in) deck gun (220 rounds)
Various AA guns
Service record[1]
Part of: 5th U-boat Flotilla
(25 June–31 August 1941)
7th U-boat Flotilla
(1 September–30 June 1942)
11th U-boat Flotilla
1 July 1942–28 February 1943
9th U-boat Flotilla
1 March–18 August 1943
Commanders: Kptlt. Heinz-Ehlert Clausen
(25 June 1941–15 June 1943)
Kptlt. Karl-Franz Heine
(16 June–18 August 1943)
Operations: 1st patrol:
1 March–19 March 1942
2nd patrol:
4–21 April 1943
3rd patrol:
17–28 July 1942
4th patrol:
2 April–20 August 1942
5th patrol:
26 August–21 September 1942
6th patrol:
9 January–2 March 1943
7th patrol:
19 April–31 May
8th patrol:
13 July–18 August 1943
Victories: Two ships sunk; 12,946 GRT

German submarine U-403 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.

She carried out eight patrols. She sank two ships.

She was a member of twelve wolfpacks.

She was sunk by a French aircraft west of Dakar in August 1943.

Service history[edit]

The submarine was laid down on 20 May 1941 at the Danziger Werft at Danzig (now Gdansk) as 'werk' 15, launched on 26 February 1941 and commissioned on 25 June under the command of Kapitänleutnant Heinz-Ehlert Clausen.

She served with the 5th U-boat Flotilla from 25 June 1941 for training and the 7th flotilla from 1 September for operations. She was reassigned to the 11th flotilla on 1 July 1942, then the 9th flotilla on 1 March 1943.

1st patrol[edit]

U-359's first patrol was preceded by a move from Kiel to the German-administered island of Helgoland, (sometimes written as 'Heligoland'), on 26 February 1942. She left there on 1 March, sailing through the Norwegian Sea. She sailed as far as the Barents Sea before docking in Narvik on the 19th.

2nd patrol[edit]

She moved to Harstad (northwest of Narvik), on 21 April 1942, before setting out on her second foray when she sank the Empire Howard southeast of Bear Island on the 16th. The ship went down in fifty-seven seconds.

3rd and 4th patrols[edit]

Having berthed in Skjomenfjord (south of Narvik) on 27 July 1942, the boat departed on her fourth sortie on 2 April. Her route took her through the Norwegian, Greenland and Barents Seas. She returned to Skjomenfjord on 20 August.

5th and 6th patrols[edit]

The submarine's fifth patrol terminated in Narvik on 21 September 1942. She moved to Trondheim on the 26th.

Patrol number six started from Trondheim on 9 January 1943. The boat passed through the 'gap' between Iceland and the Faroe Islands and headed for southeast Greenland. She then turned south and was attacked by a Canso (the Canadian version of the Catalina flying boat) off the Newfoundland coast on 6 February. Moderate damage was sustained. She subsequently sank the Greek-registered Zeus on the 19th.

7th and 8th patrols and loss[edit]

U-403 was unsuccessfully attacked by a Fairey Swordfish of 811 Naval Air Squadron from HMS Biter on 10 May 1943 northwest of the Azores on her seventh patrol.

The submarine was on the surface accompanied by U-43 on 30 July 1943, when they were attacked by Avenger and Wildcat aircraft from the American escort carrier USS Santee. U-403 escaped, U-43 was not so lucky; she was sunk.

The boat was sunk by depth charges dropped by a Vickers Wellington of No. 344 Squadron RAF, (with a French crew), on 18 August 1943 near Dakar on the west African coast.

Forty-nine men died in U-403; there were no survivors.

Previously recorded fate[edit]

U-403 was originally noted as sunk, also on 18 August 1943, by a British Lockheed Hudson of 200 Squadron near Dakar.[2][3]

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date Ship Name Nationality Displacement Fate[4]
16 April 1942 Empire Howard  United Kingdom 6,985 Sunk
19 February 1944 Zeus  Greece 5,961 Sunk


  1. ^ "The Type VIIC boat U-403 - German U-boats of WWII -". Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars, 1997, Arms & Armour, ISBN 1-85409-515-3, p. 142
  3. ^
  4. ^

See also[edit]