German submarine U-53 (1939)

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-53.
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-53
Ordered: 15 May 1937
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Cost: 4,439,000 Reichsmark
Yard number: 588
Laid down: 13 March 1937
Launched: 6 May 1939
Commissioned: 24 June 1939
Fate: Sunk by HMS Gurkha 23 February 1940 near the Orkney Islands
General characteristics
Class & type: Type VIIB U-boat
Displacement: 753 t (741 long tons) surfaced
857 t (843 long tons) submerged
Length: 66.5 m (218 ft 2 in) o/a
48.8 m (160 ft 1 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) overall
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Draught: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged MAN 6 cylinder, 4-stroke M6V diesel engines totalling 2,800–3,200 bhp (2,100–2,400 kW) Max rpm 470-490 surfaced
2 × AEG GU 460/8-276 electric motors totalling 750 shp (560 kW) submerged
Speed: 17.9 knots (33.2 km/h; 20.6 mph)
8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
Range: 9,700 nmi (17,964 km; 11,163 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)surfaced
90 nautical miles (170 km; 100 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft). Calculated crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44 to 48 officers and ratings
Armament:

5 × 53.3 cm torpedo tubes: four bow, one stern (14 torpedoes or 26 TMA or 39 TMB mines)
1 × 8.8 cm SK C/35 naval gun with 220 rounds

C30 20 mm flak guns
Service record
Part of: 7th U-boat Flotilla
(24 June 1939 – 23 February 1940)
Commanders:

Oblt.z.S. Dietrich Knorr
(24 June–August 1939) Ernst-Günter Heinicke
(August 1939–14 January 1940) Oblt.z.S. Heinrich Schonder
(December 1939–January 1940)

Krvkpt. Harald Grosse
(15 January–23 February 1940)
Operations: Three:
1st patrol:
29 August–30 September 1939
2nd patrol:
21 October–30 November 1939
3rd patrol:
2–23 February 1940
Victories: Seven ships sunk for a total of 27,316 GRT; one ship damaged, 8,022 GRT

German submarine U-53 was a Type VIIB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was laid down on 13 March 1937 at Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel and went into service on 24 June 1939 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See (Oblt.z.S.) Dietrich Knorr.[1]

1st patrol[edit]

U-53 began her first patrol on 29 August 1939, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, under the command of Ernst-Günter Heinicke. Also aboard was Ernst Sobe, the commander of the 7th ("Wegener") Flotilla.[2] U-53 sank two British ships on this patrol: the tanker SS Cheyenne and the freighter SS Kafiristan.[3]

2nd patrol[edit]

A second patrol under Heinicke, beginning on 21 October produced no results. U-53, along with U-25 and U-26, was to penetrate the Strait of Gibraltar and raid Allied shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. Daunted by the strong British forces at the straits, Heinicke did not attempt to force them and was transferred to the merchant raider German auxiliary cruiser Widder on his return to Germany.[4][5]

3rd patrol[edit]

Harald Grosse replaced Heinicke for U-53's third and final war patrol, which began on 2 February 1940. Grosse sank six ships for 21,230 GRT, including the Spanish neutral Banderas, whose sinking strained relations between Germany and Spain. On 23[6] or 24[7] February (sources vary), U-53 was engaged and sunk by depth charges dropped by the British destroyer HMS Gurkha west of the Orkney Islands with the loss of all hands, (42 dead).

In popular culture[edit]

In the film The Cruel Sea (1953) U53 was the last (and only) submarine the crew of the fictitious frigate HMS Saltash Castle sank.

In the film Eye of the Needle U-53 is the escape U-boat of the Needle (played by Donald Sutherland) waiting offshore. This is supposed to happen in 1944 on the timeline of the film.

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date[8] Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
15 September 1939 SS Cheyenne  United Kingdom 8,825 Sunk
17 September 1939 SS Kafiristan  United Kingdom 5,193 Sunk
11 February 1940 MV Imperial Transport  United Kingdom 8,022 Damaged
11 February 1940 SS Snestad  Norway 4,114 Sunk
12 February 1940 SS Dalarö  Sweden 3,927 Sunk
13 February 1940 SS Norna  Sweden 1,022 Sunk
14 February 1940 SS Martin Goldschmidt  Denmark 2,095 Sunk
18 February 1940 SS Banderas  Spain 2,140 Sunk

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "U-53 Type VIIB". ubootwaffe.net. Retrieved 21 November 2010. [dead link]
  2. ^ Blair (1996), 56.
  3. ^ Blair (1996), 90; 94.
  4. ^ Blair (1996), 115–119.
  5. ^ "Korvettenkapitän Ernst-Günter Heinicke". uboat.net. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Blair (1996), pp. 140–141.
  7. ^ Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed, German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. 1997. p. 64. Arms and Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-53". WWII U-boat successes. Uboat.net. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
Bibliography
  • Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters 1939–1942. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-58839-8. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1985). "U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher". Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945 III (Koblenz: Bernard&Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 60°32′00″N 6°14′00″W / 60.533333°N 6.233333°W / 60.533333; -6.233333