German submarine U-558

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-558
Ordered: 25 September 1939
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Laid down: 6 January 1940
Launched: 23 December 1940
Commissioned: 20 February 1941
Fate: sunk on 20 July 1943 in the Bay of Biscay
General characteristics [1]
Class and 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
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers and ratings
Armament:
Service record
Part of: 1st U-boat Flotilla
Commanders: Günther Krech
Operations: Ten patrols from 1 June 1941 to 20 July 1943
Victories: 19 ships sunk totalling approximately 100,000 tons

The German submarine U-558 was a Type VIIC U-boat in the service of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She sank 19 merchant ships and military vessels totalling nearly 100,000 tons before being sunk by bombers in July 1943.

Construction and early service life[edit]

U-558 was laid down on 6 January 1940 at Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Germany as yard number 534 and launched on 23 December 1940. She was commissioned on 20 February 1941, with Oberleutnant zur See Günther Krech in command.

Her service began with the 1st U-boat Flotilla where she conducted training before moving on to operations, also with the 1st flotilla, on 1 May 1941.

Operational career[edit]

She was a member of nine wolf packs, although group 'Ziethen' is not on uboat.net's list.[2] However, U-558 is mentioned as part of 'Ziethen' in Michael Gannon's book Operation Drumbeat (on p. 200).[3]

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

U-558 departed Kiel on 1 July 1941 and entered the Atlantic via the North Sea and the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands with no major encounters, arriving at her new home port of Brest in occupied France on the 28th.

Her second patrol was also relatively uneventful.

The submarine's third patrol, from 25 August to 16 September 1941, became interesting when she came upon the British Convoy OS 4 about 330 miles northwest of Fastnet Rock. She torpedoed and sank the Otaio, a 10,300-ton cargo ship, on 28 August.[4]

4th and 5th patrols[edit]

Her fourth patrol, which began on 11 October 1941, first saw action off Ireland when she torpedoed and sank the unescorted Vancouver Island, a Canadian merchant ship of 9,472 tons, on 15 October.[5] Two days later on 17 October, U-558 was involved in a devastating attack on Convoy SC 48 in the North Atlantic. During the battle, U-558 sank three ships: the 9,552-ton British merchant steamer W.C. Teagle, and the Norwegian merchant steamers Erviken (which broke in two and sank in three minutes) and Rym, 6,595 and 1,369 tons respectively[6][7][8][9] U-558 took a hit from a depth charge dropped by a Catalina flying boat, but did not sustain serious damage and continued to shadow the convoy.[2] She returned to Brest on 25 October 1941, having sunk four ships in the 15 days of her fourth patrol.

U-558's fifth patrol began on 24 November 1941. On 2 December, a British aircraft spotted the U-boat attempting to enter the Mediterranean Sea and called for surface support. U-558 took serious damage from depth charges dropped by the two ships that responded. She was able to escape, but had to return to Brest for repairs, arriving 7 December 1941 after only 14 days at sea, having had no success.[2]

6th and 7th patrols[edit]

U-558 required significant repairs and remained in port until 10 February 1942, when she embarked on her sixth patrol. On 21 February Convoy ONS 67 was spotted, so she moved into position along with five other submarines. Eight of its ships were sunk by the U-boats, another two were left damaged. On 24 February, U-558 torpedoed the 8,009-ton British tanker Anadara, which escaped.[10] That same day she also torpedoed and sank the 9,432-ton Norwegian tanker Eidanger and the 5,578-ton British steamer Inverarder.[11][12] She returned to Brest on 11 March 1942.

U-558 departed Brest to begin her seventh patrol of the war on 12 April 1942 . On 12 May, she sank the 913-ton British armed trawler HMT Bedfordshire off the coast of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, where the ship had been assisting the United States Navy with anti-submarine patrols.[13] Six days later on 18 May, she sank the 1,254-ton Dutch steamer Fauna.[14] On 21 May she sank the 1,925-ton Canadian steamer Troisdoc in the Caribbean.[15] Off Jamaica on 23 May, U-558 torpedoed the 7,061-ton American merchant steamer William Boyce Thompson, but the tanker used evasive maneuvers and reached the safety of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for repairs.[16] Still in the Caribbean on 25 May, U-558 next attacked the 3,451-ton American merchant steamer Beatrice. When her torpedo hit the ship but failed to detonate, U-558 surfaced and trained her deck guns on the vessel, which was quickly ordered abandoned, and subsequently sunk.[17] Remaining in the Caribbean, U-558 next torpedoed and sank the 2,622-ton United States Army transport Jack on 27 May.[18] Her last target during the patrol was the 2,078-ton Dutch steamer Triton, which she shelled and sank on 2 June about 470 miles southeast of Bermuda.[19] U-558 returned to Brest to end her seventh patrol on 21 June 1942, having sunk six ships and damaged one.

8th, 9th and 10th patrols[edit]

U-558's eighth patrol began when she left Brest on 29 July 1942. On 25 August, she encountered the 1,987-ton British steamer Amakura, which had been travelling with Convoy WAT 15 but had fallen behind. U-558 torpedoed and sank her approximately 90 miles southeast of Port Morant, Jamaica.[20] U-558 encountered Convoy TAG 5 on 13 September; she torpedoed and sank the 7,241-ton British cargo ship Empire Lugard and the 7,915-ton Dutch steamer Suriname.[21] The same day she also hit the convoy's 6,672-ton Norwegian tanker Vilja, whose crew quickly abandoned ship but were able to reboard after U-558 left the area. Vilja did not sink, but was later deemed a total loss.[22][23] On 16 September U-558 torpedoed and sank the 2,606-ton American steamer Commercial Trader about 75 miles east of Trinidad.[24] U-558 returned to port on 16 October, having sunk four ships and damaged a fifth.

U-558 remained in port until the end of 1942, and embarked on her ninth war patrol on 9 January 1943. On 23 February, she torpedoed and sank the 9,811-ton British steam tanker Empire Norseman south of the Azores, which had been travelling with Convoy UC 1 but was drifting unmanned after being torpedoed by U-382 and U-202.[25] She found no other targets during her ninth patrol, which ended when she returned to Brest on 29 March 1943.

Her tenth—and ultimately last—patrol began on 8 May 1943. U-558 ran into difficulty many times during this patrol. At one point, she manoeuvred to attack a large eastbound convoy, but a destroyer harried her into retreat.[26] Off Lisbon on 14 July, a British Wellington bomber from No. 179 Squadron RAF dropped depth charges; U-558 was not hit, and damaged the plane with anti-aircraft fire. Three days later off Porto on 17 July, a British Liberator from 224 Squadron dropped 24 35-pound anti-submarine bombs, but U-558 was able to escape by crash-diving; the plane took damage from anti-aircraft fire and its own malfunctioning bombs.

Fate[edit]

In the Bay of Biscay on 20 July, an American Liberator from the 19th Bombardment Squadron, United States Army Air Forces, called the Sea Hawk dropped depth charges on U-558; the boat was undamaged, and returned fire, shooting down the bomber.[2]

Later the same day, a second Liberator from the 19th Bombardment Squadron dropped depth charges on U-558. The sub was severely damaged and unable to dive. The Liberator, her port inner engine taken out by U-558‍ '​s anti-aircraft guns, left the scene and was relieved by a Halifax bomber from 58 Squadron, which finished off the sub with depth charges. Captain Krech and four of his crew were picked up on 24 July by the HMCS Athabaskan.[2][27] She sank at position 45°10′N 09°42′W / 45.167°N 9.700°W / 45.167; -9.700Coordinates: 45°10′N 09°42′W / 45.167°N 9.700°W / 45.167; -9.700 north-west of Spain in the Bay of Biscay.

Wolfpacks[edit]

U-558 took part in nine wolfpacks, namely.

  • Bosemüller (28 August - 2 September 1941)
  • Seewolf (2–12 September 1941)
  • Delphin (24 January - 14 February 1943)
  • Rochen (16–28 February 1943)
  • Tümmler (1–22 March 1943)
  • Oder (17–19 May 1943)
  • Mosel (19–24 May 1943)
  • Trutz (1–16 June 1943)
  • Trutz 1 (16–29 June 1943)

Summary of raiding career[edit]

Date Ship Name Nationality Tonnage Fate[28]
28 August 1941 Otaio  United Kingdom 10,298 Sunk
15 October 1941 Vancouver Island  Canada 9,472 Sunk
17 October 1941 Erviken  Norway 6,595 Sunk
17 October 1941 Rym  Norway 1,369 Sunk
17 October 1941 W.C. Teagle  United Kingdom 9,552 Sunk
24 February 1942 Anadara  United Kingdom 8,009 Damaged
24 February 1942 Eidanger  Norway 9,432 Sunk
24 February 1942 Inverarder  United Kingdom 5,578 Sunk
12 May 1942 HMT Bedfordshire  Royal Navy 913 Sunk
18 May 1942 Fauna  Netherlands 1,254 Sunk
21 May 1942 Troisdoc  Canada 1,925 Sunk
23 May 1942 William Boyce Thompson  United States 7,061 Damaged
25 May 1942 Beatrice  United States 3,451 Sunk
27 May 1942 USAT Jack  United States Army 2,622 Sunk
2 June 1942 Triton  Netherlands 2,078 Sunk
25 August 1942 Amakura  United Kingdom 1,987 Sunk
13 September 1942 Empire Lugard  United Kingdom 7,241 Sunk
13 September 1942 Suriname  Netherlands 7,915 Sunk
13 September 1942 Vilja  Norway 6,672 Sunk
16 September 1942 Commercial Trader  United States 2,606 Total loss
23 February 1943 Empire Norseman  United Kingdom 9,811 Sunk

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gröner 1985, pp. 72-74.
  2. ^ a b c d e Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-558". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Gannon, Michael - Operation Drumbeat - the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II, 1990, Harper and Row publishers, ISBN 0-06-016155-8, p. 200.
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Otaio". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Vancouver Island". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "W.C. Teagle". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008. 
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Erviken". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008. 
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Rym". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008. 
  9. ^ "D/S Erviken". warsailors.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008."D/S Rym". warsailors.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008. 
  10. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Anadara". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Eidanger". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Inverarder". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "M/T Eidanger". warsailors.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  13. ^ Runyan, Timothy J.; Jan M. Copes (1994). To Die Gallantly: The Battle of the Atlantic, Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-2332-0. p. 163. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  14. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Fauna". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  15. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Troisdoc". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "William Boyce Thompson". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  17. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Beatrice". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  18. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Jack". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  19. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Triton". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  20. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Amakura". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  21. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Empire Lugard". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Suriname". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Vilja". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "M/T Vilja". warsailors.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  24. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Commercial Trader". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  25. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Empire Norseman". Ships hit by U-558 - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "U.558 Interrogation of Survivors", p. 2. Admiralty Report ADM186/808. Uboatarchive.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  27. ^ "U.558 Interrogation of Survivors", p. 4. Admiralty Report ADM186/808. Uboatarchive.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  28. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U558". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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. 
  • Edwards, Bernard (1996). Dönitz and the Wolf Packs - The U-boats at War. Cassell Military Classics. pp. 54, 56, 57, 75, 85, 86. ISBN 0-304-35203-9. 
  • 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]