German submarine U-578

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-578
Ordered: 8 January 1940
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Yard number: 552
Laid down: 10 August 1940
Launched: 15 May 1941
Commissioned: 10 July 1941
Fate: Missing in the Bay of Biscay from August 1942; no explanation for her loss
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
(10 July–31 August 1941)
7th U-boat Flotilla
(1 September 1941–1 October 1941)
7th U-boat Flotilla
(1 October 1941–6 August 1942)
Commanders: Frgkpt. Ernst-August Rehwinkel
(10 July 1941–6 August 1942)
Operations: 1st patrol:
19–27 November 1941
2nd patrol:
15 January–28 January 1942
3rd patrol:
3 February–25 March 1942
4th patrol:
7 May–3 July 1942
5th patrol:
6 August–6 August 1942
Victories: Four ships sunk, total 23,635 GRT;
one warship sunk - 1,090 GRT

German submarine U-578 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.

She carried out five patrols, sank four ships of 23,635 GRT and sank a warship of 1,090 tons.

She was posted missing in the Bay of Biscay from August 1942, with no explanation for her loss.

Service history[edit]

The submarine was laid down on 1 August 1940 at Blohm & Voss, Hamburg as yard number 554, launched on 15 May 1941 and commissioned on 10 July under the command of Fregattenkapitän Ernst-August Rehwinkel.

She served with the 5th U-boat Flotilla from 10 July 1941 and the 7th U-boat Flotilla for training from 1 September. She stayed with the latter organization for operations until her loss, from 1 October 1941 to 6 August 1942.

1st and 2nd patrols[edit]

U-432's first patrol was from Kirkenes in Norway, she was rammed by a Soviet escort on 25 November 1941 off the Kola Peninsula; damage was slight. She arrived back at Kirkenes on the 27th.

She then headed for the Atlantic Ocean via the gap separating the Faroe and Shetland Islands. She arrived at St. Nazaire in occupied France, on 28 January 1942.

3rd patrol[edit]

Having left St. Nazaire on 3 February 1942, as part of Operation Drumbeat, (U-boat operations off the eastern seaboard of the United States), U-578 hit the R.P. Resor on the 27th with a torpedo 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi) east of Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey. The tug USS Sagamore attempted to take the ship in tow, but she capsized and sank 48 hours after the initial attack 31 nautical miles (57 km; 36 mi) east of Barnegat, also New Jersey.

The next day she sank the American destroyer USS Jacob Jones. The 'four-stacker', completed in October 1919, was the first warship to be lost to enemy action in US waters.[2]

On the return leg toward France, she sank the in-ballast Ingerto on 12 March 1942 in mid-Atlantic. She docked at St. Nazaire on the 25th.

4th patrol[edit]

Patrol number four was the boat's longest (58 days), but in terms of tonnage sunk, her most successful. She attacked the Polyphermus on 27 May 1942 340 nautical miles (630 km; 390 mi) north of Bermuda. She also sank theBerganger on 2 June southeast of Cape Cod.

5th patrol and loss[edit]

The boat set out from St. Nazaire for the last time on 6 August 1942. She was posted missing in the Bay of Biscay from that date, with no explanation for her loss.

Forty-nine men died with U-578; there were no survivors.

Previously recorded fate[edit]

Sunk on 10 August 1942 in the Bay of Biscay by depth charges from a Czechoslovakian aircraft of No. 311 Squadron RAF. This attack was on U-135. Damage was minor.

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
27 February 1942 R.P. Resor  United States 7,451 Sunk
28 February 1942 USS Jacob Jones  United States Navy 1,090 Sunk
12 March 1942 Ingerto  Norway 3,089 Sunk
27 May 1942 Polyphemus  Netherlands 6,269 Sunk
2 June 1942 Berganger  Norway 6,826 Sunk


  1. ^ "The Type VIIC boat U-578 - German U-boats of WWII -". Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  2. ^ 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. 310
  3. ^ "U578 successes". Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  • 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. 

External links[edit]

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