German submarine U-96 (1940)
The laughing sawfish emblem on the conning tower
|Career (Nazi Germany)|
|Ordered:||30 May 1938|
|Laid down:||16 September 1939|
|Launched:||1 August 1940|
|Commissioned:||14 September 1940|
|Fate:||Sunk on 30 March 1945 by US bombs in Wilhelmshaven|
|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 × AEG electric motors, totalling 750 shp (560 kW) and max rpm: 296
|Speed:||17.7 knots (20.4 mph; 32.8 km/h) surfaced
7.6 knots (8.7 mph; 14.1 km/h) submerged
|Range:||8,500 nmi (15,700 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
80 km (43 nmi) 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:||• 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
7th U-boat Flotilla (Training)
7th U-boat Flotilla (Front Boat, 11 patrols)
24th U-boat Flotilla (Training)
22nd U-boat Flotilla (Schoolboat)
|Identification codes:||M 29 052|
4–29 December 1940
9–22 January 1941
30 January–28 February 1941
12 April–22 May 1941
19 June–9 July 1941
2 August–12 September 1941
27 October–6 December 1941
31 January–23 March 1942
23 April–1 July 1942
28 August–5 October 1942
26 December 1942–8 February 1943
|Victories:||27 ships sunk for a total of 181,206 gross register tons (GRT)
Four ships damaged for a total of 33,043 GRT
One ship a total loss of 8,888 GRT
German submarine U-96 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. Her keel was laid down on 16 September 1939, by Germaniawerft, of Kiel as 'werk' 601. She was commissioned on 14 September 1940, with Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock in command. Lehmann-Willenbrock was relieved in March 1942 by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel. He was relieved in turn in March 1943 by Oblt. Wilhelm Peters. In February 1944, Oblt. Horst Willner took command, turning the boat over to Oblt. Robert Rix in June of that year. Rix commanded the boat until February 1945.
As part of the 7th U-boat Flotilla, stationed in Saint Nazaire, on the French Atlantic coast, U-96 conducted 11 patrols, sinking 27 ships totalling 180,206 gross register tons (GRT) and damaging four others totalling 33,043 GRT. She also caused one vessel of 8,888 GRT to be declared a total loss. The boat was a member of eleven wolfpacks. On 30 March 1945, U-96 was sunk by US bombs while in the submarine pens in Wilhelmshaven. In her entire career, she suffered no casualties to her crew. The boat was also known for its emblem, a green laughing sawfish. It became the symbol of the 9th Flotilla after Lehmann-Willenbrock took command in March 1942.
During 1941, war correspondent Lothar-Günther Buchheim joined U-96 for a single patrol. His orders were to photograph and describe the U-boat in action for propaganda purposes. Over 5,000 photographs, mostly taken by Buchheim, survived the war. From his experiences, he wrote a short story, "Die Eichenlaubfahrt" ("The Oak-Leaves Patrol") and a 1973 novel which was to become an international best-seller, Das Boot, followed in 1976 by U-Boot-Krieg ("U-Boat War"), a nonfiction chronicle of the voyage. In 1981 Wolfgang Petersen brought the novel to the big screen with the critically acclaimed, Das Boot.
She was soon in the thick of the action; sinking the Rotoura and the Towra on the 11th and the Macedonier on the 12th. She then damaged the Empire Razorbill with six rounds from her deck gun on the 14th and sank the Western Prince, also on the 14th. She damaged the Pendrecht on the 18th before sailing to Lorient in occupied France, arriving there on 29 December.
For her second foray, U-96 departed Lorient on 9 January 1941 and returned to the waters west of Scotland, sinking the Oropesa on 16 January and the Almeda Star a day later. The Almeda Star was lost with all hands and passengers, a total of 360 people. U-96 docked once more in Lorient on the 22nd.
U-96 sortied from Lorient on 30 January 1941, sinking the Clea and the Arthur F. Corwin near Iceland on 13 February. Five more ships went to the bottom on this patrol: the Black Osprey on 18 February, the Scottish Standard on the 22nd, (which had already been bombed by a Focke Wulf 'Kondor' and abandoned by her crew), the Anglo-Peruvian on the 23rd, the Linaria and the Sirishna a day later.
The boat returned to St. Nazaire in France on 28 February.
The carnage continued, in one attack the boat sank the Oilfield, the Port Hardy and the Caledonia south of Iceland on 28 April 1941 and in turn was depth charged by the Flower class corvette HMS Gladiolus. It was originally thought that the British ship had sunk U-65, but U-96 escaped unscathed. She went on to sink the Empire Ridge 90 nmi (170 km) west of Bloody Foreland (Ireland), before returning to St. Nazaire on 22 May.
The boat was about 300 nmi (560 km) north of the Azores on 5 July 1941, when she came across a survey vessel, HMS Challenger, leading an Armed Merchant Cruiser (AMC) HMS Cathay and the Anselm, a vessel which had been pressed into service as a troop ship. The little convoy was boosted by the presence of three corvettes; HMS Petunia, Lavender and Starwort. U-96 was under the impression that she had hit the survey ship and the AMC; instead, she had struck the Anselm twice. All three corvettes counter-attacked, even though Starwort's ASDIC (sonar) was not functioning. The U-boat was damaged and forced to curtail her patrol.
6th and 7th patrols
Patrol number six was relatively uneventful; the boat left St. Nazaire on 2 August 1941. She returned to the same port on 12 September, having scoured the North Atlantic, with nothing to show for her efforts.
U-96's seventh patrol was almost as barren, except the submarine did sink the Bennekom on 31 October 1941. As a consequence she was attacked with 37 depth charges by the sloop HMS Lulworth. The U-boat escaped the barrage, returning to St. Nazaire on 6 December.
The boat's eighth patrol saw success when she operated off the Canadian east coast. She sank the Lake Osweya near Halifax on 20 February 1942. She was only 500 yd (460 m) from her target when the torpedo was launched.
She sank the Torungen off Nova Scotia on 22 February and attacked the Kars later the same day. The latter ship broke in two following the torpedo's impact. The bow section quickly sank, but the stern section was beached and declared a total loss.
The submarine's final victory this time out came on 9 March when she sank the Tyr about 100 nmi (190 km) from Halifax.
9th and 10th patrols
U-96 left St. Nazaire on 23 April 1942 and returned 73 days later, on 1 July without attacking anything.
On the tenth patrol, the boat damaged the F. J. Wolfe on 10 September 1942 (although this ship was able to keep up with its convoy). U-96 also sank the Sveve on the same day, as well as the Elisabeth van Belgie. It also sank the Deläes on the 11th.
11th patrol and fate
The boat's final operational patrol commenced with her departure from St. Nazaire on 26 December 1942. Crossing the Atlantic for the last time, she then came back to the eastern side and after transferring a sick crew-member to U-163 on 3 January 1943, arrived at Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad) on 8 February.
She spent most of the rest of the war as a training vessel. She was sunk at Wilhelmshaven by US bombs on 31 March 1945.
Summary of Raiding Career
|11 December 1940||Rotorua||United Kingdom||10,890||HX-92||Sunk||
|11 December 1940||Towa||Netherlands||5,419||HX-92||Sunk||
|12 December 1940||Macedonier||Belgium||5,227||HX-92||Sunk||
|12 December 1940||Stureholm||Sweden||4,575||HX-92||Sunk||
|14 December 1940||Empire Razorbill||United Kingdom||5,118||OB-257||Damaged||
|14 December 1940||Western Prince||United Kingdom||10,926||Sunk||
|18 December 1940||Pendrecht||Netherlands||10,746||OB-259||Damaged||
|16 January 1941||Oropesa||United Kingdom||14,118||Sunk||
|17 January 1941||Almeda Star||United Kingdom||14,936||Sunk||
|13 February 1941||Arthur F. Corwin||United Kingdom||10,516||HX-106||Sunk||
|13 February 1941||Clea||United Kingdom||7,987||HX-106||Sunk||
|18 February 1941||Black Osprey||United Kingdom||5,589||HX-107||Sunk||
|22 February 1941||Scottish Standard||United Kingdom||6,999||OB-287||Sunk||
|23 February 1941||Anglo-Peruvian||United Kingdom||5,457||OB-288||Sunk||
|24 February 1941||Linaria||United Kingdom||3,385||OB-288||Sunk||
|24 February 1941||Sirikishna||United Kingdom||5,458||OB-288||Sunk||
|28 April 1941||Caledonia||Norway||9,892||HX-121||Sunk||
|28 April 1941||Oilfield||United Kingdom||8,516||HX-121||Sunk||
|28 April 1941||Port Hardy||United Kingdom||8,897||HX-121||Sunk||
|19 May 1941||Empire Ridge||United Kingdom||2,922||HG-61||Sunk||
|5 July 1941||Anselm||United Kingdom||5,954||Sunk||
|31 October 1941||Bennekom||Netherlands||5,998||OS-10||Sunk||
|19 February 1942||Empire Seal||United Kingdom||7,965||Sunk||
|20 February 1942||Lake Osweya||United States||2,398||Scuttled||
|22 February 1942||Kars||United Kingdom||8,888||HX-175||Total Loss||
|22 February 1942||Torungen||Norway||1,948||Sunk||
|9 March 1942||Tyr||Norway||4,265||Sunk||
|10 September 1942||Elisabeth van Belgie||Belgium||4,241||ON-127||Sunk||
|10 September 1942||F.J. Wolfe||United Kingdom||12,190||ON-127||Damaged||
|10 September 1942||Sveve||Norway||6,313||ON-127||Sunk||
|11 September 1942||Delães *||Portugal||415||Sunk||
|25 September 1942||New York **||United Kingdom||4,989||RB-1||Damaged||
**Sunk the next day by U-91 with all hands lost.
- Helgason, Guðmundur (1995–2013). "U-96". uboat.net. Guðmundur Helgason.
- "Ubootwaffe.net". U-96. Retrieved 8 February 2007.[dead link]