List of successful U-boat commanders
The tonnage figures (and sometimes the number of ships sunk) is still being debated among historians. This is often due to convoy battles at night when an attacking "wolfpack" fired torpedoes into the convoy and two commanders claimed the same ship. Although post-war research has eliminated most of those doubtful victims, there are still some in question.
World War I
This list contains the most successful German U-boats commanders during the First World War based on total tonnage. Only sunk commercial vessels are included, not military (warships) nor damaged ships.
|1||Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière||15||194||453,716 tons||Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière (1886–1941) was the most successful U-boat commander of World War I and of any submarine commander in history. Between 1915–18, he made 14 patrols in command of U-35, sinking 189 merchant vessels and two gunboats. He transferred to U-139 in May 1918 and sank a further five merchant ships, making 194 ships sunk totalling 453,716 GRT. After serving as an instructor in the Turkish Navy between 1932–38, he returned to the Kriegsmarine and during World War II served as naval commandant for western France with the rank of Vizeadmiral. He was killed in February 1941 when his aircraft crashed on take off at Le Bourget Airport, Paris.|
|2||Walther Forstmann||47||146||384,300 tons||Walther Forstmann (1883–1973) commanded U-12 and U-39 on 47 patrols and sank 146 ships for a total of 384,304 GRT. In 1921 he qualified as an attorney and worked in the steel and coal industries, as well as being active in the German People's Party. Forstmann served on the staff of the Kriegsmarine during World War II.|
|3||Max Valentiner||*||150||299,300 tons||Max Valentiner (1883–1949) commanded U-38 and U-157, and sank 150 ships for a total of 299,300 GRT. Branded a "war criminal" by the Allies for a series of incidents, including the sinking of SS Persia, Valentiner went into hiding for a while at the end of the war. During World War II, Valentiner was commander of a unit inspecting new U-boats before commissioning.|
|4||Otto Steinbrinck||*||*||231,614 tons||Otto Steinbrinck (1888–1949) commanded several submarines during World War I, sinking a total of 231,614 GRT of shipping. After the war he worked in the iron and steel industry. Steinbrinck joined the Nazi Party in 1933, and became a member of the SS, rising to the rank of Brigadeführer, while remaining active in industry. In 1945, he was arrested and faced charges at the Flick Trial. In December 1947, he was sentenced to six years imprisonment in Landsberg Prison, but died two years into his sentence.|
|5||Hans Rose||*||79||213,900 tons||Hans Rose (1885–1969) commanded U-53 between 1916–18, sinking 79 merchant ships for a total of 213,987 GRT, as well as the USS Jacob Jones, the first American destroyer to be lost during the war. Rose commanded a U-boat training unit in 1940.|
|6||Walther Schwieger||34||49||183,883 tons||Schwieger (1885–1917) commanded the U-14, U-20 and U-88, sinking 49 ships for a total of 183,883 GRT in 34 patrols. One of these was passenger liner RMS Lusitania, which led to the United States' eventual entry into the war. Schwieger was killed when U-88 was sunk by a British mine off the Dutch coast in September 1917.|
|7||Reinhold Saltzwedel||*||111||170,526 tons||Reinhold Saltzwedel (1889–1917) commanded six U-boats during World War I, sinking 111 merchant vessels for a total of 170,526 GRT. He was killed in December 1917 when UB-81 was sunk by a mine off the Isle of Wight.|
|8||Johannes Lohs||*||*||165,000 tons||Johannes Lohs (1889–1918) commanded UC-75 and UB-57, and sank a total of 165,000 GRT of shipping. Lohs was killed when UB-57 was lost in the North Sea in August 1918.|
|9||Waldemar Kophamel||*||54||148,852 tons||Waldemar Kophamel (1880–1934) commanded U-35 and U-140, and sank 54 ships for a total of 148,852 GRT.|
|10||Otto Schultze||*||53||132,531 tons||Otto Schultze (1884–1966) commanded U-63 and sank 52 ships for a total of 132,531 GRT plus one warship for a further 5,250 GRT.|
World War II
This list contains the most successful German U-boats commanders during the Second World War based on total tonnage. Only sunk commercial vessels are included, not military (warships) nor damaged ships.
The Aces of the Deep were the ten German U-Boat commanders during World War II who sank the most enemy merchant ships during their naval services, ranked according to the total tonnage of the ships they sank. The term is related to flying ace, a World War I name for a pilot who shot down five or more enemy planes. The currently accepted list is as follows:
|1||Otto Kretschmer||16||47||273,043 tons||Otto Kretschmer (1912–1998) was the most successful of the World War II Aces of the Deep. As commander of U-35, U-23 and U-99 he sank 47 merchant ships totalling 272,043 tons in a remarkably short period of time, being captured in March 1941 and spending the rest of the war in the Bowmanville POW camp, Canada. After the war, he rejoined the Bundesmarine, and became the Chief of Staff of the NATO Command COMNAVBALTAP in May 1965. He retired in September 1970 with a rank of Flottillenadmiral. During his time as a U-boat commander, he was given the nickname "The Tonnage King" because of his high GRT record.|
|2||Wolfgang Lüth||15||46||225,204 tons||Wolfgang Lüth (1913–1945) was given command of U-9 in December 1939, going on to command U-13, U-138, U-43 and U-181, and sinking 46 merchant ships for a total 225,204 tons in 15 patrols, including one of 205 days, the second longest of the war. In January 1944 Lüth took command of the 22nd U-boat Flotilla, before being appointed commander of the Marineschule Mürwik in July. Lüth was mistakenly shot and killed by a German sentry on 13 May 1945.|
|3||Erich Topp||12||35||197,460 tons||Erich Topp (1914–2005) commanded U-57 and U-552 in 1940–41, and sank 35 merchant ships for a total of 197,460 tons. He commanded the tactical training unit 27th U-boat Flotilla from late 1942, and served briefly as commander of the Type XXI Elektroboote U-3010 and U-2513 just before the end of the war. He rejoined the Bundesmarine in 1956, reaching the rank of Konteradmiral before retiring in 1969.|
|4||Heinrich Liebe||9||34||187,267 tons||Heinrich Liebe (1908–1997) commanded U-38 between 1938–41, sinking 34 ships for a total of 187,267 GRT. In 1941 Liebe was assigned to the staff of Oberkommando der Marine, and from August 1944 was on the staff of the BdU. After the war Liebe returned to his hometown in the Soviet sector. As he refused to train Soviet submariners, he was allowed only a series of menial occupations.|
|5||Viktor Schütze||7||35||180,073 tons||Viktor Schütze (1906–1950) commanded U-25 and U-103, sinking 35 merchant ships totalling 180,073 tons, before being appointed commander of the 2nd U-boat Flotilla in August 1941. He became the FdU Ausbildungsflottillen ("Commander of the Training Flotillas") in the Baltic Sea in March 1943. He spent a year in Allied captivity after the war.|
|6||Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock||10||25||179,125 tons||Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (1911–1986) commanded the U-8, U-5 and U-96, sinking 25 merchant ships for a total of 179,125 tons. In May 1942 Willenbrock took command of the 9th U-boat Flotilla, transferring to the 11th U-boat Flotilla in December 1944. After spending a year in captivity after the German surrender, Willenbrock served as captain on merchant ships, and from 1964 commanded the German nuclear-powered freighter Otto Hahn. Willenbrock acted as advisor to the film Das Boot, based on an account of one of his own war patrols in U-96.|
|7||Karl-Friedrich Merten||5||27||170,151 tons||Karl-Friedrich Merten (1905–1993), in command of U-68, sailed in five patrols in 1941–42 sinking 27 ships for a total of 170,151 tons. He commanded the 26th U-boat Flotilla in early 1943, and this and other training appointments curtailed his operational career. After the war he made a new career in shipbuilding.|
|8||Herbert Schultze||8||26||169,709 tons||Herbert Schultze (1909–1987) commissioned U-48 in 1939, and in eight patrols sank 26 merchant ships for a total of 169,709 tons. Schultze took command of the 3rd U-boat Flotilla in July 1941, until joining the staff of Marinegruppe Nord in March 1942. In December 1942 he was assigned to the staff of Admiral Karl Dönitz. In March 1944 he was assigned to Marineschule Mürwik, where he remained until the end of the war. In 1956 Schultze joined the Bundesmarine and served in a series of staff positions until 1968.|
|9||Günther Prien||10||30||162,769 tons||Günther Prien (1908–1941) was given command of U-47 in December 1938, and sank over 30 Allied merchant ships for a total of 162,769 GRT. His most famous exploit was infiltrating the British Home Fleet's base at Scapa Flow in October 1939 and sinking the battleship HMS Royal Oak - which won him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, the first U-boat commander to do so. Prien was lost when U-47 went missing on 7 March 1941 during an attack on Convoy OB 293 south of Iceland. He was given the nickname "The Ace of Aces".|
|10||Georg Lassen||4||26||156,082 tons||Georg Lassen (1915–2012) took command of U-160 and sailed on four combat patrols in 1942–43, sinking 26 ships for a total of 156,082 GRT, a remarkable average of 39,020 GRT per patrol. In June 1943 Lassen was appointed tactical instructor and commander of the "Offiziers-kompanie" in 1. U-boot-Lehr-Division, a training unit for future U-boat commanders. He was the last surviving Ace of the Deep and among the last living of the most successful Second World War German U-boat commanders.|
|11||Joachim Schepke||14||37||155,882 tons||Joachim Schepke (1912–1941) took command of U-3 in 1938, sailed on five combat patrols, and sank two ships. From January to April 1940 he commanded U-19, sinking another nine ships. After a brief spell serving in a staff position Schepke took command of U-100 in which he sank another 25 ships. This gave him a total of 37 ships sunk for a total of 155,882 GRT. On 17 March 1941 while attacking Convoy HX 112 U-100 was forced to the surface by depth charges from HMS Walker and HMS Vanoc, detected on radar, and consequently rammed by Vanoc. Schepke and 37 crewmen were killed; only six were rescued.|
|12||Werner Henke||7||24||155,714 tons||Werner Henke (1909–1944) took command of U-515 in February 1942, sinking 24 ships totalling 155,714 GRT, before U-515 was sunk by United States Navy aircraft and destroyers north of Madeira. Henke was taken to a secret interrogation centre known only as P. O. Box 1142 in Fort Hunt, Virginia, where his interrogator threatened to send him England to face war crime charges if he did not cooperate. On 15 June 1944, Henke ran to the fence surrounding the interrogation centre and began to climb over. He continued after a guard ordered him to stop and was shot and killed.|
|13||Carl Emmermann||5||26||152,080 tons||Carl Emmermann (1915–1990) took command of U-172 in November 1941, completing five patrols, and sinking 26 ships for a total of 152,080 GRT. He became the commander of the 6th U-boat Flotilla in November 1943, and in August 1944 became the chief of the Erprobungsgruppe Typ XXIII ("Type XXIII Testing Group"). In March–April 1945 Emmermann was commander of U-3037, and in April–May 1945 he commanded the 31st U-boat Flotilla in Hamburg. In the final days of the war he took part in infantry duty around Hamburg as commander of Marine-Battalion Emmermann. After the war he studied engineering and prospered in business.|
|14||Heinrich Bleichrodt||8||24||151,260 tons||Heinrich Bleichrodt (1909–1977) was given command of U-48 in 1940, sailing on two patrols, and sinking 15 ships totalling 79,295 GRT, including the SS City of Benares - an unmarked evacuation transport. After briefly commanding U-67, in June 1941 Bleichrodt took command of U-109. He carried out six patrols, sinking 13 ships for a total of some 80,000 tons, to make a grand total of 24 merchant ships sunk, totalling 151,260 tons. Bleichrodt then served in a training post with the 27th U-boat Flotilla and in the 2nd ULD ("2nd U-boat Training Division") as tactical instructor. In July 1944 he was appointed commander of the 22nd U-boat Flotilla. After the war become a factory manager.|
|15||Robert Gysae||8||25||146,815 tons||Robert Gysae (1911–1989) commanded U-98 and U-177, sinking 25 ships for a total on 146,815 GRT in eight patrols. In January 1944 he became commander of training unit 25th U-boat Flotilla. In April 1945, during the last month of the war, Gysae commanded the Marinepanzerjagd-Regiment 1, a naval anti-tank regiment. After the war he served in the Deutscher Minenräumdienst ("German Mine Sweeping Administration") for more than two years. In 1956 he rejoined the Bundesmarine, retiring in 1970 with the rank of Flottillenadmiral.|
|16||Ernst Kals||5||20||145,656 tons||Ernst Kals (1905–1979) took command of U-130 in June 1941, and sank 20 ships on five patrols, for a total of 145,656 tons of Allied shipping. On 12 November 1942 during the Naval Battle of Casablanca, he attacked the heavily guarded transport ships in Fedala Roads in Morocco, sinking three large troop ships for a total of 34,507 tons in five minutes. In January 1943 he became commander of the 2nd U-boat Flotilla, where he remained to the end of the war. From May 1945 to January 1948 Kals was held in French captivity.|
|17||Johann Mohr||6||27||129,292 tons||Johann Mohr (1916–1943) assumed command of U-124 in September 1941, and sank 27 ships on six patrols, for a total of 129,292 GRT of Allied shipping. This includes four ships from Convoy ONS-92 sunk on the night of 12 May 1942, totalling 21,784 tons. Mohr was killed when U-124 was sunk with all hands on 2 April 1943 west of Oporto, Portugal, by the British corvette HMS Stonecrop and the sloop HMS Black Swan.|
|18||Klaus Scholtz||8||25||128,190 tons||Klaus Scholtz (1908–1987) commanded U-108 from October 1940, sinking 25 ships on 8 patrols, for a total of 128,190 tons of Allied shipping. In October 1942 he formed and took command of the 12th U-boat Flotilla at Bordeaux. In August 1944 he attempted to lead his men back to Germany on foot, but they were captured by American forces, and he spent the next 18 months in captivity. Scholtz served in the Bundesgrenzschutz-See ("Federal Border Guard") from 1953–56, then transferred to the Bundesmarine, serving as commander of several naval bases, including Kiel, Cuxhaven, and Wilhelmshaven. He retired in 1966.|
|19||Adolf Cornelius Piening||8||25||126,664 tons||Adolf Piening (1910–1984) took command of U-155 in June 1941, and sank 25 ships for a total of 126,664 GRT in 8 patrols. From March 1944 Piening was the commander of the 7th U-boat Flotilla. Piening's last patrol was in April 1945, laying mines off Saint-Nazaire in U-255. After the war Piening spent more than two years in Allied captivity. In 1956 he rejoined the Bundesmarine, serving for 13 years.|
|20||Helmut Witte||4||23||119,554 tons||Helmut Witte (1915–2005) commissioned U-159 in October 1941 and in four patrols sank 23 ships totalling 119,554 GRT. From June 1943 he served in several staff positions. At the end of the war he spent two months in British captivity, then became a farm hand and factory worker. Later he had a successful business career.|
|21||Günther Hessler||3||21||118,822 tons||Günther Hessler (1909–1968) commissioned U-107 in 1940, and on his first patrol sank four ships for a total of 18,514 tons. He became famous for his second patrol - the most successful of the entire war - sinking 14 ships for a total of 86,699 tons. His third patrol accounted for another three ships for a total of 13,641 tons, giving Hessler grand total of 21 ships sunk totalling 118,822 GRT. Hessler then transferred to the BdU to serve on the staff of his father-in-law Karl Dönitz. After the war Hessler spent over a year in Allied captivity, and testified at the Nuremberg Trials. In 1947 Hessler was commissioned by the British Royal Navy to write The U-Boat War in the Atlantic. Assisted by Alfred Hoschatt, former BdU staff officer and commander of U-378, he completed the three volume work in 1951.|
|22||Ernst Bauer||5||25||118,560 tons||Ernst Bauer (1914–1988) was given command of U-126 in March 1941, and conducted five combat patrols, sinking 25 merchant ships for a total of 118,560 GRT. In October 1944 he became commander of the training unit 27th U-boat Flotilla, and during the last month of war he was transferred to the 26th U-boat Flotilla. Bauer rejoined the Bundesmarine in 1956 and held several staff positions before retiring in 1972.|
|23||Engelbert Endrass||10||22||118,528 tons||Engelbert Endrass (1911–1941) was 1WO[note 1] of U-47 when Günther Prien took her into Scapa Flow and sank the HMS Royal Oak. In May 1940 Endrass took command of U-46, and in eight war patrols sank 21 ships, before taking over U-567 in October 1941. He sank only one more ship, making 22 ships sunk totalling 118,528 tons in 10 patrols. He was killed on 21 December 1941, when U-567 was sunk with all hands by depth charges from the British sloop HMS Deptford and corvette HMS Samphire, northeast of the Azores.|
|24||Reinhard Hardegen||5||22||115,656 tons||Reinhard Hardegen (1913–) took command of U-147 in 1940 for a single patrol, then U-123 for another four patrols in 1941, sinking 22 merchant ships for a total of 115,656 GRT. In mid-1942, he became an instructor in the 27th U-boat Flotilla, and from March 1943, served as chief of the torpedo school at Marineschule Mürwik. Hardegen served for few months in the Torpedowaffenamt ("Torpedo Weapon Department") before serving as Battalion Commander in Marine Infanterie Regiment 6 from February 1945, taking part in the fighting around Bremen. Hardegen spent a year and a half in British captivity before starting a successful oil trading business, as well as serving as a member of Bremen's city council (the Bürgerschaft) for 32 years.|
|25||Werner Hartmann||4||26||115,337 tons||Werner Hartmann (1902–1963) was commander of both U-37 and the 2nd U-boat Flotilla from January–May 1940, but this proved inefficient, and BdU decided to direct the U-boats from land. After three patrols, and sinking 19 ships totalling 78,559 GRT, Hartmann moved to the BdU staff. In November 1940 he became commander of 2. Unterseeboots-Lehr-Division ("2nd U-boat Training Division"), and a year later took command of the 27th U-boat Flotilla. In November 1942 he took command of U-198 for a patrol to the Indian Ocean lasting 200 days, the third longest patrol ever undertaken, and sank 7 ships totalling 36,778 GRT, giving him a grand total of 26 ships sunk for 115,337 tons. In 1944 Hartmann became FdU Mittelmeer ("Commander of U-boats in the Mediterranean"). After the war he spent several years in the Bundesmarine.|
|26||Hans Jenisch||6||17||110,139 tons||Hans Jenisch (1913–1982) took command of U-32 in early 1940. During six patrols he sank 17 ships, including the 42,348 ton RMS Empress of Britain, the largest ship sunk by a U-boat, for a career total of 110,139 GRT. Jenisch was taken prisoner in October 1940 when U-32 was sunk north-west of Ireland by two British destroyers. He then spent six and a half years in British captivity. In 1956 he joined the Bundesmarine, holding mainly staff positions, but also commanding the frigate Hipper for a few months. He retired in 1972.|
|27||Robert-Richard Zapp||5||16||106,200 tons||Robert-Richard Zapp (1904–1964) served on one patrol in U-46 under Engelbert Endrass, before taking command of U-66 in January 1941. In five patrols, including two as part of "Operation Drumbeat", he sank 16 ships for a total of 106,200 GRT. Zapp became commander of the 3rd U-boat Flotilla in June 1942. The flotilla was disbanded in October 1944, and he then commanded Marine Regiment Zapp, defending the U-boat base, until May 1945. He then spent more than two years in French captivity.|
|28||Victor Oehrn||4||23||103,821 tons||Victor Oehrn (1907–1997) became commander of U-14 in January 1936, patrolling during the Civil War in July–September 1936. In August 1939 he joined the staff of BdU. In May 1940 Oehrn took command of U-37, in order to restore the U-boat men's trust in the G7e/T2 torpedo, which had performed abysmally, often detonating prematurely, or not at all. In four patrols he sank 23 ships for a total of 103,821 GRT before returning to the staff in August. From November 1941 Oehrn served on the Mediterranean U-boat staff, but during a mission to North Africa in July 1942, he was severely wounded and captured by the British. He was released in a prisoner exchange in October 1943 and returned to Germany. Oehrn spent the remainder of the war serving in several staff positions.|
|29||Jürgen Oesten||13||19||101,744 tons||Jürgen Oesten (1913–2010) commanded U-61 on nine patrols, and sank five ships, before commanding U-106 on three patrols, and sinking another ten ships. In October 1941 he became commander of the 9th U-boat Flotilla based in Brest, France. In March 1942 Oesten joined the staff of FdU Nordmeer directing the U-boat war in Arctic waters, but returned to U-boat duty in September 1943, sailing U-861 to Penang to join the Monsun Gruppe, and sinking another four ships, bringing his total to 19 ships sunk, totalling 101,744 GRT. U-861 left Soerabaya, Dutch East Indies, in January 1945 and reached Trondheim, Norway, in April, just before the German surrender. Oesten was the technical advisor for the 2005 submarine simulator Silent Hunter III.|
|30||Wilhelm Rollmann||8||22||101,519 tons||Wilhelm Rollmann (1907–1943) took command of U-34 in October 1938. After seven successful patrols Rollmann became an instructor in 2. Unterseeboots-Lehr-Division ("2nd U-boat Training Division"). He commissioned U-848 in February 1943, sailing on his first and only patrol on 1 August 1943, and sinking one ship of 4,573 tons, bringing his career total to 22 ships sunk for 101,519 tons. Rollmann and his crew were all killed on 5 November 1943 when U-848 was sunk by US aircraft south-west of Ascension in the mid-Atlantic.|
|31||Erwin Rostin||2||17||101,321 tons||Erwin Rostin (1907–1942) sailed on his first war patrol as commander of U-158 in February 1942, and sank four ships for a total of 29,234 tons off the US east coast. His second patrol began in May 1942 and was one of the most successful patrols of the war, with 12 ships sunk for a total of 62,536 tons, giving him a career total of 17 ships sunk for 101,321 tons. Rostin and his crew were killed on 30 June 1942 when the U-158 was sunk by a United States Navy Mariner bomber.|
|32||Hans-Ludwig Witt||3||19||100,773 tons||Hans-Ludwig Witt (1909–1980) took command of U-161 in 1941 as part of a training flotilla, before transferring to command of U-129 in 1942. Witt sailed on three successful patrols in the western Atlantic and the Caribbean in 1942–43, sinking 19 ships for a total of 100,773 GRT. After a year on the BdU staff, he returned to active duty in 1945 in U-3524, one of the new Type XXI Elektroboote, but sailed on no combat patrols.|
|33||Günther Krech||10||19||100,771 tons||Günther Krech (1914–2000) commissioned U-558 in February 1941, and in ten patrols, mostly in the Atlantic and in Caribbean waters, sank 19 merchant ships for a total of 100,771 tons. U-558 was sunk by US aircraft on 20 July 1943 in the Bay of Biscay. Only five men – Krech, the engineering officer, and three men of the gun crew – survived. Krech remained in Allied captivity until after the war.|
|34||Harald Gelhaus||11||19||100,373 tons||Harald Gelhaus (1915–1997) commanded U-143 and U-107, sailing in ten patrols between March 1941 and June 1943, and sinking 19 ships for a total of 100,373 tons. He then joined the staff of the OKM, the Naval High Command. From February 1944, he was a training officer in the 22nd and 27th U-boat Flotillas. He spent the final months of the war in staff positions, the last one being in Naval High Command North. After the war he spent three months in Allied captivity.|
|35||Werner Hartenstein||5||20||97,504 tons||Werner Hartenstein (1908–1943) commissioned U-156 in September 1941. In five patrols he sank 20 ships for a total of 97,504 tons. On the second patrol Hartenstein attacked the refinery at Aruba with gunfire. On the fourth patrol he was involved in the Laconia incident. During the fifth patrol, on 8 March 1943, Hartenstein and all his crew were killed when U-156 was sunk by depth charges dropped from a United States Navy PBY Catalina, east of the island of Barbados.|
|36||Fritz-Julius Lemp||10||20||96,639 tons||Fritz-Julius Lemp (1913–1941) commanded U-30 and U-110 on 10 patrols, sinking 20 ships totalling 96,639 tons. His first attack, on 3 September 1939, only two days after the British declaration of war, was the most controversial. Lemp sank what he thought was an armed merchant cruiser, but was in fact the passenger liner SS Athenia; 112 of her passengers died. The sinking caused dramatic publicity throughout the English-speaking world, while the German High Command systematically attempted to cover up this appalling error. Not until January 1946, during the Nuremberg Trials, did Admiral Dönitz finally admit that Athenia had been torpedoed by U-30. Lemp was killed in May 1941 when U-110, on her second patrol, was captured east of Cape Farewell, Greenland, by the British destroyers HMS Bulldog and HMS Broadway.|
|37||Adalbert Schnee||12||23||96,547 tons||Adalbert Schnee (1913–1982) commanded U-6, U-60, U-201 in 11 patrols, sinking 21 merchant ships totalling 90,189 tons, and damaged three others. He also sank two British auxiliary warships, Springbank and Laertes. After serving on the BdU staff from October 1942, Schnee took command of the Type XXI U-2511, in September 1944, sailing on only a single short patrol between 3 and 6 May 1945 before surrendering.|
|38||Reinhard Suhren||6||18||200,000 (as I. WO)
95,544 tons (as commander)
|Reinhard Suhren (1916-1984) spent a year as I. WO on U-48 under Herbert Schultze, Hans-Rudolf Rösing and Heinrich Bleichrodt, here he was responsible for firing the torpedoes during surfaced attacks, sinking 200,000 tons of shipping. He then took command of U-564 in April 1941. In six patrols he sank 18 ships for a total of 95,544 GRT, damaged four, and sank the British corvette HMS Zinnia. In October 1942 he became an instructor in the 2nd U-boat Training Division, and later served in the 27th U-boat Flotilla. Suhren was then FdU Nordwegen ("Commander-in-Chief of U-boats in Norwegian waters") and from September 1944 the FdU Nordmeer ("C-in-C of U-boats North Sea").|
|39||Karl-Heinz Moehle||10||21||93,197 tons||Karl-Heinz Moehle (1910-1996) commissioned U-20 in October 1937, and in six wartime patrols, sank eight ships. In May 1940 he commissioned U-123 and in four patrols, sank another 16, for a total of 21 ships sunk totalling 93,197 GRT. From June 1941 Moehle commanded both the 5th U-boat Flotilla and the U-boat base at Kiel. In June 1945 he was arrested and later tried for passing on the Laconia Order. Sentenced to five years imprisonment, he was released in November 1949.|
|40||Georg-Wilhelm Schulz||8||19||89,886 tons||Georg-Wilhelm Schulz (1906–1986) commanded U-10 from January 1939, sailing on two short combat patrols in late 1939. On his first patrol commanding U-64 in April 1940, his submarine was sunk off Norway. He had more luck with U-124, sailing on five patrols and sinking 19 ships, totalling 89,886 GRT, and damaging one. He then commanded the 6th U-boat Flotilla. From October 1943 he served on the staff of the FdU Ausbildungsflottillen ("Commander of Training Flotillas"), and as leader of the Erprobungsgruppe U-Boote ("U-boat Testing Group"). In April–May 1945 he was briefly the commander of 25th U-boat Flotilla.|
|41||Georg Schewe||10||16||85,779 tons||Georg Schewe (1909–1990) commanded U-60 from July 1939, but in six patrols sank only one ship. He did better in U-105, which he commissioned in August 1940, and in four patrols sank a further 15 ships, 12 of them in a single patrol, for a total of 85,779 GRT. In February 1942 he joined the staff of FdU Mittelmeer ("Commander-in-Chief of U-boats in the Mediterranean"), remaining there until briefly taking command of 33rd U-boat Flotilla in September 1944, before serving on the OKM ("Naval High Command") from October 1944. After the surrender he spent a year in Allied captivity.|
|42||Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske||4||16||85,299 tons||Fritz Poske (1904–1984) commissioned U-504 in July 1941, and despite not having spent any time as a 1WO ("Second-in-command") or Kommandantenschüler ("Commander-in-training"), in four patrols sank 16 ships, totalling 85,299 GRT. In January 1943 he became the commander of the 1st ULD (1. Unterseeboots-Lehr-Division), and in the last months of the war was chief of the Special Staff for Marine Infantry. After the war he spent 11 months in British captivity. In 1951 he rejoined the Seegrenzschutz, which later became the Bundesmarine, retiring in 1963 with the rank of Kapitän zur See.|
|43||Ulrich Heyse||5||12||83,639 tons||Ulrich Heyse (1906–1970) sailed on a single patrol on U-37 as Kommandantenschüler ("Commander-in-training") before he commissioned U-128 in December 1941, and in five patrols sank 12 ships totalling 83,639 GRT. From January 1943 he served as an instructor, until becoming commander of the 32nd U-boat Flotilla in March 1945.|
|44||Ulrich Folkers||5||17||82,873 tons||Ulrich Folkers (1915–1943) first served as 1WO on U-37 under Nicolai Clausen. In November 1941 he took command of U-125, and in five patrols sank 17 ships totalling 82,873 GRT. Folkers was killed along with his crew when U-125 was sunk on 6 May 1943 by British destroyers.|
|45||Herbert Kuppisch||14||16||82,108 tons||Herbert Kuppisch (1909–1943) first commanded U-58, sailing on eight patrols between September 1939 and June 1940, and sinking four ships, including the British boom defence vessel HMS Astronomer. From August 1940, in command of U-94, he sailed on a further five patrols, and sank another 12 ships, for a total of 16 ships sunk totalling 82,108 GRT. From August 1941 he served on the staff of the BdU, before spending six months at the OKM. He finally returned to U-boats in July 1943, taking command of U-847. On 27 August 1943, only 30 days into her first patrol U-847 was sunk by aircraft from USS Card (CVE-11). There were no survivors.|
|46||Jürgen Wattenberg||3||14||82,027 tons||Jürgen Wattenberg (1900–1995) served aboard the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee during the Battle of the River Plate, but escaped from internment in Uruguay and returned to Germany in May 1940. He joined the U-boat branch in October 1940, and was one of the oldest U-boat commanders when he commissioned U-162 in September 1941. In just three patrols he sank 14 ships totalling 82,027 GRT. U-162 was sunk during its third patrol, and Wattenberg was held as a POW in the United States until finally released in early 1946. He later became the manager of the Lübeck branch of the Bavaria – St. Pauli Brewery.|
|47||Rolf Mützelburg||8||19||81,987 tons||Rolf Mützelburg (1913–1942) served aboard U-100 under Joachim Schepke before commissioning U-203 in February 1941. In eight patrols he sank 19 ships, totalling 81,961 GRT, and damaged three more. On 11 September 1942, during his eighth patrol, Mützelburg was killed in a freak accident, when diving off the conning tower into the sea southwest of the Azores, he struck the hull when the U-boat suddenly lurched in the swell. He was buried at sea the next day.|
|48||Werner Winter||5||15||79,302 tons||Werner Winter (1912–1972) served on U-22 for several months, finally taking command in October 1937, and in late 1939 made two brief and unsuccessful combat patrols. From November 1939 he was attached to the BdU Operations staff, but in July 1941 took over command of U-103 from Viktor Schütze, and in three patrols sank 15 ships totalling 79,302 GRT. From July 1942 he commanded the 1st U-boat Flotilla, based at Brest, France. He was captured by Allied forces in August 1944, not being released until November 1947. After the war he served in the Bundesmarine, retiring in March 1970.|
|49||Fritz Frauenheim||9||19||78,853 tons||Fritz Frauenheim (1912–1969) served for more than a year as 1WO of U-25 before taking command of U-21 in October 1939, sailing on five patrols and sinking five ships, and in November badly damaging the cruiser HMS Belfast after laying mines in the Firth of Forth. In March 1940 he commissioned U-101 and in four patrols sank 12 more ships, bringing his total to 19 ships sunk totalling 78,853 GRT, and two ships damaged. In December 1940 he became an instructor in the 2nd Training Division, then in September 1941 took command of the 23rd U-boat Flotilla in the Mediterranean. He commanded the 29th U-boat Flotilla from May 1942, then from February 1944 served on the staff of the Admiral der Kleinkampfverbände ("Admiral of Small Combat Units"). After the war he spent eight months in Allied captivity.|
|50||Jürgen von Rosenstiel||4||14||78,843 tons||Jürgen von Rosenstiel (1912–1942), commander of U-502, sank 14 ships for a total of 78,843 GRT in only four patrols. On the last of these, on 5 July 1942, U-502 was sunk by a British Wellington bomber in the Bay of Biscay. Rosenstiel and his crew were all killed.|
- The 1st Watch Officer ("1. Wachoffizier") was the second-in-command of the U-boat.
- "Kapitänleutnant Otto Schultze". uboat.net. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
- "Fregattenkapitän Otto Kretschmer". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Kapitän zur See Wolfgang Lüth". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Konteradmiral Erich Topp". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Fregattenkapitän Heinrich Liebe". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Kapitän zur See Viktor Schütze". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Fregattenkapitän Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Kapitän zur See Karl-Friedrich Merten". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Herbert Schultze". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Günther Prien". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Georg Lassen". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Werner Henke". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Carl Emmermann". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Heinrich Bleichrodt". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Robert Gysae". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Kapitän zur See Ernst Kals". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Johann Mohr". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Fregattenkapitän Klaus Scholtz". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Adolf Cornelius Piening". uboat.net. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
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- "Fregattenkapitän Günter Hessler". uboat.net. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
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- "Kapitänleutnant Engelbert Endrass". uboat.net. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
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- "Fregattenkapitän Victor Oehrn". uboat.net. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Jürgen Oesten". uboat.net. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
- "Softpedia News talks with the creators of Silent Hunter III". news.softpedia.com. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
- "Fregattenkapitän Wilhelm Rollmann". uboat.net. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- "Kapitänleutnant Erwin Rostin". uboat.net. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Hans-Ludwig Witt". uboat.net. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- "Kapitänleutnant Günther Krech". uboat.net. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- "Kapitänleutnant Harald Gelhaus". uboat.net. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartenstein". uboat.net. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- "Kapitänleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp". uboat.net. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- "Korvettenkapitän Adalbert Schnee". uboat.net. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
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- "Kapitänleutnant Ulrich Folkers". uboat.net. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Kapitänleutnant Herbert Kuppisch". uboat.net. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Kapitän zur See Jürgen Wattenberg". uboat.net. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Kapitänleutnant Rolf Mützelburg". uboat.net. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Korvettenkapitän Werner Winter". uboat.net. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Fregattenkapitän Fritz Frauenheim". uboat.net. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Kapitänleutnant Jürgen von Rosenstiel". uboat.net. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
- The 7 most successful U-boat commanders of World War I
- The 20 most successful U-boat commanders of World War I (some differences from above list)
- U-boat commanders with over 100,000 tons sunk in World War II
- U-boat commanders with over 50,000 tons sunk in World War II