SM U-103

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-103.
Career (German Empire)
Name: U-103
Ordered: 15 September 1915
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Laid down: 8 August 1916
Launched: 9 June 1917
Commissioned: 15 July 1917
Fate: Rammed and sunk 12 May 1918 by the HMT Olympic. 9 crewmen killed, 31 survived.
General characteristics
Class and type: German Type U 57 submarine
Displacement: 808 tons surfaced
946 tons submerged
1160 tons (total)
Length: 70.60 m (overall)
55.55 m (pressure hull)
Beam: 6.30 m (overall)
4.15 m (pressure hull)
Draught: 4.02 m
Propulsion: 2400 hp surfaced
1200 hp submerged
Speed: 16.8 knots surfaced
9.1 knots submerged
Range: 11,220 nautical miles (20,780 km) surfaced
56 nautical miles (104 km) submerged
Complement: 39 men
Armament: 16 torpedoes (4/2 in bow/stern tubes)
105mm deck gun with 220 rounds
88mm deck gun
Service record
Part of: Kaiserliche Marine
II Flotilla
26 August 1917 - 12 May 1918
Commanders: Kptlt. Claus Rücker[1]
26 August 1917 - 12 May 1918
Operations: 5 patrols
Victories: 8 merchant ships sunk totalling of 15,462 GRT
1 merchant ship damaged 6,042 GRT

SM U-103 was an Imperial Germany Navy Type U 57 U-boat of the First World War. U-103 was built on AG Weser in Bremen, launched on 9 June 1917 and commissioned 15 July 1917. She completed 5 tours of duty under Kptlt. Claus Rücker and sank 8 ships totalling 15,462 gross register tons (GRT).[2]


HMT Olympic during WWI

In the early hours of 12 May 1918, U-103 prepared to launch torpedoes from her stern tubes at RMS Olympic, the sister ship of the ill-fated RMS Titanic, which was en route for France with US troops on board. The crew was unable to flood the two stern torpedo tubes, and the submarine was sighted on the surface by Olympic, whose gunners opened fire as Olympic turned to ram.

U-103 started to crash dive to 30 m (98 ft) and turned to a parallel course, but almost immediately afterwards was struck just aft of her conning tower and Olympic's port propeller sliced through U-103's pressure hull. The crew of U-103 blew her ballast tanks and scuttled and abandoned their sinking submarine. Nine crew members on board lost their lives. Olympic did not stop to pick up the survivors, but continued on to Cherbourg. USS Davis later sighted a distress flare and took 35 survivors to Queenstown.[3][4]

U-103's wreck lies at position 49°16′N 4°51′W / 49.267°N 4.850°W / 49.267; -4.850Coordinates: 49°16′N 4°51′W / 49.267°N 4.850°W / 49.267; -4.850.

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
12 September 1917 St. Margaret  United Kingdom 943 Sunk
12 November 1917 Depute Pierre Goujon  France 4,121 Sunk
16 November 1917 Garron Head  United Kingdom 1,933 Sunk
26 January 1918 Cork  United Kingdom 1,232 Sunk
29 January 1918 Glenfruin  United Kingdom 3,097 Sunk
17 March 1918 Cressida  United Kingdom 150 Sunk
17 March 1918 Sea Gull  United Kingdom 976 Sunk
18 March 1918 Grainton  United Kingdom 6,042 Damaged
20 March 1918 Kassanga  United Kingdom 3,015 Sunk

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Claus Rücker (Royal House Order of Hohenzollern)". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-103". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  3. ^ McCartney, Innes; Jak Mallmann-Showell (2002). Lost Patrols: Submarine Wrecks of the English Channel. Periscope Publishing Ltd. p. 36. ISBN 1-904381-04-9. 
  4. ^ Kemp, Paul (1997). U-Boats Destroyed (German submarine losses in the World Wars). London: Arms and Armour Press. p. 49. ISBN 1-85409-321-5. 
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-103". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 26 January 2015.