SM U-12 (Germany)

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-12.
SM U-12 with seaplane on deck
SM U-12 with seaplane on deck
Career (Germany)
Name: U-12
Ordered: 15 July 1908
Builder: Kaiserliche Werft Danzig
Cost: 2,140,000 Goldmark
Yard number: 11
Launched: 6 May 1910
Commissioned: 13 August 1911
Fate: Sunk 10 March 1915 off Eyemouth, Scotland
General characteristics
Class & type: German Type U 9 submarine
Displacement: 493 metric tons (543 short tons) surfaced
611 metric tons (601 long tons) submerged
Length: 57.38 m (188.3 ft)
Beam: 6 m (19.7 ft)[1]
Draught: 3.13 m (10.3 ft)
Propulsion: 2 shafts
2 × Körting 6-cylinder and 2 × Körting 8-cylinder two stroke paraffin motors with 900 PS (890 hp)
2 × SSW electric motors with 1,040 PS (1,030 hp)
550 rpm surfaced
600 rpm submerged
Speed: 14.2 kn (26.3 km/h; 16.3 mph) surfaced
8.1 kn (15.0 km/h; 9.3 mph) submerged[2]
Range: 1,800 nmi (3,300 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Test depth: 50 m (160 ft)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
1 dingi
Complement: 4 officers, 25 men
Armament: 4 x 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes (2 each bow and stern) with 6 torpedoes
1 x 3.7 cm (1.5 in) Hotchkiss gun
Service record
Part of: I Flottille, Imperial German Navy
Commanders: Walter Forstmann
Hans Kratzsch
Victories: 1 ship sunk for a total of 1,005 tons
1 warship sunk for a total of 810 tons
Submarine U-12 on left

SM U-12 was a German submarine, built in 1911 and sunk off Scotland in 1915. It was the first submarine to launch a plane at sea. U-12 was a Type U 9 U-boat built for the Imperial German Navy. Her construction was ordered on 15 July 1908 and her keel was laid down by Kaiserliche Werft in Danzig. She was launched on 6 May 1910 and commissioned on 13 August 1911.

Germany was the first nation to experiment with submarine aircraft carriers. Oberleutnant zur See Friedrich von Arnauld de la Perière of the Naval Air Service and U-12's Kapitanleutnant Walther Forstmann theorised that they could increase the range of their seaplanes by carrying the aircraft out to sea on the deck of submarine and launching the seaplanes after the sub partially submerged, allowing the plane to float off.

Service History[edit]

On 15 January 1915 the U-12 left Zeebrugge transporting a Friedrichshafen FF.29 seaplane on its deck. Once beyond the safety of the breakwater, the captain realised that the heavy swell might swamp the aircraft and ordered the immediate launch of the seaplane. Forstmann flooded the sub's forward tanks and Arnauld floated the seaplane off the deck and took off from the sea. The German plane flew along the English coastline undetected and returned safely to Zeebrugge.

U-12 torpedoed the British gunboat HMS Niger at Deal on 11 November 1914.

On 10 March 1915, while on patrol off the east coast of Britain, U-12 was hunted down by the three Royal Navy destroyers HMS Ariel, HMS Acheron and HMS Attack.


The submarine attempted to dive under the surface but was rammed by Ariel. U-12 then surfaced and was shelled by Acheron and Attack and sank with the loss of 19 lives although 10 survivors were rescued.


In January 2008, divers Jim MacLeod, of Bo'ness, and Martin Sinclair, from Falkirk, found the wreckage of U-12 about 25 miles from Eyemouth after a five-year search.[3][4]

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date Ship Name Nationality Tonnage (GRT) Fate[5]
11 November 1914 HMS Niger  Royal Navy 810 Sunk
9 March 1915 Aberdon  United Kingdom 1,005 Sunk


  1. ^ Fitzsimons, p.2534.
  2. ^ Fitzsimons, p.2534.
  3. ^ Fairborn, Robert (2008-01-15). "German U-boat sunk 90 years ago found after five-year search". The Herald. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  4. ^ "Divers discover U-boat wreckage". BBC News. 2008-01-14. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  5. ^ "U-12 successes". Retrieved 19 February 2014. 

Coordinates: 56°04′30″N 02°18′00″W / 56.07500°N 2.30000°W / 56.07500; -2.30000