SM U-69

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-69.
Career (German Empire)
Name: SM U-69
Ordered: 2 February 1913
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel[1]
Yard number: 203[2]
Laid down: 7 February 1914, as U-10 (Austria-Hungary)[2]
Launched: 24 June 1915[2]
Commissioned: 4 September 1915[2]
Fate: disappeared after 11 July 1917
Service record
Part of:
  • Ernst Wilhelms (Sep 1915 – Jul 1917)[2]
Operations: 6 war patrols[2]
Victories: 31 ships (102,875 GRT) sunk[2]
1 ship (1,648 GRT) damaged
General characteristics (as ordered)
Type: U-7-class submarine (Austria-Hungary)
Displacement: 695 t (766 short tons) surfaced
885 t (976 short tons) submerged[3]
Length: 228 ft (69 m) (OA)[3]
Beam: 20 ft 8 in (6.30 m)[3]
Draft: 12 ft 5 in (3.78 m)[3]
Propulsion: 2 × shaft
2 × diesel engine, 2,300 bhp (1,700 kW) total
2 × electric motor, 1,240 shp (920 kW) total[3]
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h) surfaced
11 knots (20 km/h) submerged[1]
Complement: unknown[3]
Armament: 5 × 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes (four bow, one stern); 9 torpedoes
1 × 66 cm/26 (2.6 in) deck gun[3]
General characteristics (as completed)
Class & type: German Type U 66 submarine
Displacement: 791 t (872 short tons) surfaced
933 t (1,028 short tons) submerged[1]
Length: 228 ft (69 m)[1]
Beam: 20 ft 8 in (6.30 m)[1]
Draft: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)[1]
Propulsion: 2 × shaft
2 × Germania 6-cylinder four-stroke diesel engines, 2,300 bhp (1,700 kW) total
2 × electric motors, 1,260 shp (940 kW) total[1]
Speed: 16.8 knots (31.1 km/h) surfaced
10.3 knots (19 km/h) submerged[1]
Range: 7,880 nmi (14,590 km) at 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph), surfaced[4]
115 nautical miles (213 km) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h), submerged[1]
Test depth: 50 m (160 ft)[1]
Complement: 36[1]
Armament: 5 × 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes (four bow, one stern); 12 torpedoes
1 × 8.8 cm KL/30 (3.45 in) deck gun[1]

SM U-69 was a Type U 66 submarine or U-boat for the German Imperial Navy (German: Kaiserliche Marine) during the First World War. She had been laid down in February 1914 as U-10 the fourth boat of the U-7 class for the Austro-Hungarian Navy (German: Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine or K.u.K. Kriegsmarine) but was sold to Germany, along with the others in her class, in November 1914.

The submarine was ordered as U-10 from Germaniawerft of Kiel as the first of five boats of the U-7 class for the Austro-Hungarian Navy. After the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Navy became convinced that none of the submarines of the class could be delivered to the Adriatic via Gibraltar. As a consequence, the entire class, including U-10, was sold to the German Imperial Navy in November 1914. Under German control, the class became known as the U 66 type and the boats were renumbered; U-10 became U-69, and all were redesigned and reconstructed to German specifications. U-69 was launched in June 1915 and commissioned in September. As completed, she displaced 791 metric tons (872 short tons), surfaced, and 933 metric tons (1,028 short tons), submerged. The boat was 228 feet (69 m) long and was armed with five torpedo tubes and a deck gun.

As a part of the 4th Flotilla, U-69 sank 31 ships with a combined gross register tonnage of 102,875 in five war patrols. U-69 left Emden on her sixth patrol on 9 July 1917 for operations off Ireland. On 11 July, U-69 reported her position off Norway but neither she nor any of her crew were ever heard from again. British records say that U-69 was sunk by destroyer HMS Patriot on 12 July, but a German postwar study cast doubt on this. U-69 '​s fate is officially unknown.

Design and construction[edit]

After the Austro-Hungarian Navy had competitively evaluated three foreign submarine designs, it selected the Germaniawerft 506d design, also known as the Type UD, for its new U-7 class of five submarines.[5] The Navy ordered five boats on 1 February 1913.[3]

The U-7 class was seen by the Austro-Hungarian Navy as an improved version of its U-3 class, which was also a Germaniawerft design.[3][Note 1] As designed for the Austro-Hungarian Navy, the boats were to displace 695 metric tons (766 short tons) on the surface and 885 metric tons (976 short tons) while submerged. The doubled-hulled boats were to be 228 feet (69 m) long (OA) with a beam of 20 feet 8 inches (6.30 m) and a draft of 12 feet 5 inches (3.78 m). The Austrian specifications called for two shafts with twin diesel engines (2,300 brake horsepower (1,700 kW) total) for surface running at up to 17 knots (31 km/h), and twin electric motors (1,240 shaft horsepower (920 kW) total) for a maximum of 11 knots (20 km/h) when submerged.[3] The boats were designed with five 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes; four located in the bow, one in the stern. The boats' armament was to also include a single 66 cm/26 (2.6 in) deck gun.[3]

U-10 was laid down on 7 February 1914,[2] and her construction was slated to be complete within 29 to 33 months.[3]

Neither U-10 nor any of her sister boats were complete when World War I began in August 1914.[6] With the boats under construction at Kiel, the Austrians became convinced that it would be impossible to take delivery of the boats, which would need to be towed into the Mediterranean past Gibraltar, a British territory.[3][Note 2] As a result, U-10 and her four sisters were sold to the Imperial German Navy on 28 November 1914.[1][Note 3]

U-10 was renumbered by the Germans as U-69 when her class was redesignated as the Type U 66. The Imperial German Navy had the submarines redesigned and reconstructed to German standards, which increased the surface displacement by 96 metric tons (106 short tons) and the submerged by 48 metric tons (53 short tons). The torpedo load was increased by a third, from 9 to 12, and the deck gun was upgraded from the 66 mm (2.6 in) gun originally specified to an 8.8 cm (3.5 in) one.[1]

Service career[edit]

U-69 was launched on 24 June 1915.[1] On 4 September, SM U-69 was commissioned into the Imperial German Navy under the command of Kapitänleutnant Ernst Wilhelms.[2] On 4 March 1916, U-69 was assigned to the IV. U-Halbflotille.[7]

U-69 successfully completed five war patrols in which she sank 31 ships with a combined a total of 102,875 gross register tons (GRT). U-69 '​s most successful month for number of ships sunk was April 1916, when she sank eight ships of 21,051 tons in a span of six days. The month with the highest tonnage sunk was June 1917 when she sank five ships of 28,808 tons in a nine-day span;[8] nearly half of that total came from one ship, the 13,441-ton British armed merchant cruiser Avenger sunk on 14 June.[9] Avenger had been patrolling off the Shetland Islands and was returning to Scapa Flow, when she was struck by a single torpedo on the port side. The ship began listing heavily and non-essential crew were evacuated while destroyers arrived and took her under tow. Despite strenuous efforts to save her, Avenger foundered ten hours after being hit when her internal bulkheads collapsed. One man was killed in the attack.[10]

U-69 began her sixth and final patrol on 9 July when she departed from Emden, destined for operations off Ireland. U-69 '​s position report at 02:30 on 11 July reported that she was 35 nautical miles (65 km) south of Lindesnes, Norway, and was the last known contact with U-69. According to author Dwight Messimer, two British sources report that HMS Patriot sank U-69 at position 60°25′N 1°32′E / 60.417°N 1.533°E / 60.417; 1.533 on 12 July. An observer in a kite balloon deployed by Patriot spotted a surfaced U-boat at 07:00. The U-boat submerged and Patriot hunted the submarine until noon, when it loosed two depth charges that brought thick brown oil to the surface. A postwar study by Germany cast doubt on whether or not the submarine attacked by Patriot was U-69. Officially, her fate remains unknown.[11]

Ships sunk or damaged[edit]

Ships sunk or damaged by SM U-69[8]
Date Name Tonnage Nationality
15 April 1916 Fairport 3,838 British
15 April 1916 Schwanden 844 Russian
16 April 1916 Glendoon 1,918 Norwegian
16 April 1916 Harrovian 4,309 British
16 April 1916 Papelera 1,591 Norwegian
17 April 1916 Ernest Reyer 2,708 French
18 April 1916 Ravenhill 1,826 British
20 April 1916 Cairngowan 4,017 British
11 July 1916 Era 168 British
20 October 1916 Cabotia 4,309 British
24 October 1916 Sola 3,057 Norwegian
26 October 1916 North Wales 4,072 British
26 October 1916 Rappahannock 3,871 British
2 November 1916 Spero 1,132 British
3 November 1916 Bertha 591 Swedish
20 April 1917 Annapolis 4,567 British
25 April 1917 Hesperides 3,393 British
26 April 1917 Rio Lages 3,591 British
26 April 1917 Vauxhall 3,629 British
1 May 1917 Rockingham 4,555 American
2 May 1917 Troilus 7,625 British
29 May 1917 Argo 123 Swedish
29 May 1917 Ines 261 Swedish
29 May 1917 Konsul R. Nielsen 1,395 Danish
31 May 1917 Esneh 3,247 British
3 June 1917 Luisa* 1,648 Italian
6 June 1917 Parthenia 5,160 British
8 June 1917 Enidwen 3,594 British
8 June 1917 Saragossa 3,541 British
13 June 1917 Kelvinbank 4,072 British
14 June 1917 AvengerAvenger 13,441 British
24 July 1917 Mikelis 2,430 Greek

* damaged but not sunk


  1. ^ The U-3-class submarines, however, were less than half the displacement and nearly 90 feet (27 m) shorter than the U-7 design. See: Gardiner, pp. 342–43.
  2. ^ The Austro-Hungarian Navy's Germaniawerft-built U-3 class boats had been towed from Kiel to Pola via Gibraltar in 1909. See: Sieche, p. 19.
  3. ^ In April 1915, just five months later, the German U-21 successfully entered the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar, proving that delivery would have been possible after all. See: Gardiner, p. 343.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Gardiner, p. 177.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Guðmundur Helgason. "WWI U-boats: U 69". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gardiner, p. 343.
  4. ^ Tarrant, p. 170.
  5. ^ Gardiner, p. 340.
  6. ^ Guðmundur Helgason. WWI U-boats: U 66, WWI U-boats: U 67, WWI U-boats: U 68, WWI U-boats: U 69, WWI U-boats: U 70. U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved on 9 December 2008.
  7. ^ Tarrant, p. 34.
  8. ^ a b Guðmundur Helgason. "Ships hit during WWI: Ships hit by U 69". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  9. ^ Guðmundur Helgason. "Ships hit during WWI: Avenger". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  10. ^ Hepper, p. 93.
  11. ^ Messimer, p. 88.


  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-907-8. OCLC 12119866. 
  • Hepper, David (2006). British Warship Losses in the Ironclad Era 1860–1919. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-273-3. OCLC 237129318. 
  • Messimer, Dwight R. (2002). Verschollen: World War I U-boat losses. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-475-3. OCLC 231973419. 
  • Sieche, Erwin F. (1980). "Austro-Hungarian Submarines". Warship, Volume 2. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-976-4. OCLC 233144055. 
  • Tarrant, V. E. (1989). The U-Boat Offensive: 1914–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-764-7. OCLC 20338385. 
  • Spindler, Arno (1932,1933,1934,1941/1964,1966). Der Handelskrieg mit U-Booten. 5 Vols. Berlin: Mittler & Sohn. Vols. 4+5, dealing with 1917+18, are very hard to find: Guildhall Library, London, has them all, also Vol. 1-3 in an English translation: The submarine war against commerce.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Beesly, Patrick (1982). Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918. London: H Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-10864-2. 
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A Naval History of World War I. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85728-498-0. 
  • Roessler, Eberhard (1997). Die Unterseeboote der Kaiserlichen Marine. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-5963-7. 
  • Schroeder, Joachim (2002). Die U-Boote des Kaisers. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-6235-4. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2008). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol I., The Fleet in Action. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-76-3. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2009). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol II., The Fleet in Being. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-77-0. 

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