German submarine U-137 (1940)

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For other ships with the same name, see German submarine U-137.
Nazi Germany
Name: U-137
Ordered: 25 September 1939
Builder: Deutsche Werke, Kiel
Laid down: 16 November 1939
Launched: 18 May 1940
Commissioned: 15 June 1940
Fate: Scuttled on 2 May 1945 at Wilhelmshaven
General characteristics
Class and type: IID
Type: Coastal submarine
  • 314 t (309 long tons) surfaced
  • 364 t (358 long tons) submerged
  • 4.92 m (16 ft 2 in) (o/a)
  • 4.00 m (13 ft 1 in) (pressure hull)
Height: 8.40 m (27 ft 7 in)
Draught: 3.93 m (12 ft 11 in)
Installed power:
  • 700 PS (510 kW; 690 bhp) (diesels)
  • 410 PS (300 kW; 400 shp) (electric)
  • 3,450 nmi (6,390 km; 3,970 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
  • 56 nmi (104 km; 64 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 80 m (260 ft)
Complement: 3 officers, 22 men
Service record
Part of:
  • Kptlt. Herbert Wohlfarth
  • Oblt.z.S. Hans-Ferdinand Massmann
  • Oblt.z.S. Herbert Brüning
  • Oblt.z.S. Gerth Gemeiner
  • Oblt.z.S. Günther Schimmel
  • Oblt.z.S. Erich Fischer
  • Oblt.z.S. Hans-Joachim Dierks
  • Four patrols:
  • 1st patrol:
  • 21–29 September 1940
  • 2nd patrol:
  • 9–17 October 1940
  • 3rd patrol:
  • 3–22 November 1940
  • 4th patrol:
  • 21 June - 4 July 1941
  • Six ships sunk for a total of 24,136 GRT
  • One ship damaged (4,917 GRT)
  • One auxiliary warship damaged (10,552 GRT)

German submarine U-137 was a Type IID U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine in World War II. Her keel was laid down on 16 November 1939 by Deutsche Werke in Kiel. She was launched on 18 May 1940 and commissioned on 15 June 1940 with Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Wohlfarth in command.

U-137 conducted four patrols, sinking six ships totalling 24,136 gross register tons (GRT) and damaged one vessel of 4,917 GRT. She also damaged one auxiliary warship of 10,552 GRT. She was scuttled shortly before Germany's surrender on 2 May 1945 at Wilhelmshaven. U-137 never suffered any casualties to her crew.


German Type IID submarines were enlarged versions of the original Type IIs. U-137 had a displacement of 314 tonnes (309 long tons) when at the surface and 364 tonnes (358 long tons) while submerged. Officially, the standard tonnage was 250 long tons (250 t), however.[1] The U-boat had a total length of 43.97 m (144 ft 3 in), a pressure hull length of 29.80 m (97 ft 9 in), a beam of 4.92 m (16 ft 2 in), a height of 8.40 m (27 ft 7 in), and a draught of 3.93 m (12 ft 11 in). The submarine was powered by two MWM RS 127 S four-stroke, six-cylinder diesel engines of 700 metric horsepower (510 kW; 690 shp) for cruising, two Siemens-Schuckert PG VV 322/36 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 410 metric horsepower (300 kW; 400 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 0.85 m (3 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 80–150 metres (260–490 ft).[1]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 12.7 knots (23.5 km/h; 14.6 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.4 knots (13.7 km/h; 8.5 mph).[1] When submerged, the boat could operate for 35–42 nautical miles (65–78 km; 40–48 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 3,800 nautical miles (7,000 km; 4,400 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph). U-137 was fitted with three 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes at the bow, five torpedoes or up to twelve Type A torpedo mines, and a 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of 25.[1]

Operational career[edit]

1st patrol[edit]

U-137 made the short journey from Kiel to Stavanger in Norway in September 1940. It was from the Nordic port that she began her first patrol on the 21st. Her route took her through the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands and on in to the Atlantic west of Scotland and Ireland.

She sank Manchester Brigade west of Malin Head on the 26th and damaged Ashantian on the same date. The ship had been abandoned by her crew; the master and eight crew-members had returned to the vessel where the master was scandalized to see that the ship had been looted following the presence of a boarding party from the armed trawler HMS Wolves. Ashantian was repaired and returned to service in September 1941. She was sunk in April 1943.

Continuing her success, the U-boat sank Stratford, in the same general area as her other victims, also on the 26th.

U-137 arrived at Lorient on the French Atlantic coast, on 29 September.

2nd patrol[edit]

The Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Cheshire was torpedoed northwest of Ireland on 14 October 1940. The ship was towed to Belfast Lough and then moved to Liverpool for repairs that took six months.

Having set off from Lorient on 9 October, the boat returned there on the 17th.

3rd patrol[edit]

Sortie number three commenced with U-137's departure from Lorient on 3 November 1940 and returning to her old hunting grounds west of Scotland and north of Ireland. Her run of victories continued, sinking Cape St. Andrew west north-west of Aran Island on the 13th; Planter on the 16th north north-west of Bloody Foreland and two ships on the same day, from the same convoy (HG-46), Veronica and Saint Germain north north-west of Tory Island on 17 November.

The submarine steamed to Norway, again round the British Isles, docking in Bergen, on 22 November.

4th patrol[edit]

The boat's last operational patrol was to the north of the Shetland Islands, but she did not attack any targets. She then moved from Bergen to Helsingör in Denmark[2] and on to Kiel, arriving there on 29 August 1941.


U-137 became a 'school' (or training) boat in December 1940, a position she would hold for the rest of the war. She was one of many that were scuttled in Raederschleuse (a lock named after the Grand Admiral), in Wilhelmshaven, on 2 May 1945. The wreck was broken up, although the post-war date is unknown.

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Ship Name Flag Tonnage[Note 1] Fate Convoy Position Deaths
26 September 1940 Ashantian  United Kingdom 4,917 Damaged OB-218 55°10′N 11°00′W / 55.167°N 11.000°W / 55.167; -11.000 4
26 September 1940 Manchester Brigade  United Kingdom 6,042 Sunk OB-218 54°53′N 10°22′W / 54.883°N 10.367°W / 54.883; -10.367 56
26 September 1940 Stratford  United Kingdom 4,753 Sunk OB-218 54°50′N 10°40′W / 54.833°N 10.667°W / 54.833; -10.667 2
14 October 1940 HMS Cheshire*  Royal Navy 10,552 Damaged 55°13′N 13°02′W / 55.217°N 13.033°W / 55.217; -13.033 0
13 November 1940 Cape St. Andrew  United Kingdom 5,094 Sunk Straggler 55°14′N 10°29′W / 55.233°N 10.483°W / 55.233; -10.483 15
16 November 1940 Planter  United Kingdom 5,887 Sunk Sailing alone 55°38′N 08°28′W / 55.633°N 8.467°W / 55.633; -8.467 13
17 November 1940 Saint Germain  United Kingdom 1,044 Sunk HG-46 55°40′N 08°40′W / 55.667°N 8.667°W / 55.667; -8.667 0
17 November 1940 Veronica  Sweden 1,316 Sunk HG-46 55°20′N 08°45′W / 55.333°N 8.750°W / 55.333; -8.750 17

* Survived the war.



  1. ^ Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.


  1. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 39–40.
  2. ^ The Times Atlas of the World - Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0 7230 0809 4, p. 11


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6. 
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [German U-boat losses from September 1939 to May 1945]. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German). IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4. 

External links[edit]

  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 137". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - (in German). Retrieved 30 January 2015. 
  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IID boat U-137". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 6 December 2014.