German submarine U-221
|Ordered:||15 August 1940|
|Laid down:||16 June 1941|
|Launched:||14 March 1942|
|Commissioned:||9 May 1942|
|Fate:||Sunk by aircraft, 27 September 1943|
|Class and type:||Type VIIC submarine|
|Height:||9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)|
|Draught:||4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 40–56 enlisted|
|Victories:||11 commercial vessels (65,589 GRT)|
Ordered on 15 August 1940 from the Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel, she was laid down on 16 June 1941 as yard number 651, launched on 14 March 1942 and commissioned on 9 May 1942 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Hans-Hartwig Trojer.
A member of twelve wolfpacks, she sank a total of eleven ships for a total of 65,589 gross register tons (GRT) in five patrols. In addition, it sunk 10 warships with a total tonnage 759 tons and damaged one ship with a total tonnage of 7,197 GRT.
German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-221 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged. She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 50.50 m (165 ft 8 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower (2,060 to 2,350 kW; 2,760 to 3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two AEG GU 460/8–27 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).
The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph). When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-221 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and one at the stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and an anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.
U-221 is also credited with the destruction of ten allied landing craft (nine LCMs and one LCT) that were lost aboard the British merchantman Southern Empress when that vessel was torpedoed and sunk on 14 October 1942.
U-221 departed Kristiansand on 3 September 1942 having moved to the Norwegian port a day earlier. Her route took her through the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. She claimed her first victim, Fagersten, about 500 nmi (930 km; 580 mi) east of the Belle Isle Strait, in Newfoundland on 13 October. In the same attack, she sank Ashworth and Senta. There were no survivors from either vessel.
The next day two more ships fell to the torpedoes of the German U-boat. The Susana went down in six minutes northeast of St. Johns; Southern Empress was sent to the bottom, taking a deck cargo of ten landing craft with her.
U-221 docked in St Nazaire on 22 October.
The boat's second foray was one of anti-climax and tragedy. Although she scoured the Atlantic west of Ireland, she failed to find any targets. On 8 December U-221 and U-254 collided in heavy fog, resulting in the loss of the latter boat. U-221 was badly damaged. Unable to dive, Oberleutnant zur See Trojer aborted the patrol and returned to St. Nazaire.
Her third sortie was more fruitful. The Jamaica was destroyed on 7 March 1943. This ship took just two minutes to find a watery grave, followed by Tucurina on the 10th, southeast of Cape Farewell, (Greenland). In the same attack, the U-boat sank Andrea F. Luckenbach and damaged SS Lawton B. Evans (probably due to a dud torpedo).
Retribution was swift; the convoy's escorts from HX-228 caused serious damage to U-221. Repairs were carried out at sea, enabling the boat to sink two more ships on 18 March; Canadian Star and Walter Q. Gresham were added to her list of 'kills'.
U-221 only sank one ship on this patrol, Sandanger; the survivors had a remarkable escape. Occupying the only intact lifeboat, they found themselves in an area of low pressure created by the ship's burning fuel cargo. The flames were split in two by strong winds which also kept them above the men's heads by only a few feet as they rowed clear of the location.
5th patrol and loss
U-221 left St. Nazaire for the last time on 20 September 1943. On the 27th she was attacked by a Handley Page Halifax of No. 58 Squadron RAF with eight depth charges southwest of Ireland. The U-boat was seen to sink by the stern but the aircraft was also hit, forcing the pilot to ditch about three miles from the encounter. Two gunners from the Halifax were lost; the U-boat was sunk with all hands (50 men).
U-221 took part in twelve wolfpacks, namely.
- Pfeil (12–22 September 1942)
- Blitz (22–26 September 1942)
- Tiger (26–30 September 1942)
- Wotan (5–18 October 1942)
- Draufgänger (29 November - 9 December 1942)
- Neuland (8–13 March 1943)
- Dränger (14–20 March 1943)
- Drossel (11–15 May 1943)
- Oder (17–19 May 1943)
- Mosel (19–24 May 1943)
- Trutz (1–16 June 1943)
- Trutz 3 (16–29 June 1943)
Summary of raiding history
|13 October 1942||Ashworth||United Kingdom||5,227||Sunk|
|13 October 1942||Fagersten||Norway||2,342||Sunk|
|13 October 1942||Senta||Norway||3,785||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-508*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-509*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-519*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-522*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-523*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-532*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-537*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-547*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCM-620*||Royal Navy||52||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||HMS LCT-2006*||Royal Navy||291||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||Southern Empress||United Kingdom||12,398||Sunk|
|14 October 1942||Susana||United States||5,929||Sunk|
|7 March 1943||Jamaica||Norway||3,015||Sunk|
|10 March 1943||Andrea F. Luckenbach||United States||6,565||Sunk|
|10 March 1943||Lawton B. Evans||United States||7,197||Damaged|
|10 March 1943||Tucurinca||United Kingdom||5,412||Sunk|
|18 March 1943||Canadian Star||United Kingdom||8,293||Sunk|
|18 March 1943||Walter Q. Gresham||United States||7,191||Sunk|
|18 March 1943||Sandanger||Norway||9,432||Sunk|
* Being carried aboard Southern Empress
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