German submarine U-254

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-254
Ordered: 23 September 1939
Builder: Bremer Vulkan, Bremen-Vegesack
Laid down: 14 December 1940
Launched: 20 September 1941
Commissioned: 8 November 1941
Fate: Sunk after collision, 8 December 1942[1]
General characteristics [2]
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.50 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Installed power: 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 bhp) (diesels)
750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) (electric)
Propulsion: 2 shafts; 2 × diesel engines
2 × electric motors
Speed: 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Service record
Part of: 8th U-boat Flotilla
(November 1941 – July 1942)
9th U-boat Flotilla
(August – December 1942)
Commanders: Kptlt. Hans Gilardone
(8 November 1941 – 8 December 1942)
Kptlt. Odo Loewe
(September – October 1942)
Operations: 1st patrol:
14 July – 19 August 1942
2nd patrol:
21 September – 22 October 1942
3rd patrol:
21 November – 8 December 1942
Victories: Three commercial vessels (18,553 GRT)

German submarine U-254 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine, built for service in the Second World War and the Battle of the Atlantic. She was a mildly successful boat which carried out three war patrols, but fell victim to a freak accident during an attack on an Allied convoy in the mid-Atlantic Ocean on her third patrol and was lost.

Built in 1941 at Vegesack, U-254 was commanded for all her brief career by Kapitänleutnant Hans Gilardone, except for a brief period of illness, when Kptlt. Odo Loewe took command for her second patrol. She conducted her warm-up and training period in the Baltic Sea in the first half of 1942, before she was despatched to Kiel from where she participated in her first war operations.


German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-254 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[2] It 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 shaft horsepower (760 PS; 560 kW) for use while submerged. It had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 ft) propellers. It was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).[2]

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).[2] When submerged, it could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, it could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-254 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at its bow and one at its stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and an anti-aircraft gun. It had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[2]

Service history[edit]

1st patrol[edit]

Her first war patrol was a simple one, entailing a passage between Kiel and her new home base in Brest in occupied France. During this month-long journey, U-254 was ordered to spend sometime cruising off Reykjavík, Iceland, hoping to catch some stragglers from northern convoys or supply ships running to the Allied forces stationed on the island. She had one success, sinking a small British freighter on 2 August before she headed for her new home.

2nd patrol[edit]

Her second patrol was more eventful, when on 3 October, after twelve days of cruising, she spotted the 11,000 ton American tanker ESSO Williamsburg in the central North Atlantic and sank her with one torpedo, killing 28.[3] This was followed six days later by another success in a similar area, when the 6,000 ton British ship SS Pennington Court was sunk by three torpedoes with all 40 sailors on board.[4]

The promising career of U-254 was almost cut short on this cruise, when the Norwegian Flower class corvette HNoMS Eglantine damaged her with depth charges during an attack on a convoy in the same area as her previous victories.

3rd patrol[edit]

After repairs, U-254 departed in late November 1942, returning to her old operating grounds of the North Atlantic routes. In December, the weather in the region is atrocious and visibility practically nil, so as U-254 maneuvered to attack Convoy HX-217, to which she had been directed on 8 December, it is perhaps unsurprising that her crew failed to see U-221 come steaming out of the gloom and straight into her broadside. The two submarines had become lost in the dark and collided with one another in a freak accident, which claimed 41 of U-254‍ '​s crew, who were spilled into the ocean as the boat heeled over and sank. Sailors from U-221 dived into the turbulent sea tied to ropes, and succeeded in rescuing four bedraggled survivors of the sinking. U-221 was badly damaged. Unable to dive, Oberleutnant zur See Trojer aborted the patrol and returned to St. Nazaire, France.

Summary of raiding career[edit]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage
2 August 1942 SS Flora II  United Kingdom 1,218 Sunk
3 October 1942 SS Robert H Colley  United States 11,651 Sunk
9 October 1942 SS Pennington Court  United Kingdom 6,098 Sunk


  1. ^ Kemp 1999, pp. 97-98.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gröner 1985, pp. 72-74.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Esso Williamsburg". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Pennington Court". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 December 2014. 


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German) IV (Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler). ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1985). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815–1945 (in German) III (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4. 
  • Kemp, Paul (1999). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. London: Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3. 
  • Sharpe, Peter (1998). U-Boat Fact File. Great Britain: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-072-9. 

External links[edit]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-254". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 254". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - (in German). Retrieved 26 December 2014. 

Coordinates: 55°0′N 40°0′W / 55.000°N 40.000°W / 55.000; -40.000