German submarine U-402

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History
Nazi Germany
Name: U-402
Ordered: 23 September 1939
Builder: Danziger Werft, Danzig
Yard number: 103
Laid down: 22 April 1940
Launched: 28 December 1940
Commissioned: 21 May 1941
Fate: Sunk on 13 October 1943 by Mark 24 FIDO Torpedo from Grumman TBF Avenger aircraft of USS Card
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement:
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length:
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)
Draught: 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:
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
Armament:
Service record
Commanders: Kptlt. Siegfried Freiherr von Forstner
Victories:
  • Sank 14 merchant ships and one warship
  • Damaged three ships

German submarine U-402 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II.

She was laid down at the Danziger Werft in the city of the same name on 22 April 1940 as yard number 103, launched on 28 December 1940[1] and was commissioned on 21 May 1941, with Kapitänleutnant Siegfried Freiherr von Forstner in command.[2]

The boat commenced her career with the 3rd U-boat Flotilla on 21 May 1941 carrying-out training before moving on to operations on 1 October 1941. U-402 carried out eight combat patrols, sinking 14 merchantmen and one warship for a total of over 70,000 gross register tons (GRT) during the Second World War. She also damaged three other ships. The submarine was a member of twelve wolfpacks.

For his numerous successes, von Forstner received the Knight's Cross.

Design[edit]

German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-402 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[3] 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 Siemens-Schuckert GU 343/38–8 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).[3]

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).[3] 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-402 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 a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[3]

Service history[edit]

1st and 2nd patrols[edit]

No ships were sunk during the first patrol which lasted from 26 October to 9 December 1941. U-402 followed the Norwegian coast from Kiel before heading west towards the Atlantic. The submarine sailed into St. Nazaire in France, after 45 uneventful days.[4]

On her second patrol, U-402 damaged the 12,000-ton troopship Llangibby Castle off the Bay of Biscay on 16 January 1942, but the troopship was able to make repairs in the Azores.[5] U-402 returned to St. Nazaire on 11 February 1942.

3rd and 4th patrols[edit]

For her third sortie, U-402 headed for the US east coast, sinking a total of three ships, two of which were the 5,300-ton Soviet freighter Ashkhabad and her escort, the 1,000-ton converted yacht USS Cythera off Cape Hatteras on 2 May 1942.[6] The U-boat had been unsuccessfully attacked by a US Navy PBY Catalina in mid-Atlantic on 29 April 1942.[4]

The boat returned to the US eastern seaboard for her fourth patrol, but success eluded her. She returned to France, having been depth charged by patrol bombers off Cape Hatteras in mid-July and suffering a battery explosion.[7] U-402 limped back to France, but this time to La Pallice, on 5 August 1942.

5th and 6th patrols[edit]

It was a different story on her fifth patrol; the boat attacked over 20,000 tons of shipping, including the torpedoing of five ships from convoy SC 107 which involved the sinking of the British 4,753 ton Empire Antelope on 2 November 1942[8] and a sister, Empire Sunrise, a few hours earlier.

She also had plenty of success when she attacked seven ships from convoy SC 118 on her sixth patrol.

7th and 8th patrols[edit]

Her seventh outing saw her sinking two ships from convoy SC 129. Retribution was swift; one of the escorts, HMS Gentian depth charged and damaged the U-boat sufficiently to force her return to La Pallice on 26 May.[9]

Her eighth and final patrol was marked with a paucity of targets and an ever-increasing frequency of air attacks; one of which involved a Wellington of 612 Squadron, RAF on 8 September. U-402 was not hit, but the aircraft sustained enough damage to make a safe return to its base questionable.

Loss[edit]

U-402 had departed La Pallice on 4 September 1943. On the 13 October she was sunk by a Mark 24 FIDO Torpedo dropped by Grumman TBF Avenger aircraft from the escort carrier USS Card.[2][10]

Wolfpacks[edit]

U-402 took part in twelve wolfpacks, namely:[4]

  • Störtebecker (17–19 November 1941)
  • Benecke (19–25 November 1941)
  • Letzte Ritter (25 November - 4 December 1941)
  • Panther (10–20 October 1942)
  • Veilchen (20 October - 5 November 1942)
  • Landsknecht (19–28 January 1943)
  • Pfeil (1–8 February 1943)
  • Amsel 1 (3–6 May 1943)
  • Elbe (7–10 May 1943)
  • Elbe 2 (10–12 May 1943)
  • Leuthen (15–24 September 1943)
  • Rossbach (24 September - 6 October 1943)

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Ship Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate[11]
16 May 1941 Llangibby Castle  United Kingdom 11,951 Damaged
13 April 1942 Empire Progress  United Kingdom 5,249 Sunk
30 April 1942 Ashkhabad  Soviet Union 5,284 Sunk
2 May 1942 USS Cythera  United States Navy 602 Sunk
2 November 1942 Dalcroy  United Kingdom 4,558 Sunk
2 November 1942 Empire Antelope  United Kingdom 4,945 Sunk
2 November 1942 Empire Leopard  United Kingdom 5,676 Sunk
2 November 1942 Empire Sunrise  United Kingdom 7,459 Damaged
2 November 1942 Rinos  Greece 4,649 Sunk
7 February 1942 Afrika  United Kingdom 8,597 Sunk
7 February 1942 Daghild  Norway 9,272 Damaged
7 February 1942 USS Henry R. Mallory  United States Navy 6,063 Sunk
7 February 1942 Kalliopi  United States 4,695 Sunk
7 February 1942 Robert E. Hopkins  United Kingdom 6,625 Sunk
7 February 1942 Toward  United Kingdom 1,571 Sunk
8 February 1942 Newton Ash  United Kingdom 4,625[12] Sunk
11 May 1943 Antigone  United Kingdom 4,545 Sunk
11 May 1943 Grado  Norway 3,082 Sunk

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

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

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Lenton 1976, p. 180.
  2. ^ a b Kemp 1999, p. 150.
  3. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  4. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-402". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Blair 1996, pp. 489-492.
  6. ^ Blair 1996, p. 544.
  7. ^ Waters & December 1966, p. 99.
  8. ^ "Empire - A". Mariners. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  9. ^ Blair 1998, p. 329.
  10. ^ Waters & December 1966, p. 105.
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U402". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Hague 2000, p. 137.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War – The Hunters 1939-1942. Random House. ISBN 0-394-58839-8. 
  • Blair, Clay (1998). Hitler's U-Boat War – The Hunted 1942-1945. Random House. ISBN 0-679-45742-9. 
  • 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. 
  • Edwards, Bernard (1996). Dönitz and the Wolf Packs - The U-boats at War. Cassell Military Classics. pp. 144, 147, 149, 206, 211. ISBN 0-304-35203-9. 
  • 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. 
  • Hague, Arnold (2000). The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-019-3. 
  • Kemp, Paul (1999). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. London: Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3. 
  • Lenton, H.T. (1976). German Warships of the Second World War. Arco Publishing Company. ISBN 0-668-04037-8. 
  • Waters, John M. Jr. (December 1966). "Stay Tough". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 

External links[edit]