German submarine U-455
U-455 arriving in St. Nazaire after her third patrol on 16 June 1942
|Ordered:||16 January 1940|
|Builder:||Deutsche Werke AG, Kiel|
|Laid down:||3 September 1940|
|Launched:||21 June 1941|
|Commissioned:||21 August 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk on 5 April 1944 SW of Genoa|
|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|
German submarine U-455 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II. She was laid down on 3 September 1940, launched on 21 June 1941 and commissioned on 21 August with Kapitänleutnant Hans-Henrich Giessler in command of a crew of 51.
German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-455 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 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).
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-455 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), one 3.7 cm (1.5 in) Flak M42 and two 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft guns. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.
1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols
U-455's operational career began when she left Kiel on 15 January 1942. Her first patrol took her to Iceland via Stavanger and Bergen in Norway. She returned to Bergen, empty-handed, on 28 February 1942.
The boat's second patrol was similarly unproductive, leaving Bergen on 21 March 1942 and arriving in St. Nazaire in occupied France on the 30th. She would continue to use this port for most of the rest of her career.
Her third foray was better; on 3 May 1942, she sank the British Workman off Cape Race, Newfoundland, followed by the Geo H. Jones on 11 June northeast of the Azores. Having departed St. Nazaire on 16 April 1942, she returned on 16 June, having spent 62 days at sea.
4th and 5th patrols
Her 4th patrol was even longer, it took her as far as the US Georgia coast, southeast of Savannah. She returned to St. Nazaire on 28 October 1942, having commenced the voyage on 22 August, a total of 68 days.
Her fifth patrol started on 24 November 1942; she scoured large swathes of the Atlantic, all to no avail.
6th, 7th, 8th and 9th patrols
Success continued to elude her; the only excitement on her sixth patrol was when a crewman was injured by one of the boat's own AA guns.
Things became even more serious on her eighth patrol. With a new captain, Kptlt. Hans-Martin Scheibe, who had assumed command on 22 November 1942, U-455, along with U-264 and U-422, were caught on the surface on 4 October 1943 while re-fuelling from U-460 by Grumman TBF Avengers from USS Card. The smaller boats escaped, but U-460 was sunk.
10th patrol and loss
On 5 April 1944, U-455 was lost with all hands, sunk by a mine. The German navy did not provide the sub's captain with their latest minefield maps and U-455 was driven straight into a German minefield. A mine exploded near the stern section - possibly during a turn - ripping off about 10 m (33 ft) of the boat's stern, leaving the crew without any chance of survival. The boat was likely at periscope depth, since the observation mast was deployed. The wreck is lying about 120 m (390 ft) depth 2 nmi (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) off Portofino, Italy, vertically with her fore section up. Her diesel mechanic Luke Brauer, who had served on-board up to patrol 9 but transferred to the naval academy before her last mission, confirmed her identity during a sea exploration in 2008. Her last transmission was on 2 April 1944, four days prior to her disappearance, when she radioed-in while on patrol off the coast of Algiers.
U-455 took part in six wolfpacks, namely.
- Hecht (27 January - 4 February 1942)
- Pfadfinder (21–27 May 1942)
- Draufgänger (29 November - 11 December 1942)
- Ungestüm (11–30 December 1942)
- Without name (11–23 July 1943)
- Schlieffen (14 October 1943)
Summary of raiding history
|3 May 1942||British Workman||United Kingdom||6,994||Sunk|
|11 June 1942||Geo H. Jones||United Kingdom||6,914||Sunk|
|25 July 1943||Rouenais||Free France||3,977||Sunk (mine)|
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- 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.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-455". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
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- U-455 - Auf den Spuren eines U-Boots