German submarine U-455

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Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-6435-32A, St. Nazaire, U-455 einlaufend, Begrüßung.jpg
U-455 arriving in St. Nazaire after her third patrol on 16 June 1942
Nazi Germany
Name: U-455
Ordered: 16 January 1940
Builder: Deutsche Werke AG, Kiel
Laid down: 3 September 1940
Launched: 21 June 1941
Commissioned: 21 August 1941
Fate: Listed as missing in the Mediterranean after 6 April 1944, probably in or around the Ligurian Sea (in front of Gêne)
General characteristics
Class & type: Type VIIC submarine
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
  • 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)
  • 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
  • 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
  • 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

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.

Her service began with the 5th U-boat Flotilla, a training outfit. She was transferred to the 7th flotilla for operations at the beginning of 1942 and again to the 29th flotilla in March 1944.

She carried out ten patrols and was a member of six wolfpacks; she sank three ships for a total of 17,685 gross register tons (GRT).

She was lost, probably in the Ligurian Sea (north of Corsica), on 6 April 1944. Her wreck was discovered in 2005, off Genoa. She had previously been thought to be near La Spezia.


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.[1] 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).[1]

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).[1] 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, and an anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[1]

Service history[edit]

1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 TBF Avengers from USS  Card. The smaller boats escaped, but U-460 was sunk.

Her ninth foray saw the U-boat transit the heavily defended Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea, leaving St. Nazaire on 6 January 1944 and arriving in Toulon on 3 February.

10th patrol and loss[edit]

On 6 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 - and ripping off about 10 m (33 ft) of the boat's stern, which was not found near the wreck, 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.[2]


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[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
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)


  1. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-455". 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; 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]

Coordinates: 44°4′N 9°51′E / 44.067°N 9.850°E / 44.067; 9.850