German submarine U-53 (1939)

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U 52.jpg
U-52, a typical Type VIIB boat
History
Nazi Germany
Name: U-53
Ordered: 15 May 1937
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Cost: 4,439,000 Reichsmark
Yard number: 588
Laid down: 13 March 1937
Launched: 6 May 1939
Commissioned: 24 June 1939
Fate: Sunk by HMS Gurkha 23 February 1940 near the Orkney Islands
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIB U-boat
Displacement:
  • 753 t (741 long tons) surfaced
  • 857 t (843 long tons) submerged
Length:
Beam:
  • 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
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:
Range:
  • 8,700 nmi (16,112 km; 10,012 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)surfaced
  • 90 nmi (170 km; 100 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
Test depth:
  • 230 m (750 ft)
  • Calculated crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
Gruppenhorchgerät
Armament:
Service record
Part of:
Commanders:
  • Oblt.z.S. Dietrich Knorr
  • 24 June – August 1939
  • Ernst-Günter Heinicke
  • August 1939 – 14 January 1940
  • Oblt.z.S. Heinrich Schonder
  • December 1939 – January 1940
  • K.Kapt. Harald Grosse
  • 15 January – 23 February 1940
Operations:
  • Three:
  • 1st patrol: 29 August – 30 September 1939
  • 2nd patrol: 21 October – 30 November 1939
  • 3rd patrol: 2–23 February 1940
Victories:
  • Seven ships sunk for a total of 27,316 GRT
  • one ship damaged, 8,022 GRT

German submarine U-53 was a Type VIIB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was laid down on 13 March 1937 at Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel and went into service on 24 June 1939 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See (Oblt.z.S.) Dietrich Knorr.

Design[edit]

German Type VIIB submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIA submarines. U-53 had a displacement of 753 tonnes (741 long tons) when at the surface and 857 tonnes (843 long tons) while submerged.[1] She had a total length of 66.50 m (218 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 48.80 m (160 ft 1 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.50 m (31 ft 2 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two MAN M 6 V 40/46 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 460/8-276 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 17.9 knots (33.2 km/h; 20.6 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph).[1] When submerged, the boat could operate for 90 nautical miles (170 km; 100 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,700 nautical miles (16,100 km; 10,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-53 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 one 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[1]

Service history[edit]

1st patrol[edit]

U-53 began her first patrol on 29 August 1939, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, under the command of Ernst-Günter Heinicke. Also aboard was Ernst Sobe, the commander of the 7th ("Wegener") Flotilla.[2] U-53 sank two British ships on this patrol: the tanker SS Cheyenne and the freighter SS Kafiristan.[3]

2nd patrol[edit]

A second patrol under Heinicke, beginning on 21 October produced no results. U-53, along with U-25 and U-26, was to penetrate the Strait of Gibraltar and raid Allied shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. Daunted by the strong British forces at the straits, Heinicke did not attempt to force them and was transferred to the merchant raider German auxiliary cruiser Widder on his return to Germany.[4][5]

3rd patrol[edit]

Harald Grosse replaced Heinicke for U-53's third and final war patrol, which began on 2 February 1940. Grosse sank six ships for 21,230 gross register tons (GRT), including the Spanish neutral Banderas, whose sinking strained relations between Germany and Spain. On 23[6] or 24[7] February (sources vary), U-53 was engaged and sunk by depth charges dropped by the British destroyer HMS Gurkha west of the Orkney Islands with the loss of all hands, (42 dead).

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1953 film The Cruel Sea U53 was the last (and only) submarine the crew of the fictitious frigate HMS Saltash Castle sank.

In the film Eye of the Needle U-53 is the escape U-boat of the Needle (played by Donald Sutherland) waiting offshore. This is supposed to happen in 1944 on the timeline of the film.

In the 1958 film I Was Monty's Double U-53 is the U-boat which drops off the German commandos attempting to kidnap who they think is General Montgomery (actually his double played by M.E. Clifton James).

In the 1959 British comedy film Don't Panic Chaps U-53 is depicted as the submarine that surfaces to pick up the "stranded" German forces on an unnamed Adriatic Island.

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date[8] Ship Nationality Tonnage (GRT) Fate
15 September 1939 SS Cheyenne  United Kingdom 8,825 Sunk
17 September 1939 SS Kafiristan  United Kingdom 5,193 Sunk
11 February 1940 MV Imperial Transport  United Kingdom 8,022 Damaged
11 February 1940 SS Snestad  Norway 4,114 Sunk
12 February 1940 SS Dalarö  Sweden 3,927 Sunk
13 February 1940 SS Norna  Sweden 1,022 Sunk
14 February 1940 SS Martin Goldschmidt  Denmark 2,095 Sunk
18 February 1940 SS Banderas  Spain 2,140 Sunk

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43–44.
  2. ^ Blair 1996, p. 56.
  3. ^ Blair 1996, pp. 90,94.
  4. ^ Blair 1996, pp. 115–119.
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Korvettenkapitän Ernst-Günter Heinicke". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  6. ^ Blair 1996, pp. 140–141.
  7. ^ Kemp 1997, p. 64.
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-53". WWII U-boat successes - uboat.net. Retrieved 21 November 2010.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters 1939–1942. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-58839-8.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kemp, Paul (1997). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3.

External links[edit]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIB boat U-53". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 53". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 1 February 2015.

Coordinates: 60°32′00″N 6°14′00″W / 60.533333°N 6.233333°W / 60.533333; -6.233333