German submarine U-55 (1939)
U-52, a typical Type VIIB boat
|Ordered:||16 July 1937|
|Laid down:||2 November 1938|
|Launched:||19 October 1939|
|Commissioned:||21 November 1939|
|Fate:||Sunk 30 January 1940|
|Class and type:||Type VIIB U-boat|
|Draught:||4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 40–56 enlisted|
|Operations:||16–30 January 1940|
|Victories:||Six ships sunk for a total of 15,853 GRT|
German submarine U-55 was a Type VIIB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was ordered on 16 July 1937 and laid down on 2 November 1938 at Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel as yard number 590. Launched on 19 October 1939, she went into service on 21 November 1939 under the command of Kapitänleutnant (Kptlt.) Werner Heidel.
German Type VIIB submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIA submarines. U-55 had a displacement of 753 tonnes (741 long tons) when at the surface and 857 tonnes (843 long tons) while submerged. 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).
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). 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-55 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.
U-55 began her first and only war patrol on 16 January 1940, under Heidel's command; he had previously sunk two ships in U-7. She sank four small freighters sailing independently, then attacked convoy OA-80G on 29 January. U-55 sank two more ships before coming under concerted attack from the convoy's escorts, supported by a Sunderland flying boat from RAF Coastal Command 228 Squadron.
After a sustained depth charge attack, the U-boat surfaced and carried out a running gun battle before her deck gun jammed. Heidel ordered the boat to be abandoned, then apparently went down with it. The remainder of the crew was rescued by the escorts. The British awarded official credit for sinking U-55 to the sloop HMS Fowey, the destroyer HMS Whitshed, French destroyers Valmy and Guépard, and the Sunderland.
Summary of raiding history
|18 January 1940||Foxen||Sweden||1,304||Sunk|
|19 January 1940||Telnes||Norway||1,694||Sunk|
|22 January 1940||Segovia||Norway||1,387||Sunk|
|23 January 1940||Andalusia||Sweden||1,357||Sunk|
|30 January 1940||Keramiai||Greece||5,085||Sunk|
|30 January 1940||Vaclite||United Kingdom||5,026||Sunk|
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