German submarine U-561

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History
Nazi Germany
Name: U-561
Ordered: 16 October 1939
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Yard number: 537
Laid down: 28 February 1940
Launched: 23 January 1941
Commissioned: 13 March 1941
Fate: Sunk by torpedoes fired from Royal Navy MTB-81 on 12 July 1943 at position 38°16′N 15°39′E / 38.267°N 15.650°E / 38.267; 15.650 in the Straits of Messina.
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[1]
Part of:
Commanders:
  • Kptlt. Robert Bartels
  • 13 March 1941 – 5 September 1942
  • Kptlt. Heinz Schomburg
  • 5 September 1942 – 18 June 1943
  • Oblt.z.S. Fritz Henning
  • 19 June – 12 July 1943
Operations:
  • 1st patrol: 25 May – 1 August 1941
  • 2nd patrol: 20 August – 20 September 1941
  • 3rd patrol: 1–26 November 1941
  • 4th patrol: 3–22 January 1942
  • 5th patrol: 26 January – 20 February 1942
  • 6th patrol: 4 April – 5 May 1942
  • 7th patrol: 11–25 June 1942
  • 8th patrol: 2–24 July 1942
  • 9th patrol: 12 September – 4 October 1942
  • 10th patrol: 7–14 November 1942
  • 11th patrol: 25 November – 18 December 1942
  • 12th patrol: 23 December 1942 – 15 January 1943
  • 13th patrol: 11–28 March 1943
  • 14th patrol: 22 April – 3 June 1943
  • 15th patrol: 10–12 July 1943
Victories:
  • 5 merchant ships sunk (17,146 GRT
  • 1 merchant ship damaged (4,043 GRT
  • 1 merchant ship total loss 5,062 GRT

German submarine U-561 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II. She was laid down on 28 February 1940 by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg as yard number 537, launched on 23 January 1941 and commissioned on 13 March 1941 under Kapitänleutnant Robert Bartels (German Cross in Gold).

Design[edit]

German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-561 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[2] 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 BBC GG UB 720/8 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).[2]

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).[2] 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-561 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.[2]

Service history[edit]

The boat's service began on 13 March 1941 with training as part of the 1st U-boat Flotilla. She was transferred to the 23rd flotilla on 1 February 1942. In 15 patrols she sank five ships for a total of 17,146 gross register tons (GRT), plus one ship damaged and a second a total loss. During late July 1941, U-561, along with 9 other German and Italian submarines, attacked convoy OG 69 en route from Liverpool to Gibraltar. U-561 torpedoed and sank the 1,884 GRT British freighter Wrotham. She was sunk by torpedoes fired from Royal Navy MTB-81 on 12 July 1943 at position 38°16′N 15°39′E / 38.267°N 15.650°E / 38.267; 15.650 in the Straits of Messina.[3]

Wolfpacks[edit]

She took part in two wolfpacks, namely,

  • Bosemüller (28 August – 2 September 1941)
  • Seewolf (2–15 September 1941)

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
(GRT)
Fate[4]
28 July 1941 Wrotham  United Kingdom 1,884 Sunk
11 November 1941 Meridian  Panama 5,592 Sunk
14 November 1941 Crusader  Panama 2,939 Sunk
14 May 1942 Fred  Greece 4,043 Damaged (mine)
14 May 1942 Hav  Norway 5,062 Total loss (mine)
14 May 1942 Mount Olympus  Greece 6,692 Sunk (mine)
24 September 1942 Sphinx  Egypt 39 Sunk

References[edit]

  1. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-561". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  3. ^ Busch & Röll 1999.
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-561". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-561". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 561". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 28 December 2014.