German submarine U-576

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-576
Ordered: 8 January 1940
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Yard number: 552
Laid down: 1 August 1940
Launched: 30 April 1941
Commissioned: 26 June 1941
Fate: Sunk by US aircraft and a merchant ship, near the East Coast of the United States, July 1942[1]
General characteristics [2]
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke F46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 PS (2,800–3,200 bhp; 2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × electric motors, totalling 750 PS (740 shp; 550 kW) and max rpm: 296.
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: 44–52 officers and ratings
Service record[3]
Part of: 7th U-boat Flotilla
(26 June–1 September 1941)
7th U-boat Flotilla
(1 September 1941–15 July 1942)
Commanders: Kptlt. Hans-Dieter Heinicke
(26 June–15 July 1942)
Operations: 1st patrol:
6 October–5 November 1941
2nd patrol:
11–23 December 1941
3rd patrol:
20 January–28 February 1942
4th patrol:
29 March–16 May 1942
5th patrol:
16 June–15 July 1942
Victories: Four ships sunk, total 15,450 GRT;
two ships damaged - 19,457 GRT

German submarine U-576 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She carried out five patrols, sinking four ships of 15,450 gross register tons (GRT) and damaging two more of 19,457 GRT. She was sunk in July 1942 by depth charges from two US aircraft and gunfire from a merchant ship, near the East Coast of the United States. The wreck was discovered in August 2014.

Service history[edit]

Laid down on 1 August 1940 at Blohm & Voss, Hamburg at yard number 551, the submarine was launched on 30 April 1941. She was commissioned on 26 June under the command of Kapitänleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinicke.

U-576 trained in the 7th U-boat Flotilla, and stayed with that flotilla for operations from 1 September 1941 until her loss on 15 July 1942.

1st and 2nd patrols[edit]

U-576‍ '​s first patrol was from Kirkenes in Norway. She headed for the Barents Sea and swept the area off the Kola Peninsula. No encounters were reported.

On her second patrol, she sailed into the Atlantic Ocean through the gap separating the Faroe and Shetland Islands. She arrived at St. Nazaire in occupied France on 23 December 1941, without incident.

3rd patrol[edit]

Leaving St. Nazaire on 20 January 1942, U-576 sank the Empire Spring, a catapult armed merchantman or CAM ship, on 14 February, southeast of Sable Island, off Nova Scotia.[4]

4th patrol[edit]

As one of the boats involved in Operation Drumbeat (U-boat operations off the eastern seaboard of the United States),[5] U-576 sank the Pipestone County on 21 April 1942, 475 nautical miles (880 km; 547 mi) east of Cape Henry, Virginia. All 46 crewmen survived. The submarine surfaced and her crew gave provisions to the men in one of the lifeboats. On 30 April 1942, she sank the Taborfjell 95 nautical miles (176 km; 109 mi) east of Cape Cod. The merchant ship went down in just one minute, with the loss of 17 of her 20 crewmen.

5th patrol and loss[edit]

The boat set out from St. Nazaire for the last time on 16 June 1942, sailing for the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. Off the North Carolina coast, she sank the Bluefields and damaged the Chilore and the J.A. Mowinckel on 15 July 1942. However, she was sunk later that day by depth charges from two American Kingfisher aircraft and gunfire from the Unicoi. All 45 crewmen on the U-576 died; there were no survivors.


An unsuccessful attempt to locate the sunken vessel off Cape Hatteras was documented in the National Geographic TV documentary, Hitler's Secret Attack on America (2013). In October 2014, however, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the submarine had been located using sonar in August 2014 during an expedition conducted by NOAA's Office of Marine Sanctuaries. Her wreck lies 30 miles off Cape Hatteras and about 240 yards from the wreck of the Nicaraguan-flagged freighter Bluefields.[6]

Summary of raiding career[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
14 February 1942 Empire Spring  United Kingdom 6,946 Sunk
21 April 1942 Pipestone County  United States 5,102 Sunk
30 April 1942 Taborfjell  Norway 1,339 Sunk
15 July 1942 Bluefields  Nicaragua 2,063 Sunk
15 July 1942 Chilore  United States 8,130 Damaged
15 July 1942 J.A. Mowinckel  Panama 11,147 Damaged


  1. ^ Kemp 1997, p. 84.
  2. ^ Gröner 1985, pp. 72-74.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-576". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  4. ^ The Times Atlas of the World - Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0-7230-0809-4, p. 55
  5. ^ Gannon, Michael - Operation Drumbeat - the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II, 1990, Harper and Row publishers, ISBN 0-06-016155-8, p. 489
  6. ^ Lendon, Brad (October 21, 2014). "Wreck of WWII German U-boat found off North Carolina". CNN. Retrieved October 21, 2014. 
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-576". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 3 February 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 (1985). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815–1945 (in German) III (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4. 
  • Kemp, Paul (1997). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3. 

External links[edit]