German submarine U-596

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Nazi Germany
Name: U-596
Ordered: 16 January 1940
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Yard number: 572
Laid down: 4 January 1941
Launched: 17 September 1941
Commissioned: 13 November 1941
Fate: Scuttled on 24 September 1944 in the Mediterranean
General characteristics
Class and 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)
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)
  • 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-596 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II. She was laid down on 4 January 1941 by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg as yard number 572, launched on 17 September 1941 and commissioned on 13 November under Kapitänleutnant Gunter Jahn. He was replaced on 28 July 1943 by Oberleutnant zur See Victor-Whilhelm Noon who was superseded by Oblt.z.S. Hans Kolbus in July 1944.

The boat's service began on 13 November 1941 with training as part of the 8th U-boat Flotilla. She was transferred to the 3rd flotilla on 1 July 1942 and moved on to the 29th flotilla on 19 November.


German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-596 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 Brown, Boveri & Cie 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).[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-596 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 a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[1]

Service history[edit]

In twelve patrols she sank twelve ships, including one warship for a total of 41,411 GRT.

Her initial sortie from Kiel was cut short by a battery explosion on 28 June 1942. She was obliged to put into Bergen in Norway.

1st patrol[edit]

Her first patrol saw her depart Bergen on 8 August 1942, cross the North Sea and move through the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands into the Atlantic. There she sank the Suecia with a torpedo on 16 August, having first checked the ships' papers. She also sank the Empire Hartebeeste on 20 September, but was attacked by HNoMS Potentilla and HMS Viscount on 24 August. No damage was sustained. U-596 lost a man overboard on 30 August in mid-Atlantic. The boat then docked at St. Nazaire in occupied France on 3 October.

2nd patrol[edit]

Her next foray from St. Nazaire took the U-boat as part of group 'Delphin' to La Spezia in northern Italy. Her route involved passing the heavily defended Strait of Gibraltar, which she successfully accomplished in the darkness during the period of the new moon from 8–10 November 1942.[2]

3rd and 4th patrols[edit]

U-596's third patrol took her past the Balearic Islands to the Algerian coast near Oran. It was unsuccessful.

Her fourth foray yielded some reward. Between Algiers and Oran she damaged Fort Norman and Empire Standard, both on 9 March 1943.

5th and 6th patrols[edit]

Her fifth outing, in the same area as her third and fourth patrols, was rewarded with the sinking of the Fort a la Corne west of Algiers on 30 March 1943.

Her home port was moved from La Spezia to Pola in Croatia; she sailed from there on her sixth patrol, but it was uneventful.

7th and 8th patrols[edit]

Patrol number seven was marked by the sinking of several Egyptian, a Palestinian and British-registered sailing ships off the Lebanon coast with her deck gun in August and September 1943.

During her eighth patrol, she sank Marit off the Libyan coast on 4 October, but was attacked by the British corvette HMS Gloxina. Although slightly damaged, the U-boat escaped.

9th, 10th and 11th patrols[edit]

U-596 departed Pola on 30 November but it was not until many days later that she sank the Troop Transport Cap Padaran off Cape Spartivento in Italy on 9 December. She returned to Pola on 28 December 1943.

Another unsuccessful patrol passed between 12 February and 11 March 1944.

The boat barely left the Adriatic for patrol number eleven.

12th patrol[edit]

What turned out to be the last complete patrol by a U-boat in the Mediterranean[3] began with U-596's departure from Pola on 29 July 1944. Her route was to the Gulf of Sirte on the Libyan coast. Her arrival at Salamis in Greece was followed by the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) bombing the port on 29 September (USAAF records say the 25th). The boat was sufficiently damaged that the crew were forced to abandon her and join the general retreat through Athens.[4]


The submarine was scuttled on 24 September 1944 in Skaramanga Bay, near Salamis in position 37°59′N 23°34′E / 37.983°N 23.567°E / 37.983; 23.567Coordinates: 37°59′N 23°34′E / 37.983°N 23.567°E / 37.983; 23.567. One person died; the number of survivors is unknown.

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate[5]
16 August 1942 Suecia  Sweden 4,966 Sunk
20 September 1942 Empire Hartebeeste  United Kingdom 5,676 Sunk
7 February 1943 HMS LCI (L) 162  Royal Navy 246 Sunk
9 March 1943 Empire Standard  United Kingdom 7,047 Damaged
30 March 1943 Fort Norman  United Kingdom 7,133 Damaged
30 March 1943 Fort a la Corne  United Kingdom 7,133 Sunk
30 March 1943 Hallanger  Norway 9,551 Sunk
20 August 1943 El Sayeda  Egypt 68 Sunk
21 August 1943 Lily  British Mandate for Palestine 132 Sunk
21 August 1943 Namaz  United Kingdom 50 Sunk
21 August 1943 Panikos  United Kingdom 21 Sunk
30 August 1943 Nagwa  Egypt 183 Sunk
7 September 1943 Hamidieh  Egypt 80 Sunk
4 October 1943 Marit  Norway 5,542 Sunk
9 December 1943 Cap Padaran  United Kingdom 8,009 Sunk



  1. ^ Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.


  1. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  2. ^ Paterson, Lawrence - U-Boats in the Mediterranean 1941-1944, 2007, Chatham Publishing, ISBN 9781861762900, p. 92.
  3. ^ Paterson, p. 175
  4. ^ Paterson, p. 178
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-596". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 4 February 2014.


  • 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.

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