German submarine U-652

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History
Nazi Germany
Name: U-652
Ordered: 9 October 1939
Builder: Howaldtswerke, Hamburg
Yard number: 801
Laid down: 5 February 1940
Launched: 7 February 1941
Commissioned: 3 April 1941
Fate: Scuttled, 2 June 1942
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][2]
Part of:
Commanders:
  • Oblt.z.S. Georg-Werner Fraatz
  • 3 April 1941 – 2 June 1942
Operations:
  • 1st patrol: 23 July – 7 August 1941
  • 2nd patrol: 23 August – 18 September 1941
  • 3rd patrol: 1 November – 12 December 1941
  • 4th patrol: 14 December 1941 – 1 January 1942
  • 5th patrol: 21 February – 1 March 1942
  • 6th patrol: 12–14 March 1942
  • 7th patrol: 18–31 March 1942
  • 8th patrol: 25 May – 2 June 1942
Victories:
  • 2 commercial ships sunk (8,152 GRT)
  • 1 auxiliary warship sunk (558 GRT)
  • 2 warships sunk (2,740 tons)
  • 2 commercial ships damaged (9,918 GRT)
  • 1 auxiliary warship damaged (10,917 GRT)

German submarine U-652 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 5 February 1940 at the Howaldtswerke yard at Hamburg, launched on 7 February 1941, and commissioned on 3 April 1941 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Georg-Werner Fraatz.

Attached to 3rd U-boat Flotilla based at Kiel, U-652 completed her training period on 30 June 1941 and was assigned to front-line service. In September 1941 she was involved in the "Greer Incident", attacking and being counter-attacked by the supposedly neutral American destroyer Greer (DD-145), an incident that brought the United States closer to war with Germany. U-652 was transferred to 29th U-boat Flotilla based at La Spezia, Italy on 1 January 1942. The U-boat was scuttled on 2 June 1942.

Design[edit]

German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-652 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[3] 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 Siemens-Schuckert GU 343/38–8 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).[3]

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).[3] 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-652 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.[3]

Service history[edit]

1st patrol[edit]

U-652 left Kiel on 19 June 1941 and sailed to Bökfjord near Kirkenes, via Horten Naval Base and Trondheim, arriving on 22 July.[2] Her first combat patrol began the next day, on 23 July, patrolling the coast of the Kola Peninsula.[4] There on 6 August at 19:00 she torpedoed and sank the 558 ton Soviet despatch vessel PS-70 seven miles off Cape Teriberka, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of Murmansk. The 12 survivors from the crew of 57 were rescued by motorboats sent from the nearby coast. This was the first U-boat success in the Arctic Sea.[5]

The U-boat returned to Kirkenes on 7 August after 16 days at sea, and after two days headed for Trondheim, arriving there on 13 August.[2]

2nd patrol[edit]

U-652 sailed from Trondheim on 23 August 1941 and headed out into the Atlantic waters between Greenland and Iceland.

As part of wolfpack Grönland,[1] at 00:44 on 26 August the U-boat fired a spread of three torpedoes at a British naval convoy running south-south-east and observed a hit on the 10,917-ton auxiliary minelayer HMS Southern Prince, which soon came to a halt. Another torpedo was fired at the vessel at 00:53, but missed. The destroyers HMS Lightning and Lamerton sailed from Scapa Flow to assist the damaged ship and escorted her to The Minches. She was repaired at Belfast.[6]

As part of wolfpack Markgraf,[1] on 10 September at 04:52 U-652 fired two single torpedoes at ships of Convoy SC 42 north-east of Cape Farewell, and damaged two British ships. The 6,508 ton tanker Tahchee caught fire and was abandoned. The crew later reboarded the vessel and managed to put out the fire. The ship was towed to Reykjavík by HMCS Orillia and after repairs was towed to the Tyne, repaired and returned to service in November 1942.[7] The 3,410 ton merchant ship Baron Pentland remained afloat due her cargo of timber despite a broken back, but was later torpedoed and sunk by U-372 on 19 September.[8]

The Greer incident[edit]

On 4 September 1941, off Iceland, the American destroyer Greer received a signal from a British bomber that a German submarine was in the vicinity. Greer made sonar contact, and pursued the U-652 at close range. The aircraft dropped four depth charges, and soon after the U-boat fired a torpedo at the US warship, perhaps believing she had launched the attack.[1] Oblt.z.S. Fraatz also misidentified the destroyer as "one of the 50 American vessels that are now sailing for England". A two-hour battle ensued, during which Greer dropped 19 depth charges, and the U-boat fired another torpedo, without result. President Roosevelt used this event in his campaign to convince the US to go to war, and the "undeclared war" between U-boats and US escorts escalated dramatically.[1]

U-652 arrived at Lorient, France, on 18 September after 27 days on patrol.[2]

3rd patrol[edit]

U-652 left Lorient on 1 November 1941, and headed out into the mid-Atlantic, before sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea.[9] There, south of the Balearic Islands, on 9 December she hit the 1,595 ton Vichy French merchant ship Saint Denis with a single torpedo, which sank her immediately.[10]

U-652 arrived at Messina on 12 December after 42 days at sea.[2]

4th patrol[edit]

The U-boat departed Messina on 14 December 1941 and sailed around Greece into the Aegean Sea.[11] There at 21:34 on 19 December she torpedoed the unescorted 6,557 ton Soviet tanker Varlaam Avanesov, which sank two hours later 2.5 miles off Cape Babakale, Çanakkale Province, Turkey. The survivors abandoned ship in lifeboats, reached the Turkish coast and were later repatriated.[12] The U-boat arrived at La Spezia on 1 January 1942,[2] where she joined 29th U-boat Flotilla.

5th & 6th patrols[edit]

After sailing from La Spezia to Salamis in early February 1942,[2] U-652 carried out two short and uneventful patrols.[13][14]

7th patrol[edit]

Departing Salamis on 18 March 1942 U-652 headed for the coast of North Africa.[15] There on 20 March at 10:54 she fired four torpedoes at the 1,050 ton British Type II Hunt-class destroyer HMS Heythrop about 40 miles north-east of Bardia. One torpedo hit Heythrop, which was taken in tow by HMS Eridge towards Tobruk, but she foundered five hours later.[16]

On 26 March at 02:27 the U-boat fired a spread of four torpedoes at the 1,690 ton British J-class destroyer HMS Jaguar north-east of Sollum. Two of the torpedoes struck the ship in the bows, and she caught fire and sank in a short time. From her complement of 246, only 53 survived.[17]

U-652 arrived at Pola on 31 March 1942.[2]

8th patrol[edit]

The U-boat left Pola on 25 May 1942 on her final patrol, and returned to the North African coast.[18] On 2 June 1942 U-652 was severely damaged by depth charges dropped by a British Swordfish torpedo bomber from 815 Naval Air Squadron,[19] and was scuttled in the Gulf of Sollum, in position 31°55′N 25°11′E / 31.917°N 25.183°E / 31.917; 25.183Coordinates: 31°55′N 25°11′E / 31.917°N 25.183°E / 31.917; 25.183, by torpedoes from U-81. There were no casualties from her crew of 46.[1]

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate
6 August 1941 PS-70  Soviet Navy 558 Sunk
26 August 1941 HMS Southern Prince  Royal Navy 10,917 Damaged
10 September 1941 Tahchee  United Kingdom 6,508 Damaged
10 September 1941 Baron Pentland  United Kingdom 3,410 Damaged
9 December 1941 Saint Denis  Vichy France 1,595 Sunk
19 December 1941 Varlaam Avanesov  Soviet Union 6,557 Sunk
20 March 1942 HMS Heythrop  Royal Navy 1,050 Sunk
26 March 1942 HMS Jaguar  Royal Navy 1,690 Sunk

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

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

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-652". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-652". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-652 from 23 July 1941 to 7 August 1941". U-boat patrols - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "PS-70 (Despatch vessel) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMS Southern Prince (Auxiliary minelayer) - Ships hit by U-boats". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Tahchee (Steam tanker) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Baron Pentland (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-652 from 1 November 1941 to 12 December 1941". U-boat patrols - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  10. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Saint Denis (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-652 from 14 December 1941 to 1 January 1942". U-boat patrols - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  12. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Varlaam Avanesov (Motor tanker) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  13. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-652 from 21 February 1942 to 1 March 1942". U-boat patrols - uboat.net. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  14. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-652 from 12 March 1942 to 14 March 1942". U-boat patrols - uboat.net. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  15. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-652 from 18 March 1942 to 31 March 1942". U-boat patrols - uboat.net. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  16. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMS Heythrop (L 85) (Destroyer) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  17. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMS Jaguar (F 34) (Destroyer) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  18. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-652 from 25 May 1942 to 2 June 1942". U-boat patrols - uboat.net. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  19. ^ *Hofmann, Markus. "U 652". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 29 December 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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. 

External links[edit]