German submarine U-68 (1940)
U-505, a typical Type IXC boat
|Ordered:||7 August 1939|
|Builder:||DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen|
|Laid down:||20 April 1940|
|Launched:||22 October 1940|
|Commissioned:||1 February 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk 10 April 1944 north-west of Madeira, Portugal. 56 dead and 1 survivor|
|Class and type:||Type IXC submarine|
|Height:||9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)|
|Draught:||4.70 m (15 ft 5 in)|
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 44 enlisted48 to 56|
German submarine U-68 was a Type IXC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 20 April 1940 at the DeSchiMAG AG Weser yard at Bremen as yard number 987, launched on 22 October and commissioned on 1 January 1941 under the command of Korvettenkapitän Karl-Friedrich Merten as part of 2nd U-boat Flotilla.
German Type IXC submarines were slightly larger than the original Type IXBs. U-68 had a displacement of 1,120 tonnes (1,100 long tons) when at the surface and 1,232 tonnes (1,213 long tons) while submerged. The U-boat had a total length of 76.76 m (251 ft 10 in), a pressure hull length of 58.75 m (192 ft 9 in), a beam of 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in). The submarine was powered by two MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged four-stroke, nine-cylinder diesel engines producing a total of 4,400 metric horsepower (3,240 kW; 4,340 shp) for use while surfaced, two Siemens-Schuckert 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 1,000 metric horsepower (740 kW; 990 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.92 m (6 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 18.3 knots (33.9 km/h; 21.1 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.3 knots (13.5 km/h; 8.4 mph). When submerged, the boat could operate for 63 nautical miles (117 km; 72 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 13,450 nautical miles (24,910 km; 15,480 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-68 was fitted with six 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and two at the stern), 22 torpedoes, one 10.5 cm (4.13 in) SK C/32 naval gun, 180 rounds, and a 3.7 cm (1.5 in) as well as a 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of forty-eight.
U-68 left Kiel on 30 June 1941 for the Atlantic Ocean via the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. She was unsuccessfully attacked with 24 depth charges by the British corvette Rhododendron west northwest of Cape Finisterre in Spain. She docked at the port of Lorient, on the French Atlantic coast, on 1 August. She would be based there for the rest of her career.
Heading for the south Atlantic, the boat came across Silverbelle southwest of the Canary Islands and sank her on 22 September 1941. A month later, she sank RFA Darkdale while the ship was at anchor off Jamestown, Saint Helena on 22 October. Her third victim, Hazelside, was destroyed on the 28th, 600 nmi (1,100 km; 690 mi) southeast of Saint Helena. U-68 also sank Bradford City west of South West Africa (now Namibia) on 1 November. The U-boat collided with the stricken ship while diving underneath her. The submarine's bow was bent.
Nevertheless, the submarine returned to Lorient on 25 December.
U-68's third sortie was also conducted off the west coast of Africa. She sank Helenus on 3 March 1942 200 nmi (370 km; 230 mi) south of Freetown in Sierra Leone, followed by Baluchstan on the 8th. The boat's crew were kept busy, sinking Baron Newlands on the 16th and Ile de Batz on the 17th; all the vessels met their end in the vicinity of Liberia.
On the night of 10 June, northeast of the Panama Canal, she torpedoed the 8,600-ton British freighter Surrey. 5,000 tons of dynamite in the cargo detonated after the ship sank. The shock wave lifted the U-boat out of the water as if she had suffered a torpedo hit; both diesel engines and the gyrocompass were disabled.
Another victim was Port Montreal. She was sunk with what Merten noted in the boat's war diary as a lucky [torpedo] hit.
In all, U-68 sank seven ships during this patrol before returning to Lorient on 10 July.
The submarine left Lorient on her fifth patrol on 20 August 1942. She would not see her base again until December. At 109 days, this was to be her longest and most successful sally. Heading once more into the South Atlantic, she attacked and sank Trevilley east northeast of Ascension Island on 12 September. The Master and Chief Officer were taken prisoner.
She travelled further south, sinking ships such as Gaasterkerk on 8 October and Sarthe on the same date, both in the area of the Cape of Good Hope. She also disposed of Belgian Fighter on the 9th.
Turning for home on 16 October, she sank City of Cairo on 6 November. U-68 returned a month later to Lorient on 6 December.
The boat's sixth patrol in the first half of 1943 was again to northern South America. Having sunk two ships, she was attacked by a US Mariner flying boat on 2 April; damage was slight.
7th and 8th patrols
Patrol number eight was relatively uneventful.
The boat returned to her most successful hunting ground - the South Atlantic. In another mammoth patrol (107 days), she sank four more ships.
One of them, the Norwegian tanker Litiopa, had numerous torpedoes and rounds from the deck gun fired at her, but stubbornly refused to succumb. Having been initially encountered at night on 21 October 1943, it was not until the following day that she sank.
The Litiopa's sole escort was the mine-sweeping trawler HMS Orfasy. She was sunk relatively easily on 21 October before the attack on the tanker.
The other two ships were New Columbia, (sunk southwest of Bingerville, Ivory Coast) on 31 October and the French Fort de Vaux on 30 November. The latter vessel met her end after 'Aphrodite' radar decoys had been used to lure the escort vessels away.
U-68's inbound route took her close to the northwest Spanish coast. She docked at Lorient on 23 December 1943.
10th patrol and loss
The boat left Lorient for the last time on 22 March 1944. On 10 April, she was sunk northwest of the Portuguese island of Madeira, by depth charges and rockets from Grumman Avenger and Grumman Wildcat aircraft from the United States escort carrier Guadalcanal. U-68 was lost at position Coordinates: .
56 men died; there was one survivor.
U-68 took part in one wolfpack, namely.
- Eisbär (25 August - 1 September 1942)
Summary of raiding history
|22 September 1941||Silverbelle||United Kingdom||5,302||Sunk|
|22 October 1941||Darkdale||United Kingdom||8,145||Sunk|
|28 October 1941||Hazelside||United Kingdom||5,297||Sunk|
|1 November 1941||Bradford City||United Kingdom||4,953||Sunk|
|3 March 1942||Helerus||United Kingdom||7,366||Sunk|
|8 March 1942||Baluchistan||United Kingdom||6,992||Sunk|
|16 March 1942||Baron Newlands||United Kingdom||3,386||Sunk|
|17 March 1942||Allende||United Kingdom||5,081||Sunk|
|17 March 1942||Ile de Batz||United Kingdom||5,755||Sunk|
|17 March 1942||Scottish Prince||United Kingdom||4,917||Sunk|
|30 March 1942||Muncaster Castle||United Kingdom||5,853||Sunk|
|5 June 1942||L.J. Drake||United States||6,693||Sunk|
|5 June 1942||C.O. Stillman||Panama||16,436||Sunk|
|10 June 1942||Ardenvohr||United Kingdom||5,025||Sunk|
|10 June 1942||Port Montreal||United Kingdom||5,882||Sunk|
|10 June 1942||Surrey||United Kingdom||8,581||Sunk|
|15 June 1942||Frimaire||Free France||9,242||Sunk|
|23 June 1942||Arnaga||Panama||2,345||Sunk|
|12 September 1942||Trevilley||United Kingdom||5,298||Sunk|
|15 September 1942||Breedijk||Netherlands||6,861||Sunk|
|8 October 1942||Gaasterkerk||Netherlands||8,679||Sunk|
|8 October 1942||Koumoundouros||Greece||3,598||Sunk|
|8 October 1942||Sarthe||United Kingdom||5,271||Sunk|
|8 October 1942||Swiftsure||United States||8,207||Sunk|
|9 October 1942||Belgian Fighter||Belgium||5,403||Sunk|
|9 October 1942||Examelia||United States||4,981||Sunk|
|6 November 1942||City of Cairo||United Kingdom||8,034||Sunk|
|13 March 1943||Ceres||Netherlands||2,680||Sunk|
|13 March 1943||Cities Service Missouri||United States||7,506||Sunk|
|21 October 1943||HMT Orfasy||Royal Navy||545||Sunk|
|22 October 1943||Litiopa||Norway||5,356||Sunk|
|31 October 1943||New Columbia||United Kingdom||6,574||Sunk|
|30 November 1943||Fort de Vaux||Free France||5,186||Sunk|
|Total amount of tonnage:||201,430 tons|
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