German submarine U-87 (1941)
U-87 breaking surface in rough sea off Heligoland
|Ordered:||9 June 1938|
|Builder:||Flender Werke AG|
|Laid down:||18 April 1940|
|Launched:||21 June 1941|
|Commissioned:||19 August 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk by Canadian warships, 4 March 1943|
|Class & type:||Type VIIB submarine|
|Height:||9.50 m (31 ft 2 in)|
|Draught:||4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 40–56 enlisted|
|Part of:||6th U-boat Flotilla|
|Victories:||Five ships sunk – 38,014 GRT|
German submarine U-87 was a Type VIIB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 18 April 1940 at the Flender Werke (yard) at Lübeck as yard number 283 and launched on 21 June 1941. She was commissioned on 21 June under the command of Kapitänleutnant Joachim Berger. U-87 trained with 6th U-boat Flotilla until 1 December 1941, when she was put on front-line service.
U-87 sank five ships in her one-year career; she was a member of five wolfpacks.
German Type VIIB submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIA submarines. U-87 had a displacement of 753 tonnes (741 long tons) when at the surface and 857 tonnes (843 long tons) while submerged. She had a total length of 66.50 m (218 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 48.80 m (160 ft 1 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.50 m (31 ft 2 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 AEG GU 460/8-276 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).
The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.9 knots (33.2 km/h; 20.6 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph). When submerged, the boat could operate for 90 nautical miles (170 km; 100 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,700 nautical miles (16,100 km; 10,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-87 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 one 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.
U-87 sailed from Kiel on 24 December 1941, and headed out into the Atlantic via the North Sea. On the evening of 31 December, the boat encountered the Cardita, which was straggling behind convoy HX-166, bound for Shellhaven. A single torpedo hit the vessel, resulting in the deaths of twenty-seven crew members. The thirty-three survivors were picked up on 3 January by HMS Onslow and HMS Sabre.
Meanwhile, U-87 completed her voyage around the British isles and crossed the Atlantic, where on 17 January, the submersible struck again. The Norwegian vessel Nyholt was nearing the completion of convoy ON-52's journey from Reykjavík to New York. While passing the Newfoundland coast, Nyholt was struck amidships after she left the safety of her convoy, which had been harassed by U-86 and U-553 over the previous two days. Attempting to divert further from their course to reach Newfoundland, U-87 reacted poorly to the movement and four subsequent torpedoes missed. Another two hits failed to sink the tanker, and U-87 was forced to surface for its crew to fire the deck gun as the ship's crew took to their lifeboats, not to be rescued for another nine days.
U-87 sailed on 22 February 1942 for a second trip to the east coast of North America, but was held in the Western Approaches to support an attack by the German battleship Tirpitz on convoy PQ 12. Neither Tirpitz nor U-87 sank any ships; the submarine returned to France, but to St. Nazaire on 27 March.
U-87 sailed on 19 May 1942 and laid a field of 15 TMB mines off Boston. No ships were lost in the minefield; the Allies remained unaware of the mines until after the war. After reloading her tubes with torpedoes, U-87 sank the 8,400-ton British freighter SS Port Nicholson and the 5,900-ton American cargo liner Cherokee from convoy XB 25 on 15 June. Eighty-six military personnel drowned. The Port Nicholson was documented to be carrying about 1,707,000 troy ounces of platinum. On 22 June U-87 was damaged off Halifax Harbour, by depth charges from Lockheed Hudson aircraft of 11 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force. The boat was unable to continue the patrol and returned to port on 8 July.
5th patrol and loss
U-87 sailed on 9 January 1943, and was sunk by depth charges from Canadian warships, the corvette HMCS Shediac and the destroyer HMCS St. Croix during an unsuccessful 4 March attack on convoy KMS 10G.
U-87 took part in five wolfpacks, namely.
- Ziethen (6–17 January 1942)
- Westwall (2–12 March 1942)
- Iltis (6–23 September 1942)
- Delphin (20 January – 9 February 1943)
- Rochen (9–26 February 1943)
Summary of raiding history
|31 December 1941||Cardita||United Kingdom||8,237||Sunk|
|17 January 1942||Nyholt||Norway||8,087||Sunk|
|16 June 1942||Cherokee||United States||5,896||Sunk|
|16 June 1942||Port Nicholson||United Kingdom||8,402||Sunk|
|11 October 1942||Agapenor||United Kingdom||7,392||Sunk|
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- Gröner 1991, pp. 43–44.
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- Blair 1996, pp. 551–552.
- "SS Port Nicholson – Sunk Off Cape Cod in 1942, a $3 Billion Shipwreck?". The Old Salt Blog. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- Blair 1996, pp. 602–603.
- Blair 1998, p. 69.
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- 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.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIB boat U-87". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- Hofmann, Markus. "U 87". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 2 February 2015.