List of the largest ships hit by U-boats in World War I

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During the First World War, U-boats of the German Imperial Navy (German: Kaiserliche Marine) and the Austro-Hungarian Navy (German: Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine or K.u.K. Kriegsmarine) sank over 6,000 Allied and neutral ships totaling over 14,200,000 tons.[1] Many additional ships that are not included in those totals were damaged, but were able to return to service after repairs. This list contains the approximately 100 ships over 10,000 tons that were either damaged or sunk by U-boats by torpedoes, submarine-laid mines, gunfire, or other means.[Note 1]

List[edit]

Ships listed are presented in descending order on the tonnage figure. Those that were damaged are indicated with an asterisk after their names. Three ships—Justicia, Celtic, and Southland—appear on the list twice. Justicia was damaged by UB-64 on 19 July 1918 and sunk while under tow the following day by UB-124.[2] Celtic was damaged by U-80 and UB-77 in separate incidents in February 1917 and March 1918, respectively.[3] Southland was seriously damaged by UB-14 in September 1915 and sunk by SM U-21 in June 1917.[4] All U-boats listed are German unless otherwise noted in the table.

Kapitänleutnant (Kptlt.) Otto Weddigen in U-9 sank three Royal Navy cruisers that appear on the list—Aboukir, Hogue, and Cressy—in a little more than an hour during the action of 22 September 1914.[5] The first three victims of UB-14's career—the Italian armored cruiser Amalfi, the British troopship Royal Edward, and the troopship Southland (which was seriously damaged) in July, August, and September 1915, respectively—were all on the list.[6]

Four U-boat commanders appear four or more times on the list. Kptlt. Hans Rose in U-53 sank two ships and damaged two others between June 1917 and April 1918,[7] while Kptlt. Otto Steinbrinck in UC-65 did the same between March and July 1917.[7] Between October 1916 and October 1918, Kptlt. Wolfgang Steinbauer sank three ships on the list in UB-47 and damaged a fourth in UB-48.[7] Kptlt. Gustav Sieß—responsible for sinking the largest ship on the list, the hospital ship Britannic torpedoed and sunk (the younger sister ship of Titanic and Olympic)—topped the list with five entries, four (including Britannic) sunk in U-73 and a fifth sunk in U-33, all between April 1916 and April 1917.[7] Other notable commanders that appear on the list are Kptlt. Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière (three times) who sank the most tonnage of any submarine commander ever,[8] and Linienschiffsleutnant Georg Ritter von Trapp of the Austro-Hungarian Navy (two times), known as the patriarch of the family made famous in The Sound of Music and its subsequent film adaptation.[9]

Largest ships hit by U-boats in World War I[7]
Ship Nationality [Note 1] Tons Date U-boat Commander Notes
HMHS Britannic  Royal Navy 48,758 21 November 1916 U-73 Gustav Sieß Sunk by Mine
Justicia[a]  United Kingdom 32,234 19 July 1918 UB-64 Otto von Schrader Damaged, taken under tow
Justicia  United Kingdom 32,234 20 July 1918 UB-124 Hans Oskar Wutsdorff Sunk while under tow from 1st attack
Lusitania  United Kingdom 30,396 7 May 1915 U-20 Walther Schwieger Sunk with great loss of life
Jean Bart[a]  French Navy 22,189 21 December 1914 U-12 (Austria-Hungary) Egon Lerch Returned to port under own power
Celtic[a]  United Kingdom 20,904 15 February 1917 U-80 Alfred von Glasenapp Struck mine, returned to port under tow
Celtic[a]  United Kingdom 20,904 31 March 1918 UB-77 Wilhelm Meyer Torpedoed, returned to port under tow
Merion  United Kingdom 19,380 29 May 1915 UB-8 Ernst von Voigt Decoy disguised as HMS Tiger, sunk
Lapland[a]  United Kingdom 18,565 7 April 1917 UC-65 Otto Steinbrinck Struck mine, returned to port
Franconia  United Kingdom 18,510 4 October 1916 UB-47 Wolfgang Steinbauer Torpedoed while empty
Voltaire[a]  French Navy 18,400 18 October 1918 UB-48 Wolfgang Steinbauer Lightly damaged by 2 torpedoes
USS Mount Vernon[a]  United States Navy 18,372 5 September 1918 U-82 Heinrich Middendorf Heavy damage, returned to port under own power
Danton  French Navy 18,300 19 March 1917 U-64 Robert Moraht Torpedoed and sunk
USS President Lincoln  United States Navy 18,168 31 May 1918 U-90 Walter Remy Torpedoed and sunk, most lives saved
Laconia  United Kingdom 18,099 25 February 1917 U-50 Gerhard Berger
USS Minnesota[a]  United States Navy 18,000 29 September 1918 U-117 Otto Dröscher
HMS Britannia  Royal Navy 16,350 9 November 1918 UB-50 Heinrich Kukat
USS Covington  United States Navy 16,339 1 July 1918 U-86 Helmut Brümmer-Patzig
Arabic  United Kingdom 15,801 19 August 1915 U-24 Rudolf Schneider
Rurik[a]  Imperial Russian Navy 15,544 19 November 1916 UC-27 Karl Vesper
HMS Formidable  Royal Navy 15,000 1 January 1915 U-24 Rudolf Schneider
Gallia  France 14,966 4 October 1916 U-35 Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière
HMS Majestic  Royal Navy 14,900 27 May 1915 U-21 Otto Hersing
Laurentic  United Kingdom 14,892 25 January 1917 U-80 Alfred von Glasenapp
Transylvania  United Kingdom 14,348 4 May 1917 U-63 Otto Schultze
Tuscania  United Kingdom 14,348 5 February 1918 UB-77 Wilhelm Meyer
Minnewaska  United Kingdom 14,317 29 November 1916 UC-23 Johannes Kirchner
HMS Drake  Royal Navy 14,300 2 October 1917 U-79 Otto Rohrbeck
Ivernia  Royal Navy 14,278 1 January 1917 UB-47 Wolfgang Steinbauer
HMS King Alfred[a]  Royal Navy 14,150 11 April 1918 UB-86 Hans Trenk
HMS Russell  Royal Navy 14,000 27 April 1916 U-73 Gustav Sieß
HMS Cornwallis  Royal Navy 14,000 9 January 1917 U-32 Kurt Hartwig
Aurania  United Kingdom 13,936 4 February 1918 UB-67 Gerhard Schulz
Tubantia  Netherlands 13,911 16 March 1916 UB-13 Arthur Metz
La Provence  France 13,753 26 February 1916 U-35 Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière
Minnehaha  United Kingdom 13,714 7 September 1917 U-48 Karl Edeling
USS San Diego  United States Navy 13,680 19 July 1918 U-156 Richard Feldt
Carpathia  United Kingdom 13,603 17 July 1918 U-55 Wilhelm Werner
Minneapolis  United Kingdom 13,543 23 March 1916 U-35 Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière
Minnetonka  United Kingdom 13,528 30 January 1918 U-64 Robert Moraht
Peresvet  Imperial Russian Navy 13,500 2 January 1917 U-73 Gustav Sieß
Avenger  United Kingdom 13,441 14 June 1917 U-69 Ernst Wilhelms
Regina Margherita  Regia Marina 13,427 12 December 1916 UC-14 Franz Becker
Alaunia  United Kingdom 13,405 19 October 1916 UC-16 Egon von Werner
Andania  United Kingdom 13,405 27 January 1918 U-46 Leo Hillebrand
Cymric  United Kingdom 13,370 8 May 1916 U-20 Walther Schwieger
Orama  United Kingdom 12,927 19 October 1917 U-62 Ernst Hashagen
Suffren  French Navy 12,750 25 November 1916 U-52 Hans Walther
Athos  France 12,644 17 February 1917 U-65 Hermann von Fischel
Rijndam (ID-2505)[a]  Netherlands 12,527 18 January 1916 UC-1 Egon von Werner
Calgarian (1913)  United Kingdom 12,515 1 March 1918 U-19 Johannes Spieß
Missanabie  United Kingdom 12,469 9 September 1918 UB-87 Karl Petri
Maloja  United Kingdom 12,431 27 February 1916 UC-6 Matthias Graf von Schmettow
Léon Gambetta  French Navy 12,416 27 April 1915 U-5 (Austria-Hungary) Georg Ritter von Trapp
Medina  United Kingdom 12,350 28 April 1917 UB-31 Thomas Bieber
Finland[a]  United States Army 12,222 28 October 1917 U-93 Helmut Gerlach
Argyllshire[a]  United Kingdom 12,097 5 February 1917 UC-46 Friedrich Moecke
Otway  United Kingdom 12,077 23 July 1917 UC-49 Karl Petri
Persic[a]  United Kingdom 12,045 7 September 1918 UB-87 Karl Petri
Orsova[a]  United Kingdom 12,036 14 March 1917 UC-68 Hans Degetau
Burdigala  France 12,009 14 November 1916 U-73 Gustav Sieß
Asturias[a]  United Kingdom 12,002 20 March 1917 UC-66 Herbert Pustkuchen
HMS Aboukir  Royal Navy 12,000 22 September 1914 U-9 Otto Weddigen
HMS Cressy  Royal Navy 12,000 22 September 1914 U-9 Otto Weddigen
HMS Hogue  Royal Navy 12,000 22 September 1914 U-9 Otto Weddigen
Afric  United Kingdom 11,999 12 February 1917 UC-66 Herbert Pustkuchen
HMS Triumph  Royal Navy 11,985 25 May 1915 U-21 Otto Hersing
HMT Southland[a]  Royal Navy 11,899 2 September 1915 UB-14 Heino von Heimburg
HMT Southland  Royal Navy 11,899 4 June 1917 U-70 Otto Wünsche
Haverford[a]  United Kingdom 11,635 26 June 1917 U-94 Alfred Saalwächter
Volturno  Kingdom of Italy 11,495 26 March 1918 UB-50 Franz Becker
Demerara[a]  United Kingdom 11,484 1 July 1917 U-84 Walter Roehr
Drina  United Kingdom 11,483 1 March 1917 UC-65 Otto Steinbrinck
Milazzo  Kingdom of Italy 11,477 29 August 1917 U-14 (Austria-Hungary) Georg Ritter von Trapp
HMHS Llandovery Castle  Royal Navy 11,423 27 June 1918 U-86 Helmut Brümmer-Patzig
Rotorua  United Kingdom 11,140 22 March 1917 UC-17 Ralph Wenninger
Berrima[a]  United Kingdom 11,137 18 February 1917 U-84 Walter Roehr
Ballarat  United Kingdom 11,120 25 April 1917 UB-32 Max Viebeg
HMT Royal Edward  Royal Canadian Navy 11,117 13 August 1915 UB-14 Heino von Heimburg
Cadillac[a]  United Kingdom 11,106 7 April 1918 U-53 Hans Rose
Gaulois  French Navy 11,100 27 December 1916 UB-47 Wolfgang Steinbauer
HMS Ariadne  Royal Navy 11,000 26 July 1917 UC-65 Otto Steinbrinck
Cameronia  United Kingdom 10,963 15 April 1917 U-33 Gustav Sieß
Yasaka Maru  Japan 10,932 21 December 1915 U-38 Max Valentiner
Hesperian  United Kingdom 10,920 4 September 1915 U-20 Walther Schwieger
HMS Roxburgh[a]  Royal Navy 10,850 20 June 1915 U-38 Max Valentiner
HMS Hampshire  Royal Navy 10,850 5 June 1916 U-75 Curt Beitzen
New York[a]  United States 10,798 9 April 1917 UC-65 Otto Steinbrinck
Virginian[a]  United Kingdom 10,757 21 August 1917 U-102 Ernst Killmann
Hurunui  United Kingdom 10,644 18 May 1918 U-94 Martin Schwab
Marmora  United Kingdom 10,509 23 July 1918 UB-64 Otto von Schrader
Vestris[a]  United Kingdom 10,494 26 January 1918 UB-54 Egon von Werner
Devonian  United Kingdom 10,435 21 August 1917 U-53 Hans Rose
Winifredian[a]  United Kingdom 10,422 17 April 1917 UC-76 Wilhelm Barten
Ultonia  United Kingdom 10,402 27 June 1917 U-53 Hans Rose
Rowanmore  United Kingdom 10,320 26 October 1916 U-57 Carl-Siegfried Ritter von Georg
O. B. Jennings  United States 10,289 4 August 1918 U-140 Waldemar Kophamel
San Melito[a]  United Kingdom 10,160 21 August 1915 U-38 Max Valentiner
San Hilario  United Kingdom 10,157 20 April 1917 U-43 Hellmuth Jürst
Amalfi  Regia Marina 10,118 7 July 1915 UB-14 Heino von Heimburg
San Nazario[a]  United Kingdom 10,064 15 October 1917 U-53 Hans Rose
Raranga[a]  United Kingdom 10,040 26 June 1918 UC-71 Walter Warzecha
Amazon  United Kingdom 10,037 15 March 1918 U-110 Karl Kroll
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac damaged but not sunk

Notes[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gibson and Prendergast, pp. 380, 382.
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Justicia". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Celtic". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Southland". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  5. ^ Gibson and Prendergast, pp. 7–9.
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by UB 14". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Largest Ships sunk or damaged". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  8. ^ Tarrant, p. 146.
  9. ^ Gearin, Joan. "The Real Story of the von Trapp Family". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 15 April 2009. 

Bibliography[edit]