SM U-156

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History
German Empire
NameU-156
Ordered29 November 1916
BuilderAtlas Werke, Bremen
Yard number382
Launched17 April 1917
Commissioned22 August 1917
FateSunk in the Northern Barrage minefield on 25 September 1918. 77 dead.
General characteristics [1]
Class and typeGerman Type U 151 submarine
Displacement
  • 1,512 tonnes (1,488 long tons) (surfaced)
  • 1,875 tonnes (1,845 long tons) (submerged)
  • 2,272 tonnes (2,236 long tons) (total)
Length
Beam
  • 8.90 m (29 ft 2 in) (o/a)
  • 5.80 m (19 ft) (pressure hull)
Height9.25 m (30 ft 4 in)
Draught5.30 m (17 ft 5 in)
Installed power
  • 800 PS (590 kW; 790 bhp) (surfaced)
  • 800 PS (590 kW; 790 bhp) (submerged)
Propulsion2 × shafts, 2 × 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in) propellers
Speed
  • 12.4 knots (23.0 km/h; 14.3 mph) surfaced
  • 5.2 knots (9.6 km/h; 6.0 mph) submerged
Range25,000 nmi (46,000 km; 29,000 mi) at 5.5 knots (10.2 km/h; 6.3 mph) surfaced, 65 nmi (120 km; 75 mi) at 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) submerged
Test depth50 metres (160 ft)
Complement6 officers, 50 enlisted, 20 prize crew, 1 additional officer in training on 2nd cruise [2]
Armament
Service record
Part of:
  • U-Kreuzer Flotilla
  • 28 August 1917 – 25 September 1918
Commanders:
  • Kptlt. Konrad Gansser
  • 22 August 1917 – 15 June 1918
  • Kptlt. Richard Feldt
  • 16 June – 25 September 1918
Operations: 2 patrols
Victories:
  • 44 merchant ships sunk
    (50,471 GRT)
  • 1 warship sunk
    (13,680 tons)
  • 2 merchant ships damaged
    (638 GRT)

SM U-156[Note 1] was a German Type U 151 U-boat commissioned in 1917 for the Imperial German Navy. From 1917 until her disappearance in September 1918 she was part of the U-Kreuzer Flotilla, and was responsible for sinking 45 ships and damaging two others. She took part in the Attack on Orleans.

Background[edit]

U-156, built by the Atlas Werke in Bremen, was originally one of seven Deutschland class U-boats designed to carry cargo between the United States and Germany in 1916. Five of the submarine freighters were converted into long-range cruiser U-boats (U-kreuzers) equipped with two 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/45 deck guns, including U-156. They were the largest U-boats of World War I.

Service history[edit]

U-156 was launched on 17 April 1917 and commissioned on 22 August 1917 under the experienced U-boat ace Konrad Gansser, who commanded her until June 1918, following which Richard Feldt took command until the U-156 was lost in September 1918.[3]

On 17 January 1918, Gansser's U-156 entered isolated Naos Bay in the Spanish Canary Islands. The U-156 was scheduled to meet with the U-157 and a small Spanish flagged merchant vessel in an attempt to transit prohibited materials past the British blockade to Germany. The British learned of the meeting through decoded signals and ambushed the U-156 in a failed attempt to sink the U-boat. The British submarine HMS E48 had actually hit the U-156 with a torpedo but the torpedo had failed to explode.[4]

On 15 June 1918, U-156 sailed with 77 crew. She passed through the North Sea, negotiated the Northern Passage around the northern end of the British Isles, and out into the Atlantic Ocean where she sailed for Long Island. She then proceeded to New York Harbor, where she had been ordered to lay mines. Records show that she was to lay a field of mines in the shipping lane along the south shore of Long Island, just east of the Fire Island lightship.[5]

On 8 July 1918 U-156 stopped and scuttled the Norwegian owned Manx King at 40°05′N 52°00′W / 40.083°N 52.000°W / 40.083; -52.000, which was traveling between New York and Rio de Janeiro. Captain Rasmus Emil Halvorsen and her crew were rescued from the lifeboats after 27 hours by DS Anchites of Liverpool, England.

A mine laid by U-156 is often credited with the loss of the cruiser USS San Diego on 19 July 1918, ten miles southeast of Fire Island, New York.[5][6][7]

On 21 July 1918 U-156 opened fire on a beach and marsh within the boundaries of the American town of Orleans, Massachusetts, and several nearby merchant vessels. The bombardment of the beach may have been a case of overshooting the targeted maritime vessels. In the end, the U-156 severely damaged a tugboat and sank four barges. HS-1L flying boats and R-9 seaplanes were dispatched from the Chatham Naval Air Station and bombed the enemy raider with bombs that failed to explode. The U-156 returned fire with her deck guns in an unsuccessful attempt to down the aircraft. It was the first time in history that American aviators engaged an enemy vessel in the western Atlantic. The Attack on Orleans was the only Central Powers raid mounted against the United States mainland during World War I and the first time the Continental United States was shelled by a foreign power's artillery since the Siege of Fort Texas in 1846.[8]

U-156 had meanwhile headed north to attack the US fishing fleet. She sank 21 fishing boats in the Gulf of Maine area, from Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy, ranging from the 72 GRT ton schooner Nelson A. (4 August) to the 766 GRT Dornfontein (2 August).[9]

U-156 has been credited with the sinking of the tanker Luz Blanca, just off the headlands of Halifax on August 5/1918.[10] On 20 August, U-156 captured the Canadian trawler Triumph southwest of Canso, Nova Scotia. They manned and armed the vessel, and used it in conjunction with the submarine to capture and sink seven other fishing boats in the Grand Banks area, before eventually scuttling her.[11]

Fate[edit]

On 25 September 1918 and in the following days, U-156 failed to report that she had cleared the Northern barrage minefield between the United Kingdom and Norway on her return voyage to Germany. U-156 is presumed to have struck a mine of the Northern Barrage during the last leg of her cruise. Prior to her arrival at the northern end of the barrage she had radioed the estimated time and exact route she planned to take through the mines. The British intercepted this message, decoded it, and sent a submarine to ambush U-156. U-156 escaped the trap by diving but likely attempted to transit the barrage while underwater. The 77 crew on board were never heard from again.[12]

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 2] Fate[13]
7 December 1917 W.c. Mc Kay  Canada 147 Sunk
15 December 1917 Ioannina  Greece 4,567 Sunk
17 December 1917 Acoriano  Portugal 312 Sunk
30 December 1917 Joaquin Mumbru  Spain 2,703 Sunk
10 January 1918 Atlas  Netherlands 1,813 Sunk
8 February 1918 Artesia  United Kingdom 2,762 Sunk
8 February 1918 Chariton  Greece 3,023 Sunk
8 February 1918 Nuzza  Kingdom of Italy 1,102 Sunk
9 February 1918 Atlantide  Kingdom of Italy 5,431 Sunk
26 June 1918 Tortuguero  United Kingdom 4,175 Sunk
7 July 1918 Marosa  Norway 1,987 Sunk
8 July 1918 Manx King  Norway 1,729 Sunk
19 July 1918 USS San Diego  United States Navy 13,680 Sunk
21 July 1918 703  United States 934 Sunk
21 July 1918 740  United States 680 Sunk
21 July 1918 766  United States 527 Sunk
21 July 1918 Lansford  United States 830 Sunk
21 July 1918 Perth Amboy  United States 435 Damaged
22 July 1918 Robert & Richard  United States 140 Sunk
2 August 1918 Dornfontein  Canada 766 Sunk
3 August 1918 Annie Perry  United States 116 Sunk
3 August 1918 Muriel  United States 120 Sunk
3 August 1918 Rob Roy  United States 111 Sunk
3 August 1918 Sydney B. Atwood  United States 100 Sunk
4 August 1918 Nelson A.  United Kingdom 72 Sunk
5 August 1918 Agnes G. Holland  United States 100 Sunk
5 August 1918 Gladys M. Hollett  United Kingdom 203 Damaged
5 August 1918 Luz Blanca  Canada 4,868 Sunk
8 August 1918 Sydland  Sweden 3,031 Sunk
11 August 1918 Penistone  United Kingdom 4,139 Sunk
17 August 1918 San Jose  Norway 1,586 Sunk
20 August 1918 A. Piatt Andrew  United States 141 Sunk
20 August 1918 Francis J. O'hara, Jr.  United States 117 Sunk
20 August 1918 Lucille M. Schnare  Canada 121 Sunk
20 August 1918 Pasadena  Canada 119 Sunk
20 August 1918 Triumph  Canada 239 Sunk
20 August 1918 Uda A. Saunders  Canada 125 Sunk
21 August 1918 Sylvania  United States 136 Sunk
22 August 1918 Notre Dame De La Garde  France 147 Sunk
25 August 1918 C. M. Walters  Canada 107 Sunk
25 August 1918 E. B. Walters  Canada 126 Sunk
25 August 1918 Erik[14]  United Kingdom 583 Sunk
25 August 1918 J. J. Flaherty  United States 162 Sunk
25 August 1918 Marion Adams  Canada 99 Sunk
25 August 1918 Verna D. Adams  Canada 132 Sunk
25 August 1918 Clayton W. Walters  Canada 116 Sunk
26 August 1918 Gloaming  Canada 130 Sunk

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "SM" stands for "Seiner Majestät" (English: His Majesty's) and combined with the U for Unterseeboot would be translated as His Majesty's Submarine.
  2. ^ Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Gröner 1991, pp. 20–21.
  2. ^ Hodos, Paul (2017). The Kaiser's Lost Kreuzer (1st ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 978-1476671628. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  3. ^ Hodos, Paul (2017). The Kaiser's Lost Kreuzer (1st ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing. pp. 45, 57, 68–69, and 86. ISBN 978-1476671628. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  4. ^ Hodos, Paul (2017). The Kaiser's Lost Kreuzer (1st ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing. pp. 3-7 and 62–66. ISBN 978-1476671628. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  5. ^ a b Sheard, p. 114
  6. ^ Bleyer, Bill. "The Sinking of the San Diego". Newsday. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007.
  7. ^ Larson, Christina (13 December 2018). "Scientists scour WWI shipwreck to solve military mystery". The Associated Press. "We believe that U-156 sunk San Diego," said Alexis Catsambis, an underwater archaeologist with the Navy.
  8. ^ Hodos, Paul (2017). The Kaiser's Lost Kreuzer (1st ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing. pp. 113–119. ISBN 978-1476671628. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  9. ^ Sheard, p. 117
  10. ^ Sarty, Roger (2012). War in the St. Lawrence. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Allen Lane, Penguin Canada. ISBN 978-0-670-06787-9.
  11. ^ Halpern, Paul G. (1994). A Naval History of World War I. Routledge. p. 433. ISBN 1-85728-498-4.
  12. ^ Hodos, Paul (2017). The Kaiser's Lost Kreuzer (1st ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing. pp. 164–165. ISBN 978-1476671628. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  13. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U 156". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  14. ^ "ERIK: LONDON-LABRADOR 1888-1891, LONDON-LABRADOR & HUDSON BAY 1892-1900" (PDF). Manitoba Archives. Retrieved 28 November 2020. 1918, 25 August - Captain Martin surrendered his unarmed vessel after shelling by U-156; crew made prisoners and Erik sunk by time-bombs; crew of Erik taken off U-boat by schooner Willie G.; U-156 disappeared on homeward voyage to Germany.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: U 156". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net.