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SM U-1 (Austria-Hungary)

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U-1 departs the harbor at Pula in 1914
U-1 departs the harbor at Pula in 1914
Name: SM U-1
Ordered: 24 November 1906[1]
Builder: Pola Navy Yard, Pola[2]
Laid down: 2 July 1907[3]
Launched: 10 February 1909[2]
Commissioned: 15 April 1911[3]
Refit: late 1914–early 1915[4]
Fate: Ceded to Italy in 1920; scrapped[2]
Service record
  • Egon Marchetti (April – September 1911)[5]
  • Otto Zeidler (September 1911 – July 1913)
  • Narciss Blessich (July 1913 – May 1914)
  • Franz Nejebsy (June 1914 – December 1915)
  • Klemens Ritter von Bezard (December 1915 – May 1916)
  • Franz Nejebsy (May 1916 – January 1917)
  • Eugen Hornyák Edler von Horn (January – September 1917)
  • Othmar Printz (March – October 1918)
Victories: None[5]
General characteristics
Type: U-1-class submarine
  • 229.7 tonnes (226.1 long tons) surfaced[6]
  • 223 tonnes (219 long tons) submerged
Length: 30 m (100 ft)[2]
Beam: 4.80 m (15 ft 9 in)[2]
Draft: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)[2]
Test depth: 40 meters (130 ft)[1]
Complement: 17[2]
Differences after modernization:
  • 248.9 tonnes (245.0 long tons) surfaced[6]
  • 277.5 tonnes (273.1 long tons) submerged
Length: 30.76 m (100 ft 11 in)[2]
  • 10.3 knots (19.1 km/h; 11.9 mph) surfaced
  • 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph) submerged[2]
  • 950 nmi (1,760 km; 1,090 mi) at 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph), surfaced[2]
  • 40 nmi (74 km) at 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph), submerged

SM U-1 or U-I was the lead boat of her class of submarine or U-boat built for and operated by the Austro-Hungarian Navy (German: Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine or K.u.K. Kriegsmarine). U-1 was designed by American Simon Lake's Lake Torpedo Boat Company and built at the navy yard in Pola. She was one of two Lake-designed submarines purchased as part of a competitive evaluation of foreign submarine designs.

U-1 was launched in February 1909 and was 100 feet (30 m) long and displaced between 230 and 249 tonnes (254 and 274 short tons) depending on whether surfaced or submerged. She was originally powered by gasoline engines for surface running, but during her trials, they were found to be incapable of reaching the contracted speed. U-1 was commissioned in April 1911 and served as a training boat through 1914.

At the beginning of World War I, U-1 was in drydock awaiting new batteries and replacement diesel engines. U-1 returned to service as a training boat until October 1915. From November she conducted reconnaissance cruises out of Trieste and Pola until she was declared obsolete in early 1918. She continued to serve in a training role at the submarine base on Brioni, but was at Pola at the end of the war. She was awarded to Italy as a war reparation in 1920 and scrapped at Pola. U-1 did not sink any ships during the war.

Design and construction[edit]

U-1 was built as part of a plan by the Austro-Hungarian Navy to competitively evaluate foreign submarine designs from Simon Lake, Germaniawerft, and John Philip Holland.[7] The Austro-Hungarian Navy ordered plans for U-1 (and sister ship U-2) in 1906 from the Lake Torpedo Boat Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.[8] U-1 was built at the Pola Navy Yard and was launched on 10 February 1909.[2][Note 1]

U-1 had several features typical of Lake's designs, including a diving chamber under the bow and two variable pitch propellers. Lake's design also called for two retractable wheels that allowed travel over the seabed. The design also placed the diving tanks above the waterline of the single, cylindrical hull, which necessitated a heavy ballast keel for vertical stability. This arrangement required mechanical pumping, a procedure that took 8 minutes. U-1's propulsion system consisted of two gasoline engines for surface running and two electric motors for running while submerged.[2]

The boat was 100 feet (30 m) long by 15 feet 9 inches (4.80 m) abeam and had a draft of 12 feet 8 inches (3.86 m). As designed, her displacement was 229.7 long tons (233.4 t) surfaced and 248.9 long tons (252.9 t) submerged.[2] She was outfitted with three 45-centimeter (17.7 in) torpedo tubes—two in the bow, one in the stern—and could carry up to five torpedoes,[2] but typically carried three.[8] U-1 was also armed with a 3.7-centimeter (1.5 in) deck gun.[2]

Service career[edit]

Upon U-1's completion, the Austro-Hungarian Navy conducted trials of the submarine throughout most of 1910. On 5 April both of U-1's electric motors were damaged in a flooding incident during her trials.[3] U-1's gasoline engines were never able to meet the speed called for in the contract during the Navy evaluations,[7][Note 2] and were considered not suitable for wartime use.[2] As a result, the Navy only paid for U-1's hull and armament, and arranged a lease of the gasoline engines while replacement diesel engines were ordered from the Austrian firm Maschinenfabrik Leobersdorf.[1] Despite the engine problems, U-1 and her sister ship had the best performance in diving and steering amongst the U-boats under evaluation by the Navy.[7]

U-1 was commissioned into the Austro-Hungarian Navy on 15 April 1911 and served as a training boat—conducting up to ten training cruises per month—through 1914. On 13 January 1914, the submarine was accidentally rammed by the Austro-Hungarian cruiser Sankt Georg in the Fasana Channel, which damaged her periscope.[3] At the outbreak of World War I, U-1 was in drydock awaiting the installation of new batteries and her new diesel engines.[4] To accommodate the new engines, she was lengthened by about 11 inches (28 cm). The modifications and new engines lowered her surface displacement to 223.0 tonnes (245.8 short tons) but increased her submerged displacement to 277.5 tonnes (305.9 short tons).[2]

Upon completion in early 1915, U-1 returned to training duties through 4 October. She was stationed at Trieste in early November and conducted reconnaissance cruises from that port through December 1917, when she was assigned to the naval base at Pola. On 11 January 1918, she was declared obsolete, but was retained as a training boat at the submarine base on Brioni.[3] U-1 was at Pola at the war's end,[9] and was scrapped after her cession to Italy as a war reparation in 1920.[2] U-1 did not sink any ships during the war.[5]


  1. ^ In their book The German Submarine War, 1914–1918, R. H. Gibson and Maurice Prendergast report that U-1 was launched in 1911 (p. 383).
  2. ^ Sister ship U-2's engines were equally inadequate.


  1. ^ a b c Sieche, p. 16.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Gardiner, p. 342.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sieche, p. 18.
  4. ^ a b Gardiner, p. 341.
  5. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: KUK U1". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 14 November 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d Sieche, p. 17.
  7. ^ a b c Gardiner, p. 340.
  8. ^ a b Gibson and Prendergast, p. 383.
  9. ^ Gibson and Prendergast, p. 388.