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SM U-27 (Austria-Hungary)

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U-27 seen at her launch on 19 October 1916.
U-27 seen at her launch on 19 October 1916.
Career (Austria-Hungary)
Name: SM U-27
Ordered: 12 October 1915[1]
Builder: Cantiere Navale Triestino, Pola
Launched: 19 October 1916.[2]
Commissioned: 24 February 1917.[3]
Fate: scrapped 1920
Service record
  • Robert Teufl von Fernland (Feb–Dec 1917)[3]
  • Josef Holub (Dec 1917 – Oct 1918)
Victories: 33 ships (14,386 GRT) sunk[3]
1 ship taken as prize
1 warship (765 tons) sunk
1 warship (665 tons) damaged
General characteristics
Type: U-27-class submarine
Displacement: 264 t (260 long tons) surfaced
301 t (296 long tons) submerged[2]
Length: 121 ft 1 in (36.91 m)[2]
Beam: 14 ft 4 in (4.37 m)[2]
Draft: 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m)[2]
Propulsion: 2 × shafts
2 × diesel engine, 270 bhp (200 kW) total
2 × electric motor, 280 shp (210 kW) total[2]
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h) surfaced
7.5 knots (14 km/h) submerged[2]
Complement: 23–24[2]
Armament: 2 × 45 cm (17.7 in) bow torpedo tubes; 4 torpedoes
1 × 75 mm/26 (3.0 in) deck gun
1 × 8 mm (0.31 in) machine gun[2]

SM U-27 or U-XXVII was the lead boat of the U-27 class of U-boats or submarines for the Austro-Hungarian Navy. U-27 was built by the Austrian firm of Cantiere Navale Triestino (CNT) at the Pola Navy Yard and launched on 19 October 1916. She was commissioned on 24 February 1917.

She had a single hull and was just over 121 feet (37 m) in length. She displaced nearly 265 metric tons (261 long tons) when surfaced and over 300 metric tons (295 long tons) when submerged. Her two diesel engines moved her at up to 9 knots (17 km/h) on the surface, while her twin electric motors propeller her at up to 7.5 knots (13.9 km/h) while underwater. She was armed with two bow torpedo tubes and could carry a load of up to four torpedoes. She was also equipped with a 75 mm (3.0 in) deck gun and a machine gun.

During her service career, U-27 sank the British destroyer Phoenix, damaged the Japanese destroyer Sakaki, and sank or captured 34 other ships totaling 14,386 GRT. U-27 was surrendered at Pola at war's end and handed over to Italy as a war reparation in 1919. She was broken up the following year. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921 calls U-27 Austria-Hungary's "most successful submarine".

Design and construction[edit]

Austria-Hungary's U-boat fleet was largely obsolete at the outbreak of World War I.[4] The Austro-Hungarian Navy satisfied its most urgent needs by purchasing five Type UB I submarines that comprised the U-10 class from Germany,[5] by raising and recommissioning the sunken French submarine Curie as U-14,[4][Note 1] and by building four submarines of the U-20 class that were based on the 1911 Danish Havmanden class.[2][Note 2]

After these steps alleviated their most urgent needs,[4] the Austro-Hungarian Navy selected the German Type UB II design for its newest submarines in mid 1915.[6] The Germans were reluctant to allocate any of their wartime resources to Austro-Hungarian construction, but were willing to sell plans for up to six of the UB II boats to be constructed under license in Austria-Hungary.[6] The Navy agreed to the proposal and purchased the plans from AG Weser of Bremen.[7]

U-27 displaced 264 metric tons (260 long tons) surfaced and 301 metric tons (296 long tons) submerged.[2] She had a single hull with saddle tanks,[8] and was 121 feet 1 inch (36.91 m) long with a beam of 14 feet 4 inches (4.37 m) and a draft of 12 feet 2 inches (3.71 m).[2] For propulsion, she had two shafts, twin diesel engines of 270 bhp (200 kW) for surface running, and twin electric motors of 280 shp (210 kW) for submerged travel. She was capable of 9 knots (16.7 km/h) while surfaced and 7.5 knots (13.9 km/h) while submerged.[2] Although there is no specific notation of a range for U-27, the German UB II boats, upon which the U-27 class was based, had a range of over 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h) surfaced, and 45 nautical miles (83 km) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h) submerged.[8] U-27 class boats were designed for a crew of 23–24.[2]

U-27 was armed with two 45 cm (17.7 in) bow torpedo tubes and carried a complement of four torpedoes. She was also equipped with a 75 mm/26 (3.0 in) deck gun and an 8 mm (0.31 in) machine gun.[2]

After intricate political negotiations to allocate production of the class between Austrian and Hungarian firms,[6] U-27 was ordered from Cantiere Navale Triestino (CNT) on 12 October 1915.[1] She was laid down by early 1916 at the Pola Navy Yard,[Note 3] and launched on 19 October.[2][6]

Service career[edit]

After her completion, U-27 was commissioned into the Austro-Hungarian Navy on 24 February 1917 under the command of Linienschiffsleutnant Robert Teufl von Fernland.[3] Previously in command of U-11, von Fernland was 31-year-old native of Vienna.[9] In April, von Fernland and U-27 both achieved their first kills. On 12 April, U-27 encountered the 3,756-ton Greek steamship Niritos sailing from Genoa for Port Said. About 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) off Augusta, Sicily,[10] U-27 shelled and sank the 11-year-old Greek ship.[11] Four days later, von Fernland torpedoed another Greek steamer, the 2,976-ton Zinovia. Carrying coal from Barry for Taranto, Zinovia was sent to the bottom 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) from Cape Rizzuto.[12]

In mid-May 1917, U-27 participated in a support role in a raid on the Otranto Barrage that precipitated the Battle of Otranto Straits. On the night of 14/15 May, the Austro-Hungarian cruisers Helgoland, Saida, and Novara attacked the drifters that deployed the anti-submarine nets that formed part of the Barrage, sinking 14, damaging 5, and taking 72 prisoners.[13][Note 4] Destroyers Csepel and Balaton were sent to simultaneously attack Italian transports shuttling between Italy and Valona, and sank an Italian destroyer and a munitions ship. U-27, which was assigned to patrol between Brindisi and Cattaro, was a part of a force of three U-boats intended to intercept British and Italian ships responding to the attacks; the other two were the Austro-Hungarian U-4 (which was posted near Valona) and the German UC-25 (assigned to mine Brindisi). A squadron of British cruisers and Italian and French destroyers joined the battle against the Austro-Hungarian cruisers on 15 May. Several ships on each side were damaged by the time the engagement was broken off. As a result of the attacks the drifter line of the Barrage was moved farther south and maintained only during the day, a success for the Central Powers. U-27 did not take any offensive action during the raid and ensuing battle.[13]

On 9 June, U-27 sank Roland, a French sailing ship, off the Greek island of Cerigo.[14] Two days later, von Fernland torpedoed the Japanese destroyer Sakaki between Cerigotto and Meles.[15] Sakaki was one of eight Kaba-class destroyers that were part of the Japanese contribution to the Allied effort in the Mediterranean.[16] Although the Japanese ships often performed escort service for British troop convoys,[16] Helgason does not report whether Sakaki was engaged in that duty when she was attacked.[15] Even though 68 Japanese sailors perished in the attack,[17] nearly two-thirds the complement of a typical Kaba class ship,[18] Sakaki remained afloat,[15] was repaired, and remained in service.[18] On 29 December, Linienschiffsleutnant Josef Holub replaced von Fernland as commander of U-27.[3] Holub, a 32-year-old native of Galicia, had previously been in command of U-21 and U-22.[19] Holub recorded his first victory with U-27 in January 1918. While near Marca, Sirocco, the U-boat torpedoed and sank the Italian steamer Andrea Costa on 22 January. The 3,991-ton Andrea Costa had sailed from Rangoon, but was sunk just short of her destination of Malta.[20] A little more than four months would pass before Holub and U-27 would score their next success.[21]

HMS Phoenix lists to port after being torpedoed, viewed from HMAS Warrego

From late April to early May, U-27 sank six small ships—five Greek and one Italian—including three on one day, 6 May. All of the ships with reported tonnages were under 50 tons.[21] U-27 torpedoed the British destroyer Phoenix at 09:18 on 14 May with the loss of one stoker and one artificer.[22][23] Phoenix had been attached to the group of ships patrolling the Otranto Barrage when she was torpedoed amidships on the starboard side.[24] Although she survived the initial attack, Phoenix was listing badly and taking on large quantities of water. An attempt was made by Australian destroyer Warrego to tow Phoenix to safety but by 12:45 she was in danger of capsizing and her crew were removed. Phoenix eventually sank at 13:10 in position 40°23′30″N 19°14′00″E / 40.39167°N 19.23333°E / 40.39167; 19.23333.[25] From 3 to 11 July, U-27 sank another ten ships,[21] the largest reported being the 67-ton sailing vessel Giuseppino Padre.[26] U-27 dispatched three of the ships on 3 July, and sank two each on 10 and 11 July.[21] On 13 August, U-27 attacked the 2,209-ton British steamer Anhui. The 15-year-old ship was en route from Famagusta to Port Said, when U-27 torpedoed her 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) off Crete. Four persons on Anhui died when the ship with her general cargo went down.[27]

U-27‍ '​s next victims were all encountered in mid-September. On 11 September, the French sailing ship Antoinette was seized as a prize and towed into the port of Beyrouth.[28] Starting three days later, Holub and U-27 sent an additional ten small ships to the bottom, including the final six all on 20 September. Except for the two largest ships—the 113-ton Agios Nicolas and the 103-ton Theologos—none were over 60 tons.[21]

At the war's end, U-27 was in port at Pola. The U-boat was surrendered to Italy as a war reparation in 1919 and was scrapped at Fiume in 1920.[29] In addition to the sinking and damaging of two destroyers, she sank or captured 34 merchant ships totaling 14,386 GRT.[21] Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921 calls U-27 Austria-Hungary's "most successful submarine".[30]

Ships sunk or damaged[edit]

Ships sunk or damaged by SM U-27[21]
Date Name Tonnage Nationality
12 April 1917 Niritos 3,756 Greek
16 April 1917 Zinovia 2,976 Greek
9 June 1917 Roland 703 French
11 June 1917 Sakaki* 665 Japanese
22 January 1918 Andrea Costa 3,991 Italian
29 April 1918 Maria 40 Greek
1 May 1918 San Nicola unknown Italian
3 May 1918 Panaghia unknown Greek
6 May 1918 Agios Dimitrios 40 Greek
6 May 1918 Evangelistria 46 Greek
6 May 1918 Taxiarchis 40 Greek
14 May 1918 HMS Phoenix 765 British
3 July 1918 Agia Trias 14 Greek
3 July 1918 Evangelistria unknown Greek
3 July 1918 Panaghia 12 Greek
6 July 1918 San Nicola 29 Italian
7 July 1918 Giuseppino Padre 67 Italian
9 July 1918 Tris Adelphi 53 Greek
10 July 1918 Agios Georgios 17 Greek
10 July 1918 Agios Loukis 11 Greek
11 July 1918 Agios Constantinos 14 Greek
11 July 1918 Marigo unknown Greek
13 August 1918 Anhui 2,209 British
11 September 1918 Antoinette** unknown French
14 September 1918 Agios Nicolas 113 British
17 September 1918 Portaritissa 16 Italian
17 September 1918 Sofia unknown Italian
18 September 1918 Adelphotis 26 Greek
18 September 1918 Agios Amma 16 Greek
19 September 1918 Agios Spiridion 58 Greek
20 September 1918 Aghios Nicolaos unknown Greek
20 September 1918 Agios Nicolas 13 Greek
20 September 1918 Agios Spiridion 18 Greek
20 September 1918 Dragonos unknown Greek
20 September 1918 Prof. Elias 5 Greek
20 September 1918 Theologos 103 Greek

* damaged but not sunk
** captured as a prize


  1. ^ Curie had been caught in an anti-submarine net while trying to enter the harbor at Pola on 20 December 1914. See: Gardiner, p. 343.
  2. ^ The plans for the Danish Havmanden class submarines, three of which were built in Austria-Hungary, were seized from Whitehead & Co. in Fiume. See: Gardiner, pp. 344, 354.
  3. ^ By this time, the CNT shipyards at Monfalcone had been overrun by the Italian Army. See: Baumgartner and Sieche, as excerpted here (reprinted and translated into English by Sieche). Retrieved 17 January 2008.
  4. ^ Joseph Watt, the commander of the British drifter Gowan Lea, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in refusing to surrender to one of the Austrian cruisers.


  1. ^ a b Miller, p. 20.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Gardiner, p. 344.
  3. ^ a b c d e Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: U KUK U14". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Gardiner, p. 341.
  5. ^ Gardiner, p. 343.
  6. ^ a b c d Halpern, p. 383.
  7. ^ Baumgartner and Sieche, as excerpted here (reprinted and translated into English by Sieche). Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  8. ^ a b Gardiner, p. 181.
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Robert Teufl von Fernland". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  10. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Niritos". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  11. ^ "Niritos (1119225)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 19 January 2009. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ "Zinovia (5608112)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 19 January 2009. (subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ a b Gibson and Prendergast, pp. 254–55.
  14. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Roland". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  15. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Sakaki (d.)". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  16. ^ a b Halpern, p. 393.
  17. ^ Gilbert, p. 329, note 1.
  18. ^ a b Gardiner, p. 242.
  19. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Josef Holub". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  20. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Andrea Costa". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Ships hit by KUK U27". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  22. ^ "Royal Naval Casualties May 1918 at". Retrieved 28 September 2008. 
  23. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Phoenix (hms)". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  24. ^ Gibson and Prendergast, p. 271.
  25. ^ Hepper, p. 133.
  26. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Giuseppino Padre". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  27. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Anhui". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  28. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Antoinette (p.)". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  29. ^ Gibson and Prendergast, p. 388.
  30. ^ Gardiner, p. 342.