SM U-53

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For other ships with the same name, see German submarine U-53.
German submarine SM U-53.jpg
U-53 in Newport, Rhode Island 7 October 1916
History
German Empire
Name: U 53
Ordered: 23 August 1914
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Laid down: 17 March 1915
Launched: 1 February 1916
Commissioned: 22 April 1916
Fate: 1 December 1918 - Surrendered. Broken up at Swansea in 1922.[1]
General characteristics [2]
Class and type: Type U 51 submarine
Displacement:
  • 715 t (704 long tons) surfaced
  • 902 t (888 long tons) submerged
Length:
Beam:
  • 6.44 m (21 ft 2 in) (oa)
  • 4.18 m (13 ft 9 in) (pressure hull)
Height: 7.82 m (25 ft 8 in)
Draught: 3.64 m (11 ft 11 in)
Installed power:
  • 2 × 2,400 PS (1,765 kW; 2,367 shp) surfaced
  • 2 × 1,200 PS (883 kW; 1,184 shp) submerged
Propulsion: 2 shafts
Speed:
  • 17.1 knots (31.7 km/h; 19.7 mph) surfaced
  • 9.1 knots (16.9 km/h; 10.5 mph) submerged
Range:
  • 9,400 nmi (17,400 km; 10,800 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
  • 55 nmi (102 km; 63 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged
Test depth: 50 m (164 ft 1 in)
Complement: 36
Armament:
Service record
Part of:
  • II Flotilla
  • 31 May 1916 – 11 November 1918
Commanders:
Operations: 13 patrols
Victories:
  • 87 merchant ships sunk (224,314 GRT)
  • 10 merchant ships damaged (46,339 GRT)
  • 1 warship sunk (1,050 tons)
SM U-53 at Newport, Rhode Island in 1916

SM U-53 was one of the six Type U 51 U-boats of the Imperial German Navy during the First World War.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

U-53 was ordered from Germaniawerft, Kiel in 1914 and launched in 1916. She was commissioned under her first commander Hans Rose in 1916.

Service with the Imperial German Navy[edit]

Rose became the 5th ranked German submarine ace of World War I sinking USS Jacob Jones and 87 merchant ships for a total of 224,314 gross register tons (GRT).[5] Rose's first patrol with U-53 was to Newport, Rhode Island. His mission had been to sink any British warships in position to ambush the merchant submarine Bremen; but he heard a radio broadcast on 28 September 1916 indicating Bremen had been sunk. U-53 entered Newport harbor on the morning of 7 October 1916. Rose paid courtesy visits to Rear Admiral Austin M. Knight, Commandant of the United States Second Naval District, and Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves aboard the cruiser USS Birmingham; and then received courtesy visits from both admirals aboard U-53. Admiral Gleaves brought his wife and daughter to visit U-53. It took the neutral American government about two hours to decide how to handle this surprise visit. When the harbor master started talking about quarantine regulations, Rose returned to sea to avoid being interned.[6]

10/7/1916
The crew of U-53 in America.

U-53 commenced military operations the next morning two miles off the Lightship Nantucket. The American steamer Kansan was stopped by a shot across the bow at 0535, and then released when examination of her papers revealed no contraband cargo. A large passenger liner was allowed to pass at 06:00 because Rose felt unable to provide for the safety of a large number of passengers. The 4,321-ton British steamer Strathdene was stopped at 06:53 and torpedoed at 07:43 after the crew had abandoned ship. The 3,878-ton Norwegian steamer Christian Knutsen with a cargo of diesel oil for London was stopped at 08:03 and torpedoed at 0953 after the crew had abandoned ship. The 3,847-ton steamer West Point was stopped at 1130 and sunk by explosive charges after the crew had abandoned ship.[7]

Seventeen American destroyers were dispatched from Newport to search for survivors in response to the Nantucket lightship's reports of sinkings. The destroyers arrived about 1700 as U-53 stopped the Dutch steamer Blommersdyk bound for England with contraband cargo. The 3,449-ton British passenger liner Stephano was stopped and the gathering American destroyers took off its crew and passengers. Rose used his last torpedoes to sink Blommersdyk at 19:50 and Stephano at 22:30. Rose set a homeward course via the Gulf Stream and evaded three British destroyers sent from Canada to intercept him.[8]

Political Ramifications from Trip[edit]

There was a great deal of anger amongst the Allied powers after the visit of U-53 to the American port and the subsequent sinking of Allied shipping. While all of the sinkings were done according to Prize Court laws and nobody was killed during them, the attacks instilled fear in the British because of the reach of the German U-boats, and the United States because these attacks occurred so close to American shores.

The British were further outraged that most of the attacks occurred while the submarine was surrounded by American destroyers. After a soothing speech by Sir Edward Grey, these complaints were calmed when he pointed out that the American ships had no legal right to interfere with these attacks and had done all they could to rescue the sailors in the water.[9] German newspapers celebrated the trip as a great demonstration of the reach of the German Navy and Captain Rose was praised for his actions.

Career after voyage[edit]

In the summer of 1917 artist Claus Bergen accompanied U-53 on an Atlantic patrol, resulting in a series of well-known paintings.[10]

Rose was relieved by von Schrader in 1918. The sub operated primarily within the English Channel after this, attacking Allied and neutral vessels. Von Schrader sank ten more ships of 1,782 tons with U-53 before the armistice on 11 November.[11]

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate[12]
11 July 1916 Calypso  United Kingdom 2,876 Sunk
8 October 1916 Blommersdijk  Netherlands 4,850 Sunk
8 October 1916 Christian Knutsen  Norway 4,224 Sunk
8 October 1916 Stephano  United Kingdom 3,449 Sunk
8 October 1916 Strathdene  United Kingdom 4,321 Sunk
8 October 1916 West Point  United Kingdom 3,847 Sunk
22 January 1917 Anna  France 154 Sunk
22 January 1917 Zeta  Netherlands 3,053 Sunk
28 January 1917 Nueva Montana  Spain 2,039 Sunk
29 January 1917 Algorta  Spain 2,117 Sunk
31 January 1917 Hekla  Norway 524 Sunk
2 February 1917 Odin  Norway 1,045 Sunk
3 February 1917 Housatonic  United States 3,143 Sunk
4 February 1917 Aimee Maria  France 327 Sunk
4 February 1917 Bangpuhtis  Russian Empire 259 Sunk
5 February 1917 Bravalla  Sweden 1,519 Sunk
9 February 1917 Marian  Netherlands 71 Sunk
2 March 1917 Gazelle  United Kingdom 119 Sunk
2 March 1917 Utopia  United Kingdom 184 Sunk
3 March 1917 Theodoros Pangalos  Greece 2,838 Sunk
5 March 1917 Federico Confalonieri  Kingdom of Italy 4,434 Sunk
9 March 1917 Cavour  Kingdom of Italy 1,929 Sunk
9 March 1917 Lars Fostenes  Norway 2,118 Sunk
10 March 1917 St. Feodor  Russian Empire 126 Damaged
11 March 1917 Folia  United Kingdom 6,705 Sunk
11 March 1917 Gracia  Spain 3,129 Sunk
12 March 1917 Hainaut  Belgium 4,113 Sunk
14 March 1917 Aquila  Norway 1,092 Sunk
18 April 1917 Scalpa  United Kingdom 1,010 Sunk
18 April 1917 Sculptor  United Kingdom 3,846 Sunk
19 April 1917 Tempus  United Kingdom 2,981 Sunk
21 April 1917 Pontiac  United Kingdom 1,698 Sunk
22 April 1917 Neepawah  Canada 1,799 Sunk
23 April 1917 Eptapyrgion  United Kingdom 4,307 Sunk
24 April 1917 Anglesea  United Kingdom 4,534 Sunk
24 April 1917 Ferndene  United Kingdom 3,770 Sunk
25 April 1917 Elisabeth  Denmark 217 Damaged
25 April 1917 Laura  United Kingdom 335 Sunk
26 April 1917 Hekla  Denmark 169 Sunk
27 June 1917 Ultonia  United Kingdom 10,402 Sunk
8 July 1917 Asheim  Norway 2,147 Sunk
8 July 1917 Atlantic  Denmark 1,087 Sunk
10 July 1917 Cedric  United Kingdom 197 Sunk
10 July 1917 Mabel  United Kingdom 205 Sunk
10 July 1917 Pacific  United Kingdom 235 Sunk
10 July 1917 Peridot  United Kingdom 214 Sunk
10 July 1917 Pretoria  United Kingdom 283 Sunk
10 July 1917 Romantic  United Kingdom 197 Sunk
10 July 1917 Sea King  United Kingdom 185 Sunk
10 July 1917 Stoic  United Kingdom 200 Sunk
16 August 1917 Athenia  United Kingdom 8,668 Sunk
21 August 1917 Devonian  United Kingdom 10,435 Sunk
21 August 1917 Roscommon  United Kingdom 8,238 Sunk
22 August 1917 Verdi  United Kingdom 7,120 Sunk
23 August 1917 Boniface  United Kingdom 3,799 Sunk
26 August 1917 Durango  United Kingdom 3,008 Sunk
26 August 1917 Kenmore  United Kingdom 3,919 Sunk
10 October 1917 Bostonian  United Kingdom 5,736 Sunk
10 October 1917 Gowrie  United Kingdom 1,031 Sunk
11 October 1917 Lewis Luckenbach  United States 3,906 Sunk
15 October 1917 San Nazario  United Kingdom 10,064 Damaged
17 October 1917 Manchuria  United Kingdom 2,997 Sunk
17 October 1917 Polvena  United Kingdom 4,750 Sunk
19 October 1917 Parkhaven  Netherlands 2,635 Sunk
20 November 1917 Megrez  Netherlands 2,695 Sunk
20 November 1917 Nederland  Netherlands 1,832 Sunk
23 November 1917 Westlands  United Kingdom 3,112 Sunk
24 November 1917 Dunrobin  United Kingdom 3,617 Sunk
1 December 1917 Helenus  United Kingdom 7,555 Damaged
5 December 1917 Earlswood  United Kingdom 2,353 Damaged
6 December 1917 USS Jacob Jones  United States Navy 1,050 Sunk
9 December 1917 Nyanza  United Kingdom 6,695 Damaged
9 December 1917 War Tune  United Kingdom 2,045 Sunk
10 December 1917 Øiekast  Norway 605 Sunk
4 February 1918 Treveal  United Kingdom 4,160 Sunk
6 February 1918 Holkar  United Kingdom 61 Sunk
6 February 1918 Marsouin  France 55 Sunk
7 February 1918 Beaumaris  United Kingdom 2,372 Sunk
8 February 1918 Basuta  United Kingdom 2,876 Sunk
9 February 1918 Lydie  United Kingdom 2,559 Sunk
11 February 1918 Merton Hall  United Kingdom 4,327 Sunk
2 April 1918 Meaford  United Kingdom 1,889 Sunk
7 April 1918 Cadillac  United Kingdom 11,106 Damaged
7 April 1918 Knight Templar  United Kingdom 7,175 Damaged
7 April 1918 Port Campbell  United Kingdom 6,230 Sunk
20 June 1918 Aisne  United Kingdom 315 Damaged
27 June 1918 Keelung  United Kingdom 6,672 Sunk
28 June 1918 Queen  United Kingdom 4,956 Sunk
30 June 1918 W.M.L.  United Kingdom 145 Sunk
2 July 1918 Erme  United Kingdom 116 Sunk
6 July 1918 Gullfaxi  Iceland 46 Sunk
28 August 1918 Pauline  Russian Empire 134 Sunk
1 September 1918 Ami De Dieu  France 45 Sunk
1 September 1918 Etoile Polaire  France 51 Sunk
2 September 1918 Hirondelle  France 38 Sunk
2 September 1918 Nicolazic  France 42 Sunk
4 September 1918 War Firth  United Kingdom 3,112 Sunk
5 September 1918 Rio Mondego  Portugal 733 Damaged

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

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

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: U 53". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Gröner 1991, pp. 8-10.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Kapitänleutnant Hans Rose". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Otto von Schrader". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  5. ^ Tarrant 1989 p.146
  6. ^ Long, October 1966, pp.89-92
  7. ^ Long, October 1966, p.93
  8. ^ Long, October 1966, pp.93-94
  9. ^ Massie 2003 p.690-691
  10. ^ http://www.uk-muenchen.de/english/eng_bergen.htm
  11. ^ Tarrant 1989 p.153
  12. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U 53". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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. 
  • Long (October 1966). "The Cruise of the U-53". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 
  • Tarrant, V.E. (1989). The U-Boat Offensive 1914-1945. Cassell & Company. ISBN 1-85409-520-X. 
  • Massie, Robert. (2003). Castles of Steel. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-40878-0. 
  • Spindler, Arno (1932). Der Handelskrieg mit U-Booten. 5 Vols (1933, 1934, 1941/1964, 1966 ed.). Berlin: Mittler & Sohn. Vols. 4+5, dealing with 1917+18, are very hard to find: Guildhall Library, London, has them all, also Vol. 1-3 in an English translation: The submarine war against commerce. 
  • Beesly, Patrick (1982). Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918. London: H Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-10864-2. 
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1953). A Naval History of World War I. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85728-498-0. 
  • Roessler, Eberhard (1997). Die Unterseeboote der Kaiserlichen Marine. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-5963-7. 
  • Schroeder, Joachim (2002). Die U-Boote des Kaisers. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-6235-4. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2008). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol I., The Fleet in Action. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-76-3. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2009). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol II., The Fleet in Being. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-77-0. 

External links[edit]