German Type UB III submarine

The Type UB III submarine was a class of U-boat built during World War I by the German Imperial Navy.

UB-86 washed ashore 1921
Class overview
Preceded by: UB II
Built: 19161918
In commission: 19171935
Planned: 201
Building: 145
Completed: 95
Cancelled: 56
Lost: 37
General characteristics
Type: Coastal submarine
  • 508–555 t (500–546 long tons) surfaced
  • 629–684 t (619–673 long tons) submerged
  • 55.30–57.80 m (181 ft 5 in–189 ft 8 in) (o/a)
  • 40.10 m (131 ft 7 in) (pressure hull)
Beam: 5.76–5.80 m (18 ft 11 in–19 ft 0 in)
Draught: 3.67–3.85 m (12 ft 0 in–12 ft 8 in)
Installed power:
  • 6-cylinder diesel engines, 1,060–1,100 PS (780–809 kW; 1,045–1,085 shp)
  • electric motors, 788 PS (580 kW; 777 shp)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 1.40 m (4 ft 7 in) propellers
  • 13.2–13.9 knots (24.4–25.7 km/h; 15.2–16.0 mph) surfaced
  • 7.4–8 knots (13.7–14.8 km/h; 8.5–9.2 mph) submerged
  • 7,120–9,090 nmi (13,190–16,830 km; 8,190–10,460 mi) at 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph) surfaced
  • 50–55 nmi (93–102 km; 58–63 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 50 m (160 ft)
Complement: 3 officers, 31 men

UB III boats carried 10 torpedoes and were usually armed with either an 8.8 cm (3.5 in) or a 10.5 cm (4.1 in) deck gun. They carried a crew of 34 and had a cruising range of 7,120–9,090 nautical miles (13,190–16,830 km; 8,190–10,460 mi). Between 1916 and 1918, 96 were built.[1]

The UB III type coastal submarine, despite being a submersible torpedo boat was less akin to UB-II type "attack" (i.e. torpedo-launching) boats that preceded it than the highly successful UC-II type minelaying submarine. The UC-IIs had gained their fearsome reputation by sinking more than 1,800 Allied and neutral vessels.[2] German engineers did not miss the chance of expanding the potential of this capable design by incorporating some of its features into a new submersible torpedo boat.

The UB-IIIs joined the conflict mid-1917, after the United States of America declared war on Germany and the United States Navy was added to the ranks of their enemies. When the convoy system was introduced, it became more difficult to engage enemy merchant shipping without being spotted by destroyer escorts.[3] Nevertheless, the UB-IIIs performed their duties with distinction, sinking 507 ships with a total of 1,212,553 gross register tons (GRT) and 12 warships, including the battleship HMS Britannia, before the end of hostilities.

More than 200 UB III boats were ordered. Of these, 96 were completed, and 89 commissioned into the German Imperial Navy. Thirty-seven boats were lost, four in accidents.[4] Surviving boats had to be surrendered to the Allies in accordance with the requirements of the Armistice with Germany, some of these boats served until 1935.[1]

Germany was prohibited from acquiring a new submarine force by the Treaty of Versailles, but German admirals had no intention of allowing their nation to forget how to construct submarines. Germany started to manufacture and to export slightly modified versions of UB-IIs and UB-IIIs. Having kept the skills of their engineers polished by this means, they eventually ordered the construction of a new coastal submarine. The resulting design was an improved UB-III that had the benefit of new, all-welded construction techniques and an array of electronic and electromechanical gadgets: the Type VII submarine, the most common U-boat of the Kriegsmarine, was born.[5]

List of Type UB III submarines

There were 95 Type UB III submarines commissioned into the German Imperial Navy.


  1. Gröner 1991, pp. 25-30.
  2. Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-boats in WWI". German and Austrian U-Boats of World War I – Kaiserliche Marine –
  3. Greg Goebel, The First Battle of the Atlantic,
  4. Bendert 2000, p. 9.
  5. G.Williamson and I.Palmer, U-Boats of the Kaiser's Navy, 2002


  • Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 19061921
  • Bendert, Harald (2000). Die UB-Boote der Kaiserlichen Marine, 1914-1918. Einsätze, Erfolge, Schicksal (in German). Hamburg: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn GmbH. ISBN 3-8132-0713-7.
  • 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.

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