German submarine U-97 (1940)
German submarine U-97 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during the Second World War. She carried out thirteen patrols during her career, sinking sixteen ships and damaging a seventeenth. She was a member of two wolfpacks.
|Ordered:||30 May 1938|
|Laid down:||27 September 1939|
|Launched:||15 August 1940|
|Commissioned:||28 September 1940|
|Fate:||Sunk on 16 June 1943, by an Australian aircraft|
|Class and type:||Type VIIC submarine|
|Height:||9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)|
|Draught:||4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 40–56 enlisted|
Construction and deployment
U-97 was laid down at the Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel as yard number 602. She was launched on 15 August 1940 and commissioned on 28 September under the command of Kapitänleutnant Udo Heilmann.
Serving with the 7th U-boat Flotilla, U-97 completed training in late 1940 and early 1941 before commencing operations.
German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-97 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged. She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 50.50 m (165 ft 8 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower (2,060 to 2,350 kW; 2,760 to 3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two AEG GU 460/8–27 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).
The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph). When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-97 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and one at the stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.
She sank three ships on the 24th; Mansepool, Jonathon Holt, both southwest of the Faroe Islands and British Gunner 273 nautical miles (506 km; 314 mi) northwest of Cape Wrath (northern Scotland). The Flower-class corvette HMS Petunia had ordered the crew of British Gunner to abandon their vessel even though the master had said the ship could be towed to safety.
The U-boat then damaged G.C. Brøvig. The Norwegian tanker was a victim of U-97's third attack on Convoy OB 289. The torpedo strike caused her to lose her bow, but the bulkhead held and the engines remained usable. With assistance from HMS Petunia, she arrived at Stornoway (in the Outer Hebrides), on 27 February. She was subsequently repaired and returned to service.
The patrol was somewhat marred when a crew-member was lost overboard on 3 March. The submarine docked at Lorient in occupied France on 7 March.
U-97 sank three more ships between Cape Farewell (Greenland) and southern Ireland in March and April 1941. They were: Chama and Hørda (on 23 and 24 March respectively) and Conus on 4 April. There were no survivors from Hørda or Conus.
3rd and 4th patrols
The boat sank HMS Camito, an Elders & Fyffes banana boat that had been requisitioned as an Ocean Boarding Vessel and Sangro, west southwest of Cape Clear (southern Ireland) on 6 May 1941. On 8 May she struck again, sinking Ramillies southeast of Cape Farewell.
Sortie number four was relatively uneventful, starting from St. Nazaire on 2 July 1941 and terminating in the same port on 8 August.
Departing St. Nazaire on 20 September 1941, U-97 went south, slipped past the heavily guarded British base at Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean. She sank Pass of Balmaha 50 nmi (93 km; 58 mi) west of Alexandria on 17 October. The merchant ship had been part of the fourth convoy of Operation Cultivate, the relief of Tobruk. She also sank Samos on the same day.
An accident which left the IIWO (second watch officer) badly injured on 24 October forced the boat to cut her patrol short. She arrived at Salamis in Greece on the 27th.
6th and 7th patrols
Human frailties also came to the fore during the boat's sixth patrol when, having crossed the Aegean Sea towards Turkey, she was obliged by a sick crew-member, on 7 January 1942, to return to Salamis on the 9th.
The submarine's seventh patrol started and finished in Salamis.
8th and 9th patrols
Having moved to La Spezia in northwest Italy in February, U-97 was attacked by a Sunderland flying boat of No. 230 Squadron RAF off the North African coast. The aircraft dropped five bombs on the boat, but caused no damage.
Patrol number nine continued the shuttle-sequence between Salamis and La Spezia.
The situation improved for the crew when they sank Zealand and Memos 14 nmi (26 km; 16 mi) southwest of Haifa on 28 June 1942. The Marilyese Moller went to the bottom on 1 July about 27 nmi (50 km; 31 mi) west of Rafah in Palestine. The armed trawler HMS Burra reacted with three depth charges, but was unsuccessful.
11th and 12th patrols
These patrols began in Salamis and La Spezia; the latter finished in Pola (now Pula) in Croatia in May 1943.
13th patrol and loss
U-97's final patrol started with her departure from Pola on 5 June 1943. She sank Palima 30 nmi (56 km; 35 mi) south southwest of Beirut on the 12th. She was also successful against Athelmonarch northwest of Jaffa on the 15th.
Summary of raiding history
|24 February 1941||British Gunner||6,894||Sunk|
|24 February 1941||G.C. Brøvig||9,718||Damaged|
|24 February 1941||Johnathon Holt||4,973||Sunk|
|24 February 1941||Mansepool||4,894||Sunk|
|24 March 1941||Chama||8,077||Sunk|
|24 March 1941||Hørda||4,301||Sunk|
|4 April 1941||Conus||8,132||Sunk|
|6 May 1941||HMS Camito||6,833||Sunk|
|6 May 1941||Sangro||6,466||Sunk|
|8 May 1941||Ramilles||4,553||Sunk|
|17 October 1941||Pass of Balmaha||758||Sunk|
|17 October 1941||Samos||1,208||Sunk|
|28 June 1942||Memas||1,755||Sunk|
|28 June 1942||Zealand||1,433||Sunk|
|1 July 1942||Marilyse Moller||786||Sunk|
|12 June 1943||Palima||1,179||Sunk|
|15 June 1943||Athelmonarch||8,995||Sunk|
- The Times Atlas of the World, Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0 7230 0809 4, p. 45
- Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
- The Times Atlas of the World p. 8
- The Times Atlas of the World, p. 55
- The Times Atlas of the World, p. 9
- The Times Atlas of the World, p. 45
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- "Found near Netanya, a huge British tanker, sunk by Hitler's submarine" http://kanal24.az/?l=en&m=xeber&id=71274