SM U-151

SM U-151 or SM Unterseeboot 151 was a World War I U-boat of the Imperial German Navy, constructed by Reiherstieg Schiffswerfte & Maschinenfabrik at Hamburg and launched on 4 April 1917. From 1917 until the Armistice in November 1918 she was part of the U-Kreuzer Flotilla, and was responsible for 34 ships sunk (88,395 tons) and 7 ships damaged (14,292 tons).[2]

U-151 at sea
German Empire
Class and type: Type U-151 U-boat
Name: U-151
Ordered: 29 November 1916
Builder: Reiherstieg Schiffswerfte & Maschinenfabrik, Hamburg
Yard number: 303
Launched: 4 April 1917
Commissioned: 21 July 1917
Captured: Surrendered to France at Cherbourg
Fate: Sunk as target ship at Cherbourg, 7 June 1921
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: German Type U 151 submarine
  • 1,512 tonnes (1,488 long tons) (surfaced)
  • 1,875 tonnes (1,845 long tons) (submerged)
  • 2,272 tonnes (2,236 long tons) (total)
  • 8.90 m (29 ft 2 in) (o/a)
  • 5.80 m (19 ft) (pressure hull)
Height: 9.25 m (30 ft 4 in)
Draught: 5.30 m (17 ft 5 in)
Installed power:
  • 800 PS (590 kW; 790 bhp) (surfaced)
  • 800 PS (590 kW; 790 bhp) (submerged)
Propulsion: 2 × shafts, 2 × 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in) propellers
  • 12.4 knots (23.0 km/h; 14.3 mph) surfaced
  • 5.2 knots (9.6 km/h; 6.0 mph) submerged
Range: 25,000 nmi (46,000 km; 29,000 mi) at 5.5 knots (10.2 km/h; 6.3 mph) surfaced, 65 nmi (120 km; 75 mi) at 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) submerged
Test depth: 50 metres (160 ft)
Complement: 6 officers, 50 enlisted
Service record
Part of:
Operations: 4 patrols
  • 34 ships sunk for a total of 88,395 GRT
  • 7 ships damaged for a total of 14,292 GRT


U-151 was originally one of seven Deutschland class U-boats designed to carry cargo between the United States and Germany in 1916. Five of the submarine freighters were converted into long-range cruiser U-boats (U-kreuzers) equipped with two 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/45 deck guns, including U-151 which was originally to have been named Oldenburg. The Type U 151 class were the largest U-boats of World War I.

Service history

U-151 was commissioned on 21 July 1917. From 21 July to 26 December 1917 she was commanded by Waldemar Kophamel who took U-151 on a long-range cruise which eventually covered a total of 12,000 miles. On 19 September 1917 U-151 claimed her first victim, the 3,104-ton French sailing ship Blanche in the Atlantic Ocean. On 2 or 12 October 1917 (sources differ), she collided with the Royal Navy Q-ship HMS Begonia in the Atlantic Ocean off Casablanca, French Morocco, sinking Begonia.[3][4] On 20 November 1917 U-151 captured the steamship Johan Mjelde, and scuttled her on 26 November after transferring 22 tons of her cargo of copper.

American cruise

U-151 left Kiel on 14 April 1918 commanded by Korvettenkapitän Heinrich von Nostitz und Jänckendorff, her mission to attack American shipping. She arrived off the United States East Coast on 21 May, laid mines off the Delaware Capes and cut the submerged telegraph cables which connected New York City with Nova Scotia. On 25 May she stopped three American schooners off Virginia, took their crews prisoner, and sank the three ships by gunfire.

On 2 June 1918, known to some historians as "Black Sunday", U-151 sank six American ships and damaged two others off the coast of New Jersey in the space of a few hours. The next day the tanker Herbert L. Pratt struck a mine previously laid by U-151 in the area but was later salvaged.[5] Thirteen people died in the seven sinkings, their deaths caused by a capsized lifeboat from SS Carolina.[6]

On 9 June 1918, U-151 stopped the Norwegian cargo ship Vindeggan off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Scuttling charges were rigged aboard her, then she was escorted outside the shipping lane under a prize crew. Von Nostitz then transferred 70 tons of copper ingots from Vindeggan to U-151.[7]

On 14 June, U-151 sank the Norwegian barque Samoa, en route from Walvis Bay, South-West Africa, to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, with a cargo of copper ore, by gunfire 90 miles off the Virginia coast. There were no casualties.[8]

On the 18 June, U-151 sank the steamship SS Dwinsk, and then loitered near Dwinsk′s lifeboats in the hopes that more Allied shipping would be attracted to them.[9] Through this ruse, she launched torpedoes at the U.S. Navy auxiliary cruiser and troopship USS Von Steuben (ID-3017), but missed and was instead depth charged by Von Steuben.

On 28 June 1918, U-151 captured the SS Dictator and made its crew prisoners of war. Among those taken were four men from Newfoundland: Thomas Fiander, Edgar Banfield, Charles Blagdon, and Thomas Bowdridge.

U-151 returned to Kiel on 20 July 1918 after a 94-day cruise in which she had covered a distance of 10,915 nmi (20,215 km; 12,561 mi). Her commander reported that she had sunk 23 ships totalling 61,000 tons and had laid mines responsible for the sinking of another four vessels.[10]


At the end of the war U-151 surrendered to France at Cherbourg. The French Navy sank her as a target on 7 June 1921.[11]

Summary of raiding history

Date Commander Name Type Tonnage[Note 1] Country Fate[2]
19 Sep 1917Waldemar KophamelBlancheSailing vessel3,104 Francesunk
1 Oct 1917Waldemar KophamelEtnaSteamer5,604 Italysunk
2 Oct 1917Waldemar KophamelViajanteSailing vessel377 Portugalsunk
4 Oct 1917Waldemar KophamelBygdønesSteamer2,849 Norwaysunk
12 Oct 1917Waldemar KophamelParthian (HMS)Destroyer1,025 United KingdomDamaged
13 Oct 1917Waldemar KophamelCapreraSteamer5,040 Italysunk
19 Oct 1917Waldemar Kophamel Harpon Steamer1,484 FranceDamaged
20 Oct 1917Waldemar KophamelMoyori MaruSteamer3,746 Japansunk
21 Oct 1917Waldemar KophamelGryfevaleSteamer4,437 United Kingdomsunk
2 Nov 1917Waldemar KophamelAcarySteamer4,275 Brazilsunk
2 Nov 1917Waldemar KophamelGuahybaSteamer1,891 Brazilsunk
16 Nov 1917Waldemar KophamelMargaret L. RobertsSailing vessel535 United Statessunk
21 Nov 1917Waldemar KophamelSobralSteamer1,075 Norwaysunk
22 Nov 1917Waldemar KophamelTijucaSailing vessel2,543 Francesunk
23 Nov 1917Waldemar KophamelTrombetasSailing vessel235 Portugalsunk
26 Nov 1917Waldemar KophamelJohan MjeldeSteamer2,049 Norwaysunk
4 Dec 1917Waldemar KophamelClaudioSteamer2,588 Spainsunk
24 May 1918Waldemar KophamelEdnaSailing vessel325 United StatesDamaged
25 May 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffHattie DunnSailing vessel435 United Statessunk
25 May 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffHauppaugeSailing vessel1,446 United StatesDamaged
2 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffCarolinaPassenger steamer5,093 United Statessunk
2 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffEdward H. ColeSailing vessel1,791 United Statessunk
2 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffEdward R. Baird JrSailing vessel279 United StatesDamaged
2 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffIsabel B. WileySailing vessel776 United Statessunk
2 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffJacob M. HaskellSailing vessel1,778 United Statessunk
2 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffTexelSteamer3,210 United Statessunk
2 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffWinneconneSteamer1,869 United Statessunk
3 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffSamuel C. MengelSailing vessel915 United Statessunk
3 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffHerbert L. PrattTanker7,145 United StatesDamaged
4 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffEidsvoldSteamer1,570 Norwaysunk
5 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffHarpathianSteamer4,588 United Kingdomsunk
5 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffVinlandSteamer1,143 Norwaysunk
8 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffPinar Del RioSteamer2,504 United Statessunk
10 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffHenrik LundSteamer4,226 Norwaysunk
10 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffVindeggenSteamer3,179 Norwaysunk
14 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffKringsjaaSailing vessel1,750 Norwaysunk
14 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffSamoaSailing vessel1,138 Norwaysunk
18 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffDwinskPassenger steamer8,173 United Kingdomsunk
22 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffChilierSteamer2,966 Belgiumsunk
23 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffAugvaldSteamer3,406 Norwaysunk
28 Jun 1918Heinrich von Nostitz und JänckendorffDictatorSailing vessel125 United Kingdomsunk

See also


  1. Tonnages are in gross register tons



  1. Gröner 1991, pp. 20-21.
  2. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U 151". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  3. "BRITISH NAVAL VESSELS LOST AT SEA Part 1 of 2 - Abadol (oiler) to Lynx (destroyer)". Naval History. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  4. "HMS BEGONIA". Clydebuilt. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2013.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  5. Evening Public Ledger 1918, p. 1
  6. ""Black Sunday" – Victims of U-151". Scuba Diving – New Jersey & Long Island New York. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009.
  7. Hadley, Michael L.; Roger Flynn Sarty (1991). Tin-pots and Pirate Ships. McGill-Queen's Press. pp. 244–245. ISBN 0-7735-0778-7.
  9. "S/S C. F. Tietgen, Scandinavian America Line". Norway-Heritage. Retrieved 20 February 2008.
  10. Gibson 2002, p. 308.
  11. McCartney 2002.


  • Evening Public Ledger (5 June 1918). "Stung by the Sea Asp, the Tanker Pratt lay partially submerged off Lewes". Evening Public Ledger. Philadelphia. OCLC 701513196. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  • Gibson, R.H.; Prendergast, Maurice (2002). The German Submarine War 1914-1918. Periscope Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-904381-08-1.
  • 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.
  • Jung, Dieter (2004). Die Schiffe der Kaiserlichen Marine 1914-1918 und ihr Verbleib [German Imperial Navy ships 1914-1918 and their fate] (in German). Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 3-7637-6247-7.
  • McCartney, Innes (2002). Lost Patrols: Submarine Wrecks of the English Channel.
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