|German submarine U-109 (1940)|
U-107, a U-boat identical to U-109
|Career (Nazi Germany)|
|Ordered:||24 May 1938|
|Builder:||AG Weser, Bremen|
|Laid down:||9 March 1940|
|Launched:||14 September 1940|
|Commissioned:||5 December 1940|
|Fate:||Sunk by aircraft, all crew lost.|
|General characteristics |
1,051 t (1,034 long tons) surfaced|
1,178 t (1,159 long tons) submerged
76.5 m (251 ft 0 in) overall|
58.7 m (192 ft 7 in) pressure hull
6.8 m (22 ft 4 in) overall|
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
|Height:||9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)|
|Draft:||4.7 m (15 ft 5 in)|
18.3 knots (33.9 km/h) surfaced|
7.3 knots (13.5 km/h) submerged
22,200 nmi (41,100 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced|
118 nmi (219 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
2nd U-boat Flotilla
12 ships sunk for a total of 86,517 gross register tons (GRT)|
1 ship damaged for a total of 6,548 GRT
The German submarine U-109 was a Type IXB U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine that operated during World War II. She conducted nine war-patrols, sinking 12 ships and damaging one. All but one of these successes were during the six patrols she carried out under the command of the U-boat ace, Heinrich Bleichrodt.
Construction and design
U-109 was ordered by the Kriegsmarine on 24 May 1938 (as part of Plan Z and in violation of the Treaty of Versailles). Her keel was laid down on 9 March 1940 by AG Weser, Bremen as Werk 972. U-109 was launched on 14 September 1940 and commissioned on 5 December under the command of Hans-Georg Fischer.
Like all Type IXB submarines, U-109 had a total output of 4,400 hp (3,281 kW) on the surface and 1,000 hp (746 kW) while submerged. As a result, she could reach a maximum speed of 18.3 knots (33.9 km/h) while surfaced and 7.3 knots (13.5 km/h) submerged. She had a range of 22,200 nmi (41,100 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) while on the surface and 118 nmi (219 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) while submerged. She was equipped with six torpedo tubes (four in the bow, two in the stern) and carried a total of 22 533 mm (21 in) torpedoes. The submarine could also be equipped with 44 TMA mines. U-109's main deck gun was a Utof 10.5 cm SK C/32 naval gun with 110 rounds. The last piece of armament that U-109 was equipped with the standard 2 cm FlaK 30 anti-aircraft gun. U-109s complement was 52 men but could carry up to 56 crew members at any given time. After being commissioned and deployed, U-109 was stationed in the German port city of Kiel.
U-109 conducted a total of nine war patrols in her career and sank 12 enemy vessels for a total of 79,969 GRT (Gross Register Tons). She also damaged one other of 6,548 GRT.
Following training exercises with the 2nd U-boat Flotilla from 5 December 1940 to 30 April 1941, U-109 was transferred to frontline service, still as a member of the 2. Unterseebootsflottille on 1 May. U-109 left Kiel on 6 May. For 24 days, she roamed the North Sea and eventually the North Atlantic in search of Allied convoys heading to Britain. It was here that she claimed her first enemy vessel, the British steam merchantman Harpagus, which was torpedoed and sunk on 24 May, a loss of 5,173 tons. Following this victory, U-109 entered the German occupied port of Lorient in France. This city was to remain her home base for the remainder of her career.
Second and third patrols
U-109's second and third patrols took place without any victories. Her second voyage began on 28 June 1941 when she left her home port of Lorient. For 51 days, she travelled south past Cape Verde in search of any Allied convoys off the coast of Africa. Having not found any, U-109 returned to Lorient on 17 August.
Her third patrol was much like her second. Having left Lorient on 5 October 1941, she proceeded to travel north into the North Atlantic. The U-boat travelled as far west as Nova Scotia and as far north as Labrador before heading back, arriving in Lorient on 18 November after spending 45 days at sea and without sinking any vessels.
U-109's fourth patrol was much more successful than her last two. The U-boat left Lorient on 27 December 1941 and for 59 days she travelled to the eastern seaboard of the United States in search of Allied shipping as part of Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat). On 23 January 1942, she sank her first enemy vessel when she torpedoed the British merchant vessel, Thirlby. On 1 February, U-109 sank another British vessel, the Tacoma Star. These victories were followed by the sinking of the Canadian Montrolite on 5 February and the Panamanian Halcyon on 6 February. Following these victories, U-109 returned to Lorient on 23 February 1942, she was reported by the BBC to be sunk and the crew taken prisoner.
Her fifth patrol was also eventful. Having left Lorient on 25 March 1942, the U-boat headed to the southern coast of the United States. On 20 April, she sank the British merchant vessel Harpagon. This was followed by the damaging of the British ship La Paz off the coast of Florida on 1 May. Two days later, on 3 May, U-109 torpedoed and sank the Dutch vessel Laertes. She returned to Lorient on 3 June 1942, after 72 days at sea.
Much like her second patrol, U-109's sixth foray took place off the coast of Africa. For 81 days, she traveled as far south as the Gold Coast and sank five enemy vessels: the Norwegian Arthur W. Sewall on 7 August; and a further four British vessels, the Vimeira on 11 August, the Ocean Might on 3 September, the Tuscan Star on 6 September and the Peterton on 17 September. U-109 then returned to Lorient on 6 October 1942.
Seventh and eighth patrols
U-109's remaining patrols were without any victories. The U-boat left Lorient on 28 November 1942 and traveled south off the northern coast of South America. 57 days later, on 23 January 1943, she returned to Lorient without any victories.
Her eighth patrol was much the same. The submarine left port on 3 March and travelled as far south as the Azores, circled the island chain and returned to Lorient on 1 April after 30 days at sea and without sighting any enemy vessels.
U-109's ninth and last war patrol took place from 28 April 1943, when she left Lorient, on 4 May. She was sunk by four depth charges from a British Liberator aircraft south of Ireland. The aircraft was flying to a rendezvous with an Allied convoy when it detected the boat with its H2S radar, north-east of the Azores. The U-boat was seen to surface before slowly sinking, apparently with enough time for the crew to abandon her, although none were seen to emerge from her hatches. It is assumed that all 52 of her crew went down with her.
Summary of raiding career
|23 January 1941||Thirlby||Great Britain||4,877||Sunk|
|1 February 1941||Tacoma Star||Great Britain||7,924||Sunk|
|5 February 1941||Montrolite||Canada||11,309||Sunk|
|6 February 1941||Halcyon||Panama||3,531||Sunk|
|20 April 1941||La Paz||Great Britain||6,548||Damaged|
|3 May 1941||Laertes||Netherlands||5,825||Sunk|
|7 August 1941||Arthur W. Sewall||Norway||6,030||Sunk|
|11 August 1941||Vimeira||Great Britain||5,728||Sunk|
|3 September 1941||Ocean Might||Great Britain||7,173||Sunk|
|6 September 1941||Tuscan Star||Great Britain||11,449||Sunk|
|17 September 1941||Peterton||Great Britain||5,221||Sunk|
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