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German submarine U-159 (1941)
Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-4386-01, Frankreich, Lorient, U-159 und U-107.jpg
U-159 (left) returning to Lorient, U-107 (right), 12 July 1942
Career (Germany)
Name: U-159
Ordered: 23 December 1939
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1009
Laid down: 11 November 1940
Launched: 1 July 1941
Commissioned: 4 October 1941
Fate: Sunk on 28 July 1943[1]
General characteristics
Type: Type IXC submarine
Displacement: 1,120 t (1,100 long tons) surfaced
1,232 t (1,213 long tons) submerged
Length: 76.8 m (252 ft 0 in) overall
58.7 m (192 ft 7 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.8 m (22 ft 4 in) overall
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.4 m (30 ft 10 in)
Draft: 4.7 m (15 ft 5 in)
Propulsion: 2 × MAN M9V40/46 supercharged 9-cylinder diesel engines, 4,000 hp (2,983 kW)
2 × SSW GU345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (746 kW)
Speed: 18.2 knots (33.7 km/h) surfaced
7.3 knots (13.5 km/h) submerged
Range: 24,880 nmi (46,080 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
117 nmi (217 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 48 to 56
Armament: 6 × torpedo tubes (four bow, two stern)
22 × 55 cm (22 in) torpedoes
1 × 10.5 cm SK C/32 naval gun[2] (110 rounds)
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine
4th U-boat Flotilla
(4 October 1941–30 April 1942)
10th U-boat Flotilla
(1 May 1942–28 July 1943)
Commanders: Kptlt. Helmut Witte
(4 October 1941–6 June 1943)
Oblt. (R) Heinz Beckmann
(7 June 1943–28 July 1943)
Operations: Five patrols
Victories: 22 ships sunk for a total of 119,554 gross register tons (GRT)
one ship damaged of 265 gross register tons (GRT)

German submarine U-159 was a Type IXC U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine built for service during World War II. The keel for this boat was laid down on 11 November 1940 at the AG Weser yard in Bremen, Germany as 'werk' 1009. She was launched on 1 July 1941 and commissioned on 4 October under the command of Kapitänleutnant Helmut Witte (Knight's Cross).

The U-boat's service began with training as part of the 4th U-boat Flotilla. She then moved to the 10th flotilla on 1 May 1942 for operations. She sank 22 ships, totalling 119,554 tons and damaged one more, of 265 tons.

She was sunk by an American aircraft in July 1943.

Operational career

1st and 2nd patrols

The submarine's first patrol took her from Kiel on 22 April 1942, across the North Sea and into the Atlantic Ocean through the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands. She arrived at Lorient, in occupied France, on 3 May. She would be based at this Atlantic port for the rest of her career.

U-159's second sortie proved to be successful, sinking ships such as the Montenol on 21 May 1942 140 mi (230 km) east southeast of Santa Maria, in the Azores. She also attacked the Illinios, which with a cargo of 8,000 tons of manganese ore, sank in 40 seconds. The U-boat's deck gun got plenty of use, sinking the Sally on 5 June and the Flora on the 18th. On another occasion, due to rough seas, the weapon could not be used in the attack on the Brazilian sailing ship Paracury; her 20mm AA gun was used instead. Holes at the waterline were shot into the vessel, which capsized but did not sink. The wreck was subsequently recovered and repaired.
The boat was attacked by a Leigh Light equipped Vickers Wellington aircraft of No. 172 Squadron RAF on 13 July 1942. She was severely damaged and barely managed to reach Lorient, some 12 hours later.

3rd patrol

Her third foray was to the South Atlantic and at 135 days, her longest and most destructive. Attacking and sinking among others, the Boringia, theEmpire Nomad and the Ross. The boat was attacked by a SAAF [South African Air Force] Lockheed Ventura on 10 October 1942; only minor damage was sustained. She also torpedoed and sank the La Salle on 7 November 1942. When the ships' cargo of ammunition exploded, it was heard at the Cape Point lighthouse, more than 300 mi (480 km) away. Another of her victims, the Star of Scotland, (which despite the name was registered in the US), was a steel sailing ship which was attacked and sunk with the deck gun about 900 mi (1,400 km) west of Luderitz Bay, South Africa. Her master was to be taken away as a prisoner, but he was returned to his men after he pointed out to the submariners that he was the only man who could navigate.

Another "Star", the Star of Suez, was sunk. Amongst the floating debris were 45 aircraft tyres, a 20 hp electric motor and 120 grapefruits; they were recovered by U-159. Another U-boat, U-134, which had been thwarted in her attempt to get into an attacking position in time, also managed to rescue some aircraft tyres and spare parts for cars.

4th patrol

On her fourth patrol, U-159 sank the Silverbeech on 28 March 1943 south of the Canary Islands. The U-boat was attacked by aircraft (she was one of eight), off the coast of Spanish, (now Western) Sahara.

5th patrol and loss

U-159 attacked and sunk by a PBM-3C of VP-32 on 28 July 1943.

Her final patrol saw U-159 depart Lorient on 12 June 1943. She was sunk by a US Navy Mariner aircraft of VP-32.

Summary of raiding history

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
21 May 1942 Montenol  United Kingdom 2,646 Sunk
21 May 1942 New Brunswick  United Kingdom 6,529 Sunk
2 June 1942 Illinios  USA 5,447 Sunk
5 June 1942 Paracury  Brazil 265 Damaged
5 June 1942 Sally  Honduras 150 Sunk
7 June 1942 Edith  USA 3,382 Sunk
11 June 1942 Fort Good Hope  United Kingdom 7,130 Sunk
13 June 1942 Sixaola  USA 4,693 Sunk
13 June 1942 Solon Turman  USA 6,762 Sunk
18 June 1942 Ante Matkovic  Yugoslavia 2,710 Sunk
22 June 1942 E.J. Sadler  USA 9,639 Sunk
7 October 1942 Boringia  United Kingdom 5,821 Sunk
8 October 1942 Clan Mactavish  United Kingdom 7,631 Sunk
9 October 1942 Coloradan  USA 6,557 Sunk
13 October 1942 Empire Nomad  United Kingdom 7,167 Sunk
29 October 1942 Laplace  United Kingdom 7,327 Sunk
29 October 1942 Ross  United Kingdom 4,978 Sunk
7 November 1942 La Salle  USA 5,462 Sunk
13 November 1942 Star of Scotland  USA 2,290 Sunk
13 November 1942 City of Bombay  United Kingdom 7,140 Sunk
15 December 1942 Star of Suez  Egypt 4,999 Sunk
16 December 1942 East Wales  United Kingdom 4,538 Sunk
28 March 1943 Silverbeech  United Kingdom 5,319 Sunk

See also


  1. Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars, 1997, Arms & Armour, ISBN 1-85409-515-3, pp. 131-132
  2. Campbell, John Naval Weapons of World War Two ISBN 0-87021-459-4 pp.248&249

External links

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