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German submarine U-166 (1941)
Name: U-166
Ordered: 25 September 1939
Builder: Seebeckwerft, Wesermünde
Yard number: 705
Laid down: 6 December 1940
Launched: 1 November 1941[1]
Commissioned: 23 March 1942[2]
Fate: Sunk, 30 July 1942 by an American warship
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) o/a
58.7 m (192 ft 7 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.8 m (22 ft 4 in) o/a
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, 4,400 hp (3,281 kW)
2 × SSW GU345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (746 kW)
Speed: 18.2 knots (33.7 km/h) surfaced
7.7 knots (14.3 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 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedoes
• 1 × 10.5 cm SK C/32 naval gun[3] (110 rounds)
• AA guns
Service record[4][5]
Part of: 4th U-boat Flotilla
(23 March–31 May 1942)
10th U-boat Flotilla
(1 June 1942–30 July 1942)
Commanders: Oblt. Hans-Günther Kuhlmann
(23 March 1942–30 July 1942)
Operations: 1st patrol: 1–10 June 1942
2nd patrol: 17 June–30 July 1942
Victories: Four commercial ships sunk (7,593 GRT)

German submarine U-166 was a Type IXC U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 6 December 1940 at the Seebeckwerft (part of Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau AG, Deschimag) at Wesermünde (modern Bremerhaven) as 'werk' 705, launched on 1 November 1941 and commissioned on 23 March 1942 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Günther Kuhlmann. After training with the 4th U-boat Flotilla, U-166 was transferred to the 10th U-boat Flotilla for front-line service on 1 June 1942. The U-boat sailed on only two war patrols and sank four ships totalling 7,593 gross register tons (GRT).[4] She was sunk on 30 July 1942 in Gulf of Mexico.[6]

Service history

1st patrol

U-166 first sailed from Kiel to Kristiansand, Norway, on 30–31 May 1942.[5] The U-boat sailed on her first combat patrol, from Kristiansand on 1 June 1942, around the British Isles, and arrived at Lorient, France, ten days later on 10 June.[7]

2nd patrol

U-166 departed from Lorient on 17 June 1942, sailed across the Atlantic and into the Gulf of Mexico[8] and is credited with the following "kills":[9]

Date of Action Ship Name Ship Type Nationality Tonnage (GRT) Position Deaths
11 July 1942 Carmen Sailing Vessel  Dominican Republic 84 19°43′N 70°12′W / 19.717°N 70.2°W / 19.717; -70.2 1
13 July 1942 Oneida Steam Merchant United States 2,309 20°17′N 74°06′W / 20.283°N 74.1°W / 20.283; -74.1 6
16 July 1942 Gertrude Motor Fishing Vessel United States 16 23°32′N 82°00′W / 23.533°N 82°W / 23.533; -82 0
30 July 1942 Robert E. Lee Steam Passenger Ship United States 5,184 28°40′N 88°42′W / 28.667°N 88.7°W / 28.667; -88.7 25


Robert E. Lee was under escort from the United States Navy patrol craft PC-566 approximately 45 miles (72 km) south of the Mississippi River Delta when she was torpedoed by U-166. PC-566 immediately attacked the U-boat, and claimed to have sunk her with depth charges.

On 1 August 1942, a United States Coast Guard J4F-1 Widgeon amphibious aircraft, spotted a U-boat approximately 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of Houma, Louisiana. The aircraft attacked, it appeared that the U-boat was hit in the attack. U-166 was reported missing in action on 30 July 1942, which coincided with the American aircraft's attack on "a U-Boat", leading to the aircraft being credited with the sinking of U-166. Both crewmen were decorated for the action.[9][10][11]

Wreckage located in 2001

A gun on the deck of the sunken U-166

However, in 2001, when the wreck of Robert E. Lee was located, in more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of water, the wreck of U-166 was also located, less than two miles from where it had attacked the Robert E. Lee. Upon investigation, it was discovered that another U-boat, U-171, also operating in the Gulf of Mexico, had reported coming under attack from an American aircraft on 1 August 1942, with little damage. Therefore, the credit for the sinking of U-166 should have gone to PC-566.[10][12][13] Charles "C.J." Christ from Houma, LA spent most of his life searching for U-166 and was involved in the final identification of the U-boat.[14] The site where U-166 lies, at 28°37′N 90°45′W / 28.617°N 90.75°W / 28.617; -90.75Coordinates: 28°37′N 90°45′W / 28.617°N 90.75°W / 28.617; -90.75 has now been designated a war grave due to its crew of 52 being entombed there, and is protected from any future attempts to salvage it.[15]

See also


  • One of the foremost authorities on the subject is Charles "C.J." Christ from Houma, LA,[16] who spent most of his life searching for U-166. His personal account about his search and the final locating and identification of the U-Boat can be found in a local newspaper, the The Houma Courier: C.J. Christ "WAR IN THE GULF: German submarine, U-166, found in the Gulf of Mexico" (The article can be found online as reprint by another local newspaper, the The Daily Comet).[17]
  1. Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars, 1999, Arms & Armour, ISBN 1-85409-515-3, p. 85.
  2. Kemp, p. 85.
  3. Campbell, John Naval Weapons of World War Two ISBN 0-87021-459-4 pp.248&249
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Type IXC boat U-166 - German U-boats of WWII -". Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "War Patrols by German U-boat U-166 - Boats -". Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  6. "Historic Shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico". Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  7. "Patrol of U-boat U-166 from 1 Jun 1942 to 10 Jun 1942 - U-boat patrols -". Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  8. "Patrol of U-boat U-166 from 17 Jun 1942 to 30 Jul 1942 - U-boat patrols -". Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "U-Boat Operations". Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "U-166". US Coast Guard. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  11. "173-FOOT STEEL-HULL PATROL CRAFT (PC, 461 - CLASS)". Patrol Craft Sailors Association. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  13. "Contents". World War II in the Gulf of Mexico. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  14. "WAR IN THE GULF: German submarine, U-166, found in the Gulf of Mexico". The Daily Comet (Lafourche). Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  15. "U-Boat Crew Lists".;boatnum=166. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  16. "History of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry in Southern Louisiana". OCS Study MMS 2008-042 Volume 1,. p. 42. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  17. "WAR IN THE GULF: German submarine, U-166, found in the Gulf of Mexico". The Daily Comet. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 

External links

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