|German submarine U-172|
|Ordered:||23 December 1939|
|Builder:||AG Weser, Bremen|
|Laid down:||11 December 1940|
|Launched:||31 July 1941|
|Commissioned:||5 November 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk, 13 December 1943, by US aircraft and warships|
|Type:||Type IXC submarine|
1,120 t (1,100 long tons) surfaced|
1,232 t (1,213 long tons) submerged
76.8 m (252 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:||9.4 m (30 ft 10 in)|
|Draft:||4.7 m (15 ft 5 in)|
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)
18.2 knots (33.7 km/h) surfaced|
7.3 knots (13.5 km/h) submerged
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|
6 × torpedo tubes (four bow, two stern)|
22 × 55 cm (22 in) torpedoes
1 × 10.5 cm SK C/32 naval gun (110 rounds)
4th U-boat Flotilla|
(November 1941–April 1942)
10th U-boat Flotilla
(May 1942–December 1943)
Attached to Wolf pack Eisbär (August 1942)
Kptlt. Carl Emmermann|
(5 November 1941–31 October 1943)
Oblt. Hermann Hoffmann
(1 November 1943–13 December 1943)
22 April–3 May 1943
11 May–27 July 1942
19 August–27 December 1942
21 February–17 April 1943
29 May–7 September 1943
22 November–13 December 1943
|Victories:||26 commercial vessels (152,080 GRT)|
German submarine U-172 was a Type IXC U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was first assigned to the 4th U-boat Flotilla for training and on 1 May 1942 was reassigned to the 10th flotilla, an operational long-range organization.
U-172 was laid down at the AG Weser yard in Bremen as 'werk' 1012. She was launched on 31 July 1941 and commissioned on 5 November under the command of Kapitänleutnant Carl Emmermann. She conducted six patrols, sinking 26 ships totalling (152,080 GRT). She was sunk by American aircraft and warships in December 1943, west of the Canary Islands.
U-172's first patrol commenced with her departure from Kiel on 11 Mary 1942. Her route took her through the Kattegat and Skaggerak, through the 'gap' between the Faroe and Shetland Islands and into the Atlantic Ocean. She arrived at Lorient in occupied France on 21 July. She would use this port as her base for the rest of her career.
Having left Lorient on 11 May 1942, the boat moved into the mid-Atlantic and sank the Athelknight southeast of Bermuda on the 27th. Some survivors did not reach land until 23 June, having sailed some1,200 mi (1,900 km). Moving to the eastern Caribbean Sea, she sank three more ships, the City of Alma, the Delfina and the Sicilien in early June.
She attacked the Lebore on the 14th, which assumed a 45° list to starboard on being hit. The ship was struck again in the engine room followed by fire from the U-boat's deck gun. A third torpedo caused the ship to capsize. Twelve more deck gun rounds and a 'coup de grâce' sent the ship to the bottom. Casualties were relatively light, the first assistant engineer was the only fatality, leaving 93 men to be rescued by US warships.
Four more vessels were consigned to watery graves. One of them, the Colombian sailing ship Resolute, was stopped with U-172's 20mm gun and sunk with grenades. Another, the Santa Rita, had been abandoned by her crew, but was still afloat. A party from the U-boat boarded her and set scuttling charges. The master was found and taken prisoner. He was landed at Lorient when the submarine returned to base and was transferred, initially to Wilhelmshaven then the POW camp at Milag Nord near Bremen.
U-172 left Lorient for her third sortie on 19 August 1942. It would be her longest (131 days) and in terms of tonnage sunk, most successful patrol.
That total was boosted with the destruction of the British troopship Orcades (23,456 GRT) southwest of Capetown on 10 October. She was first struck by two torpedoes, but following a third hit, a skeleton crew, gunners and volunteers from the passengers remained on board to try and save the ship. They included a Petty Officer telegraphist who sent a second distress call after the radio operators had abandoned their position. In all, the Orcades was hit by six torpedoes before sinking with a broken back.
Forty-five men died, but there were 1,022 survivors.
Following the sinking of the Allington Court on 31 October, the survivors were only spotted and picked up by the City of Christinia when the third officer climbed a lifeboat's mast and waved a shirt.
The Benlomond was another victim sunk on 23 November. The only survivor of this attack was Poon Lim, who eked out an existence for 133 days in the South Atlantic on a Carley float, (a type of liferaft). He received the British Empire Medal from King George VI for this feat.
The true horrors of the Battle of the Atlantic were illustrated when the U-boat sank the City of Pretoria in mid-Ocean about 320 mi (510 km) northwest of the Azores on 16 March 1943. One of the passengers had already survived 51 days in a lifeboat from a previous sinking. This time he was not so lucky - nor were the other occupants of the ship; there were no survivors.
U-171 sank three other ships; one of them, the Benjamin Harrison, had been a member of the ill-fated convoy PQ-17.
The submarine did not escape unscathed; while attacking convoy RS-3 on 28 March, as one of eight U-boats, she was seriously damaged but still managed to sink the Moanda on the 29th. She was also attacked on 7 April by two B-24 Liberators of 1 Squadron, USAAF south of the Azores. Despite having 12 depth charges dropped on her, she stayed on the surface, fought it out and sustained no damage.
The boat returned to Lorient on 17 April.
For her fifth patrol, U-172 moved into the waters of the South Atlantic, departing Lorient on 29 May 1943. Having sunk the Vernon City south southeast of St Paul Rocks (between South America and Africa) on 28 June, she headed toward the Brazilian coast, where she caused the destruction of three more ships: the African Star (12 July), the Harmonic (15 July) and the Fort Chilcotin (24 July).
The submarine was attacked by unidentified aircraft on 11 August while rescuing the crew of U-604, in the aftermath of that boat's scuttling. One man from U-172 was killed.
6th patrol and loss
U-172 left Lorient for the last time on 22 November 1943. She was sunk on 13 December, in mid-Atlantic west of the Canary Islands by Avenger and Wildcat aircraft from the escort carrier USS Bogue (CVE-9), and the American destroyers George E. Badger (DD-196), Clemson (DD-186), Osmond Ingram (DD-255) and Du Pont (DD-152). The battle between U-172 and the small armada of ships and aircraft lasted for 27 hours and as many as 200 depth charges were dropped by the destroyers. Thirteen of U-172's crew were killed; 46 survived the sinking.
Summary of raiding history
|27 May 1942||Athelknight||Great Britain||8,490||Sunk|
|3 June 1942||City of Alma||USA||5,446||Sunk|
|5 June 1942||Delfina||USA||3,480||Sunk|
|8 June 1942||Sicilien||USA||1,654||Sunk|
|14 June 1942||Lebore||USA||8,289||Sunk|
|15 June 1942||Bennestvet||Norway||2,438||Sunk|
|18 June 1942||Motorex||Great Britain||1,958||Sunk|
|23 June 1942||Resolute *||Colombia||35||Sunk|
|9 July 1942||Santa Rita||USA||8,379||Sunk|
|7 October 1942||Chicksaw City||USA||6,196||Sunk|
|7 October 1942||Firethorn||Panama||4,700||Sunk|
|8 October 1942||Orcades||Great Britain||23,456||Sunk|
|31 October 1942||Aldington Court||Great Britain||4,891||Sunk|
|2 November 1942||Llandilo||Great Britain||4,996||Sunk|
|23 November 1942||Benlomond||Great Britain||6,630||Sunk|
|28 November 1942||Alaskan||USA||5,364||Sunk|
|4 March 1943||City of Pretoria||Great Britain||6,049||Sunk|
|13 March 1943||Thorstrand||Norway||3,041||Sunk|
|13 March 1943||Keystone||USA||5,565||Sunk|
|16 March 1943||Benjamin Harrison||USA||7,191||Sunk|
|29 March 1943||Moanda||Belgium||4,621||Sunk|
|28 June 1943||Vernon City||Great Britain||4,748||Sunk|
|12 July 1943||African Star||USA||6,507||Sunk|
|15 July 1943||Harmonic||Great Britain||4,558||Sunk|
|24 July 1943||Fort Chilcotin||Great Britain||7,133||Sunk|
* Sailing ship
- Bishop, C. Kriegsmarine U-Boats, 1939-45. Amber Books, 2006.
-  at Uboat.net
-  U-172 at ubootwaffe.net
- U-172 at u-boot-archiv.de (German)
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