Military Wiki
German submarine U-172
Name: U-172
Ordered: 23 December 1939
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1012
Laid down: 11 December 1940
Launched: 31 July 1941
Commissioned: 5 November 1941
Fate: Sunk, 13 December 1943, by US aircraft and warships
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[1] (110 rounds)
Service record
Part of: 4th U-boat Flotilla
(November 1941–April 1942)
10th U-boat Flotilla
(May 1942–December 1943)
Attached to Wolf pack Eisbär (August 1942)
Commanders: Kptlt. Carl Emmermann
(5 November 1941–31 October 1943)
Oblt. Hermann Hoffmann
(1 November 1943–13 December 1943)
Operations: Six patrols
1st patrol:
22 April–3 May 1943
2nd patrol:
11 May–27 July 1942
3rd patrol:
19 August–27 December 1942
4th patrol:
21 February–17 April 1943
5th patrol:
29 May–7 September 1943
6th patrol:
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.

1st patrol

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.

2nd patrol

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.

3rd patrol

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.

4th patrol

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.

5th patrol

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

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate[2]
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



  1. Campbell, John Naval Weapons of World War Two ISBN 0-87021-459-4 pp.248&249

External links

Coordinates: 26°28′59″N 29°58′01″W / 26.483°N 29.967°W / 26.483; -29.967

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).