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German submarine U-180
Career Kriegsmarine Ensign
Name: U-180
Ordered: 28 May 1940
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1020
Laid down: 25 February 1941
Launched: 10 December 1941
Commissioned: 16 May 1942
Fate: Sunk, 23 August 1944
General characteristics
Type: Type IXD1 submarine
Displacement: 1,610 t (1,580 long tons) surfaced
1,799 t (1,771 long tons) submerged
Length: 87.6 m (287 ft 5 in) overall
68.5 m (224 ft 9 in) pressure hull
Beam: 7.5 m (24 ft 7 in) overall
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 10.2 m (33 ft 6 in)
Draft: 5.4 m (17 ft 9 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: 20.8 knots (38.5 km/h) surfaced
6.9 knots (12.8 km/h) submerged
Range: 12,750 nmi (23,610 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
213 nmi (394 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 55 to 63
Armament: Anti-aircraft guns
Service record[1]
Part of: 4th U-boat Flotilla
(16 May 1942–31 January 1943)
12th U-boat Flotilla
(1 February–1 November 1943, and 1 April–23 August 1944)
Commanders: Frgkpt. Werner Musenberg
(16 May 1942–4 January 1944)
Oblt. Harald Lange
(October–7 November 1943)
Oblt. Rolf Riesen
(2 April–23 August 1944)
Operations: Two
1st patrol:
9 February–3 July 1943
2nd patrol:
20–23 August 1944
Victories: Two commercial ships sunk (13,298 GRT)

German submarine U-180 was a Type IXD1 transport U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine which served in World War II. Her keel was laid down on 25 February 1941 at the AG Weser yard in Bremen as 'werk' 1020. She was launched on 10 December 1941 and commissioned on 16 May 1942 under Fregattenkapitän Werner Musenberg. Stripped of torpedo armament, the Type IXD1s were designated as transport submarines, and could carry up to 252 tonnes of freight.[2] U-180 was used primarily in clandestine operations.

Service history

1st patrol

U-180 sailed from Kiel on 8 February 1943, with the leader of the Indian National Army Subhas Chandra Bose and his aide Abid Hasan aboard.

On 18 April U-180 sank the British 8,132 ton tanker Corbis about 500 miles east southeast of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.[3] Nine days later, on 27 April, the boat made her rendezvous with the Japanese submarine I-29, just east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, and exchanged the two Indians for two Japanese Navy officers, both shipbuilding officers, Captains Emi Tetsushiro and Tomonaga Hideo, who were to study U-boat building techniques upon their arrival in Germany. Bose and Hasan's transfer is the only known record of a civilian transfer between two submarines of two different navies in World War II. Also received were two tonnes of gold ingots as payment from Japan for weapons technology.

On the return voyage, U-180 sank the Greek freighter Boris west of Ascension Island on 3 June 1943.[4]

During this voyage, U-180 was supplied by U-462 on the way to the exchange. She was supposed to be refueled by U-463 on the way back, but that boat was sunk by the British on 16 May 1943. On 19 June, U-180 was refueled by U-530.

2nd patrol and loss

Under the command of Oberleutnant Rolf Riesen, U-180 sailed from Bordeaux on 20 August 1944 bound for Japan. She was reported sunk off the Bay of Biscay on 23 August 1944, with the loss of all of her 56 crew. The official verdict is "sunk by a mine",[5] however, some experts speculate that trouble with the schnorkel (the underwater breathing and engine operating device), may have been the cause.

Raiding history

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate[6]
18 April 1943 Corbis  Great Britain 8,132 Sunk
3 June 1943 Boris  Greece 5,166 Sunk


  • U-180 is the submarine carrying Nazi party secretary, Martin Bormann, to South America in the Jack Higgins thriller, Thunder Point.
  • U-180 is featured in the thriller Spook's Gold by Andrew Wood. The rendezvous on 21 April between U-180 and the I-29, as well as an exchange of gold and military goods is a key element of the plot.


External links

Coordinates: 44°00′00″N 2°00′00″W / 44.000°N 2.000°W / 44.000; -2.000

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