Military Wiki
German submarine U-190
Unterseeboot 190
U-190 in June 1945
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-190
Ordered: 4 November 1940
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Laid down: 7 October 1941
Launched: 3 June 1942
Commissioned: 24 September 1942
Fate: Surrendered to the Royal Canadian Navy, 11 May 1945
Career (Canada)
Acquired: 11 May 1945
Fate: Sunk as a target, 21 October 1947
General characteristics
Type: Type IXC/40 submarine
Displacement: Surfaced 1032 tonnes, submerged 1152 tonnes
Length: Overall 76.6 meters, pressure hull 58.7 meters
Beam: overall 6.5 meters, pressure hull 4.4 meters
Draught: 4.7 meters
Propulsion: Diesel/Electric, 2x MAN M9V40/46 supercharged 9 cylinder diesel engines, 4,400 hp (3,300kW), 2xSSW GU345/34 double acting electric motors, 1000 hp (740kW)
Speed: Surfaced 18.2 knots (34 km/h), submerged 7.7 knots (14 km/h)
Range: Surfaced 19,425 km (12,070 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h), submerged 144 km (89 mi) at 4 knots (7 km/h)
Complement: 48 to 56 men
Armament: 6 × torpedo tubes (four bow, two stern)
• 22 × 55 cm (22 in) torpedoes

German submarine U-190 was a Type IXC/40 U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine built for service during World War II.[1] Her keel was laid down on 7 October 1941 by AG Weser of Bremen. She was launched on 3 June 1942 and commissioned on 24 September 1942 with Kapitänleutnant Max Wintermeyer in command. She carried out a total of six war patrols during which she sank two ships. On 6 July 1944 Wintermeyer was relieved by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Erwin Reith who commanded the boat for the rest of her career in the Kriegsmarine.

After VE Day, she was surrendered to the Royal Canadian Navy, in which she served for two more years.

Operational history

U-190 conducted six war patrols, sinking two ships with a total of 7,605 tons. The first was the 7,015-ton British cargo ship Empire Lakeland, sunk off Rockall on 8 March 1943, one week into U-190's first operation. The next four patrols were unsuccessful.

Attack on the William H. Webb

On June 13, 1943, U-190 attacked a convoy off the east coast of the United States, east of New York. The Liberty Ship William H. Webb was in the most dangerous convoy position (tail ship, outside starboard column), when U-190 fired a torpedo at the vessel, but the Liberty Ship was equipped with a special anti-torpedo mine, which detonated the torpedo 200 feet away from the ship, causing minor damage. The captain of the U-190 would report to U-boat HQ in Germany that he had fired a torpedo, and that the ship had detonated the torpedo and proceeded apparently unhurt.[2]

U-190's final war patrol began on 22 February 1945. She left Norway equipped with six contact and eight T-5 "GNAT" acoustic torpedoes. Her mission was to interdict Allied shipping off Sable Island and in the approaches to Halifax, Nova Scotia harbour. On 16 April she was keeping station off the Sambro light ship when her crew heard ASDIC (Sonar) pinging.

Sinking of HMCS Esquimalt

The minesweeper HMCS Esquimalt was conducting a routine patrol of the harbour. She was employing none of the mandatory anti-submarine precautions: she was not zig-zagging; she had not streamed her towed Foxer-type decoy, designed as a countermeasure against GNAT torpedoes; she had turned off her radar. Nonetheless, the U-boat crew was sure that they had been detected, and when Esquimalt turned toward them, U-190 turned to run and fired one GNAT from a stern tube.

HMCS Esquimalt in 1944

The torpedo struck Esquimalt's starboard side. She sank within four minutes, the last Canadian vessel to be lost due to enemy action in World War II. While eight of her crew went down with her, the remainder survived the immediate disaster. Esquimalt sank so rapidly, however, that no distress signals were sent, and no one knew of the sinking until some eight hours later when HMCS Sarnia discovered the survivors. During the delay 44 crewmen had died of exposure, leaving only 26.

Surrender and the tour

U-190 escaped the area and remained on patrol off the North American east coast until she received Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz's 8 May order to surrender. The boat met Canadian corvettes some 500 miles off Cape Race, Newfoundland on 11 May. Reith signed a document of unconditional surrender, and was taken prisoner with his crew. With the white ensign flying from her masthead, U-190 sailed under the command of Lieutenant F. S. Burbidge into Bay Bulls, Newfoundland, on 14 May. The prisoners were taken to Halifax.

Canadian seamen raise the White Ensign over U-190 in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1945

U-190 was formally commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 19 May. Her first assignment, in the summer of 1945, was a ceremonial tour of communities along the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, with stops in Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, Gaspé, Pictou, and Sydney. On returning to Halifax she assumed duties as an anti-submarine training vessel, which she continued to fulfill for a year and a half.

Operation Scuttled

U-190 was paid off on 24 July 1947, but had one last mission to complete.

The official purpose of "Operation Scuttled" was to provide training for inexperienced post-war recruits in the art of combined operations. U-190, painted in lurid red and yellow stripes, was towed to the spot where she had sunk Esquimalt, and at precisely 11:00 hours on Trafalgar Day 1947, the fireworks began. The "exercise" called for a deliberately escalating firepower demonstration, beginning with airborne rockets and culminating in a destroyer bombardment with 4.7-inch guns and a hedgehog anti-submarine weapon providing the coup de grace.

While numerous reporters and photographers watched, and HMCS New Liskeard, Nootka, and Haida stood by awaiting their turn, the Naval Air Arm began the attack with eight Seafires, eight Fairey Fireflies, two Avro Ansons, and two Fairey Swordfish.

The first rocket attack struck home, and almost before the destroyers had a chance to train their guns, the U-boat was on the bottom of the ocean less than twenty minutes after the commencement of "Operation Scuttled."

Periscope and search

Before U-190 was sunk, her periscope had been salvaged. In 1963 it was installed at the Crow's Nest Officers Club in St. John's, Newfoundland. Many years of exposure to the weather damaged it to the point of uselessness, but it was overhauled and repaired; in a ceremony on 22 October 1998 it was "recommissioned" and is once again looking out at Water Street from the club. Original shipment of the periscope had been effected by Commodore Edward N. "Cookie" Clarke from HMC Dockyard, Halifax, where it had been in storage, to the Crow's Nest where Cookie had been a member during the war. U-190 suffered no casualties from her crews during her career.

A January 18, 2006 article in the Edmonton Journal reported that a team of divers planned to search for U-190 and another U-boat, U-520.[1]


FLAK weaponry

U-190 was mounted with the rare Twin 3.7 cm Flakzwilling M43U on the LM42U mount. This was one of the best AA weapons used by the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. It was mainly used on the Type IX as it was rather heavy for the Type VII U-boats.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Alberta diver to search for WWII u-boats off East Coast, Edmonton Journal, January 18, 2006
  2. U-Boats off shore, Navy Operational Archives, Edwin P. Hoyt

2 U Boats Offshore by Edwin P Hoyt, Page 264-265

External links

Coordinates: 43°55′01″N 63°00′00″W / 43.917°N 63.000°W / 43.917; -63.000

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