Military Wiki
German submarine U-197
Name: U-197
Ordered: 4 November 1940
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1043
Laid down: 5 July 1941
Launched: 21 May 1942
Commissioned: 10 October 1942
Fate: Sunk, 20 August 1943
General characteristics
Type: Type IXD2 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) o/a
68.5 m (224 ft 9 in) pressure hull
Beam: 7.5 m (24 ft 7 in) o/a
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: • 6 × torpedo tubes (four bow, two stern)
• 22 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedoes
• 1 × Utof 105 mm/45 deck gun (110 rounds)
• AA guns
Service record[1][2]
Part of: 4th U-boat Flotilla
(10 October 1942–31 March 1943)
12th U-boat Flotilla
(1 April–20 August 1943)
Commanders: KrvKpt. Robert Bartels
(10 October 1942–20 August 1943)
Operations: One patrol:
3 April–20 August 1943
Victories: Three commercial ships sunk (21,267 GRT)
One commercial ship damaged (7,181 GRT)

German submarine U-197 was a Type IXD2 U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 5 July 1941 at the AG Weser yard in Bremen as 'werk' 1043. She was launched on 21 May 1942, and commissioned on 10 October under the command of Korvettenkapitän Robert Bartels. After training with the 4th U-boat Flotilla at Stettin, U-197 was transferred to the 12th U-boat Flotilla for front-line service on 1 April 1943.[1]

Service history

U-197 sailed from Kiel on 3 April 1943 on her first and only combat patrol, sailing around the Cape of Good Hope to the waters south of Madagascar.[3]

On 20 May, while in the South Atlantic, north-east of Ascension Island, she torpedoed the 4,763 ton Dutch tanker Benakat. After the crew of 44 men abandoned ship in three lifeboats a second torpedo broke the ship in two, and the bow section sank. The U-boat surfaced and sank the stern section with her deck gun.[4]

She torpedoed the unescorted 9,583 ton Swedish tanker Pegasus south-west of Madagascar on 24 July. The ship, loaded with 12,855 tons of gasoline, sank in flames. All 38 of her crew survived.[5]

On 30 July, the unescorted 7,181 ton American Liberty ship William Ellery was hit by a single torpedo about 300 mi (480 km) east southeast of Durban. A second torpedo narrowly missed, and despite a 450-square-foot (42 m2) hole in the port side, the ship escaped and arrived at Durban on 1 August under her own power.[6]

The unescorted 6,921 ton British merchant ship Empire Stanley was torpedoed and sunk south southeast of Cap Sainte Marie, Madagascar on 17 August. From the 54 men aboard, 25 lost their lives, while the 29 survivors were later picked up in two lifeboats.[7]


On 20 August 1943 U-197 was attacked south of Madagascar, in position 28°40′S 42°36′E / 28.667°S 42.6°E / -28.667; 42.6Coordinates: 28°40′S 42°36′E / 28.667°S 42.6°E / -28.667; 42.6,[1] by a British PBY Catalina aircraft of No. 259 Squadron RAF with six depth charges and slightly damaged. As the aircraft had no more bombs, it attempted to strafe with her machine guns, but the U-boat responded with ferocious AA fire. The aircraft then circled the U-boat at a safe distance and radioed for assistance. The U-boat remained on the surface, perhaps assuming that any support was unlikely, and that the aircraft would eventually have to abandon her vigil. Unfortunately another Catalina, FP 313 of 265 Squadron and piloted by captain Ernest Robin, (receiving the D.F.C. [Distinguished Flying Cross] for the sinking of the vessel), arrived. U-197 promptly crash-dived, and the aircraft dropped three depth charges, two of which detonated to port of the U-boat, but the third hit her squarely, killing all 67 hands.[8]

Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat, commander of U-196, was severely criticised by the Befehlshaber der U-Boote (BdU) [U-boat headquarters] for his lack of support for U-197. KrvKpt. Robert Bartels of U-197 had radioed a distress signal. The correct response by any boat in the vicinity, according to orders, would have been to assist at top speed. The BdU twice ordered U-196 to aid U-197 before Kentrat responded, and by that time U-197 and the entire crew were lost.[9]

Raiding history

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
20 May 1943 Benakat  Netherlands 4,763 Sunk
24 July 1943 Pegasus  Sweden 9,583 Sunk
30 July 1943 William Ellery  US 7,181 Damaged
17 August 1943 Empire Stanley  United Kingdom 6,921 Sunk


  • U-197 at
  • Busch, Rainer & Röll, Hans-Joachim (2003). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939-1945 - Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 (German) Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn, Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 3-8132-0515-0.

External links

See also

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