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German submarine U-402
Career (Germany) Naval Ensign of Nazi Germany
Name: U-402
Ordered: 23 September 1939
Builder: Danziger Werft, Danzig
Yard number: Werk 103
Laid down: 22 April 1940
Launched: 28 December 1940[1]
Commissioned: 21 May 1941[2]
Fate: Sunk on 13 October 1943 by Mark 24 FIDO Torpedo from TBF Avenger aircraft of USS Card (CVE-11)[3]
General characteristics
Type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke M6V 40/46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 bhp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × electric motors, totalling 750 shp (560 kW) and max rpm: 296
Speed: 17.7 knots (20.4 mph; 32.8 km/h) surfaced
7.6 knots (8.7 mph; 14.1 km/h) submerged
Range: 15,170 km (8,190 nmi) at 10 kn (19 km/h) surfaced
150 km (81 nmi) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers and ratings
Armament: • 5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four bow, one stern)
• 14 × G7e torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
• 1 × 8.8 cm (3.46 in) deck gun (220 rounds)
• Various AA guns
Service record
Commanders Kapitänleutnant Siegfried von Forstner

Sank 14 merchant ships and one warship

Damaged three ships
Awards The Knight's Cross to her CO

German submarine U-402 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for the Nazi German Kriegsmarine for service during World War II.

She was laid down at the Danziger Werft in the city of the same name on 22 April 1940 as 'werk' 103, launched on 28 December 1940 and was commissioned on 21 May 1941, with Kapitänleutnant Freiherr Siegfried von Forstner in command.

The boat commenced her career with the 3rd U-boat Flotilla on 21 May 1941 carrying-out training before moving on to operations on 1 October 1941. U-402 carried out eight combat patrols, sinking 14 merchantmen and one warship for a total of over 70,000 GRT during the Second World War. She also damaged three other ships. The submarine was a member of 12 wolfpacks.

For his numerous successes, von Forstner received the Knight's Cross.

Operational history

1st and 2nd patrols

No ships were sunk during the first patrol which lasted from 26 October to 9 December 1941. U-402 followed the Norwegian coast from Kiel before heading west towards the Atlantic. The submarine sailed into St. Nazaire in France, after 45 uneventful days.[4]

On her second patrol, U-402 damaged the 12,000-ton troopship Llangibby Castle off the Bay of Biscay on 16 January 1942, but the troopship was able to make repairs in the Azores.[5] U-402 returned to St. Nazaire on 11 February 1942.

3rd and 4th patrols

For her third sortie, U-402 headed for the US east coast, sinking a total of three ships, two of which were the 5,300 ton Soviet tanker Ashkhabad and her escort, the 1,000-ton converted yacht USS Cythera (PY-26) off Cape Hatteras on 2 May 1942.[6] The U-boat had been unsuccessfully attacked by a US Navy PBY Catalina in mid-Atlantic on 29 April 1942.[4]

The boat returned to the US eastern seaboard for her fourth patrol, but success eluded her. She returned to France, having been depth charged by patrol bombers off Cape Hatteras in mid-July and suffering a battery explosion.[7] U-402 limped back to France, but this time to La Pallice, on 5 August 1942.

5th and 6th patrols

It was a different story on her fifth patrol; the boat attacked over 20,000 tons of shipping, including the torpedoing of five ships from convoy SC 107 which involved the sinking of the British 4,753 ton Empire Antelope on 2 November 1942[8] and a sister, Empire Sunrise, a few hours earlier.

She also had plenty of success when she attacked seven ships from convoy SC 118 on her sixth patrol.

7th and 8th patrols

Her seventh outing saw her sinking two ships from convoy SC 129. Retribution was swift; one of the escorts, HMS HMS Gentian depth charged and damaged the U-boat sufficiently to force her return to La Pallice on 26 May.[9]

Her eighth and final patrol was marked with a paucity of targets and an ever increasing frequency of air attacks; one of which involved a Wellington of 612 Squadron, RAF on 8 September. U-402 was not hit, but the aircraft sustained enough damage to make a safe return to its base questionable.


U-402 had departed La Pallice on 4 September 1943. On the 13 October she was sunk by a Mark 24 FIDO Torpedo dropped by TBF Avenger aircraft from the escort carrier USS Card.[10]

Raiding history

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate[11]
16 May 1941 Llangibby Castle  Great Britain 11,951 Damaged
13 April 1942 Empire Progress  Great Britain 5,249 Sunk
30 April 1942 Ashkhabad  Soviet Union 5,284 Sunk
2 May 1942 USS Cythera  USA 602 Sunk
2 November 1942 Dalcroy  Great Britain 4,558 Sunk
2 November 1942 Empire Antelope  Great Britain 4,945 Sunk
2 November 1942 Empire Leopard  Great Britain 5,676 Sunk
2 November 1942 Empire Sunrise  Great Britain 7,459 Damaged
2 November 1942 Rinos  Greece 4,649 Sunk
7 February 1942 Afrika  Great Britain 8,597 Sunk
7 February 1942 Daghild  Norway 9,272 Damaged
7 February 1942 Henry R. Mallory  USA 6,063 Sunk
7 February 1942 Kalliopi  Greece 4,695 Sunk
7 February 1942 Robert E. Hopkins  Great Britain 6,625 Sunk
7 February 1942 Toward  Great Britain 1,571 Sunk
8 February 1942 Newton Ash  Great Britain 1,571 Sunk
11 May 1943 Antigone  Great Britain 4,545 Sunk
11 May 1943 Grado  Norway 3,082 Sunk


  1. Lenton 1976 p.180
  2. Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars, 1997, Arms & Armour, ISBN 1-85409-515-3, p. 150.
  3. Kemp, p. 150.
  4. 4.0 4.1
  5. Blair 1996 pp.489-492
  6. Blair 1996 p.544
  7. Waters December 1966 p.99
  8. "Empire - A". Mariners. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  9. Blair 1998 p. 329
  10. Waters December 1966 p.105


  • Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War - The Hunters 1939-1942. Random House. ISBN 0-394-58839-8. 
  • Blair, Clay (1998). Hitler's U-Boat War The Hunted 1942-1945. Random House. ISBN 0-679-45742-9. 
  • Lenton, H.T. (1976). German Warships of the Second World War. Arco Publishing Company. ISBN 0-668-04037-8. 
  • Waters, John M. Jr., CAPT USCG (December 1966). "Stay Tough". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 

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