Military Wiki
German submarine U-571
Name: U-571
Ordered: October 24, 1939
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Laid down: June 8, 1940
Launched: 4 April 1941
Commissioned: May 22, 1941
Fate: Sunk west of Ireland, January 28, 1944. 52 dead (all hands lost).
General characteristics
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
1070 tonnes total
Length: 67.1 m total
50.5 m pressure hull
Beam:   6.2 m total
  4.7 m pressure hull
Draft:   4.74 m
Propulsion: Diesel-electric
3,200 hp (2,400 kW) surfaced
750 hp (560 kW) submerged
Speed: 17.7 knots (33 km/h) surfaced
7.6 knots (14 km/h) submerged
Range: 13,700 km (7,400 nmi) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
125 km (67 nmi) at 4 knots (7 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 220 m (722 ft)
Complement: 44–52 men
Armament: 88 mm/45 deck gun with 220 rounds
4 bow and 1 aft torpedo tubes
14 torpedoes

German submarine U-571 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for the German Kriegsmarine for service during World War II.


Her keel was laid down June 8, 1940 by Blohm + Voss of Hamburg. She was commissioned May 22, 1941 with Kapitänleutnant Helmut Möhlmann in command. Under his command U-571 had nine successful patrols in the Arctic, and the North and Central Atlantic. In August and September 1941, U-571 operated against Allied and Soviet forces, sinking the Soviet passenger vessel Marija Uljanova on August 26.

In 1942, U-571 operated off the east coast of the United States, sinking the British freighter Hertford on March 29, the Norwegian tanker M/T Koll on April 6 off Cape Hatteras, and the American freighter Margaret on April 14 after the ship left San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although U-571’s log mentions that some of the 8 officers and 21 men managed to get into a lifeboat and onto rafts, none of Margaret’s crew were ever seen again. In July 1942 the submarine operated in the Caribbean and torpedoed four ships; the British freighter Umtata on July 7, the American tanker, SS J. A. Moffet on July 8, the Honduran freighter Nicholas Cuneo on July 9 and on July 15 the American tanker, SS Pennsylvania Sun. The whole crew of J. A. Moffet (35 merchant marine and 5 Naval Armed Guard) abandoned ship into two lifeboats and three rafts, except for the master who was killed. The United States Coast Guard vessels Mary Jean and Southbound picked up the 39 survivors and brought them to Florida. When SS Pennsylvania Sun was torpedoed, two of the merchant crew died in the resulting explosion, but the rest of the 40 merchant marine crew and the 17 members of the Naval Armed Guard survived after being rescued by USS Dahlgren. Pennsylvania Sun was later salvaged and returned to service, while the other three ships attacked in July were sunk.

On March 22, 1943, U-571 was attacked by an aircraft in the North Atlantic and was damaged and had to return to base. In April 1943, Möhlmann claimed that he sank three additional ships but these could not be matched with records of Allied losses. On April 22, 1943, she had to return to base because the commander was badly injured in an accident on the conning tower. On May 2, 1943, Möhlmann was relieved by Oberleutnant zur See Gustav Lüssow. U-571 patrolled off the west coast of Africa in July before returning to base on September 1. Between September and December, U-571 was probably being overhauled in a drydock as no mention of the boat for that time period appears in war diary kept by the German Commander in Chief, Submarines, Admiral Karl Dönitz.

On January 18, 1944, Lüssow reported to his submarine command that he attacked and sank an unknown destroyer; however, this could not be verified to any known Allied losses during World War II. On January 28, 1944 she was attacked by an Australian-crewed Sunderland aircraft from No. 461 Squadron RAAF west of Ireland and was destroyed by depth charges.[1] The aircraft's captain, Flight Lieutenant R. D. Lucas, reported that most of the crew successfully abandoned ship, but soon died from hypothermia. U-571 sank with all hands — 52 dead — at 52°41′N 14°27′W / 52.683°N 14.45°W / 52.683; -14.45Coordinates: 52°41′N 14°27′W / 52.683°N 14.45°W / 52.683; -14.45. She had not suffered any casualties to her crew during her career until then. The plane, EK577 (callsign "D for Dog"), was crewed partly by Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel and was based at RAF Pembroke Dock, in Wales. The crew was Lucas, Sergeant (Sgt) J. R. Brannan (RAF, a Canadian), Flight Sergeant (F/Sgt) W. J. Darcey, Sgt D. Musson (RAF), F/Sgt S. T. Burnett, Sgt D. McWalker (RAF), Flying Officer (F/O) H. D. Roberts, F/Sgt G. H. Simmonds (RAF), F/O R. H. Prentice, and F/Sgt C. D. Bremner.

U-571 conducted eleven war patrols, sinking seven ships totalling 47,169 tons, and damaging one other, which displaced 11,394 tons.

Popular culture[]

U-571 was the name of the eponymous U-boat in U-571, a movie released in 2000, starring Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton and Jon Bon Jovi. The real U-571 was never captured by the Allies, nor was her Enigma Machine ever taken. The events in the film are loosely based on the British capture of U-110 and her Enigma and cipher keys.

See also[]


  1. John Charles Taylor (1966). German Warships of World War II. Allan. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 

External links[]

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