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German submarine U-703
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-703
Builder: HC Stülcken & Sohn, Hamburg
Laid down: 9 August 1940
Launched: 16 July 1941
Commissioned: 16 October 1941
Fate: Lost, presumed foundered, c. 25 September 1944
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 & ratings
Armament: • 5 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes (4 bow, 1 stern)
• 14 × torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
• 1 × C35 88mm gun/L45 deck gun (220 rounds)
• Various AA guns
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine:
6th U-boat Flotilla (1941–1942)
11th U-boat Flotilla (1942–1943)
13th U-boat Flotilla (1943–1944)
Commanders: Kptlt. Heinz Bielfeld (Oct 1941–Jul 1943)
Oblt. Joachim Brümmer (Jul 1943–Sep 1944)
Operations: 13 patrols;
6th Flotilla
• 26 April–7 May 1942
• 16–30 May 1942
11th Flotilla
• 29 June–15 July 1942
• 8 August–11 September 1942
• 14–26 September 1942
• 1 January–14 February 1943
• 7 March–5 April 1943
13th Flotilla
• 19 July–3 August 1943
• 17 August–9 September 1943
• 29 February–8 March 1944
• 9–29 April 1944
• 21 August–10 September 1944
• 14 September 1944–
Victories: 5 ships sunk for a total of 29,532 gross register tons (GRT)
1 military vessel sunk 500 GRT

German submarine U-703 was a Type VIIC U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine deployed during the Second World War against allied shipping in the Arctic Ocean. She was a successful boat, which had a far longer service life than most other U-boats, primarily due to the restricted zone of operations in which she fought. Her main mission during the war was to target the Arctic Convoys which carried supplies to the Soviet Union from Britain. At this she was quite successful in her three years of raiding until her presumed demise in 1944.

U-703 was built at Hamburg in Northern Germany on the North Sea. She was completed in the autumn of 1941, and given to the experienced Kptlt. Heinz Bielfeld to command. He took her on her working-up period in which the boat was tested and the crew trained in the Baltic Sea and around the German held coastlines, before being dispatched to Narvik in Norway for her first war patrol in April 1942.

War Patrols

Enjoying the improving Arctic weather, U-703 had an unsuccessful patrol in terms of victims, but the boat began to work better as a team, and the second patrol in May reaped dividends, with the sinking of the 6,000 ton American freighter SS Syros. This ship sank with eleven lives after a torpedo touched off her ammunition.[1] The same patrol scored greater success during the disastrous end to Convoy PQ-17 on the 5 May, when she managed to sink two lone cargo ships, one of them damaged by long range German bombers beforehand. Returning to port at Narvik, U-703 was cheered by her victory, but she struggled to make further impressions during the year, as her two further patrols yielded only one victim, the British destroyer HMS Somali, which was fatally crippled by a torpedo near Convoy PQ-18 in September.

Following her lay-over in the winter as her home ports of Narvik, Trondheim, Hammerfest, Harstad and Bergen were all frozen, U-703 returned to the offensive, again attacking allied convoys in the Arctic Sea. Her first two patrols, in January and April were short and barren, but on the next two in July and August 1943 under her new commander Joachim Brünner, she cruised in Soviet waters in the Barents Sea and further east, catching a small Soviet armed trawler on 1 August,[2] and larger Soviet merchant ship the next day, sinking the SS Sergj Kirov near Istvestij Island.[3] These patrols had shown the vulnerability of older U-boats to newer allied countermeasures and protection, forcing the submarines to divert themselves into backwaters of the Battle of the Atlantic in order to gain any victories.

The U-703 continued operating in the spring of 1944, but she was obviously less efficient and was given duties deploying weather balloons in the Arctic Sea to test weather conditions for reports to other shipping,. This was in part a result of terrible damage she received off Narvik during her first patrol of the season, when allied aircraft strafed her, killing three crew and wounding three more. Just a few days before she had claimed her only victim of the year, the SS Empire Tourist, which was sunk whilst part of Convoy RA-57.

Relegated to her new duties, U-703 suddenly disappeared around the 25 September 1944. She had left Narvik on her thirteenth war patrol on 14 September, in order to deploy a weather balloon in the Arctic. At the time a heavy gale was running, and it has been assumed that U-703 foundered due to heavy seas in the course of this difficult and highly technical operation. No trace of the boat and her 54 crew has ever been found.

Raiding career

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
2 May 1942 SS Syros American 6,191 Sunk
5 July 1942 SS Empire Byron British 6,645 Sunk
5 July 1942 SS River Afton British 5,479 Sunk
20 September 1942 HMS Somali British 1,870 Damaged
30 July 1943 T-911 (Pennant No.65) [Formerly RT-76][1] Soviet naval trawler 500 Sunk
1 October 1943 SS Sergej Kirov Soviet 4,146 Sunk
3 April 1944 SS Empire Tourist British 7,062 Sunk

References

See also

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