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German submarine U-73 (1940)
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-73
Ordered: 2 June 1938
Builder: Bremer Vulkan
Yard number: 1[1]
Laid down: 5 November 1939
Launched: 27 July 1940[2]
Commissioned: 30 September 1940[2]
Fate: Sunk, 16 December 1943, by USS Woolsey and Trippe, 16 dead[3]
General characteristics
Class & type: Type VIIB U-boat
Displacement: 753 t (741 long tons) ↑
857 t (843 long tons) ↓[1]
Length: 66.5 m (218 ft 2 in) (o/a)
48.8 m (160 ft 1 in) (pressure hull)[1]
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in)
[convert: invalid number] (pressure hull)[1]
Draught: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)[1]
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged MAN, 6 cylinder, 4-stroke M6V 40/46 diesel engines totalling 2,800–3,200 shp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490 ↑
2 × BBC GG UB 720/8 electric motors with 750 shp (560 kW) for 295 rpm ↓[2]
Speed: 17.9 kn (33.2 km/h) ↑
8 kn (15 km/h)[1]
Range: 9,700 nmi (18,000 km) @ 10 knots ↑
90 nmi (170 km) @ 4 knots ↓[1]
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft). Calculated crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
1 inflatable rubber boat[2]
Complement: 44 to 48 officers and ratings
Sensors and
processing systems:
FuMO 61 Hohentwiel U
Armament: • 5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes: four bow, one stern
• 14 × torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
• 1 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) deck gun with 220 rounds
• 1 × C30 20 mm AA
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine:
7th U-boat Flotilla (Sep 1940–Jan 1942)
29th U-boat Flotilla (Jan 1942–Dec 1943)
Commanders: Kptlt. Helmut Rosenbaum (30 Sep 1940–10 Sep 1942)
Oblt.z.S. Horst Deckert (1 Oct 1942–16 Dec 1943)
Operations: Fifteen:
1st patrol:
8 February–2 March 1941
2nd patrol:
25 March–24 April 1941
3rd patrol:
20 May–24 June 1941
4th patrol:
7 August–7 September 1941
5th patrol:
11 October–11 November 1941
6th patrol:
4 January–12 February 1942
7th patrol:
16–26 March 1942
8th patrol:
4 August–5 September 1942
9th patrol:
20 October–19 November 1942
10th patrol:
1–8 December 1942
11th patrol:
22 December–13 January 1943
12th patrol:
12 June–1 July 1943
13th patrol:
2–29 August 1943
14th patrol:
5–30 October 1943
15th patrol:
4–16 December 1943
Victories: Eight ships sunk for a total of 43,945 GRT
Four warships sunk for a total of 22,947 tons
Three ships damaged for a total of 22,928 GRT

German submarine U-73 was a Type VIIB U-boat of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) during World War II. She was laid down by Bremer Vulkan of Bremen-Vegesack, Germany as 'Werk' 1 on 5 November 1939, launched on 27 July 1940 and commissioned on 30 September of the same year under Kapitänleutnant (Kptlt.) Helmut Rosenbaum.[4]

U-73 carried out 15 patrols between early 1941 and late 1943, sinking eight ships and four warships. She also damaged a further three commercial vessels. She was a member of five wolfpacks. She was sunk by two US warships, USS Woolsey and USS Trippe, off the North African coast on 16 December 1943 at 36°7′N 0°50′E / 36.117°N 0.833°E / 36.117; 0.833Coordinates: 36°7′N 0°50′E / 36.117°N 0.833°E / 36.117; 0.833.

Service history

1st patrol

U-73 departed the Helgoland (also known as Heligoland) for her first patrol on 8 February 1941. Her route took her the length of the North Sea, through the 'gap' separating the Faroe and Shetland Islands, northwest toward Iceland, then south and west.

She sank the Waynegate on 24 February 1941 south of Iceland.

The boat arrived at Lorient, on the French Atlantic coast, on 2 March.

2nd patrol

U-73 sank three ships on the same day, 3 April 1941. They were: the Alderpool, the Westpool and the British Viscount, all in the vicinity of Iceland.

Her next victim was the Empire Endurance on 20 April, southwest of Rockall; also lost when this ship went down were two launches which were being carried as deck cargo: ML-1003 and M-1037.

3rd, 4th and 5th and patrols

These sorties were conducted in mid-Atlantic but were uneventful.

6th patrol

U-73 entered the Mediterranean Sea via the heavily defended Straits of Gibraltar on 14 January 1942 during her sixth patrol.[5] Rosenbaum claimed to have sunk a destroyer in February, but post-war records offer no confirmation.[6] She docked at La Spezia in Italy on 12 February.

7th patrol

The submarine was attacked by a Bristol Blenheim of No. 203 Squadron RAF about 50 nmi (93 km) north northwest of Derna in Libya on 22 March 1942. The damage was such that the boat was unable to dive and had to return to La Spezia on 26 March 1942. The U-boat was under repair at La Spezia for four months.

8th patrol

On 11 August 1942 she sank the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle during Operation Pedestal (supplying Malta).[7] Rosenbaum was awarded the Knight's Cross and sent to command the Black Sea U-boat flotilla.[7]

9th patrol

First watch officer Horst Deckert was promoted to command U-73.[8] He was the son of German-American parents living in Chicago[8] and had joined U-73's crew as a midshipman in 1940.[9] U-73 was depth-charged during an unsuccessful attack on Operation Torch (the invasion of French North Africa) troopships on 7 November.[10] On 10 November, U-73 missed the battleship HMS Rodney with four torpedoes launched at a range of five kilometers.[11]

She also damaged the Lalande off Oran on 14 November 1942. This ship was under repair until June 1943.

10th and 11th patrols

U-73 was damaged in an air attack on 5 December 1942 and forced to return to base.

The boat was also attacked by a British Lockheed Hudson of 500 Squadron on 27 December 1942; damage was slight - the Hudson was shot down. She sank the 7,200-ton American Liberty ship SS Arthur Middleton from the convoy UGS 3 on 1 January 1943 [12] 3 nmi (5.6 km) miles off Oran.

12th patrol

As allied forces prepared for Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily), U-73 sank the 1,600-ton British freighter Brinkburn off Oran on 21 June 1943 and damaged the 8,300-ton Royal Navy oiler RFA Abbeydale on 28 June 1943.[13] The Brinkburn exploded with such force that damaged food cans and two 75mm shells, still in their transit boxes, were found on the U-boat's bridge.

The boat tied up at Toulon in France on 1 July 1943.

13th patrol

Patrol number thirteen took U-73 to Sicily; she reached the Straits of Messina (between the island and the Italian mainland),[14] on 19 August 1943.

14th patrol

U-73 was attacked by the British submarine HMS Ultimatum southeast of Toulon on 30 October 1943 (just before the end of her patrol). The torpedo missed.

15th patrol and loss

U-73 found the convoy GUS-24 off Oran on 16 December 1943 and torpedoed the 7,200-ton American Liberty ship SS John S. Copley.[15] As the damaged vessel returned to port, the destroyers USS Woolsey, USS Trippe and USS Edison left Mers-el-Kebir to find the U-boat.[15] She was located by sonar at 18:15.[16] Hull turbulence made the U-boat's hydrophones ineffective at the speed U-73 was leaving the area, so she was unaware of the destroyers until Woolsey's pattern of depth charges exploded below the submarine at 18:39.[17] Sea water poured in between the bow torpedo tubes and from a salt water inlet valve for the diesel engine cooling system.[17] All ballast tanks were blown to bring U-73 to the surface as inflowing water exceeded pumping capacity.[17] U-73 surfaced in darkness at 19:27 and men manned the heavy machine guns.[17] The destroyers promptly detected her on radar and illuminated the submarine with searchlights.[18] She sank by the stern following a brief exchange of gunfire, 34 of the crew were rescued by 22:10.[17] Three of Woolsey's crew were wounded by machine gun fire[19] and sixteen of the U-boat crew perished.[15]

Summary of raiding history

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate[20]
24 March 1941 Waynegate  Great Britain 4,260 Sunk
3 April 1941 Alderpool  Great Britain 4,313 Sunk
3 April 1941 British Viscount  Great Britain 6,875 Sunk
3 April 1941 Indier  Belgium 5,409 Sunk
3 April 1941 Westpool  Great Britain 5,724 Sunk
20 April 1941 Empire Endurance  Great Britain 8,570 Sunk
20 April 1941 HMS ML 1003 *  Great Britain 46 Sunk
20 April 1941 HMS ML 1037 *  Great Britain 46 Sunk
11 August 1942 HMS Eagle  Great Britain 22,600 Sunk
14 November 1942 Lalande  Great Britain 7,453 Damaged
1 January 1943 Arthur Middleton  USA 7,176 Sunk
1 January 1943 LCT-21**  USA 255 Sunk
21 June 1943 Brinkburn  USA 1,598 Sunk
27 June 1943 Abbeydale  Great Britain 8,299 Damaged
16 December 1943 John S. Copley  USA 7,176 Damaged

* carried by the Empire Endurance
** carried by the Arthur Middleton

Sensors

Radar

U-73 was one of the few U-boats to be fitted with a FuMO 61 Hohentwiel U-Radar system. It was installed on the starboard side of the conning tower.

See also

References

Notes
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Gröner 1990, p. 71.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Gröner 1990, p. 74.
  3. Groener, p.82
  4. Lenton 1976 p. 151
  5. War Patrols by German U-boat U-73
  6. Blair 1996 p. 554
  7. 7.0 7.1 Blair 1996 p. 650
  8. 8.0 8.1 Blair 1996 p. 651
  9. Sanders, January 1969, p. 58
  10. Blair 1998 p. 96
  11. Blair 1998 p. 98
  12. Blair 1998 p. 209
  13. Blair 1998 pp. 377-378
  14. The Times Atlas of the World - Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0 7230 0809 4, p. 16
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Blair 1998 p. 457
  16. Sanders, January 1969, p. 59
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Sanders, January 1969, p. 62
  18. Sanders, January 1969, p. 61
  19. Sanders, January 1969 p. 60
  20. http://uboat.net/boats/successes/u.73htm
Bibliography
  • 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. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships, 1815-1945. Conway Maritime Press. 
  • Lenton, H.T. (1976). German Warships of the Second World War. Arco Publishing Company. ISBN 0-668-04037-8. 
  • Sanders, Harry (January 1969). "Night Fight Off Oran". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 

External links


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