Military Wiki
German submarine U-856
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-856
Ordered: 5 June 1941
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1062
Laid down: 31 October 1942
Launched: 11 May 1943
Commissioned: 19 August 1943
Fate: scuttled in position 40°18′N 62°22′W / 40.3°N 62.367°W / 40.3; -62.367Coordinates: 40°18′N 62°22′W / 40.3°N 62.367°W / 40.3; -62.367 on 7 April 1944 after receiving heavy damage from US warships
General characteristics [1]
Type: Type IXC/40 submarine
Displacement: 1,144 t (1,126 long tons) surfaced
1,257 t (1,237 long tons) submerged
Length: 76.76 m (251 ft 10 in) o/a
58.75 m (192 ft 9 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.86 m (22 ft 6 in) o/a 4.44 m (14 ft 7 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 4.67 m (15 ft 4 in)
Propulsion: 2 × MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged 9-cylinder diesel engines, 4,400 hp (3,281 kW)
2 × SSW GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (746 kW)
Speed: 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) surfaced
7.3 kn (13.5 km/h; 8.4 mph) submerged
Range: 13,850 nmi (25,650 km; 15,940 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
63 nmi (117 km; 72 mi) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 44 enlisted
Service record
Identification codes: M 54 791
Commanders: Oblt.z.S. Friedrich Wittenberg
Operations: 1 patrol

German submarine U-856 was a Type IXC/40 U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.

U-856 was ordered in June 1941 from DeSchiMAG AG Weser in Bremen under the yard number 1062. Her keel was laid down on 31 October 1942 and the U-boat was launched the following year on 11 May 1943. She was commissioned into service under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Friedrich Wittenberg (Crew X/37) in 4th U-boat Flotilla.

The U-boat was working up for deployment in the Baltic Sea until transferring to the 2nd U-boat Flotilla for front-line service. She left Kiel]] on 24 February 1944 for operations off the US east coast. In March she had two brief encounters with submarine-hunting aircraft, but escaped unscathed. In the morning of 7 April 1944 however, she was picked up by an aircraft of USS Croatan and atttacked by USS Boyle. Surviving the initial attack, she was attacked with depth charges by a second group consisting of USS Huse and USS Champlin, the later ramming U-856 and severely damaging her. When the U-boat re-surfaced a little while later, she came under heavy artillery fire from the US warships. Wittenberg ordered the crew to abandon ship and scuttled her. Of the 55 men on board only 28, Wittenberg among them, survived. They were picked up by the destroyers and brought to New York City where they disembarked on 10 April 1944.[2]


  1. Gröner 1985, pp. 105-7.
  2. Busch & Röll 1999, p. 215.
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999) (in German). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945. IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1985) (in German). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. III. Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 3-7637-4802-4. 

U-856 replica in frozen Lake St. Moritz, Switzerland, used as bar

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