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German submarine U-97 (1940)
Career (Germany)
Name: U-97
Ordered: 30 May 1938
Builder: Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft, Kiel
Yard number: Werk 602
Laid down: 27 September 1939
Launched: 15 August 1940
Commissioned: 28 September 1940
Fate: Sunk on 16 June 1943, by an Australian aircraft
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 F46 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 kn (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
Range: 15,170 km (8,190 nmi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
150 km (81 nmi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers & 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
Part of: Kriegsmarine:
7th U-boat Flotilla (Training)
7th U-boat Flotilla (Operational Boat, 11 patrols)
24th U-boat Flotilla (Training)
22nd U-boat Flotilla (Schoolboat)
Commanders: Kptlt. Udo Heilmann
Oblt.z.S. Friedrich Bürgel
Kptlt. Hans-Georg Trox
Operations: Thirteen
1st patrol:
17 February–7 March 1941
2nd patrol:
20 March–10 April 1941
3rd patrol:
1–30 May 1941
4th patrol:
2 July–8 August 1941
5th patrol:
20 September–27 October 1941
6th patrol:
23 December–9 January 1942
7th patrol:
12–31 January 1942
8th patrol:
14–30 March 1942
9th patrol:
5 April–12 May 1942
10th patrol:
15 June–4 July 1942
11th patrol:
22 July 1942–4 August 1942
12th patrol:
22 July 1942–10 April 1943
13th patrol:
5–16 June 1943
Victories: 15 ships sunk for a total of 64,404 gross register tons (GRT)
One auxilary warship sunk - of 6,833 GRT
One ship damaged - of 9,718 GRT

German submarine U-97 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during the Second World War. She carried out thirteen patrols during her career, sinking sixteen ships and damaging a seventeenth. She was a member of two wolfpacks.

U-97 was sunk on 16 June 1943 while operating in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Haifa.[1] She was depth charged by an Australian aircraft.

Construction and deployment

U-97 was laid down at the F. Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel as 'werk' 602. She was launched on 15 August 1940 and commissioned on 28 September under the command of Kapitänleutnant Udo Heilmann.

Serving with the 7th U-boat Flotilla, U-97 completed training in late 1940 and early 1941 before commencing operations.

Operational history

1st patrol

The boat's first patrol began with her departure from Kiel on 17 February 1941. Her route took her across the North Sea and through the 'gap' between Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

She sank three ships on the 24th; the Mansepool, the Jonathon Holt, both southwest of the Faroe Islands and theBritish Gunner 273 nautical miles (506 km) northwest of Cape Wrath (northern Scotland). The Flower-class corvette HMS Petunia had ordered the crew of British Gunner to abandon their vessel even though the master had said the ship could be towed to safety.

The U-boat then damaged the G.C. Brøvig. The Norwegian tanker was a victim of U-97's third attack on Convoy OB-289. The torpedo strike caused her to lose her bow, but the bulkhead held and the engines remained usable. With assistance from HMS Petunia, she arrived at Stornoway (in the Outer Hebrides),[2] on 27 February. She was subsequently repaired and returned to service.

The patrol was somewhat marred when a crew-member was lost overboard on 3 March. The submarine docked at Lorient in occupied France on 7 March.

2nd patrol

U-97 sank three more ships between Cape Farewell (Greenland)[3] and southern Ireland in March and April 1941. They were: the Chama and the Hørda (on 23 and 24 March respectively) and the Conus on 4 April. There were no survivors from the Hørda or the Conus.

3rd and 4th patrols

The boat sank HMS Camito, an Elders & Fyffes banana boat that had been requisitioned as an Ocean Boarding Vessel and the Sangro, west southwest of Cape Clear (southern Ireland)[4] on 6 May 1941. On 8 May she struck again, sinking the Ramillies southeast of Cape Farewell.

Sortie number four was relatively uneventful, starting from St. Nazaire on 2 July 1941 and terminating in the same port on 8 August.

5th patrol

Departing St. Nazaire on 20 September 1941, U-97 went south, slipped past the heavily-guarded British base at Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean. She sank the Pass of Balmaha 50 nautical miles (93 km) west of Alexandria on 17 October. The merchant ship had been part of the fourth convoy of Operation Cultivate, the relief of Tobruk. She also sank the Samos on the same day.

An accident which left the IIWO (second watch officer) badly injured on 24 October forced the boat to cut her patrol short. She arrived at Salamis in Greece on the 27th.

6th and 7th patrols

Human frailties also came to the fore during the boat's sixth patrol when, having crossed the Aegean towards Turkey, she was obliged by a sick crew-member, on 7 January 1942, to return to Salamis on the 9th.

The submarine's seventh patrol started and finished in Salamis.

8th and 9th patrols

Having moved to La Spezia in northwest Italy in February, U-97 was attacked by a Sunderland flying boat of No. 230 Squadron RAF off the North African coast. The aircraft dropped five bombs on the boat, but caused no damage.

Patrol number nine continued the shuttle-sequence between Salamis and La Spezia.

10th patrol

The situation improved for the crew when they sank the Zealand and the Memos 14 nautical miles (26 km) southwest of Haifa on 28 June 1942. The Marilyese Moller went to the bottom on 1 July about 27 nautical miles (50 km) west of Rafah[5] in Palestine. The armed trawler HMS Burra reacted with three depth charges, but was unsuccessful.

11th and 12th patrols

These patrols began in Salamis and La Spezia; the latter finished in Pola (now Pula) in Croatia in May 1943.

13th patrol and loss

U-97's final patrol started with her departure from Pola on 5 June 1943. She sank the Palima 30 nautical miles (56 km) south southwest of Beirut on the 12th. She was also successful against the Athelmonarch northwest of Jaffa on the 15th.

The U-boat was sunk by a Lockheed Hudson of 459 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force on 16 June 1943 west of Haifa. Twenty-seven men died, there were twenty-one survivors.

Summary of raiding history

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate[6]
24 February 1941 British Gunner  UK 6,894 Sunk
24 February 1941 G.C. Brøvig  Norway 9,718 Damaged
24 February 1941 Johnathon Holt  UK 4,973 Sunk
24 February 1941 Mansepool  UK 4,894 Sunk
24 March 1941 Chama  UK 8,077 Sunk
24 March 1941 Hørda  Norway 4,301 Sunk
4 April 1941 Conus  UK 8,132 Sunk
6 May 1941 HMS Camito  UK 6,833 Sunk
6 May 1941 Sangro  Italy 6,466 Sunk
8 May 1941 Ramilles  UK 4,553 Sunk
17 October 1941 Pass of Balmaha  UK 758 Sunk
17 October 1941 Samos  Greece 1,208 Sunk
28 June 1942 Memas  Greece 1,755 Sunk
28 June 1942 Zealand  UK 1,433 Sunk
1 July 1942 Marilyse Moller  UK 786 Sunk
12 June 1943 Palima  Netherlands 1,179 Sunk
15 June 1943 Athelmonarch  UK 8,995 Sunk


  1. The Times Atlas of the World, Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0 7230 0809 4, p. 45
  2. The Times Atlas of the World p. 8
  3. The Times Atlas of the World, p. 55
  4. The Times Atlas of the World, p. 9
  5. The Times Atlas of the World, p. 45

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