Military Wiki
SM U-156
Career (German Empire)
Name: U-156
Ordered: 29 November 1916
Builder: Atlas Werke, Bremen
Launched: 17 April 1917
Commissioned: 22 August 1917
Fate: Sunk in the Northern Barrage minefield on 25 September 1918. 77 dead.
General characteristics
Class & type: German Type U 151 submarine
Displacement: 1,512 long tons (1,536 t) surfaced
1,875 long tons (1,905 t) submerged
Length: 65 m (213 ft) overall
57 m (187 ft) pressure hull
Beam: 8.9 m (29 ft) overall
5.8 m (19 ft) pressure hull
Draught: 5.3 m (17 ft)
Propulsion: Surfaced: 800 hp
Submerged: 800 hp
Speed: 12.4 knots (23.0 km/h; 14.3 mph) surfaced
5.2 knots (9.6 km/h; 6.0 mph) submerged
Range: 25,000 mi (40,000 km) at 6 kn (11 km/h; 6.9 mph) surfaced
65 mi (105 km) at 3 kn (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) submerged
Test depth: Calculated crush depth: 50 m (160 ft)
Complement: 56 officers & ratings
Armament: • 2 × bow torpedo tubes (18 torpedoes)
• 2 × 105 mm (4 in) deck guns with 1672 rounds
Service record
Part of: Kaiserliche Marine U‑Kreuzer Flotilla
22 August 1917 - 25 September 1918

Konrad Gansser
1917-08-22 - 1917-12-31

Richard Feldt
1918-01-01 - 1918-09-25
Operations: 2 patrols

SM U-156 was a German Type U 151 U-boat commissioned in 1917 for the Kaiserliche Marine. From 1917 until her disappearance in September 1918 she was part of the U‑Kreuzer Flotilla, and was responsible for sinking 44 ships and damaging 3 others, including a warship. She took part in the Bombardment of Orleans.


The U-156, built by the Atlas Werke in Bremen, was originally one of seven Deutschland class U-boats designed to carry cargo between the United States and Germany in 1916. Five of the submarine freighters were converted into long-range cruiser U-boats (U-kreuzers) equipped with two 105mm deck guns, including the U-156. They were the largest U-boats of World War I.

Service history

U-156 was launched on 17 April 1917 and commissioned on 22 August 1917 under Konrad Gansser, who commanded her until 31 December 1917, following which Richard Feldt took command of her on 1 January 1918.

On 15 June 1918 the U-156 sailed with 77 crew. She passed through the North Sea, negotiated the Northern Passage around the northern end of the British Isles, and out into the Atlantic Ocean where she sailed for Long Island. She then proceeded to New York Harbor, where she had been ordered to lay mines. Records show that she was to lay a field of mines in the shipping lane along the south shore of Long Island, just east of the Fire Island lightship.[1]

A mine laid by the U-156 is often credited with the loss of the cruiser USS San Diego on 19 July 1918, ten miles southeast of Fire Island.[1][2]

The U-156 had meanwhile headed north to attack the US fishing fleet. She sank 21 fishing boats in the Gulf of Maine area, from Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy, ranging from the 72 ton schooner Nelson A. (4 August) to the 766 ton Dornfontein (2 August).[3]

On 20 August, the U-156 captured the Canadian trawler Triumph southwest of Canso, Nova Scotia. They manned and armed the vessel, and used it in conjunction with the submarine to capture and sink seven other fishing boats in the Grand Banks area, before eventually scuttling her.[4]


On 25 September 1918 the U-156 failed to report that she had cleared the Northern Passage around the United Kingdom on her return voyage to Germany and was presumed to have struck a mine of the Northern Barrage minefield.

Rene Bastin, a prisoner on the U-140, claimed to have witnessed the fate of the U-156. He said that he was on the bridge of the U-140 while she was running the Northern Barrage in company with U-100, the U-102, the U-117 and U-156 when he suddenly saw the U-156 blown up. He claimed that she was "blown 500 feet in the air". However, Bastin gave the date of this event as 22 October 1918, which was almost a month after the return to Germany of the U-140, the submarine aboard which he was held captive. Additionally, the U-140 never met up with the U-156 and crossed the Northern Barrage with only the U-117 for company on 17 September.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Sheard, p. 114
  2. Bleyer, Bill. "The Sinking of the San Diego". Newsday. Archived from the original on 2004-12-13.,0,6633406.story. 
  3. Sheard, p. 117
  4. Halpern, Paul G. (1994). A Naval History of World War I. Routledge. pp. 433. ISBN 1-85728-498-4. 
  5. Sheard, p. 121


  • Gibson, R.H.; Maurice Prendergast (2002). The German Submarine War 1914-1918. Periscope Publishing Ltd.. ISBN 1-904381-08-1. 
  • Sheard, Bradley (1997). Lost Voyages: Two Centuries of Shipwrecks in the Approaches to New York. Aqua Quest Publications, Inc.. ISBN 1-881652-17-3. 

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