Military Wiki
SM U-36
SM U-38
SM U-38, sister ship of U-36
Career (German Empire)
Name: SM U-36
Ordered: 29 March 1912
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Laid down: 2 January 1913
Launched: 6 June 1914
Commissioned: 14 November 1914
Fate: Sunk on 24 July 1915 by the Q-ship Prince Charles
General characteristics
Class & type: German Type U 31 submarine
Displacement: 685 tons (surfaced)
878 tons (submerged)
971 tons (total)
Length: 64.70 metres (212.3 ft) (overall)
52.36 metres (171.8 ft) (pressure hull)
Beam: 6.32 metres (20.7 ft) (overall)
4.05 metres (13.3 ft) (pressure hull)
Height: 7.68 metres (25.2 ft)
Draught: 3.56 metres (11.7 ft)
Propulsion: Diesel (2 x 950 PS)
Electric (2 x 600 PS)
1850 hp (surfaced)
1200 hp (submerged)
Speed: 16.4 knots (30.4 km/h) (surfaced)
9.7 knots (18.0 km/h) (submerged)
Range: 8,790 miles (14,150 km) at 8 knots (15 km/h) (surfaced)
80 miles (130 km) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h) (submerged)[1]
Test depth: 50 metres (160 ft)
Complement: 4 officers
31 crewmen
Service record
Part of: Imperial German Navy II Flotilla
- 24 July 1915
Commanders: Kapitänleutnant Ernst Graeff
Operations: 2 patrols
Victories: 17 ships (14 sunk, 3 captured) with a total displacement of 16,140 Brutto Register Tonnage

SM U-36 was a Type 31 U-boat in the service of the Imperial German Navy of the German Empire, employed in the commerce war in World War I.

Design, construction, and trials

U-36 was laid down on 2 January 1913 at Germaniawerft in Kiel. She was launched on 6 June 1914 and commissioned on 14 November 1914, under the command of Kplt. Ernst Graeff.[4] During February 1915, she carried out acceptance trials at Kiel,[4] and was attached to the 2d Half-Flotilla in the North Sea in March.[4]

Service career

SM U-36's movements and operations were monitored and reported by British Naval Intelligence, better known as "Room 40".[4] Her first war patrol was in Heligoland Bight from 29 to 30 March 1915; she reported no sinkings during this time.[4] On 23 April, she returned to Heligoland Bight, apparently from a North Sea patrol.[4][Note 1]

She departed on 29 April, bound again for the North Sea, where she sank the 1,966 ton Danish steamer Lilian Drost on 8 May, captured the 1,241 ton Swedish steamer Björn on 10 May as a prize, while capturing and releasing the 654 ton Dutch steamer Niobe the same day.[4]

U-36 returned to her North Sea station on 17 July. Operating off the north and northwest coast of Scotland, she sank three steamers and almost a dozen smaller vessels. On 22 July, the 3,644 ton Russian Rubonia fell victim. That same day, U-36 also attacked a group of fishing vessels west of the Orkney Islands, sinking nine small trawlers and two sailing vessels, while taking one prize. The following day, the 1,505 ton Frenchman Danae was stopped according to prize rules and sunk, and the 3,819 ton Norwegian Fimreite was sunk as well.[4]

On the day she was sunk, U-36 intercepted and captured the American windjammer Pass of Balmaha, bearing a cargo of cotton intended for Russia and en route to Kirkwall to be inspected by British authorities. An ensign from U-36 was left aboard the windjammer to ensure her successful passage to Cuxhaven. The Pass was refitted as a merchant raider and re-christened Seeadler, commanded by Count Felix von Luckner,[5] soon to become famous for her naval exploits in the Atlantic and Pacific.


U-36 was sunk in the afternoon of 24 July 1915 in combat off the coast of North Rona in the Outer Hebrides with the British Q-ship[4][Note 2] Prince Charles, commanded by Lieutenant Mark Wardlaw, Royal Navy. The submarine had just stopped and boarded the Danish vessel SS Luise and a boarding party was in the process of dumping her cargo when a lookout sighted an approaching steamer. U 36 sailed towards the disguised Prince Charles and ordered her to stop while firing at her. The Q-ship complied, swinging out her boats. The unsuspecting submarine came within about 600 m (660 yd) of the ship when Prince Charles hoisted the British flag of war and commenced firing. Taken completely by surprise, U-36 took several direct hits and heavy damage, and sank. When Luise moved to pick up the survivors floating in the water, Prince Charles fired into her, believing her to be a German resupply vessel. Forty-five minutes after U-36 sank, the remaining survivors were picked up by the Q-ship. Kplt. Graeff and 15 crewmen were saved, but 18 others were lost. U-36 was the first U-boat sunk by Q-ship, and one of only a handful to fall victim. Lieutenant Wardlaw received a Distinguished Service Order for the action, and two of his crew received Distinguished Service Medals. The merchant crew of the Q-ship was awarded a prize sum of £1,000, to be divided amongst themselves.[6]

Shipping sunk or captured

Artist's rendition of the captured American windjammer Pass of Balmaha reoutfitted as the merchant raider SMS Seeadler

  • Lilian Drost, 1,966 tons, Danish steamer sunk on 8 May 1915[4]
  • Björn, 1,241 tons, Swedish steamer taken as prize and retained on 10 May 1915[4]
  • Niobe, 654 tons, Dutch steamer taken as prize on 10 May 1915 (later released)[4]
  • Nordlyset, 82 tons, Norwegian sailing vessel sunk on 19 Jul 1915[4]
  • King Athelstan, 159 tons, British trawler stopped and scuttled on 22 Jul 1915[4]
  • Rubonia, 3,644, Russian steamer sunk on 22 Jul 1915[4]
  • Star of Peace, 180 tons, British trawler stopped and sunk on 22 Jul 1915[4]
  • Danae, 1,505 tons, French steamer stopped and sunk on 23 Jul 1915[4]
  • Fimreite, 3,819 tons, Norwegian steamer sunk on 23 Jul 1915[4]
  • Hermione, 210 tons, British trawler stopped and sunk by gunnery on 23 Jul 1915[4]
  • Honoria, 207 tons, British trawler sunk on 23 Jul 1915[4]
  • Sutton, 332 tons, British trawler sunk on 23 Jul 1915[4]
  • Anglia, 107 tons, British trawler sunk on 24 Jul 1915[4]
  • Cassio, 172 tons, British trawler sunk on 24 Jul 1915[4]
  • Pass of Balmaha, 1,571 tons, American windjammer taken as prize on 24 Jul 1915. See above.[4]
  • Roslin, 128 tons, British fishing vessel stopped and sunk on 24 Jul 1915[4]
  • Strathmore, 163 tons, British trawler stopped and sunk on 24 Jul 1915[4]

See also


  1. The British called them "cruises".
  2. She is described as an "armed collier" in the original document.


  1. Guðmundur Helgason. "Type U 31". Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  2. Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. "U-Boats (1905–18)", in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, "(Phoebus Publishing, 1978), Volume 23, p.2534.
  3. Fitzsimons, p.2575; he mistakenly identifies it as 86mm p.2534.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 Birch and Clarke. Contribution to the History of German Naval Warfare, 1914-1918. 2: The Fleet in Being. The National Archives, Kew: HW 7/3. 
  5. Pardoe, Blaine (2005). The Cruise of the Sea Eagle: The Amazing True Story of Germany's Gentleman Pirate. Cuilford, CT: The Lyons Press. p. 19. ISBN 1592286941. 
  6. Chatterton, E. Keble (1922). "Chapter II: The Beginning of Success". Q-ships and their story. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, Ltd.. pp. 13–16. ISBN (none). 

Further reading

  • Spindler, Arno (1932,1933,1934,1941/1964,1966). Der Handelskrieg mit U-Booten. 5 Vols. Berlin: Mittler & Sohn. Vols. 4+5, dealing with 1917+18, are very hard to find: Guildhall Library, London, has them all, also Vol. 1-3 in an English translation: The submarine war against commerce. 
  • Beesly, Patrick (1982). Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914–1918. London: H Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-10864-2. 
  • Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, "U-Boats (1905–18), Volume 23, p. 2534. London: Phoebus Publishing, 1978.
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A Naval History of World War I. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85728-498-0. 
  • Roessler, Eberhard (1997). Die Unterseeboote der Kaiserlichen Marine. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-5963-7. 
  • Schroeder, Joachim (2002). Die U-Boote des Kaisers. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-6235-4. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2008). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914–1918. Vol I., The Fleet in Action. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-76-3. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2009). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914–1918. Vol II., The Fleet in Being. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-77-0. 
  • Bodo Herzog: Deutsche U-Boote 1906-1966. Manfred Pawlak Verlags GmbH, Herrschingen 1990, ISBN 3-88199-687-7
  • Paul Kemp: Die deutschen und österreichischen U-Boot Verluste in beiden Weltkriegen. Urbes Verlag Hans Jürgen Hansen, Gräfelfing vor München 1998, ISBN 3-924896-43-7

External links

  • [1] Information on British Q-ships like the HMS Prince Charles.
  • [2] Design specs and other useful information regarding U-31 type submarines.
  • A 44 min. film from 1917 about a cruise of the German submarine U-35. A German propaganda film without dead or wounded; many details about submarine warfare in World War I.
  • More detailed information about U-36.
  • Room 40: original documents, photos and maps about World War I German submarine warfare and British Room 40 Intelligence from The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, UK.

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