Career (German Empire)
23 August 1914Builder:
Germaniawerft, KielLaid down:
28 December 1914Launched:
18 March 1916Commissioned:
8 June 1916Renamed:
O3 in 1920
Auxiliary Vessel No. 2538 in 1923Fate: Surrendered to Japan on 26 November 1918
Served with them as O3 between 1920 and 1921
Dismantled by June 1921
Briefly recommissioned in 1923 as Auxiliary Vessel No. 2538 |module2= General characteristics Class & type: German Type U 51 submarineDisplacement: Surfaced 715 tons
submerged 902 tonsLength: Overall 62.2 m (204 ft 1 in)
pressure hull 52.51 m (172 ft 3 in)Beam: Overall 6.44 m (21 ft 2 in)
pressure hull 4.05 m (13 ft 3 in)Draught: 3.64 m (11 ft 11 in)Propulsion: 2400 hp (surfaced)
1200 hp (submerged)Speed: Surfaced 17.1 knots (19.7 mph; 31.7 km/h)
submerged 9.1 knots (10.5 mph; 16.9 km/h)}Range: Surfaced: 9,400 nmi (17,400 km; 10,800 mi) at 8 knots (9.2 mph; 15 km/h)
Submerged: 55 nmi (102 km; 63 mi) at 5 knots (5.8 mph; 9.3 km/h)Test depth: 50 m (164 ft)Complement: 36Armament: 6 torpedoes (2/2 in bow/stern tubes)
88mm deck gun with 276 rounds |}
|Part of:||Imperial German Navy|
Wilhelm Werner |
9 Jun 1916 - 9 Aug 1918
Alexander Weiß 
10 Aug 1918 - 14 Sep 1918
Hans Friedrich 
15 Sep 1918 - 11 Nov 1918
14 patrols 64 ships sunk for a total of 133,742 tons. 7 ships damaged for a total of 26,161 tons.2 ships taken as prize for a total of 4,616 tons.
Construction and commissioning
U 55 was ordered from Germaniawerft, Kiel on 23 August 1914, was laid down on 28 December 1914 and launched on 18 March 1916. She was commissioned under her first commander Wilhelm Werner on 8 June 1916.
Service with the Kaiserliche Marine
Werner commanded her for most of her wartime career, during which she undertook 14 patrols with II Flotilla, sinking 64 ships for a total of 130,387 tons. She also damaged another five for a total of 25,568 tons, and took another two as prizes for a total of 4,616 tons. Her most famous act was the sinking of the British RMS Carpathia with three torpedoes, on 17 July 1918 off the east coast of Ireland. The Carpathia herself had become famous for her actions in coming to the rescue of the sinking RMS Titanic in 1912. The U-55 also sank the hospital ship Rewa on 4 January 1918.
Werner was replaced by Alexander Weiss on 10 August 1918, Weiss being succeeded by Hans Friedrich on 15 September and commanding U 55 until the armistice on 11 November.
With the Japanese
U 55 was surrendered to Japan on 26 November 1918. She entered service with the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1920 as O3, serving as such until 1921. She was dismantled at the Sasebo Navy Yard between March and June 1921, briefly recommissioning in 1923 as Auxiliary Vessel No. 2538.
Original documents from Room 40
- Uboat.net U55
- National Archives, Kew: HW 7/3, Room 40, History of German Naval Warfare 1914-1918 (Published below - Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918)
- 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.
- 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.
- Photos of cruises of German submarine U-54 in 1916-1918. Great photo quality, comments in German.
- 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.
- Uboat.net: More detailed informations about U-55.
- 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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