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{{Infobox ship |Ship image= Japanese submarine Maru-3 in 1919.jpg |Ship caption= SM U-55 in Yokosuka

|module= Career (German Empire) Name: U 55Ordered: 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 |}

Service record
Part of: Imperial German Navy
Commanders: Wilhelm Werner [1]
9 Jun 1916 - 9 Aug 1918

Alexander Weiß [2]
10 Aug 1918 - 14 Sep 1918

Hans Friedrich [3]
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.[1]

SM U-55 was one of the six Type U 51 U-boats of the Imperial German Navy during the First World War, .

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

The following is a verbatim transcription of the recorded activities of SM U-55 known to British Naval Intelligence, Room 40 O.B.:[2]

"SM U-55.

Kaptlt. Wilhelm Werner. Was completed at Kiel about the beginning of June 1916, did trials at the Kiel School until about 28th July 1916 and then entered the North Sea, joining the 2nd Half Flotilla.

  • 30th July - 4th August 1916. ? Trial cruises in North Sea.
  • 19th August - 21st August 1916. Bight patrol.
  • 20th September - 1st October 1916. To west of Orkney Islands. Sank 1 armed trawler. Took 2 prizes.
  • 14th October - 9th November 1916. Northabout to S.W. of Ireland. Sank ? 3 S.S.
  • 20th January - 11th February 1917. Atlantic via Channel. Claims 7 S.S., 13 sailing vessels (23,000 tons).
  • 4th March - 9th March 1917. To the west through the Channel. Returned damaged through touching ground in fog.
  • 30th March - ? 23rd April 1917. To S.W. of Ireland and Channel approaches, uncertain whether northabout or through the Channel. Back northabout. Claims sinkings 7 S.S., 2 sailing vessels (24,300 tons.) Prisoners, 5 English captains, 3 gunners. Booty, 1 gun. Amongst ships sunk was S.S. TORRINGTON (8th April). Crew was taken on board submarine. Master sent below. Submarine then dived leaving crew to drown.
  • 31st May - 26th June 1917. To S.W. of Ireland, northabout both ways. Sank 3 S.S., 1 sailing vessel.
  • 26th July - 21st August 1917. To S.W. of Ireland, possibly passing S.W. of Faroes on the way home. Claims 5 S.S. (19,200 tons).
  • 26th September - 23rd October 1917. Apparently patrolling S. of Faroes. At Klaksvig (Faroes) October 17th/18th. Returned by Sound.
  • 29th December 1917 - 23rd January 1918. To south of Ireland, Channel both ways. Possibly attacked by H.M. submarine E51 in 54°47'N., 6°18'E. Sank British hospital ship REWA by torpedo in 50°48'N., 4°48'W. Claims 5 S.S., 2 sailing vessels (18,000 tons).
  • 18th February - 17th March 1918. Through Channel to western approaches. Back northabout. Hit by torpedo, which did not explode hospital ship GUILDFORD CASTLE. Was chased and fired at by H.M. submarine K7 on March 15th. Returned with machinery out of order. Claims 8 ships (14,000 tons).
  • 8th May - 30th May 1918. To Channel approaches. Route - Bight, Fair Island both ways, Sound. She may have been depth-charged on 18th, 20th, 21st May, and attacked by H.M. submarine E38 on 25th May in 57°52'N., 8°13'W. Sank 5 S.S. (25,000 tons). ? 8th July - ? 2nd August 1918. Northabout to S.W. of Ireland. Back northabout and Little Belt. Sank S.S. CARPATHIA, 1 S.S., 1 sailing vessel.
  • 1st September - 19th October 1918. Atlantic, northabout both ways. Possibly sank 3 S.S., 2 sailing vessels. (Claims 2 S.S., 2 sailing vessels plus 8,900 tons). Attacked by U.S.S. SAVAGE on October 1st in 48°5'N., 10°5'W. Returned owing to damage to deck.
  • 27th November 1918. Surrendered at Harwich."

Note: S.S. = Steam Ship; S.V. = Sailing Vessel; northabout, Muckle Flugga, Fair I. = around Scotland; Sound, Belts, Kattegat = via North of Denmark to/from German Baltic ports; Bight = to/from German North Sea ports; success = sinking of ships

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. 


See also


  • 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. 

External links

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