German submarine U-221

Nazi Germany
Name: U-221
Ordered: 15 August 1940
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Yard number: 651
Laid down: 16 June 1941
Launched: 14 March 1942
Commissioned: 9 May 1942
Fate: Sunk by aircraft, 27 September 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
  • 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Installed power:
  • 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 bhp) (diesels)
  • 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) (electric)
  • 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) 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: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Service record
Part of:
  • Five patrols:
  • 1st patrol: 3 September – 22 October 1942
  • 2nd patrol: 23 November – 23 December 1942
  • 3rd patrol: 27 February – 28 March 1943
  • 4th patrol: 3 May – 27 July 1943
  • 5th patrol: 20–27 September 1943
Victories: 11 commercial vessels (65,589 GRT)

German submarine U-221 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.

Ordered on 15 August 1940 from the Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel, she was laid down on 16 June 1941 as yard number 651, launched on 14 March 1942 and commissioned on 9 May 1942 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Hans-Hartwig Trojer.

A member of twelve wolfpacks, she sank a total of eleven ships for a total of 65,589 gross register tons (GRT) in five patrols. In addition, it sunk 10 warships with a total tonnage 759 tons and damaged one ship with a total tonnage of 7,197 GRT.


German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-221 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[1] She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 50.50 m (165 ft 8 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower (2,060 to 2,350 kW; 2,760 to 3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two AEG GU 460/8–27 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).[1]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph).[1] When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-221 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and one at the stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and an anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[1]

Service history

U-221 is also credited with the destruction of ten allied landing craft (nine LCMs and one LCT) that were lost aboard the British merchantman Southern Empress when that vessel was torpedoed and sunk on 14 October 1942.

1st patrol

U-221 departed Kristiansand on 3 September 1942 having moved to the Norwegian port a day earlier. Her route took her through the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. She claimed her first victim, Fagersten, about 500 nmi (930 km; 580 mi) east of the Belle Isle Strait, in Newfoundland on 13 October. In the same attack, she sank Ashworth and Senta. There were no survivors from either vessel.

The next day two more ships fell to the torpedoes of the German U-boat. The Susana went down in six minutes northeast of St. Johns; Southern Empress was sent to the bottom, taking a deck cargo of ten landing craft with her.

U-221 docked in St Nazaire on 22 October.

2nd patrol

The boat's second foray was one of anti-climax and tragedy. Although she scoured the Atlantic west of Ireland, she failed to find any targets. On 8 December U-221 and U-254 collided in heavy fog, resulting in the loss of the latter boat. U-221 was badly damaged. Unable to dive, Oberleutnant zur See Trojer aborted the patrol and returned to St. Nazaire.

3rd patrol

Her third sortie was more fruitful. The Jamaica was destroyed on 7 March 1943. This ship took just two minutes to find a watery grave, followed by Tucurina on the 10th, southeast of Cape Farewell, (Greenland). In the same attack, the U-boat sank Andrea F. Luckenbach and damaged SS Lawton B. Evans (probably due to a dud torpedo).

Retribution was swift; the convoy's escorts from HX-228 caused serious damage to U-221. Repairs were carried out at sea, enabling the boat to sink two more ships on 18 March; Canadian Star and Walter Q. Gresham were added to her list of 'kills'.

4th patrol

U-221 only sank one ship on this patrol, Sandanger; the survivors had a remarkable escape. Occupying the only intact lifeboat, they found themselves in an area of low pressure created by the ship's burning fuel cargo. The flames were split in two by strong winds which also kept them above the men's heads by only a few feet as they rowed clear of the location.

5th patrol and loss

U-221 left St. Nazaire for the last time on 20 September 1943. On the 27th she was attacked by a Handley Page Halifax of No. 58 Squadron RAF with eight depth charges southwest of Ireland. The U-boat was seen to sink by the stern but the aircraft was also hit, forcing the pilot to ditch about three miles from the encounter. Two gunners from the Halifax were lost; the U-boat was sunk with all hands (50 men).[2][3]


U-221 took part in twelve wolfpacks, namely.

Summary of raiding history

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate
13 October 1942 Ashworth  United Kingdom 5,227Sunk
13 October 1942 Fagersten  Norway 2,342Sunk
13 October 1942 Senta  Norway 3,785 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-508*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-509*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-519*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-522*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-523*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-532*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-537*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-547*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCM-620*  Royal Navy 52 Sunk
14 October 1942 HMS LCT-2006*  Royal Navy 291 Sunk
14 October 1942 Southern Empress  United Kingdom 12,398 Sunk
14 October 1942 Susana  United States 5,929 Sunk
7 March 1943 Jamaica  Norway 3,015 Sunk
10 March 1943 Andrea F. Luckenbach  United States 6,565 Sunk
10 March 1943 Lawton B. Evans  United States 7,197 Damaged
10 March 1943 Tucurinca  United Kingdom 5,412 Sunk
18 March 1943 Canadian Star  United Kingdom 8,293 Sunk
18 March 1943 Walter Q. Gresham  United States 7,191 Sunk
18 March 1943 Sandanger  Norway 9,432 Sunk

* Being carried aboard Southern Empress

See also

German submarine U-254



  1. Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  2. Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-221". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  3. Kemp 1999, p. 147.


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6. 
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [German U-boat losses from September 1939 to May 1945]. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German). IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • Edwards, Bernard (1996). Dönitz and the Wolf Packs - The U-boats at War. Cassell Military Classics. pp. 132, 173, 208. ISBN 0-304-35203-9. 
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4. 
  • Kemp, Paul (1997). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3. 

External links

Coordinates: 47°0′N 18°0′E / 47.000°N 18.000°E / 47.000; 18.000

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