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German submarine U-21 (1936)
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-21
Ordered: 2 February 1935
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Yard number: 551
Laid down: 4 March 1935
Launched: 31 July 1936
Commissioned: 3 August 1936
Fate: Stranded, March 1940 after running aground in southern Noorway
General characteristics
Type: IIB
Displacement: Surfaced 279 Tons
Submerged 329 Tons
Length: 42.7m (140.2Ft)
Beam: 4.1m (13.5Ft)
Speed: Surfaced:13 Knots
Submerged:7 Knots
Endurance: Surfaced 1,800 Miles at 12 Knots
Submerged 43 Miles at 4 Knots
Crew: 25
Armament: Three fore torpedo tubes with 6 x 21 inch Torpedos and 1 x 20mm AA gun on fore-deck
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine
1st U-boat Flotilla
3rd U-boat Flotilla
21st U-boat Flotilla
30th U-boat Flotilla
Commanders: Kptlt. Kurt Freiwald
(18 July 1935–3 October 1937)
Kptlt. Werner Lott
(September 1936–31 March 1937)
Kptlt. Wilhelm Ambrosius
Kpt. Erwin Sachs
Kptlt. Fritz Frauenheim
1 October 1937–6 January 1940
Wolf-Harro Stiebler
6 January–28 July 1940
Oblt. Hans Heidtmann
1 August–20 December 1940
Kptlt. Ernst-Bernard Lohse
21 December 1940–18 May 1941
Oblt. Karl-Heinz Herbsleb
19 May 1941–3 January 1942
Oblt. Hans-Heinrich Döhler
4 January–24 September 1942
Ltn.Hans-Ferdinand Geisler
25 September 1942–28 January 1943
Oblt. Rudolf Kugelberg
29 January 1943–11 May 1944
Oblt. Wolfgang Schwazkopf
12 May–5 August 1944
Operations: 16;
1st patrol:
25 August–5 September 1939
2nd patrol:
9 September–1 October 1939
3rd patrol:
22 October–8 November 1939
4th patrol:
27 November–5 December 1939
5th patrol:
17–24 December 1939
6th patrol:
27 January–9 February 1940
7th patrol:
21–27 March 1940
Victories: Five ships sunk for a total of 10,706 GRT
one auxiliary warship sunk, of 605 GRT;
one warship damaged of 11,500 tons

German submarine U-21 was a Type IIB U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine. Her keel was laid down 4 March 1936, by Germaniawerft of Kiel as 'werk' 551. She was commissioned on 3 August 1936. During World War II, she conducted operations against enemy shipping.

U-21 went on seven war patrols, sinking five ships, one auxiliary warship and damaging one warship.

Operational history[]

1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols[]

U-21's first patrol was relatively uneventful.

On her second foray, the boat was attacked by the British submarine HMS Ursula which fired six torpedoes at her in the North Sea northeast of Berwick-Upon-Tweed [On the English/Scottish border] on 17 September 1939. These were the first submarine weapons launched by the Royal Navy in the Second World War. They all missed.

On her third patrol, the U-boat also had torpedoes fired at her in the central North Sea by another British submarine, HMS Sealion. The result was inconclusive as well.

4th and 5th patrols[]

The boat's first success with a torpedo came on 1 December 1939 when she sank the Finnish-registered Mercator about 12 mi (19 km) southeast of Buchan Ness (near Peterhead). She also damaged the British cruiser HMS Belfast with a mine.

On her fifth sortie, she sank the Mars on 21 December 1939 and the Carl Henckel (both from Sweden), on the same day. She also sank the British boom defence vessel HMS Bayonet in the Firth of Forth,[1] again with a mine.

6th patrol[]

Patrol number six saw her sink the Danish Vidar 100 mi (160 km) east of the Moray Firth[2] on 31 January 1940.

7th patrol[]

She sank the British Royal Archer with a mine on 26 February 1940, but then it all went horribly wrong on 26 March when she ran aground off Oldknuppen Island after a navigational error. The boat was towed to Mandal in Norway where she was interned. She was then towed to Kristiansand for repairs and release after the German occupation of the Nordic country.


In July she was transferred to the 21st U-boat Flotilla in Kiel as a training boat, with whom she remained for the rest of the war. U-21 was scrapped in February 1945.[3]

Summary of raiding history[]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
21 November 1939 HMS Belfast  United Kingdom 11,500 Damaged (mine)
1 December 1939 Mercator  Finland 4,620 Sunk
21 December 1939 Carl Henckel  Sweden 1,352 Sunk
21 December 1939 HMS Bayonet  United Kingdom 605 Sunk (mine)
21 December 1939 Mars  Sweden 1,475 Sunk
31 January 1940 Vidar  Denmark 1,353 Sunk
24 February 1940 Royal Archer  United Kingdom 2,266 Sunk (mine)


  1. The Times Atlas of the World - Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0 7230 0809 4, p. 10
  2. The Times Atlas of the World, p. 10
  3. Accessed 15 June 2011.

External links[]

See also[]

Warning: Display title "German submarine <i>U-21</i> (1936)" overrides earlier display title "German submarine <i>U-20</i> (1936)".

Coordinates: 41°10′N 30°47′E / 41.167°N 30.783°E / 41.167; 30.783

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