Military Wiki
German submarine U-223
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-223
Ordered: 15 August 1940
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Yard number: 653
Laid down: 15 July 1941
Launched: 16 April 1942
Commissioned: 6 June 1942
Fate: Sunk by a British warship, 30 March 1944
General characteristics
Type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke M6V 40/46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 bhp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × electric motors, totalling 750 shp (560 kW) and max rpm: 296
Speed: 17.7 knots (20.4 mph; 32.8 km/h) surfaced
7.6 knots (8.7 mph; 14.1 km/h) submerged
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h) ↑
80 nmi (150 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) ↓
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers and ratings
Armament: • 5 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four bow, one stern)
• 14 × torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
• 1 × C35 88mm gun/L45 deck gun (220 rounds)
• Various AA guns
Service record
Part of: 5th U-boat Flotilla
(May–August 1942)
7th U-boat Flotilla
(September 1942–September 1943)
Commanders: Oblt./Kptlt. Karl-Jürg Wächter
(6 June 1942–12 January 1944)
Oblt. Peter Gerlach (12 January–30 March 1944)
Operations: Six patrols:
1st patrol:
12 January–6 March 1943
2nd patrol:
15 April–24 May 1943
3rd patrol:
14 September–16 October 1943
4th patrol:
20 November–17 December 1943
5th patrol:
19 January–12 February 1944
6th patrol:
16–30 March 1944
Victories: Two commercial vessels sunk (12,556 GRT)
One warship sunk (1,935 tons)
One ship a total loss (4,970 GRT)
One warship a total loss (1,300 tons)

German submarine U-223 was a Type VIIC U-boat of the Nazi German 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 'werk' 653, launched on 16 April 1942 and commissioned on 6 June under the command of Kapitänleutnant Karl-Jürg Wächter.

A member of eight wolfpacks, she sank two ships totalling 12,556 gross register tons (GRT) in six patrols. She also sank one warship of 1,935 tons and caused one ship of 4,970 GRT and one warship of 1,300 tons to be declared total losses.

She was sunk on 30 March 1944 by British warships in the Mediterranean Sea. 23 men died; there were 27 survivors.

Operational career[]

1st patrol[]

For her first patrol, U-223 departed Kiel on 12 January 1943. Keeping to the Norwegian side of the North Sea, she entered the Atlantic Ocean having negotiated the 'gap' between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. She moved to the south of Greenland. There, she sank the Dorchester west of Cape Farewell on 3 February. This steam passenger ship was sailing with a total of 904 people on board. 675 of them died. Four of the dead were chaplains of different faiths who had given up their lifebelts to soldiers among the incumbents. The clergymen were posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart; the US Congress declared 3 February 'Chaplains Observance Day' in 1961.

She also sank the Winkler on 23 February; the ship went down in 45 seconds. The U-boat then prevented any retaliation from the convoy escort ships by diving underneath survivors in the water.

U-223 was attacked by a British Flying Fortress of No. 59 Squadron RAF on 1 March. The aircraft dropped seven depth charges which overshot. Damage to the U-boat was slight, but the Fortress was hit and only just managed to return to its base.

The submarine docked at St. Nazaire in occupied France on 6 March.

2nd patrol[]

U-223 was depth charged to the surface and rammed by the destroyer HMS Hsperus in mid-Atlantic on 11 May 1943. Two men were lost overboard; one of them was rescued by U-359. Meanwhile, U-223 had escaped the wrath of the British ship and returned to St. Nazaire. Due to the repairs needed, she did not put to sea again until September.

3rd patrol[]

Having left St. Nazaiare on 14 September, the boat had passed the heavily fortified British base at Gibraltar by the 26th. Before docking at Toulon on 16 October, she attacked the Stanmore on the 2nd near Cape Ivi, Algeria. The badly damaged ship was taken under tow by two tugs. She was beached at Cape Tenes[1] where she broke in two and was declared a total loss.

4th and 5th patrols[]

Also a total loss was the British frigate HMS Cuckmere. She had been escorting a convoy off Bougie[2] when she was hit. She was towed to Algiers and returned to the US Navy in 1946.

U-223's fifth sortie was relatively uneventful, passing south of Sardinia and headed for the Italian mainland.

6th patrol and loss[]

The U-boat had left Toulon on 16 March 1944. She was detected by the ASDIC (sonar) of HMS Ulster on the 29th north of Palermo. Ulster was not alone; she was accompanied by two other destroyers - Laforey and Tumult. By early morning of the 30th, the U-boat, after heavy depth charging, was forced to the surface, where she was engaged by gunfire. Ulster had been replaced by two escort destroyers, HMS Hambledown and Blencartha . Before being sunk, U-223 managed to sink HMS Laforey.

23 men died; there were 27 survivors.

Summary of raiding history[]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
3 February 1942 Dorchester  USA 5,649 Sunk
23 February 1942 Winkler  Panama 6,907 Sunk
2 October 1943 Stanmore  United Kingdom 4,970 Total loss
11 December 1943 HMS Cuckmere  United Kingdom 1,300 Total loss
30 March 1943 HMS Laforey  United Kingdom 1,935 Sunk


  1. The Times Atlas of the World - Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0 7230 0809 4,p. 15
  2. The Times Atlas of the World, pp.15 and 48

Coordinates: 38°48′N 14°10′E / 38.8°N 14.167°E / 38.8; 14.167

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