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German submarine U-303
Name: U-303
Ordered: 7 December 1940
Builder: Flender Werke, Lübeck
Yard number: 303
Laid down: 14 June 1941
Launched: 16 May 1942
Commissioned: 7 July 1942
Fate: Sunk by torpedo, 21 May 1943[1]
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: 15,170 km (8,190 nmi) at 10 kn (19 km/h) surfaced
150 km (81 nmi) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers and ratings
Armament: • 5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four bow, one stern)
• 14 × G7e torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
• 1 × 8.8 cm (3.46 in) deck gun(220 rounds)
• Various AA guns
Service record[2][3]
Part of: 8th U-boat Flotilla
(7 July–31 December 1942)
7th U-boat Flotilla
(1 January–31 March 1943)
29th U-boat Flotilla
(1 April–21 May 1943)
Commanders: Kptlt. Karl-Franz Heine
(7 July 1942–21 May 1943)
Operations: 1st patrol: 1 January–8 March 1943
2nd patrol: 1 April–15 April 1943
3rd patrol: 21 May 1943
Victories: one commercial vessel (4,959 GRT)

German submarine U-303 was a Type VIIC U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine during World War II. She saw service in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and sank one freighter of 5,000 tons in her three short and uneventful war patrols. Built in 1941 and 1942 at Lübeck, U-303 was a Type VIIC U-boat, capable of lengthy ocean patrols and of operating in distant environments.

Service history[]

1st patrol[]

U-303 departed Kiel under the command of Kapitänleutnant Karl-Franz Heine on New Year's Day 1942, arriving at Lorient in France after a two and a half month passage.[4] The spring of 1943 was the turning point for the Battle of the Atlantic, targets were getting harder to come by for German units. U-303 was no exception, managing to sink only one ship, the 4,959 ton American vessel SS Expositor, on 23 February.[5]

2nd patrol[]

Her second patrol was uneventful and very brief, simply a fourteen day journey between Lorient and La Spezia in Italy, although it did involve passing through the heavily defended Strait of Gibraltar. She was to join a new flotilla operating in the Mediterranean Sea.[6]

3rd patrol[]

From La Spezia U-303 moved to Toulon in occupied France, from where she was to operate against British shipping aiding in operations following the evacuation of Tunisia. On her first attempt to do this, on 21 May 1943, she exited Toulon harbour on the surface and ran straight into the British submarine Sickle (P224), which torpedoed the U-boat before escaping. U-303 began to settle and list, and Heine ordered an immediate evacuation into life rafts which eventually carried the surviving crew to the French coast ten miles away. Ten sailors were less lucky, having been killed in the torpedo impact, and went down with their U-boat in position 42°50′N 06°00′E / 42.833°N 6°E / 42.833; 6Coordinates: 42°50′N 06°00′E / 42.833°N 6°E / 42.833; 6.[2]

Raiding career[]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
23 February 1943 SS Expositor United States 4,959 Sunk


  1. Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars, 1999, Arms & Armour, ISBN 1-85409-515-3, pp. 119-120.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-303". Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  3. Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-303". Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  4. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-303 from 31 Dec 1942 to 8 Mar 1943". Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  5. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Expositor (Steam merchant)". Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  6. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-303 from 1 Apr 1943 to 15 Apr 1943". Retrieved 9 April 2010. 

See also[]

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