|German submarine U-558|
|Career (Nazi Germany)|
|Ordered:||25 September 1939|
|Builder:||Blohm & Voss, Hamburg|
|Laid down:||6 January 1940|
|Launched:||23 December 1940|
|Commissioned:||20 February 1941|
|Fate:||sunk on 20 July 1943 in the Bay of Biscay|
|Type:||Type VIIC submarine|
769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced|
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a|
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
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)|
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
17.7 knots (20.4 mph; 32.8 km/h) surfaced|
7.6 knots (8.7 mph; 14.1 km/h) submerged
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
230 m (750 ft)|
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
|Complement:||44–52 officers and ratings|
• 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
|Part of:||1st U-boat Flotilla|
|Operations:||Ten patrols from 1 June 1941 to 20 July 1943|
|Victories:||19 ships sunk totalling approximately 100,000 tons|
The German submarine U-558 was a Type VIIC U-boat in the service of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine during World War II. She sank 19 merchant ships and military vessels totalling nearly 100,000 tons before being sunk by bombers in July 1943.
Construction and early service life
U-558 was laid down on 6 January 1940 at Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, Germany as 'werk' 534 and launched on 23 December 1940. She was commissioned on 20 February 1941, with Oberleutnant zur See Günther Krech in command.
Her service began with the 1st U-boat Flotilla where she conducted training before moving on to operations, also with the 1st flotilla, on 1 May 1941.
She was a member of nine wolf packs, although group 'Ziethen' is not on uboat.net's list. However, U-558 is mentioned as part of 'Ziethen' in Michael Gannon's book Operation Drumbeat (on p. 200).
1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols
U-558 departed Kiel on 1 July 1941 and entered the Atlantic via the North Sea and the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands with no major encounters, arriving at her new home port of Brest in occupied France on the 28th.
Her second patrol was also relatively uneventful.
The submarine's third patrol, from 25 August to 16 September 1941, became interesting when she came upon the British Convoy OS 4 about 330 miles northwest of Fastnet Rock. She torpedoed and sank the Otaio, a 10,300-ton cargo ship, on 28 August.
4th and 5th patrols
Her fourth patrol, which began on 11 October 1941, first saw action off Ireland when she torpedoed and sank the unescorted Vancouver Island, a Canadian merchant ship of 9,472 tons, on 15 October. Two days later on 17 October, U-558 was involved in a devastating attack on Convoy SC 48 in the North Atlantic. During the battle, U-558 sank four ships: the 925-ton escort corvette HMS Gladiolus, the 9,552-ton British merchant steamer W.C. Teagle, and the Norwegian merchant steamers Erviken (which broke in two and sank in three minutes) and Rym, 6,595 and 1,369 tons respectively. U-558 took a hit from a depth charge dropped by a Catalina flying boat, but did not sustain serious damage and continued to shadow the convoy. She returned to Brest on 25 October 1941, having sunk four ships in the 15 days of her fourth patrol.
U-558's fifth patrol began on 24 November 1941. On 2 December, a British aircraft spotted the U-boat attempting to enter the Mediterranean Sea and called for surface support. U-558 took serious damage from depth charges dropped by the two ships that responded. She was able to escape, but had to return to Brest for repairs, arriving 7 December 1941 after only 14 days at sea, having had no success.
6th and 7th patrols
U-558 required significant repairs and remained in port until 10 February 1942, when she embarked on her sixth patrol. On 21 February Convoy ONS 67 was spotted, so she moved into position along with five other submarines. Eight of its ships were sunk by the U-boats, another two were left damaged. On 24 February, U-558 torpedoed the 8,009-ton British tanker Anadara, which escaped. That same day she also torpedoed and sank the 9,432-ton Norwegian tanker Eidanger and the 5,578-ton British steamer Inverarder. She returned to Brest on 11 March 1942.
U-558 departed Brest to begin her seventh patrol of the war on 12 April 1942 . On 12 May, she sank the 913-ton British armed trawler HMT Bedfordshire off the coast of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, where the ship had been assisting the United States Navy with anti-submarine patrols. Six days later on 18 May, she sank the 1,254-ton Dutch steamer Fauna. On 21 May she sank the 1,925-ton Canadian steamer Troisdoc in the Caribbean. Off Jamaica on 23 May, U-558 torpedoed the 7,061-ton American merchant steamer William Boyce Thompson, but the tanker used evasive maneuvers and reached the safety of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for repairs. Still in the Caribbean on 25 May, U-558 next attacked the 3,451-ton American merchant steamer Beatrice. When her torpedo hit the ship but failed to detonate, U-558 surfaced and trained her deck guns on the vessel, which was quickly ordered abandoned, and subsequently sunk. Remaining in the Caribbean, U-558 next torpedoed and sank the 2,622-ton United States Army transport Jack on 27 May. Her last target during the patrol was the 2,078-ton Dutch steamer Triton, which she shelled and sank on 2 June about 470 miles southeast of Bermuda. U-558 returned to Brest to end her seventh patrol on 21 June 1942, having sunk six ships and damaged one.
8th, 9th and 10th patrols
U-558's eighth patrol began when she left Brest on 29 July 1942. On 25 August, she encountered the 1,987-ton British steamer Amakura, which had been travelling with Convoy WAT 15 but had fallen behind. U-558 torpedoed and sank her approximately 90 miles southeast of Port Morant, Jamaica. U-558 encountered Convoy TAG 5 on 13 September; she torpedoed and sank the 7,241-ton British cargo ship Empire Lugard and the 7,915-ton Dutch steamer Suriname. The same day she also hit the convoy's 6,672-ton Norwegian tanker Vilja, whose crew quickly abandoned ship but were able to reboard after U-558 left the area. Vilja did not sink, but was later deemed a total loss. On 16 September U-558 torpedoed and sank the 2,606-ton American steamer Commercial Trader about 75 miles east of Trinidad. U-558 returned to port on 16 October, having sunk four ships and damaged a fifth.
U-558 remained in port until the end of 1942, and embarked on her ninth war patrol on 9 January 1943. On 23 February, she torpedoed and sank the 9,811-ton British steam tanker Empire Norseman south of the Azores, which had been travelling with Convoy UC 1 but was drifting unmanned after being torpedoed by U-382 and U-202. She found no other targets during her ninth patrol, which ended when she returned to Brest on 29 March 1943.
Her tenth—and ultimately last—patrol began on 8 May 1943. U-558 ran into difficulty many times during this patrol. At one point, she manoeuvred to attack a large eastbound convoy, but a destroyer harried her into retreat. Off Lisbon on 14 July, a British Wellington bomber from No. 179 Squadron RAF dropped depth charges; U-558 was not hit, and damaged the plane with anti-aircraft fire. Three days later off Porto on 17 July, a British Liberator from 224 Squadron dropped 24 35-pound anti-submarine bombs, but U-558 was able to escape by crash-diving; the plane took damage from anti-aircraft fire and its own malfunctioning bombs.
In the Bay of Biscay on 20 July, an American Liberator from the 19th Bombardment Squadron, United States Army Air Forces, called the Sea Hawk dropped depth charges on U-558; the boat was undamaged, and returned fire, shooting down the bomber.
Later the same day, a second Liberator from the 19th Bombardment Squadron dropped depth charges on U-558. The sub was severely damaged and unable to dive. The Liberator, her port inner engine taken out by U-558's anti-aircraft guns, left the scene and was relieved by a Halifax bomber from 58 Squadron, which finished off the sub with depth charges. Captain Krech and four of his crew were picked up on 24 July by the HMCS Athabaskan.
- Gannon, Michael - Operation Drumbeat - the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II, 1990, Harper and Row publishers, ISBN 0-060161155-8, p. 200.
- "Otaio". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Vancouver Island". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "HMS Gladiolus (K 34)". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
"W.C. Teagle". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
"Erviken". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
"Rym". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "D/S Erviken". warsailors.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
"D/S Rym". warsailors.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
- "U-558". Uboat.net. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
- "Anadara". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Eidanger". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
"Inverarder". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "M/T Eidanger". warsailors.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
- Runyan, Timothy J.; Jan M. Copes (1994). To Die Gallantly: The Battle of the Atlantic, Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-2332-0. p. 163. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Fauna". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Troisdoc". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "William Boyce Thompson". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Beatrice". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Jack". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Triton". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Amakura". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Empire Lugard". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
"Suriname". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Vilja". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "M/T Vilja". warsailors.com. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
- "Commercial Trader". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Empire Norseman". Uboat.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "U.558 Interrogation of Survivors", p. 2. Admiralty Report ADM186/808. Uboatarchive.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "U.558 Interrogation of Survivors", p. 4. Admiralty Report ADM186/808. Uboatarchive.net. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
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