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German submarine U-85 (1941)
Career War Ensign of Germany (1938–1945).svg
Name: U-85
Ordered: 9 June 1938
Builder: Flender Werke, Lübeck
Yard number: 281
Laid down: 18 December 1939
Launched: 10 April 1941
Commissioned: 7 June 1941
Fate: Sunk by a US warship, 14 April 1942
General characteristics
Class & type: Type VIIB U-boat
Displacement: Surfaced 753 tons tons
submerged 857 tons
Length: Overall 66.6 m (218 ft 6 in)
pressure hull 48.8 m (160 ft 1 in)
Beam: Overall 6.2 m
pressure hull 4.7 m
Draught: 4.74 m
Propulsion: Surfaced: two supercharged MAN, six cylinder, four-stroke M6V 40/46 diesels totalling 2,800 - 3,200bhp (2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490.
Speed: Surfaced 17.9 knots (33 km/h)
submerged eight knots (15 km/h)
Range: Surfaced: 16,095 km
submerged: 175 km
Test depth: 230 m (754 ft). Calculated crush depth: 250-295 m (820-967 ft)
Complement: 44 to 48 officers and ratings
Armament: • 5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes: four bow, one stern
• 14 × torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
• 1 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) deck gun with 220 rounds
• 1 × C30 20 mm AA
Service record
Part of: 3rd U-boat Flotilla
(7 June 1941–14 April 1942)
Commanders: Oblt. Eberhard Greger
(7 June 1941–14 April 1942)
Operations: Four:
1st patrol:
28 August–18 September 1941
2nd patrol:
16 October–27 November 1941
3rd patrol:
8 January–23 February 1942
4th patrol:
21 March–14 April 1942
Victories: Three commercial ships sunk (15,060 GRT)

German submarine U-85 was a Type VIIB U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine during World War II.

She was laid down at the Flender Werke in Lübeck on 18 December 1939 as 'werk' 281. Launched on 10 April 1941, she was commissioned on 7 June and assigned to the 3rd U-boat Flotilla under the command of Oberleutnant Eberhard Greger.

U-85 completed four war patrols with the flotilla, and sank three ships, totalling 15,060 gross register tons (GRT). She was sunk in April 1942 by an American warship, the USS Roper.

Operational careerEdit

1st patrolEdit

U-85 departed Trondheim in Norway on 28 August 1941 for her first patrol. She sank the Thistleglen on 10 September northeast of Cape Farewell (Greenland).

The boat docked at St. Nazaire on the French Atlantic coast on 18 September.

2nd patrolEdit

U-85's second patrol started and finished in Lorient but was unremarkable.

3rd patrolEdit

On her third foray, she sank the Empire Fusilier southeast of St. Johns, Newfoundland, after a seven hour chase, on 9 February 1942. Nine crew members were lost.

4th patrol and lossEdit

Having left St. Nazaire on 21 March 1942, the boat probably sank the Chr. Knudson on 10 April. U-85 was herself sunk with all hands on 14 April off the United States coast near Cape Hatteras by gunfire from the American destroyer USS Roper. She was the first German U-boat loss of "Operation Drumbeat" (Paukenschlag), Germany's U-boat offensive off the eastern seaboard of the United States in 1942.


U-85 was operating within visual distance of Bodie Island Light at midnight on 13 April 1942 when Roper detected the submarine on British Type 286 RADAR at a range of 2,700 yards (2,500 m). The boat attempted to run south on the surface and fired her stern torpedo at Roper when the range closed to 700 yards. Roper evaded the torpedo and U-85 turned sharply to starboard when the range closed to 300 yards. Roper illuminated the U-boat with her searchlight and observed men on deck near the gun whose firing arc had just been cleared by the course change. Roper raked U-85 with machine gun fire and scored a hit with a 3"/50 caliber gun. She then dropped a pattern of 11 depth charges where U-85 had disappeared beneath the surface.[1]

U-85 Beerdigung

29 sailors from U-85 were buried at Hampton National Cemetery

Numerous men were observed in the water, but no rescue attempt was made until daylight. By then, there were no survivors among the 29 bodies floating in life jackets. Some of the bodies were wearing civilian clothes, carrying wallets with United States currency and identification cards.[2] The bodies were fingerprinted, photographed and buried in a night-time military ceremony at the Hampton National Cemetery. U-85 lies in less than 100 ft (30 m) of water; the United States Navy briefly attempted to salvage her.[1] More recent investigation by sport divers has raised questions about Navy reports on the wreck.[3]


The hatch of U-85 is on display in the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum; the submarine itself still serves as an attraction for divers.[4] The Labrador current influences the site and visibility can be low.[5] Majority of the debris lies within 100 metres (330 ft) radius of the wreck.[5]

The Enigma machine was illegally recovered from the wreck by private divers and in 2003 the German government agreed to allow the machine to be displayed at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, in Hatteras, North Carolina.[6]

Summary of raiding careerEdit

Date Ship[7] Nationality Tonnage Fate
10 September 1941 Thistleglen Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain 4,748 Sunk
9 February 1942 Empire Fusilier Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain 5,408 Sunk
10 April 1942 Chr. Knudsen Flag of Norway.svg Norway 4,904 Sunk

U-85 Crew Members Buried at Hampton National CemeteryEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rouse, Parke, Jr., "Under the Cloak of Night", United States Naval Institute Proceedings, June 1982, pp.74-75
  2. Rouse suggests U-85 had been preparing to launch a raft of spies when discovered by Roper.
  3. Blair, Clay, Jr. Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters 1939-1942 Random House (1996) p.543
  4. Wreck of the U-85
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hoyt, JC (2009). "2008 Battle of the Atlantic Survey Methodology". Retrieved 2013-03-11. 
  6. Miles Hadley, Naval Historical Center. Home Found for "Enigmatic" WW II U-boat Relic. 5 April 2003.
  7. "Ships hit by U-85 - U-boat Successes - German U-boats -". Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  8. Adrian's marker gives his date of death as April 15 not April 14.
  9. Ammann's marker gives his date of death as April 15 not April 14.
  10. Degenkolb's marker gives his date of death as April 15 not April 14.
  11. Kiefer's marker gives his date of death as April 15 not April 14.
  12. According to the U-85 Crew List. posted at, Methge is buried with his crew mates. However, an employee of Hampton National Cemetery (who was most polite, patient, and helpful) checked the cemetery's list of the U-85 burials and Methge's name is not on it.
  13. Prantl's marker gives his date of death as April 15 not April 14.
  14. Roder's marker gives his date of death as April 15 not April 14.
  • Bishop, C. Kriegsmarine U-Boats, 1939-45. Amber Books, 2006.
  • Hickam, Homer "Torpedo Junction" Naval Institute Press

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 35°55′N 75°13′W / 35.917°N 75.217°W / 35.917; -75.217

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