U 571

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U 571
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Type: VII C
Field Post Number: 42 483
Shipyard: Blohm & Voss
Construction Contract: 24. October 1939
Build number: 547
Keel laying: 8. June 1940
Launching: 4. April 1941
Commissioning: 22. May 1941
  • 22. May 1941 – 1 May 1943
    Captain Lieutenant Helmut Möhlmann
  • 2. May 1943 – 28 January 1944
    Oberleutnant zur See Gustav Lüssow
Stakes: 11 undertakings

13 vessels (27,911 GRT)

Whereabouts: sunk on 28 January 1944 in the North Atlantic west of Ireland (52 dead, no survivors)

U 571 was a Type VII C submarine of the Kriegsmarine in World War II. It sank 13 ships of 27,911 GRT on its eleven enemy voyages. On 28 January 1944, it was sunk west of Ireland itself, killing all 52 crew.


Construction and commissioning

The boat’s keel was laid at Blohm & Voss in Hamburg on 8 June 1940, and her launch was on 4 April 1941. She was commissioned on 22 May 1941 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Helmut Möhlmann.[1] Under his command, U 571 completed nine operational voyages to Arctic waters and the northern and mid-Atlantic.[2]


On its first war patrol in August 1941, U 571 operated against Allied shipping in the North Sea. On 26 August, the boat torpedoed the Russian passenger ship Marija Ulyanova, which had been converted into a hospital ship, causing heavy damage. The counterattack by the escorting destroyer Valerian Kujbyshev damaged the submarine, which then returned to base.

In 1942, on its sixth voyage, the third war patrol, the boat was deployed off the east coast of the United States. There it sank on 29 March the British freighter Hertford (Location), on 6 April the Norwegian tanker Koll (Location) off Cape Hatteras and on 14 April the American freighter Margaret.

On its seventh operational voyage, the fourth war patrol, the submarine was used against shipping in the Caribbean in July 1942. There it torpedoed four ships: on 7 July the British freighter Umtata (Location), the next day the American tanker J. A. Moffet (Location), the following day the Honduran freighter Nicholas Cuneo (Location), and on 15 July the American tanker Pennsylvania Sun (Location), which was later salvaged and repaired. With the exception of the captain of the J. A. Moffet and three crew members (one of the Nicholas Cuneo, two of the Pennsylvania Sun), the crews of all four merchant ships survived the sinkings.

After two unsuccessful war patrols, the boat sailed from La Pallice on 22 March 1943 for another enemy run. The changes in submarine warfare, which enabled the Allies to make pinpoint night attacks against submarines, almost spelled the end of the boat when, at about 9.55 p.m. the same day, an aircraft attacked the boat and damaged it so badly that it had to return to base, which it reached the following day. The next war patrol was also luckless for the boat. Although Möhlmann claimed the sinking of three ships, these sinkings were not confirmed by Allied records. In addition, the boat was attacked twice from the air during this operational cruise, on 14 April without consequence, and on 29 April, two days before entering home base, with minor damage. In addition, on 22 April, in an accident on the tower, Kapitänleutnant Möhlmann, who had been awarded the Knight’s Cross for his successes with the boat on 16 April, was injured so severely that the boat had to return to base prematurely.

After this voyage Möhlmann was replaced as commander by Oberleutnant zur See Gustav Lüssow. Under this command the boat completed a twelve-week war patrol off the west coast of Africa, from which it returned on September 1, 1943. Until the end of December there are no notes about the boat in the war diary of the BdU, probably the boat was overhauled in a dry dock during this time.


On 8 January 1944, the boat sailed on her eleventh venture, from which she did not return. On 28 January 1944, while afloat west of Ireland, she was hit by depth charges from a Short Sunderland flying boat of the 461st Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force and sank (Location).[3] Some of the 52-man crew, who had attempted to defend themselves against the Sunderland with defensive fire, managed to escape from the submarine but drowned in the cold water. Up to this point, the boat had recorded no casualties.

See also

  • List of German submarines (1935-1945)

Individual references

  1. Rainer Busch, Hans-Joachim Röll: Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939-1945. vol. 2: Der U-Boot-Bau auf deutschen Werften. E. S. Mittler und Sohn, Hamburg u. a. 1997, ISBN 3-8132-0512-6, p. 45.
  2. Rainer Busch, Hans-Joachim Röll: Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939-1945. vol. 2: Der U-Boot-Bau auf deutschen Werften. E. S. Mittler und Sohn, Hamburg u. a. 1997, ISBN 3-8132-0512-6, p. 503.
  3. Rainer Busch, Hans-Joachim Röll: Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939-1945. vol. 4: Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945. E. S. Mittler und Sohn, Hamburg u. a. 1999, ISBN 3-8132-0514-2, p. 184.