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German submarine U-515 was a Type IXC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine built for service during World War II. She was commissioned in 1942 and sunk in 1944. U-515 completed six operational patrols and sank 23 ships, badly damaged two ships which later sank, and damaged two additional ships.

German submarine U-515 afire and sinking on 9 April 1944 (80-G-227198).jpg
U-515 afire and sinking on 9 April 1944
Nazi Germany
Name: U-515
Ordered: 14 February 1940
Builder: Deutsche Werft, Hamburg
Yard number: 311
Laid down: 8 May 1941
Launched: 2 December 1941
Commissioned: 21 February 1942
Fate: Sunk, 9 April 1944[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Type IXC submarine
  • 1,120 t (1,100 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,232 t (1,213 long tons) submerged
  • 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in) o/a
  • 4.40 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in)
Installed power:
  • 4,400 PS (3,200 kW; 4,300 bhp) (diesels)
  • 1,000 PS (740 kW; 990 shp) (electric)
  • 18.3 knots (33.9 km/h; 21.1 mph) surfaced
  • 7.3 knots (13.5 km/h; 8.4 mph) submerged
  • 13,450 nmi (24,910 km; 15,480 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 63 nmi (117 km; 72 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 44 enlisted
Service record[2][3]
Part of:
Identification codes: M 27 488
  • 1st patrol: 15 August – 14 October 1942
  • 2nd patrol: 7 November 1942 – 6 January 1943
  • 3rd patrol: 21 February – 24 June 1943
  • 4th patrol: 21 – 22 August 1943
  • 5th patrol: 29 August – 12 September 1943
  • 6th patrol: 9 November 1943 – 14 January 1944
  • 7th patrol: 30 March – 9 April 1944
  • 21 commercial ships sunk (131,769 GRT)
  • two auxiliary warships sunk (19,277 GRT)
  • one commercial ship damaged (6,034 GRT)
  • one warship damaged (1,920 GRT)
  • one commercial ship a total loss (4,668 GRT)
  • one warship a total loss (1,350 GRT)


German Type IXC submarines were slightly larger than the original Type IXBs. U-515 had a displacement of 1,120 tonnes (1,100 long tons) when at the surface and 1,232 tonnes (1,213 long tons) while submerged.[4] The U-boat had a total length of 76.76 m (251 ft 10 in), a pressure hull length of 58.75 m (192 ft 9 in), a beam of 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in). The submarine was powered by two MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged four-stroke, nine-cylinder diesel engines producing a total of 4,400 metric horsepower (3,240 kW; 4,340 shp) for use while surfaced, two Siemens-Schuckert 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 1,000 shaft horsepower (1,010 PS; 750 kW) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.92 m (6 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).[4]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 18.3 knots (33.9 km/h; 21.1 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.3 knots (13.5 km/h; 8.4 mph).[4] When submerged, the boat could operate for 63 nautical miles (117 km; 72 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 13,450 nautical miles (24,910 km; 15,480 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-515 was fitted with six 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and two at the stern), 22 torpedoes, one 10.5 cm (4.13 in) SK C/32 naval gun, 180 rounds, and a 3.7 cm (1.5 in) SK C/30 as well as a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of forty-eight.[4]

Service historyEdit

U-515's keel was laid down on 8 May 1941 at Deutsche Werft in Hamburg, Germany. She was launched on 2 December 1941, commissioned on 21 February 1942 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Werner Henke, and attached to the 4th U-boat Flotilla for training. During this period, U-515 conducted listening tests in early May, torpedo firing tests, and in early July tactical exercises with other U-boats. U-515 served with the 4th U-boat Flotilla until 31 August 1942. She then joined the 10th U-boat Flotilla for operations.

First patrolEdit

U-515 left Stettin on 8 September 1942 stopping at Kiel to top-up with fuel. She left Kiel on 11 September for her first patrol, during which she sank nine ships, and damaged one other:[5]

  • Stanvac Melbourne – Panamanian tanker, sunk on 12 September by torpedoes
  • Woensdrecht – Dutch tanker, sunk on 12 September by torpedoes
  • Nimba – Panamanian freighter, sunk on 13 September by torpedoes
  • Ocean Vanguard – British freighter, sunk on 13 September by torpedoes
  • Harborough – British freighter, sunk on 14 September by torpedo and deck gun
  • Sørholt – Norwegian freighter, sunk on 15 September by torpedoes
  • Mae – American freighter, sunk on 17 September with deck gun
  • Reedpool – British freighter, sunk on 20 September by torpedoes
  • Antinous – American freighter, damaged by torpedo on 23 September, sunk by U-512 on 24 September
  • Lindvangen – Norwegian freighter, sunk on 23 September by torpedoes

U-515 returned to her base at Lorient, in occupied France on 20 October.[3]

Second patrolEdit

U-515 left Lorient on 7 November for her second patrol. While moving along the African coast, on the night of 11 November, she attacked a British depot ship (probably HMS Hecla, which was attacked on 11 November and sank on the 12th), and was subsequently depth-charged by a British destroyer (probably HMS Venomous). While sailing through the mid-Atlantic on 6 December, the U-boat spotted and sank the passenger ship SS Ceramic. U-515 patrolled the Azores for about a week, then returned to Lorient on 5 or 6 January 1943.[6]

Third patrolEdit

Minor repairs were carried out, and on 20 February 1943, the U-boat left Lorient for her third patrol. She sank the British freighter, SS California Star about 335 miles northwest of the Azores on 4 March and on 9 March she sank a second ship, the French freighter Bamako off the west African coast. On 29 April the U-boat was attacked by Catalina flying-boats. U-515 fired at the aircraft with her 20 mm anti-aircraft guns, but did not shoot any down. The aircraft did not cause any damage to her, she submerged after the attack. During a 12-hour period on the night of 30 April and 1 May, U-515 attacked convoy TS 37 off Freetown and sank seven ships:

  • Kota Tjandi – Dutch freighter, sunk on 30 April by torpedoes
  • Bandar Shapour – British freighter, sunk on 30 April by torpedoes
  • Corabella – British freighter, sunk on 30 April by torpedoes
  • Nagina – British freighter, sunk on 30 April by torpedoes
  • Mokambo – Belgian freighter, attacked on 1 May with torpedoes, sank on 2 May
  • City of Singapore – British freighter, sunk on 1 May by torpedoes
  • Clan MacPherson – British freighter, sunk on 1 May by torpedoes

A few days after the attack on convoy TS 37, U-515 was re-supplied with fuel and torpedoes by U-460. She continued on her patrol and on 9 May sank the Norwegian freighter Cornville with torpedoes. U-515 completed her third sortie, returning to Lorient on 23 June.[7] In recognition of a successful patrol, all crewmen were given long leaves and many awarded the Iron Cross, Second class.

Fourth patrolEdit

Extensive repairs and modifications were carried out at Lorient. The after part of the bridge was expanded and equipped with 20mm anti-aircraft cannon and a 37mm flak gun. She also carried four T5 Zaunkönig acoustic homing torpedoes.[8] U-515 left Lorient on 29 August to patrol the west coast of Africa. About one week in, she spotted a convoy off the Azores and started to attack; however, she was detected by a convoy escort and badly damaged by depth charges, which forced her to return to base for repairs, reaching Lorient on 12 September.[9]

Fifth patrolEdit

Repairs took six weeks and were completed by late October. On 1 November 1943, U-515 left Lorient, stopping at St. Nazaire to pick up two T5 Zaunkönig torpedoes, which were designed with either a magnetic or percussion fuze and which were faster and had a longer range than the G7e/T4 Falke torpedoes. U-515 left St. Nazaire on 9 November and started patrolling off the Azores and Portuguese coast. On the morning of 18 November, she spotted a convoy, but was in turn spotted by aircraft. The U-boat submerged, but was detected by destroyers. These three ships depth-charged U-515 for several hours and caused major damage. The main ballast tank and reserve oil tank were ruptured; several batteries, the electronics, and the forward hydroplane motor were also damaged. U-515 fired a T-5 acoustic torpedo at one of the escorts, HMS Chanticleer, hitting her and causing damage beyond repair.[8] Several more attacks were made and U-515 had nearly run out of air when the attacks finally stopped, and she was able to surface. Despite extensive damage, the crew decided to make repairs at sea,[10] which were completed on 22 November. U-515 started to patrol the west coast of Africa and on 17 December, torpedoed and sank the British freighter Kingswood. Two days later she sank another ship, the British freighter Phemus. While returning to base, she sank the British freighter MV Dumana on 24 December.[8] On 16 January 1944 U-515 reached Lorient.

Sixth and final patrolEdit

U-515 sinking

Major repairs were carried out on U-515, including the installation of new batteries. Repairs were completed by late March and on the 30th, she left Lorient. On 8 April 1944, U-515 spotted a carrier-based aircraft and submerged; an hour later she surfaced and was attacked by another aircraft. U-515 engaged the machine with her 3.7-cm anti-aircraft gun. The plane's bombs missed the U-boat and U-515 failed to shoot down the aircraft.

On 9 April U-515 was attacked north of Madeira by the destroyers USS Pope, Pillsbury, Chatelain and Flaherty. Flooding and loss of depth control forced the U-Boat to the surface, where she was sunk by rockets fired from Grumman Avenger and Grumman Wildcat aircraft and gunfire from the destroyers.[8][1]

Sixteen of U-515's crew were killed, but 44 survived the attack.[11] The survivors were picked up by the destroyers and later transferred to the aircraft carrier USS Guadalcanal[12] U-515's commander, Werner Henke, was among the survivors. Later in June 1944, he was shot and killed trying to escape a secret interrogation center known as P. O. Box 1142 in Fort Hunt, Virginia, while being held as a prisoner of war.[8]

Tonnage sunkEdit

During U-515's career, she sank 23 ships and damaged two others which later sank, plus damaging another two ships which did not sink. Of the 25 total ships sunk, 21 were freighters totaling 131,769 gross register tons (GRT); two warships totaling 19,277 long tons (19,586 t); one freighter, which later sank of 4,668 GRT; and one warship which later sank for another 1,350 tons.[13] U-515 also damaged one freighter of 6,034 GRT and damaged one warship of 1,920 tons.[13]


U-515 took part in four wolfpacks, namely.

  • Westwall (8 November - 16 December 1942)
  • Unverzagt (12–19 March 1943)
  • Seeräuber (25–30 March 1943)
  • Schill 1 (16–22 November 1943)

Summary of raiding historyEdit

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate
12 September 1942 Stanvac Melbourne   Panama 10,013 Sunk
12 September 1942 Woensdrecht   Netherlands 4,668 Total loss
13 September 1942 Nimba   Panama 1,854 Sunk
13 September 1942 Ocean Vanguard   United Kingdom 7,174 Sunk
14 September 1942 Harborough   United Kingdom 5,415 Sunk
15 September 1942 Sørholt   Norway 4,801 Sunk
17 September 1942 Mae   United States 5,607 Sunk
20 September 1942 Reedpool   United Kingdom 4,838 Sunk
23 September 1942 Antinous   United States 6,034 Damaged
23 September 1942 Lindvangen   Norway 2,412 Sunk
12 November 1942 HMS Hecla   Royal Navy 10,850 Sunk
12 November 1942 HMS Marne   Royal Navy 1,920 Damaged
7 December 1942 Ceramic   United Kingdom 18,713 Sunk
4 March 1943 California Star   United Kingdom 8,300 Sunk
9 March 1943 Bamako   Netherlands 2,397 Sunk
30 March 1943 Bandar Shahpour   United Kingdom 5,236 Sunk
30 March 1943 Corabella   United Kingdom 5,682 Sunk
30 March 1943 Kota Tajandi   Netherlands 7,295 Sunk
30 March 1943 Nagina   United Kingdom 6,551 Sunk
1 May 1943 City of Singapore   United Kingdom 6,555 Sunk
1 May 1943 Clan Macpherson   United Kingdom 6,940 Sunk
1 May 1943 Mokambo   Belgium 4,966 Sunk
9 May 1943 Corneville   Norway 4,554 Sunk
18 May 1943 HMS Chanticleer   Royal Navy 1,350 Total loss
17 December 1943 Kingswood   United Kingdom 5,080 Sunk
20 December 1943 Phemius   United Kingdom 7,406 Sunk
24 December 1943 Dumana   United Kingdom 8,427 Sunk



  1. ^ Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.


  1. ^ a b Kemp 1999, p. 182.
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IXC boat U-515". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  3. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-515". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, p. 68.
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-515 from 15 Aug 1942 to 14 Oct 1942". U-boat patrols - Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-515 from 7 Nov 1942 to 6 Jan 1943". U-boat patrols - Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-515 from 21 Feb 1943 to 24 Jun 1943". U-boat patrols - Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d e Timothy P. Mulligan. Lone Wolf. Praeger.
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-515 from 29 Aug 1943 to 12 Sep 1943". U-boat patrols - Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  10. ^ Navy department Office, p.37
  11. ^ Miller, p.188
  12. ^ Navy department Office, p.45
  13. ^ a b Bishop 2006, p. 102.


  • Bishop, Chris (2006). Kriegsmarine U-Boats, 1939-45. London: Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-904687-96-2.
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6.
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [German U-boat losses from September 1939 to May 1945]. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German). IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2.
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4.
  • Kemp, Paul (1999). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. London: Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3.
  • Miller, D. U-Boats: the Illustrated History of the Raiders of the Deep. Washington: Brassey’s Inc, 2000.
  • Navy Department Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington. Report of the interrogation of survivors from U-515 sunk on 9 April 1944 and U-68 sunk on 10 April 1944. Washington, 17 June 1944. Retrieved 30 May 2007. From "U-boat Archive - U-515 - Interrogation Report". Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  • Williamson, Gordon (2005). Wolf Pack: The Story of the U-boat in World War II. Osprey. ISBN 1841768723.

External linksEdit

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IXC boat U-515". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 515". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - (in German). Retrieved 1 February 2015.

Coordinates: 34°34′59″N 19°18′00″W / 34.583°N 19.300°W / 34.583; -19.300