|Posted: 09 November 2007 at 01:56 | IP Logged
Nigel E. Wells
Known in English as Undersea Boat, or U-Boat, a direct translation of the German terms Unterseeboot and U-Boot, they were the German Navy submarines of both the First and Second World Wars. In both global conflicts they nearly achieved decisive successes at sea, both times nearly bringing the British Empire to its knees. U-196 is remarkable for two reasons: The vessel is a wonderful example of the Kriegsmarine U-Bootwaffe’s global capabilities and under the command of Korvkpt. Kentrat, completed the longest combat patrol in submariner history, an achievement that still stands today.
U-196 was built by AG Weser in Bremen (as all Type IXD series boats were) as a Type IXD2 vessel. An evolved form of the earlier IXC/40 design, the IXD series had two variations, the IXD1 and the IXD2.
Of the IXD1 boats, only two were built - U-180 and U-195 - which differed from the IXD2 boats in engine configuration. Equipped with six S-Boot engines, the concept for the IXD1 was to provide a very fast cruising and sprinting speed while surfaced; however these engines were mechanically unreliable and often produced clouds of black smoke while in operation. The IXD1 boats had their torpedo tubes removed in 1943-1944 and served as cargo vessels, capable of transporting 252 tons of freight.
By comparison, U-196 as with all other Type IXD2 boats, was provided with engines of a more conventional lineage. Armed with six torpedo tubes, four forwards and two aft, storage was provided for up to twenty four torpedoes, many of these carried outside the pressure hull. Aside from FlaK armaments which differed throughout the war, the IXD2 was equipped with the Utof 105mm deck gun, measuring 45 calibres and capable of firing armour piercing, high explosive, and illumination rounds with storage provided for approximately 150 shells total.
Nearly ten metres longer than its predecessor, the IXC/40 series, the IXD2 also displaced approximately 500 tons more. With a surfaced range of 38,141.5 kilometres (23,700 miles) at twelve knots, the IXD2 series boats served in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Theatre alongside the Imperial Japanese Navy as part of the Kriegsmarine Detachment to Japan.
Particularly notable about the Kriegsmarine method of training the crews of the Ubootswaffe was the process known as “Baubelehrung.”
Prior to the commissioning of a U-Boat, the senior officers and crew would join the boat in its last stages of construction, with the crew following one to two weeks just prior to the vessel’s commissioning. Baubelehrung, therefore, was the process of familiarizing all hands with their U-Boat prior to their assignment to a training flotilla. At the time that U-196 was commissioned, three training flotillas were operational: the 4th Unterseebootsflottille in Stettin, the 5th at Kiel, and the 8th at Königsberg.
The next stage in training was the UAK, or Unterseebootsabnehmenkommando, U-Boat Acceptance Command in English. UAK was where all major tests of the boat and crew would be carried out, ranging from full checks of every shipboard system to diving trials. Any faults discovered at UAK were then corrected, and the boat and its crew proceeded to the final stage of training.
Known as the Agru Front, the final stage constituted the final tactical training the vessel and crew would receive prior to assignment to an operational flottille.
Commissioned by Korvettenkapitän Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat on 11 September 1942, U-196 was built by AG Weser in the Bremen shipyards. U-196 trained with 4th Flottille at Stettin, and was assigned to 12 Flottille on 1 April 1943, where she conducted three patrols under the command of Korvkpt Kentrat.
U-196’s first Feindfahrt (Combat Patrol) is recorded in history as the longest ever conducted by a submarine. Departing Kiel on 13 March 1943, Korvkpt Kentrat conducted a two hundred and twenty five day patrol during which U-196 entered the Indian Ocean and sank two vessels, reaching Bordeaux to complete her patrol on the twenty-third of October of the same year. (23 October 1943).
Her second patrol began on 16 March 1944, where U-196 again patrolled the Indian Ocean and sank another vessel, bringing her total under Korvettnkapitän Kentrat to 17,739 GRT. The second patrol ended on 10 August 1944 in the port of Penang. Here, Korvkpt Kentrat left U-196, handing command over to Korvkpt Werner Striegler, whereupon the boat was transferred to 33 Flottille on 30 September 1944.
The final patrol of U-196 began 30th November 1944, departing from Batavia in the East Indies for the Indian Ocean. U-196, Korvettnkapitän Werner Striegler, and all sixty-five crew were declared missing and presumed killed in action on 1 December, 1944. It is possible that the vessel was lost traversing the Sunda Strait, perhaps due to an accident while diving.
Unlike many other U-Boats that sustained casualties through enemy action or shipboard / on shore accidents, U-196 did not suffer any casualties until her sudden loss between 30 November and 1 December of 1944. She remains the holder of the submarine’s longest recorded combat patrol at 225 days.
The third longest combat patrol of the war was conducted by Kapitän zur See Werner Hartmann and the crew of U-198, a Type IXD2 U-Boat. Departing Kiel in March of 1943 and patrolling off the Eastern coast of South Africa, U-198 ended her patrol at Bordeaux on 24 September after 201 days at sea.
Biographies of Note:
Korvettenkapitän Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat:
Born 11 September of 1906 in Stahlheim, Kentrat joined the Reichsmarine in October of 1925 as a Seaman with Crew 28. He commenced officer training in 1928 and was commissioned as an officer (Leutnant zur See) on 1 October 1932, proceeding to serve on the warships Deutschland, Hessen, and Schlesien. Subsequent promotions were to Oberleutnant zur See on 1 September 1934 and Kapitänleutnant on the first of June, 1937.
Transferring to the U-Bootwaffe in October of 1939, he made one combat patrol over the winter of 1940 (U-25) before taking command of U-8 in May of that year. Injured in a shipboard accident, he spent three months recovering in hospital.
He commissioned U-74 in October of 1940, conducting seven patrols and sinking five vessels, damaging another, and completing the notable task of bringing the boat through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. Of the five ships he sank, one was the Canadian corvette HMCS Levis, and the damaged vessel was the British auxiliary cruiser HMS Worcestershire of some 11,402 tons.
Serving for half a year (six months) on the staff of the Second Admiral of U-Boats, Admiral Freideburg, Kentrat then commissioned U-196 and conducted two patrols as detailed above. Promoted to Korvettnkapitän on 1 January 1943, upon the completion of U-196’s second patrol, Kentrat left the crew of U-196 in August of 1944 for a number of staff positions in Japan, including the Kriegsmarine Detachment at Kobe and the Naval Attaché in Tokyo. He was awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Classes as well as the U-Boat War Badge 1939 on 13 April, 1941. His Knight’s Cross followed on 31 December 1941 and his U-Boat Front Clasp on 20 September 1944.
The tonnage accumulated by Kentrat is as follows:
7 ships sunk for a total of 42.433 GRT
1 warship sunk for a total of 925 tons
1 ship damaged for a total of 123 GRT
1 auxiliary warship damaged for a total of 11.402 GRT
Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat returned to Germany in October of 1947 after two years spent in Allied captivity, dying on the 9th of January, 1974, in Bad Schwartau.
Korvettenkapitän Werner Striegler:
The second commander of U-196, Werner Striegler was born on 30 June 1918 in the town of Zittau in Saxony. Joining the Kriegsmarine as part of Crew 37b, he was posthumously promoted to Kapitänleutnant 1 January, 1945 after his presumed death on 1 December, 1944 with the disappearance of U-196 as detailed above. Previous commands included the UIT-25, formerly the Italian submarine Luigi Torelli which Striegler commanded until August of 1944. UIT-25 was then given to the Japanese at Kobe on 10 May 1945 and commissioned as I-504 in IJN service.
Kapitän zur See Werner Hartmann:
Born 11 December 1902 in the Harz Mountains, Werner Hartmann joined the Reichsmarine with Crew 21, being commissioned as Fähnrich zur See on 1 April 1923. Serving on the torpedo boats Seeadler and Albatros, Hartmann recieved promotions to Lautnant zur See on 1 October 1925, Oberleutnant zur See on 1 July 1927, and Kapitänleutnant on 1 October 1933.
Kapitänleutnant Werner Hartmann transferred to the Ubootwaffe in 1935, subsequently being promoted to Korvettenkapitän on 1 July 1937.
His first command was U-26, which patrolled in Spanish waters during the Spanish Civil War. Hartmann simultaneously recieved command of 2 U-Flottille and U-37 on 25 September 1939. In October of 1939, an experiment was made to determine the effectiveness of command of a wolfpack from sea aboard U-37, conducted by Hartmann. Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote (BdU) later determined that control of wolfpacks from land was more efficient. Hartmann left command of U-37 on 6 May 1940, after having been awarded both classes of the Iron Cross on 8 November, 1939. On 9 May, 1940, he was awarded the Knight's Cross.
Hartmann served in staff and training positions throughout most of 1940 and 1941, taking command of 2 Unterseeboots-Lehrdivision (U-Boat Training Division) in November of 1940 and the 27th U-Flottille in Gotenhafen in 1941. Having recieved command of U-198 in November of 1942, Hartmann completed his 201-day duration patrol as detailed above and left command of U-198 on 15 January 1944 for BdU Mittelmeer (FdU Mediterranean) in 1944. As part of this transfer, he was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross on 5 November, 1944. Startlingly, during only four wartime patrols he sank 115,338 GRT.
Werner Hartmann joined the Bundesmarine upon its formation in 1956, and died in Ussel / Waldeck on 26 April 1963.
- The Essential Submarine Identification Guide: Kriegsmarine U-Boats 1939-1945.
(Chris Bishop, Amber Books, 2006)
- Uboat.net (http://uboat.net)
-- Biography of Kentrat: http://uboat.net/men/kentrat.htm
-- Biography of Striegler: http://uboat.net/men/commanders/s.htm
-- Biography of Hartmann: http://uboat.net/men/hartmann.htm
-- Supplemental Technical Specifications of Type IXD2: http://uboat.net/types/ixd.htm
-- Supplemental Information on Service History of U-196: http://uboat.net/boats/u196.htm
-- Supplemental Information on Italian Submarine Luigi Torelli (UIT-25): http://uboat.net/boats/uit25.htm
-- Supplemental Information on Service History of U-198: http://uboat.net/boats/u198.htm
- Added metric to IXD2 range information.
Edited by Pavel on 09 November 2007 at 17:41