|Ordered:||15 August 1940|
|Laid down:||1 October 1940|
|Launched:||15 March 1941|
|Commissioned:||10 September 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk, 6 October 1944, by a Dutch submarine|
|Class and type:||Type IXC/40 submarine|
|Height:||9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)|
|Draught:||4.67 m (15 ft 4 in)|
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 44 enlisted|
|Identification codes:||M 49 033|
|Commanders:||Kptlt. Helmuth Pich|
German submarine U-168 was a Type IXC/40 U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine built for service during World War II. Her keel was laid down on 15 March 1941 by the Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau AG in Bremen as yard number 707. She was launched on 5 March 1942 and commissioned on 10 September with Kapitänleutnant Helmuth Pich in command.
German Type IXC/40 submarines were slightly larger than the original Type IXCs. U-168 had a displacement of 1,144 tonnes (1,126 long tons) when at the surface and 1,257 tonnes (1,237 long tons) while submerged. 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 6.86 m (22 ft 6 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.67 m (15 ft 4 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 metric horsepower (740 kW; 990 shp) 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).
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). 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 13,850 nautical miles (25,650 km; 15,940 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-168 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.
U-168's first patrol commenced with her departure from Kiel on 3 March 1943. Her route took her through the Kattegat and Skaggerak, along the coast of Norway, through the 'gap' between Iceland and the Faroe Islands and into the Atlantic Ocean south and southwest of Greenland. She arrived at Lorient in occupied France on 18 May.
The submarine began her third and what would turn out to be her most successful patrol when she departed Penang on 7 February 1944. She fired three torpedoes at the British salvage vessel HMS Salviking south of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on the 14th. One of the projectiles malfunctioned, but the other two were sufficiently destructive to send the ship to the bottom.
The following day she sank a Greek ship, Epaminondas C. Embiricos about 130 nautical miles (240 km; 150 mi) north of Addu Atoll in the Maldives. The Master and the Chief Engineer were both taken prisoner and handed over to the Japanese. The former's captivity prevented disciplinary action being taken over why he had ordered the undamaged ship to be abandoned and why the vessel was stationary for two hours, despite standing orders to the contrary.
U-168 also damaged the Norwegian Fenris with her last torpedo on the 21st west of the Maldives, but had no ammunition left for her deck gun to finish the ship off which continued to Bombay under her own power.
The boat returned to Batavia (now Jakarta) on 24 March.
4th patrol and loss
The submarine left Batavia on 5 October 1944. According to normal procedures to safeguard friendly submarines the U-168 gave local Japanese units its precise departure and arrival times, intended course and speed. This was subsequently decrypted and included in a FRUMEL report on the 5th of October, 1944. With little time, the Free Dutch Forces submarine Zwaardvisch, under the command of Lieutenant Commander H Goosens, was ordered to intercept. Shortly after sunrise on 6 October, while in the Java Sea, U-168 was spotted on steady easterly course and fired upon by a spread of six torpedoes. The torpedoes were spotted mere seconds before impact, being struck by two. One hit the U-168's pressure hull but failed to detonate. The second hit the forward torpedo room and exploded. Attempts to stem the flooding failed and the U-168 sank rapidly. The attack killed 23 men, with a further 27 being captured including Pich. In his interrogation, unaware of Allied code-breaking and signals intelligence, Pich could not explain why he'd been caught unawares with one of his crewmen blaming the Japanese, complaining that they never started anti-submarine air searches before 11:00.
Summary of raiding history
|2 October 1943||Haiching||United Kingdom||2,183||Sunk|
|14 February 1944||HMS Salviking||Royal Navy||1,440||Sunk|
|15 February 1944||Epaminondas C. Embiricos||Greece||4,385||Sunk|
|21 February 1944||Fenris||Norway||9,804||Damaged|
- Kemp 1999, p. 221.
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