U-185 sinking after being hit by US depth charges, 24 August 1943
|Ordered:||15 August 1940|
|Builder:||DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen|
|Laid down:||1 July 1941|
|Launched:||2 March 1942|
|Commissioned:||13 June 1942|
|Fate:||Sunk, by US aircraft on 24 August 1943|
|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|
Laid down on 1 July 1941 by DeSchiMAG AG Weser of Bremen as yard number 1025, she was launched on 2 March 1942 and commissioned on 13 June. She suffered no casualties until her sinking by US carrier-borne aircraft on 24 August 1943 at Coordinates: . Twenty-nine of the crew were lost, as well as fourteen survivors from U-604 who were on board.
German Type IXC/40 submarines were slightly larger than the original Type IXCs. U-185 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 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).
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-185 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-185 sailed from Kiel on 27 October 1942. On 7 December she sank the unescorted 5,476 ton British cargo ship Peter Mærsk west of the Azores. She docked at Lorient in France on 1 January 1943 after 67 days at sea.
U-185 sailed from Lorient on 8 February 1943. On 10 March she attacked Convoy KG 123 in the Windward Passage (between Cuba and Hispaniola), sinking the 6,151 ton American tanker Virginia Sinclair and the 7,177 ton liberty ship James Sprunt. On 6 April U-185 attacked the four-ship convoy GTMO-83, and sank the 7,176 ton liberty ship John Sevier. She then sailed to Bordeaux on 3 May after 85 days at sea.
On 14 June she was attacked in the Bay of Biscay by a British Whitley bomber of 10 OTU (Operational Training Unit) based at RAF St Eval in Cornwall. U-564 was sunk, but U-185's flak defenses damaged the aircraft, forcing it to ditch.
On 7 July U-185, off Cape San Roque, Brazil, attacked the convoy BT-18, sinking the liberty ships James Robertson and Thomas Sinnickson, the 7,061 ton tanker William Boyce Thompson also went to the bottom. She then badly damaged the 6,840 ton tanker S.B. Hunt. On 12 July, around 90 miles off Recife, Brazil, the U-boat was attacked by a B-24 Liberator bomber of US Navy Squadron VB-107, but sustained only minor damage.
The boat sank the 8,235 ton Brazilian cargo ship Bagé, a straggler from convoy TJ-2, off the Rio Real, Brazil, on 1 August and on the 6th she torpedoed and then sank with gunfire the unescorted 7,133 ton British cargo ship Fort Halkett about 600 miles southeast of Natal, Brazil. On 3 August U-185 was attacked by a Ventura bomber of Squadron VB-107 with depth charges, wounding one man.
On the morning of 11 August 1943 U-185 rendezvoused with the stricken U-604, which had been badly damaged after two attacks by US aircraft and the destroyer USS Moffett, but which began to transfer provisions, fuel oil and spare parts to U-185. U-172 arrived later to assist, but the concentration of U-boats was detected by HF/DF; as a result, the surfaced boats were attacked by a United States Navy PBY-4 Liberator, of Squadron VB-107. U-172 escaped, the crew of U-185 opened fire with AA guns, shooting down the aircraft, killing the crew of three.
After U-604 was scuttled, U-185 headed for home, with 100 men crammed aboard a U-boat designed for 54. On 16 August she transferred 23 men to U-172. Short of fuel, U-185 was heading for a rendezvous with U-847 south-west of the Azores on the morning of 24 August. The U-boat was spotted by a Grumman TBF-1 Avenger and Grumman F4F Wildcat attack team of Squadron VC-13, flying from the escort carrier USS Core. The aircraft attacked with machine guns and depth charges, killing the U-boat's lookouts and AA crew and rupturing the pressure hull, allowing seawater to reach the battery cells and produce toxic chlorine gas. One diesel engine caught fire, producing more fumes, and all electrical systems were knocked out, plunging the vessel into darkness.
Realizing that the situation was hopeless, Maus ordered all hands to abandon ship. More than 40 men managed to reach the deck and jump into the sea as U-185 sank. Only 36 men were later rescued by the destroyer USS Barker, the rest succumbing to wounds or chlorine poisoning. The 25 men from U-185 and the nine survivors from U-604 spent the following three years as POWs before returning to Germany.
U-185 took part in one wolfpack, namely.
|7 December 1942||Peter Mærsk||United Kingdom||5,476||Sunk|
|10 March 1943||Virginia Sinclair||United States||6,151||Sunk|
|10 March 1943||James Sprunt||United States||7,177||Sunk|
|6 April 1943||John Sevier||United States||7,176||Sunk|
|7 July 1943||James Robertson||United States||7,176||Sunk|
|7 July 1943||Thomas Sinnickson||United States||7,176||Sunk|
|7 July 1943||William Boyce Thompson||United States||7,061||Sunk|
|7 July 1943||S.B. Hunt||United States||6,840||Damaged|
|1 August 1943||Bagé||Brazil||8,235||Sunk|
|6 August 1943||Fort Halkett||United Kingdom||7,133||Sunk|