German submarine U-185


U-185 sinking after being hit by US depth charges, 24 August 1943
Nazi Germany
Name: U-185
Ordered: 15 August 1940
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1025
Laid down: 1 July 1941
Launched: 2 March 1942
Commissioned: 13 June 1942
Fate: Sunk, by US aircraft on 24 August 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: Type IXC/40 submarine
  • 1,144 t (1,126 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,257 t (1,237 long tons) submerged
  • 6.86 m (22 ft 6 in) o/a
  • 4.44 m (14 ft 7 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.67 m (15 ft 4 in)
Installed power:
  • 4,400 PS (3,200 kW; 4,300 bhp) (diesels)
  • 1,000 PS (740 kW; 990 shp) (electric)
  • 13,850 nmi (25,650 km; 15,940 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[1][2]
Part of:
  • Kptlt. August Maus
  • 13 June 1942 – 24 August 1943
  • Three
  • 1st patrol: 27 October 1942 – 1 January 1943
  • 2nd patrol: 8 February – 3 May 1943
  • 3rd patrol: 9 June – 24 August 1943
  • 9 commercial ships sunk (62,761 GRT)
  • 1 commercial ship damaged (6,840 GRT)
  • 2 aircraft shot down

German submarine U-185 was a Type IXC/40 U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine built for service during World War II.

Under the command of Kapitänleutnant August Maus, she had some success against Allied aircraft in World War II.

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 27°00′N 37°06′W / 27.000°N 37.100°W / 27.000; -37.100Coordinates: 27°00′N 37°06′W / 27.000°N 37.100°W / 27.000; -37.100. 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.[3] 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).[3]

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).[3] 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.[3]

Service history

1st patrol

U-185 sailed from Kiel on 27 October 1942.[4] On 7 December she sank the unescorted 5,476 ton British cargo ship Peter Mærsk west of the Azores.[5] She docked at Lorient in France on 1 January 1943 after 67 days at sea.[4]

2nd patrol

U-185 sailed from Lorient on 8 February 1943.[6] 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.[7] On 6 April U-185 attacked the four-ship convoy GTMO-83, and sank the 7,176 ton liberty ship John Sevier.[8] She then sailed to Bordeaux on 3 May after 85 days at sea.[6]

3rd patrol

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.[1]

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.[9] 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.[1]

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[10] 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.[11] On 3 August U-185 was attacked by a Ventura bomber of Squadron VB-107 with depth charges, wounding one man.[1]


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.[12]

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.[12]

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.[12]

On 21 September 1943 Kapitänleutnant August Maus was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.[13]


U-185 took part in one wolfpack, namely.

  • Westwall (8 November - 16 December 1942)

Summary of raiding history

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate[14]
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


  1. ^ a b c d Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IXC/40 boat U-185". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-185". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, p. 68.
  4. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-185 from 27 Oct 1942 to 1 Jan 1943". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Peter Mærsk (Motor merchant)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  6. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-185 from 8 Feb 1943 to 3 May 1943". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Convoy KG-123". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "John Sevier (Steam merchant)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Convoy BT-18". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  10. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Bagé (Steam merchant)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Fort Halkett (Steam merchant)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  12. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "24 August 1943: The Sinking of U-185". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  13. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Kapitänleutnant August Maus". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  14. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-185". German U-boats of WWII -


  • 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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • 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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • 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.

External links

  • Haldimann, Marc-André. "24 August 1943: The Sinking of U-185". German U-boats of WWII -
  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IXC/40 boat U-185". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 185". Deutsche U-Boote 1935–1945 - (in German). Retrieved 30 January 2015.