Nazi Germany
Name: U-404
Ordered: 23 September 1939
Builder: Danziger Werft, Danzig
Yard number: 105
Laid down: 4 June 1940[1]
Launched: 4 June 1941
Commissioned: 6 August 1941[2]
Fate: Sunk on 28 July 1943 by depth charges from two American and one British B-24 Liberators[2]
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
  • 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Installed power:
  • 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 bhp) (diesels)
  • 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) (electric)
  • 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
  • 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
  • 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth:
  • 230 m (750 ft)
  • Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Service record
  • Sank 14 merchant ships and one warship
  • Damaged three ships

German submarine U-404 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II.

She was laid down at the Danziger Werft in the city of the same name on 4 June 1940 as yard number 105, launched a year later on 4 June 1941 and was commissioned on 6 August 1941, with Kapitänleutnant Otto von Bülow in command.

The boat commenced her career with the 6th U-boat Flotilla, a training organization on 6 August 1941, before moving on to operations on 1 October 1941. U-404 carried out seven combat patrols, sinking 14 merchantmen and one warship for a total of over 70,000 gross register tons (GRT) during the Second World War. She also damaged two other ships. The submarine was a member of 13 wolfpacks and was visually identifiable by the particular paint scheme consisting of a prow of a Viking longboat painted in red paint on either side of the conning tower.

For his numerous successes, von Bülow received the Knight's Cross.


German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-404 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[3] She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 50.50 m (165 ft 8 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower (2,060 to 2,350 kW; 2,760 to 3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two Siemens-Schuckert GU 343/38–8 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 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 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph).[3] When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-404 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and one at the stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[3]

Service history

1st and 2nd patrols

No ships were sunk during her first patrol which lasted from 17 January to 1 February 1942. U-404 sailed from the German port of Kiel; the only excitement she encountered was when a periscope was damaged in an air attack. The submarine sailed into Lorient in France, after 16 otherwise uneventful days.[1]

On her second patrol, when she departed Lorient on 14 February 1942, U-404 had more success, sinking three ships off the eastern American coast.[1] One of them, Lemuel Burrows, was close enough to land when she was sunk that the second engineer, who survived, reported that "the lights of a New Jersey beach resort doomed his vessel and that they would continue [the German U-boats] to cause daily torpedoings until a blackout is ordered along the coast." This situation was repeated many times due to American unpreparedness so soon after that country's entry into the war.[4] Another was the unescorted San Demetrio sailing from Baltimore, Maryland, bound for the UK via Halifax, Nova Scotia with a cargo of 4,000 tons of alcohol and 7,000 tons of aviation spirit.[5] She was northwest of Cape Charles, Virginia when torpedoed by U-404 on 17 March.[5] 16 crew and three DEMS gunners were lost and six crew wounded but survivors managed to launch two lifeboats.[5] Two days later the US tanker Beta rescued the Master, 26 crew and five DEMS gunners and took them to Norfolk, Virginia.[5] The Master of San Demetrio was awarded a Lloyd's War Medal.[5]

U-404 returned to Brest, also in France, on 4 April 1942.

3rd and 4th patrols

The achievements of her second patrol was repeated on her third, with the Operation Drumbeat submarine accounting for another four ships off the American coast. This time she returned to St. Nazaire.

1932 Built as MOLDANGER at Nederlandche Scheepsbouw Mij., Amsterdam, Nederland for Westfal-Larsen & Co. A/S, Bergen. Launched 04/06. Torpedoed and sunk 27/06 by the German submarine U 404 (Korvettenkapitän Otto von Bülow) in position 38.03N- 70.52W (abt. 252 East of Virginia Beach, VA, USA) whilst on a voyage from Buenos Aires, Argentina to New York, NY, USA with general cargo including hides, tallow, wool and vegetable oil. 14 of the 44 men crew died. Of the survivors was 15 taken up 07/07 by HMCS BUCTOUCHE, 6 was taken up 15/07 by USS PC-495 and landed the same day at Cape May, New Jersey, NJ, USA and the last 9 was taken up 14/08 by Norwegian MS WASHINGTON EXPRESS.

For her fourth sortie, she left St. Nazaire on 23 August 1942 and returned on 13 October, having spent 52 days at sea and sinking three more ships, but this time in mid-Atlantic.

5th and 6th patrols

It was a different story on her fifth patrol; she spent 44 fruitless days looking for targets, having departed St. Nazaire on 21 December 1942, returning on 6 February 1943.

Her sixth foray was better, she sank three ships, totalling 17,736 GRT.

7th patrol and loss

U-404 left St. Nazaire with a new commander on 24 July 1943. Five days later, she was sent to the bottom with all hands, at position 45°53′N 09°25′W / 45.883°N 9.417°W / 45.883; -9.417, due to the efforts and depth charges of three Liberator aircraft, two American and one British. They did not emerge from the action unscathed; all three planes lost an engine due to the accurate anti-aircraft fire from the U-boat.


U-404 took part in 13 wolfpacks, namely.

  • Schlei (21–24 January 1942)
  • Hecht (8–11 May 1942)
  • Pfadfinder (23–27 May 1942)
  • Stier (29 August – 2 September 1942)
  • Vorwärts (2–26 September 1942)
  • Luchs (27–29 September 1942)
  • Letzte Ritter (29 September – 1 October 1942)
  • Falke (28 December 1942 – 19 January 1943)
  • Landsknecht (19–28 January 1943)
  • Without name (27–30 March 1943)
  • Adler (7–13 April 1943)
  • Meise (13–20 April 1943)
  • Specht (21–25 April 1943)

Summary of raiding history

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate[6]
5 March 1942 Collamer  United States 5,112 Sunk
13 March 1942 Tolten  Chile 1,858 Sunk
14 March 1942 Lemuel Burrows  United States 7,610 Sunk
17 March 1942 San Demetrio  United Kingdom 8,073 Sunk
30 May 1942 Aloca Shipper  United States 5,491 Sunk
1 June 1942 West Notus  United States 5,492 Sunk
3 June 1942 Anna  Sweden 1,345 Sunk
24 June 1942 Ljubica Matokovic  Yugoslavia 3,289 Sunk
25 June 1942 Manuda  United States 4,772 sunk
25 June 1942 Nordal  Panama 3,845 sunk
27 June 1942 Moldanger  Norway 6,827 Sunk
11 September 1942 Marit II  Norway 7,141 Damaged
12 September 1942 Daghild  Norway 9,272 Damaged
26 September 1942 HMS Veteran (D72)  Royal Navy 1,120 Sunk
29 March 1943 Nagara  United Kingdom 8,791 Sunk
30 March 1943 Empire Bowman  United Kingdom 7,031 Sunk
12 April 1943 Lancastrian Prince  United Kingdom 1,914 Sunk



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


  1. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-404". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b Kemp 1999, p. 135.
  3. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  4. ^ Gannon, Michael - Operation Drumbeat - the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II, Harper and Row publishers, ISBN 0-06-016155-8
  5. ^ a b c d e Helgason, Guðmundur (1995–2010). "San Demetrio (British motor tanker)". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-404". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014.


  • Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War – The Hunters 1939–1942. Random House. ISBN 0-394-58839-8.
  • Blair, Clay (1998). Hitler's U-Boat War – The Hunted 1942–1945. Random House. ISBN 0-679-45742-9.
  • 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.
  • Edwards, Bernard (1996). Dönitz and the Wolf Packs – The U-boats at War. Cassell Military Classics. pp. 104, 107, 109, 193, 202. ISBN 0-304-35203-9.
  • 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.
  • Lenton, H.T. (1976). German Warships of the Second World War. Arco Publishing Company. ISBN 0-668-04037-8.
  • Waters, John M. Jr., CAPT USCG (December 1966). "Stay Tough". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Gannon, Michael (1990). Operation Drumbeat – the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II. Harper and Row. ISBN 0-06-016155-8.

External links

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-404". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014.