SM U-103

Summary

History
German Empire
NameU-103
Ordered15 September 1915
BuilderAG Weser, Bremen
Yard number254
Laid down8 August 1916
Launched9 June 1917
Commissioned15 July 1917
FateRammed and sunk 12 May 1918 by HMT Olympic. 9 crewmen killed, 31 survived.
General characteristics [1]
Class and typeGerman Type U 57 submarine
Displacement
  • 750 t (740 long tons) surfaced
  • 952 t (937 long tons) submerged
Length
Beam
  • 6.32 m (20 ft 9 in) (o/a)
  • 4.05 m (13 ft 3 in) (pressure hull)
Height8.25 m (27 ft 1 in)
Draught3.65 m (12 ft 0 in)
Installed power
  • 2 × 2,400 PS (1,765 kW; 2,367 shp) surfaced
  • 2 × 1,200 PS (883 kW; 1,184 shp) submerged
Propulsion2 shafts, 2 × 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in) propellers
Speed
  • 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph) surfaced
  • 8.8 knots (16.3 km/h; 10.1 mph) submerged
Range
  • 10,100 nmi (18,700 km; 11,600 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
  • 56 nmi (104 km; 64 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged
Test depth50 m (164 ft 1 in)
Complement4 officers, 32 enlisted
Armament
Service record
Part of:
  • II Flotilla
  • 26 August 1917 – 12 May 1918
Commanders:
  • Kptlt. Claus Rücker[2]
  • 26 August 1917 – 12 May 1918
Operations: 5 patrols
Victories:
  • 8 merchant ships sunk
    (15,467 GRT)
  • 1 merchant ship damaged
    (6,042 GRT)

SM U-103[Note 1] was an Imperial Germany Navy Type U 57 U-boat that was rammed and sunk by HMT Olympic during the First World War. U-103 was built by AG Weser in Bremen, launched on 9 June 1917 and commissioned 15 July 1917. She completed five tours of duty under Kptlt. Claus Rücker and sank eight ships totalling 15,467 gross register tons (GRT) before being lost in the English Channel on 12 May 1918.[3]

Sinking

HMT Olympic in dazzle camouflage during the First World War

In the early hours of 12 May 1918, the surfaced U-103 sighted Olympic, the older sister of RMS Titanic, which was carrying US troops to France. The crew prepared to launch torpedoes from her stern torpedo tubes but was unable to flood them in time before the submarine was spotted by Olympic, whose gunners opened fire as the transport ship turned to ram.

SM U-103 started to crash dive to 30 m (98 ft) in an attempt to turn to a parallel course to the liner. But there was not enough time because the port propeller of Olympic sliced through the submarine's pressure hull just aft of its conning tower. The crew of U-103 blew ballast tanks before scuttling their sinking submarine. Nine crewmen lost their lives. Olympic did not stop to pick up the survivors but continued on to Cherbourg. USS Davis later sighted a distress flare and took 35 survivors to Queenstown.[4][5]

Wreck

The remains of U-103 lie at a depth of 90 m (300 ft) in the English Channel about midway between England and France (49°16′N 4°51′W / 49.267°N 4.850°W / 49.267; -4.850 (Location of the wreck of U-103)Coordinates: 49°16′N 4°51′W / 49.267°N 4.850°W / 49.267; -4.850 (Location of the wreck of U-103)). Its deep location makes its largely inaccessible to divers but the wreck was surveyed and identified by a remotely operated underwater vehicle in 2012.[6]

Summary of raiding history

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 2] Fate[7]
12 September 1917 St. Margaret  United Kingdom 943 Sunk
12 November 1917 Depute Pierre Goujon  France 4,121 Sunk
16 November 1917 Garron Head  United Kingdom 1,933 Sunk
26 January 1918 Cork  United Kingdom 1,232 Sunk
29 January 1918 Glenfruin  United Kingdom 3,097 Sunk
17 March 1918 Cressida  United Kingdom 150 Sunk
17 March 1918 Sea Gull  United Kingdom 976 Sunk
18 March 1918 Grainton  United Kingdom 6,042 Damaged
20 March 1918 Kassanga  United Kingdom 3,015 Sunk

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ "SM" stands for "Seiner Majestät" (English: His Majesty's) and combined with the U for Unterseeboot would be translated as His Majesty's Submarine.
  2. ^ Tonnages are in gross register tons

Citations

  1. ^ Gröner 1991, pp. 12–14.
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Claus Rücker (Royal House Order of Hohenzollern)". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: U 103". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  4. ^ McCartney, Innes; Jak Mallmann-Showell (2002). Lost Patrols: Submarine Wrecks of the English Channel. Periscope Publishing Ltd. p. 36. ISBN 1-904381-04-9.
  5. ^ Kemp, Paul (1997). U-Boats Destroyed (German submarine losses in the World Wars). London: Arms and Armour Press. p. 49. ISBN 1-85409-321-5.
  6. ^ "SM U-103". www.forgottenwrecks.maritimearchaeologytrust.org. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U 103". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 26 January 2015.

Bibliography

  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. Vol. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4.