|Ordered||25 Sep 1939|
|Laid down||21 Nov 1939||Blohm & Voss, Hamburg (werk 529)|
|Launched||7 Nov 1940|
|Commissioned||23 Dec 1940||Kptlt. Karl Thurmann (Knights Cross)|
|Successes||12 ships sunk, total tonnage 61,390 GRT|
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 925 tons
2 ships damaged, total tonnage 15,273 GRT
Missing, presumed sunk, in the mid North Atlantic after going missing in January 1943. 47 dead (all hands lost).
U-553 operated with the following Wolfpacks during its career:
West (13 Jun 1941 - 20 Jun 1941)
Grönland (10 Aug 1941 - 23 Aug 1941)
Kurfürst (23 Aug 1941 - 2 Sep 1941)
Seewolf (2 Sep 1941 - 13 Sep 1941)
Ziethen (6 Jan 1942 - 22 Jan 1942)
Westwall (2 Mar 1942 - 12 Mar 1942)
York (12 Mar 1942 - 26 Mar 1942)
Pirat (29 Jul 1942 - 3 Aug 1942)
Draufgänger (29 Nov 1942 - 11 Dec 1942)
Landsknecht (19 Jan 1943 - 20 Jan 1943)
Attacks on this boat
15 Oct 1941
At 16.24 hours, the boat dived after being sighted by HMCS Columbia while shadowing convoy SC-48 off its port beam. The destroyer obtained no Asdic contact but dropped six depth charges at the diving spot and then remained in the area to keep U-553 down. At 18.15 hours, the U-boat fired a stern torpedo at the destroyer, but she managed to evade the attack after a lookout spotted the torpedo track. HMCS Columbia picked up a good contact and delivered an accurate depth charge pattern, but U-553 had already dived to 55 metres and only suffered minor damage. In the meantime HMS Gladiolus had joined the hunt, but carried out no attacks as the U-boat had already crept away. (Sources: KTB U-553/ADM 237-187)
17 Oct 1941
After a successful attack on convoy SC-48, the boat dived to 90 metres to avoid a destroyer which approached. Three depth charges were dropped at the diving position, detonating high above the U-boat which escaped further attacks by passing under the convoy. The destroyer was probably USS Kearny, which dropped a single depth charge at 00.22 hrs. (Sources: KTB U-553/ADM 237-164)
2 recorded attacks on this boat.
General notes on this boat
25 Apr 1941. On 25 April, 1941 U-553 was forced to return to base due to major engine trouble.
20 Jan 1943. The boat sent its last radio message on 20 Jan, 1943: "Sehrohr unklar" (Periscope not clear). U-553 was never heard from again.
Men lost from U-boats
Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-553 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.
U-boats Missing in Action.