Helmuth Pich

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 34)

2 ships sunk, total tonnage 6,568 GRT
1 auxiliary warship sunk, total tonnage 1,440 GRT
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 9,804 GRT

Born  26 Jun 1914 Babziens, Rastenburg
Died  18 Mar 1997(82)


8 Apr 1934 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1935 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1937 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1937 Leutnant zur See
1 Apr 1939 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Feb 1942 Kapitänleutnant


  Iron Cross 2nd Class
  Iron Cross 1st Class
  U-boat War Badge 1939

U-boat Commands

U-168 10 Sep 1942 6 Oct 1944   4 patrols (252 days) 

Helmuth Pich joined the Reichsmarine in 1934. From Sept 1939 to Sept 1941 he was seconded to the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, serving as a flight captain in 2. Seeaufklärergruppe 126 (Naval Reconaissance). (Busch & Röll, 1999).

He went through U-boat training Oct 1941 - March 1942. From March to June 1942 Kplt. Pich served as a supernumerary Watch Officer (WO) on U-103 (Winter) (Busch & Röll, 1999). Pich went out on one 69 day patrol on which nine ships totalling 42,000 tons were sunk (Rohwer, 1998).

Pich went through U-boat construction familiarization (Baubelehrung) June - Sept 1942 to prepare for his next command. On 10 Sept 1942 he commissioned the large IXC/40Type IXC/40 U-168 at Bremen (Busch & Röll, 1999). During the winter he prepared the boat boat and crew with working up exercises in the Baltic before leaving for his first patrol as commander from Kiel on 9 March 1943 (Busch & Röll, 1997).

Operations in the Indian Ocean

On 3 July 1943 Kptlt. Pich took U-168 on a very long patrol to the Indian Ocean as part of the Monsun fleet. He arrived at Penang 132 days later on 11 Nov. He sank the British ship Haiching (2,183 tons) en route on 2 Oct (Rohwer, 1998).

Pich next sailed from Penang on 7 Feb 1944 and docked 47 days later at Batavia, sinking 2 ships (5,825 tons) and damaging the large Norwegian tanker Fenris (Rohwer, 1998).

Helmuth Pich relaxing on the bridge

U-168 then sailed from Batavia on 5 Oct 1944, but was sunk in an ambush by the Dutch submarine HrMs Zwaardvisch in the Java Sea the next day (Niestlé, 1998). 23 men died and 27 survived, including Pich.

Kptlt. Helmut Pich was captured with the rest of the survivors and remained in captivity until March 1947 (Busch & Röll, 1999).


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1997). Der U-Bootkrieg 1939-1945 (Band 2).
Niestlé, A. (1998). German U-boat losses during World War II.
Rohwer, J. (1998). Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two.

Patrol info for Helmuth Pich

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-168 9 Mar 1943  Kiel  18 May 1943  Lorient  Patrol 1,71 days
2. U-168 3 Jul 1943  Lorient  11 Nov 1943  Penang  Patrol 2,132 days
3. U-168 28 Jan 1944  Penang  3 Feb 1944  Penang   7 days
4. U-168 7 Feb 1944  Penang  24 Mar 1944  Batavia  Patrol 3,47 days
5. U-168 5 Oct 1944  Batavia  6 Oct 1944  Sunk  Patrol 4,2 days
4 patrols, 252 days at sea

Ships hit by Helmuth Pich

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
2 Oct 1943U-168 Haiching2,183br
14 Feb 1944U-168 HMS Salviking1,440br
15 Feb 1944U-168 Epaminondas C. Embiricos4,385gr
21 Feb 1944U-168 Fenris (d.)9,804nw

3 ships sunk (8,008 tons) and 1 ship damaged (9,804 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.
(d.) means the ship was damaged.

About ranks and decorations
Ranks shown in italics are our database inserts based on the rank dates of his crew comrades. The officers of each crew would normally have progressed through the lower ranks at the same rate.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Naval Officers Under Hitler

Rust, Eric C.

Listing of all U-boat commanders