Ships hit by U-boats in WWII

Greatest loss of life

The American Troop transport Dorchester. She was hit by U-223 (Karl-Jürg Wächter) on 3 Feb 1943.

25 ships with the greatest loss of life during WWII (lost to U-boats)

Loss date Type Name of ship Tons Dead Nat. U-boat
12 Sep 1942Troop transportLaconia19,6951,658U-156
25 Nov 1941BattleshipHMS Barham (04)31,100862U-331
28 Nov 1942Troop transportNova Scotia6,796858U-177
14 Oct 1939BattleshipHMS Royal Oak (08)29,150835U-47
24 Dec 1944Troop transportLeopoldville11,509819U-486
2 Jul 1940Steam passenger shipArandora Star15,501805U-47
23 Dec 1941Steam passenger shipShuntien3,059700U-559
3 Feb 1943Troop transportDorchester5,649675U-223
7 Dec 1942Steam passenger shipCeramic18,713654U-515
20 Apr 1943Troop transportSidi-Bel-Abbès4,392611U-565
17 Sep 1939Aircraft carrierHMS Courageous (50)22,500518U-29
15 Nov 1942Escort carrierHMS Avenger (D 14)13,785514U-155
17 Jun 1943Troop transportYoma8,131484U-81
15 Dec 1941Light cruiserHMS Galatea (71)5,220470U-557
24 Nov 1941Light cruiserHMS Dunedin (D 93)4,850419U-124
18 Feb 1944Light cruiserHMS Penelope (97)5,270417U-410
28 May 1940Motor passenger shipBrazza10,387379U-37
12 Aug 1944Steam merchantMarina Raskova7,540373U-365
30 Dec 1942Special service vesselHMS Fidelity (D 57)2,456368U-435
3 Mar 1943Motor merchantDoggerbank5,154364U-43
29 Oct 1942Motor passenger shipAbosso11,330362U-575
8 Dec 1940Steam passenger shipCalabria9,515360U-103
17 Jan 1941Steam passenger shipAlmeda Star14,936360U-96
17 Aug 1942BargeP-4500294U-209
12 Nov 1942Destroyer tenderHMS Hecla (F 20)10,850279U-515

Comparison to German losses to submarines
From Jan to May 1945 the Germans ran Operation Hannibal to evacuate by sea troops and civilians from Courland, East Prussia and the Polish Corridor taking the people to Western areas of Germany, usually Kiel. The operation would become huge in scale, rescuing about 900,000 evacuees and 350,000 soldiers.

During these operations 3 of the largest naval disasters in history took place. The large liner Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk on 30 Jan 1945 in the worst tragedy at sea ever. Loss of life was possibly as high as 9,400 with 1,230 survivors. General von Steuben was sunk 2 weeks later on 10 Feb with loss of about 3,500. Goya was sunk on 16 April 1945 with about 6,000 losses.