The U-Boats that Survived - The Whole Story

This is the story of the German U-Boats which surrendered at the end of WW2, as well as those captured, interned, and raised afterwards.

by Derek Waller


There are still four ex-Kriegsmarine WW2 U-Boats in existence today (but all only as museum exhibits):

Germany U-995 (Laboe, Kiel)
U-2540 (Bremerhaven)
USA U-505 (Chicago)
UK U-534 (Liverpool)

However, at various times since the end of WW2, there have been considerably more. The stark official war statistics give the impression that 8 May 1945 marked the formal end of all the U-Boats, but this was not so. The purpose of this paper (which is an update of one written by the author in 1969 and published in the INRO Journal "Warship International" in June 1970) is therefore to provide a comprehensive record of all the German-built and German-commissioned U-Boats which surrendered at the end of the war, or were interned and captured during the war, or which have been raised since, and which were either used or scrapped after being raised.

A total of 156 U-Boats surrendered to the Allies at the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. Of these, 155 were German-built U-Boats and one was a Dutch submarine used by the Germans (UD-5). When the war with Japan ended in August 1945, seven of the Imperial Japanese Navy's submarines which surrendered were either ex-German-built or German-commissioned U-Boats. Also, two U-Boats were captured during the war: U-505 by the US Navy and U-570 by the Royal Navy.

The U-Boats which surrendered included U-1406 and U-1407, which were advanced design Type XVIIB hydrogen peroxide-powered U-Boats which had surrendered in Cuxhaven on 5 May 1945, but which were then scuttled in Cuxhaven harbour on 7 May 1945. As these two were raised in June 1945, they were included with all the other U-Boats which had surrendered when decisions were made about the ultimate fate of the Kriegsmarine’s U-Boat fleet.

Planning for German Naval Disarmament

UK plans for German naval disarmament were initially formulated in 1942 and 1943, and one of the highest priorities was the objective of ensuring the total elimination of the Kriegsmarine at the end of the war. It was assumed that Britain would occupy the north west zone in any division of Germany, and that the Royal Navy would become responsible for the main German naval bases. Thus the RN intended that, at the cessation of hostilities, all surviving German U-Boats would quickly be moved to the UK prior to their destruction. However, Allied agreement was necessary before any final decisions were taken.

Despite this, the RN pressed ahead in the first half of 1944 with detailed planning for the post-war transfer of all the surviving German U-Boats to British ports. It was intended that the U-Boats would be moved to the naval port at Lisahally in Lough Foyle in Northern Ireland and to the naval anchorage in Loch Ryan in south-west Scotland, prior to the UK seeking Allied agreement for the wholesale scrapping or sinking of the U-Boats as early as possible after hostilities ended.

The Surrender Process

On 4 May 1945 the Kriegsmarine had ordered all U-Boats to cease operations and return to Norwegian ports. Thereafter, the surrender of the U-Boats took place in two phases. First, there was the surrender of all German armed forces in Holland, Denmark and northwest Germany to Field Marshal Montgomery's 21st Army Group. This came into effect at 0800 hours on 5 May, and required all German forces to lay down their arms and to surrender unconditionally, and it specifically included all naval ships.

Then there was the general German surrender which came into effect on 9 May. This led, on 8 May, to the issue of the Allied order that all U-Boats, including those in Norwegian and French ports, were to surrender with effect from 0001 hours on 9 May. Those at sea were to head for any one of a number of designated reception ports; the prime one of which turned out in practice to be Loch Eriboll in the north west of Scotland.

Whilst 156 U-Boats surrendered to the Allies on both sides of the Atlantic at the end of the war in Europe, initial interest was focussed on those that were still at sea. A total of 49 U-Boats put into Allied harbours or surrendered to Allied forces at sea on both sides of the Atlantic. These were:

Canada 2 U-190 and U-889
USA 5 U-234, U-805, U-858, U-873 and U-1228
Argentina 2 U-530 and U-977
Norway 9 U-218, U-245, U-278, U-318, U-901, U-992, U-1005, U-1272 and U-2324
Gibraltar 2 U-485 and U-541
UK 21 U-244, U-249, U-255, U-293, U-516, U-532, U-764, U-776, U-802, U-825, U-826, U-956, U-1009, U-1010, U-1023, U-1058, U-1105, U-1109, U-1231, U-1305 and U-2326
Germany 7 U-739, U-1102, U-1110, U-1194, U-1198, U-2336 and U-3008
Denmark 1 U-806

The last two U-Boats to surrender from sea were U-530 (10 July) and U-977 (17 August) both of which had sailed to Argentina, but which were then handed over to the USA.

Additionally, the captains and crew of four of the U-Boats at sea on 8 May chose to scuttle their vessels rather than to obey the surrender order:

U-287 Scuttled in the Elbe Estuary on 16 May
U-963 Scuttled off Nazare, Portugal on 20 May
U-979 Scuttled off Amrum, N Frisian Islands on 24 May
U-1277 Scuttled north west of Porto, Portugal on 3 June

Operation Pledge

Operation Pledge covered the transfer of the U-Boats which had surrendered in Europe in May 1945, either from sea or in port, to the anchorages at Lisahally and Loch Ryan. In order to implement Operation Pledge it was first necessary to organise suitable reception arrangements, and these were set up in Loch Eriboll, which had no permanent RN port facilities. The first U-Boat to surrender from sea arrived there on 10 May and, between then and 18 May, a further 17 U-Boats arrived in Loch Eriboll.

None of these U-Boats spent long at Loch Eriboll. Instead, they were moved quickly to Loch Alsh on the west coast of Scotland, where the majority of the German crews were taken into captivity, and from there the U-Boats were moved to Lisahally to await final disposal.

On 16 May, 15 U-Boats (U-278, U-294, U-295, U-312, U-313, U-318, U-363, U-427, U-481, U-668, U-716, U-968, U-992, U-997 and U-1165) had been sighted off the north Norwegian coast whilst being moved to Trondheim from Narvik where they had surrendered on 9 and 10 May. This Narvik group was intercepted on 17 May and, instead of being allowed to continue to Trondheim, was directed to Loch Eriboll, arriving on 19 May. By midnight on 21 May, all had sailed for Loch Alsh for onward movement to Lisahally.

Once the 15 U-Boats from Norway had been processed at Loch Eriboll, the Operation Pledge reception organisation was moved on 28 May to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands in order to process the remaining U-Boats that had surrendered in Norwegian ports, and thus needed to be moved to either Lisahally or Loch Ryan. The process was given added impetus because, as a consequence of the withdrawal of U-Boats from the French Atlantic ports in mid-1944 as well as the German Navy’s instruction on 4 May that all fully operational U-Boats in German and Danish ports and waters should if possible proceed to Norway, by mid-May the Norwegian ports were over-crowded with surrendered U-Boats. There was an urgent need to clear the Norwegian ports, and on 24 May the Admiralty ordered that all seaworthy U-Boats should be moved to the UK as soon as possible.

The first group of 12 U-Boats (comprising four from Horten and eight from Stavanger) arrived at Scapa Flow on 30 May and, after processing, were sent to Lisahally and Loch Ryan. Between then and 5 June, a further 52 U-Boats arrived from Norway at Scapa Flow, from where they were transferred to either Lisahally or Loch Ryan.

As with the U-Boats which had been processed in Loch Eriboll, the 64 which were processed at Scapa Flow only remained there for a short time, although as Scapa Flow was a fully constituted Royal Naval base, they did then not need to transit via Loch Alsh to disembark German prisoners, but instead were moved directly to either Lisahally (14) or Loch Ryan (50). The last group of U-Boats left Scapa Flow on 6 June, and the Operation Pledge reception force was then disbanded.

After 5 June there were still 35 seaworthy surrendered U-Boats in Norwegian (10) and German (25) ports. In the latter case, they were all located at Wilhelmshaven, having been transferred there from the Danish and other north German ports where they had surrendered in early May. These U-Boats were transferred directly to either Lisahally or Loch Ryan during June 1945.

Finally, the two U-Boats that had surrendered from sea in Gibraltar were transferred (U-485 to Loch Ryan and U-541 to Lisahally), as were the three that had surrendered from sea in Portland in the south of England (U-249 and U-776 to Loch Ryan, and U-1023 to Lisahally). Thus, by the end of July 1945, 137 seaworthy U-Boats had been transferred to Lisahally and Loch Ryan, and UD-5 had been returned to the Dutch Navy. The U-Boat that had been interned in Spain since September 1943 (U-760) was moved to Loch Ryan on 23 July, and then only 10 remained in Norwegian (7), German (2) and French (1) harbours.

Although these 10 U-Boats had all surrendered, they were unfit for transfer to the UK. The seven in Norway were U-310, U-315, U-324, U-926, U-995, U-1202 and U-4706. The two in Germany were U-1406 and U-1407 which had been raised in Cuxhaven on 1 June and moved to a shipyard in Kiel to await decisions concerning their disposal. The one in France was U-510 which was in St. Nazaire.

The ex-Dutch submarine UD-5, which had surrendered in Bergen in May 1945 and then been transferred to Lisahally, was handed back to the Dutch Navy at Dundee on 13 July 1945 and re-commissioned as 0-27 (which was its original designation before capture) on the same day. 0-27 was used by the Dutch Navy until 14 November 1959, when it was struck from the active list and sold for scrap.

The Potsdam Agreement

After the German surrender in May 1945, discussions continued between the Allies concerning the final disposal of all the surviving German naval vessels. Initially the USSR wanted to be allocated one third of all the warships, including U-Boats, but the demand was reduced to 30 U-boats in July, eventually reducing to 10 in August. This decision was made on 1 August when Molotov, the Soviet Foreign Minister, agreed to the retention of just 30 U-Boats in total, to be divided equally between the UK, the USA and the USSR. At one stage in the discussions it had been suggested that France should be allocated a share of the surrendered German warships, including U-Boats, but this was vetoed by the USSR.

The result of these high-level political discussions was the publication of the "Proceedings" (Minutes) of the Potsdam Heads of State Conference which took place in Berlin between 17 July and 2 August 1945. In respect of the U-Boats, the Proceedings say that the UK, the USA and the USSR concluded that:

The larger part of the German submarine fleet shall be sunk. Not more than thirty submarines shall be preserved and divided equally between the USSR, UK and USA for experimental and technical purposes.

It was also stated that:

The Three Governments agree to constitute a Tripartite Naval Commission to submit agreed recommendations to the Three Governments for the allocation of specific German warships and that The Three Governments agreed that transfers shall be completed as soon as possible, but not later than 15 February 1946.

The Tripartite Naval Commission

The task of the Tripartite Naval Commission (TNC), which began its work on 15 August 1945, was to select the 30 U-Boats which were to be transferred to the Allies, and to make recommendations concerning the disposal of the remainder. There was therefore a review of the 135 U-Boats moored in Loch Ryan and at Lisahally (by then U-2518 and U-3017 had been moved to the USA in early August), as well as the (then) 11 U-Boats in the USA, including the five that had surrendered in America, the two that had surrendered in Canada, and the two that had surrendered in Argentina. Also included in the review were the two Type XVIIB U-Boats (U-1406 and U-1407) in the shipyard at Kiel.

The TNC's staff visited the UK, the USA, Canada, Trinidad (to inspect the two U-Boats that had surrendered in Argentina during their transfer to the USA), Germany and Norway, as well as Poland and the USSR, in August, September and October 1945 and, after inspecting the surrendered U-Boats, decided which should be recommended for allocation, and therefore transfer, to each of the three Allies.

By 10 October all the U-Boats had been reviewed, and the TNC formally announced which 10 U-Boats were to be allocated to each of the UK, the USA and the USSR, and that the remainder of the surviving German U-Boat fleet was to be destroyed. It was however accepted that there should be a degree of flexibility, and that bi-lateral exchanges of individual U-Boats could be made as desired. Thus, there are a number of differences between the original lists of U-Boats allocated to each of the three Allies and those that were finally implemented - which were as follows:

  1. UK: U-190, U-712, U-953, U-1108, U-1171, U-1407, U-2326, U-2348, U-2518 and U-3017.
  2. USA: U-234, U-530, U-858, U-873, U-889, U-977, U-1105, U-1406, U-2513 and U-3008.
  3. USSR: U-1057, U-1058, U-1064, U-1231, U-1305, U-2353, U-2529, U-3035, U-3041 and U-3515.

As a result of these allocations by the TNC, of the 135 U-Boats in the UK, eight were allocated to the UK, one to the USA and 10 to the USSR. This therefore left 116 U-Boats in Loch Ryan and at Lisahally awaiting final disposal by the Royal Navy.

Similarly, of the 11 U-Boats in the western Atlantic, eight were allocated to the USA, including the two which had surrendered in Argentina (U-530 and U-977) and one of the two which had surrendered in Canada (U-889). The other one which had surrendered in Canada (U-190) was allocated to the UK. There were then two unallocated U-Boats in the USA awaiting final disposal (U-805 and U-1228).

Of the two Type XVIIB U-Boats that had surrendered, then been scuttled, and then been raised in Cuxhaven, U-1406 was allocated to the USA and U-1407 was allocated to the UK.

The TNC also made a number of important decisions relating to the remaining U-Boats that had surrendered. These included the statements that All unallocated submarines should be destroyed and that All unallocated submarines which are afloat shall be sunk in the open sea in a depth of not less that one hundred metres by 15 February 1946. Thus, when taken together with the decision of the Potsdam Conference that The Three Governments agreed that transfers shall be completed as soon as possible, but not later than 15 February 1946, it was clear that urgent action was required in order to implement such decisions, especially in view of the onset of winter and the prospects of stormy seas in the North Atlantic.

This action was aided by the fact that the TNC made decisions at its various Progress Meetings, rather than waiting for the Final Report which was not agreed and signed until 6 December 1945. For instance, at the 13th Meeting of the Commission on 10 October the initial U-Boat allocations were agreed, but a decision about the fate of the unallocated U-Boats was deferred. This was taken at the 18th Meeting of the Commission on 29 October, when 15 February 1946 was designated as the date by which all unallocated U-Boats were to be sunk.

A number of prompt executive actions were therefore necessary to implement these decisions, including the transfer of the 10 U-Boats in the UK to the USSR (in Operation Cabal), and the sinking of 116 unallocated U-Boats located in the UK, as well as the two located in the USA.

This then left just eight surrendered and unallocated U-Boats still afloat. These were the ones which were too unseaworthy for transfer to the UK in Operation Pledge, and which therefore remained in the European ports where they had surrendered. One was in France, and seven were in Norway. However, the TNC had no direct jurisdiction over the ultimate fate of these U-Boats, and its Final Report simply says that the three Governments (UK, USA and USSR) "requested" that any U-Boats remaining in other countries should be scrapped or sunk by 15 February 1946.

As far as France was concerned, and despite the recommendation of the TNC, U-510 was repaired and taken into use by the French Navy. In the case of Norway, whilst U-310, U-315, U-324 were scrapped as requested, the TNC's recommendation was ignored in respect of the other four (U-926, U-995, U-1202 and U-4706), and there were repaired and taken into use by the Norwegian Navy. These actions have given rise to the belief that the U-Boats concerned were formally allocated to France and Norway by the TNC. This was not so, and their retention was contrary to the agreements made between the 3 Allied Governments - which had no formal jurisdiction over France and Norway.

The Allied agreements had however also been breached by the USSR which, contrary to its own commitments, failed to destroy a number of uncompleted U-Boats which had been found in the shipyards in Danzig and then been quietly and quickly moved to Libau in Latvia. There was therefore no incentive for the UK and the USA to put pressure on France and Norway to scrap the remaining surrendered, but unallocated, U-Boats located in those two countries.

Operation Deadlight

The Royal Navy's Operation Deadlight, which was the executive action which led to the sinking of 116 German U-Boats off Northern Ireland between 27 November 1945 and 12 February 1946, was the culmination of the long-held determination of the British Government to ensure the elimination of the German Navy's submarine fleet.

As these 116 U-Boats were to be scuttled at sea, and because the imminent onset of winter and its associated rough seas in the area to the north west of Loch Ryan and Lough Foyle would make the towing and sinking of the U-Boats a hazardous task, it was decided that the action should be initiated without delay. This would also achieve the deadline of 15 February 1946 laid down by the TNC.

The RN Commander-in-Chief at Rosyth was given the task of making the detailed arrangements for the disposal of the remaining U-Boats. An initial planning meeting to determine the necessary actions was held on 5 November, and the formal order for Operation Deadlight was issued on 14 November; it being defined as a plan for scuttling 110 U-Boats from Loch Ryan (86) and Lisahally(24) in deep water off the north west coast of Ireland, starting on 25 November.

The "error" in Annex A of the Deadlight Operation Order, which listed only 110 U-Boats, has caused considerable confusion ever since, despite the fact that the UK's 1946 Naval Estimates (Cmd 7054) gave the correct figure of 116. The six U-Boats missing from the Annex A list, which were all located at Lisahally, were U-975, U-1023, U-2351, U-2356, U-2502 and U-3514.

Of the 116 U-Boats, 86 were moored in Loch Ryan and 30 were tied up to pontoons at Lisahally, and the individual U-Boats which were sunk during Operation Deadlight were:

Ex-Loch Ryan (86)

U-143, U-145, U-149, U-150, U-155, U-170, U-218, U-245, U-249, U-255, U-281, U-291, U-293, U-295, U-298, U-299, U-312, U-313, U-318, U-328, U-368, U-369, U-427, U-481, U-483, U-485, U-532, U-539, U-637, U-680, U-716, U-720, U-739, U-760, U-773, U-775, U-776, U-778, U-779, U-806, U-826, U-868, U-907, U-928, U-956, U-968, U-978, U-991, U-992, U-994, U-997, U-1002, U-1004, U-1005, U-1009, U-1019, U-1052, U-1061, U-1102, U-1103, U-1104, U-1110, U-1163, U-1194, U-1198, U-1203, U-1230, U-1233, U-1271, U-1272, U-1301, U-1307, U-2321, U-2322, U-2324, U-2325, U-2328, U-2329, U-2334, U-2335, U-2337, U-2345, U-2350, U-2354, U-2361 and U-2363.

Ex-Lisahally (30)

U-244, U-278, U-294, U-363, U-516, U-541, U-668, U-764, U-802, U-825, U-861, U-874, U-875, U-883, U-901, U-930, U-975, U-1010, U-1022, U-1023, U-1109, U-1165, U-2336, U-2341, U-2351, U-2356, U-2502, U-2506, U-2511 and U-3514.

The aim, as set out in the 14 November Operation Order, was that all the U-Boats should be towed (unmanned) to a designated position 130 miles to the north west of Lough Foyle, where they would then be sunk. The prime method was to be by demolition charges, however if weather conditions allowed, 36 were to be sunk by RAF and Fleet Air Arm aircraft, and others were to be sunk by RN submarines. If any of these methods of disposal failed, then the U-Boats were to be sunk by gunfire.

The plan was to dispose of all the U-Boats from Loch Ryan first, and then to deal with those from Lisahally. It would take two days for the towed U-Boats to reach the designated scuttling area. So, though the first sailing from Loch Ryan took place on 25 November, the first sinkings (U-2322, U-2324, U-2328, U-2345 and U-2361) actually took place on 27 November 1945.

As expected, the weather was particularly bad in November and December 1945, and the planned disposal arrangements did not work on the majority of occasions, especially as far as the plans for sinking the U-Boats with demolition charges were concerned. There were major problems with the towing of the unmanned, unmaintained and, in many cases, almost unseaworthy U-Boats.

Comparison of the planned disposal arrangements with what actually happened shows the scale of disruption wrought by the weather. Only two of the U-Boats were sunk by demolition charges, only seven by submarines and only 13 by aircraft. Of the remainder, some 50% foundered under tow before they ever reached the designated scuttling area. These either sunk directly or were sunk by gunfire, some of them in positions very close to the entrances to Loch Ryan and Lough Foyle. As it turned out to be far too dangerous to follow the demolition procedure, the remainder were sunk by gunfire.

There were three distinct phases to Operation Deadlight. The 86 U-Boats from Loch Ryan were sunk between 27 November and 30 December 1945, 28 of the U-Boats from Lisahally were sunk between 29 December 1945 and 9 January 1946, and the remaining two U-Boats from Lisahally (U-975 and U-3514) were sunk on 10 and 12 February 1946 respectively.

The sinking of the 116 U-Boats (which included U-760) and the completion of Operation Deadlight on 12 February 1946 thus marked the end of virtually all of the Kriegsmarine’s surviving serviceable U-Boats which had surrendered at the end of WW2 in Europe. The Allies had been allocated 30 for technical purposes (including the two raised Type XVIIBs), one had been returned to Holland (UD-5), and two others (U-805 and U-1228) had been sunk off the west coast of the USA in February 1946. Thus 148 of the 156 German U-Boats which had surrendered had been disposed of and, with the exception of the eight that remained in Norwegian (7) and French (1) ports, the long-held determination of the British Government to ensure the elimination of the German submarine fleet had been achieved.


There are several aspects to the post-war history of U-Boats in the USSR, all of which stem from the fact that when the war in Europe ended in May 1945, no U-Boats surrendered in the Baltic ports controlled by the USSR; all serviceable U-Boats had been transferred to the western end of the Baltic in the face of the Red Army's advance.

First, 11 uncompleted U-Boat hulls had been captured in the local shipyards when the Red Army entered Danzig on 30 March 1945. These were then all towed to Libau, with the USSR maintaining that they were simply submarine hulks and that they were therefore going to be scrapped for the metal. Also, the USSR argued that, like U-505 which had been captured by the US Navy during the war, these uncompleted U-Boats had been captured during the war and that they were therefore outwith the jurisdiction of the TNC.

Despite these assurances, it was suggested that there was no need for any additional U-Boats to be transferred to the USSR as part of the TNC allocation. Predictably, this was not well received, and the TNC (by default) accepted the Soviet assurance that these U-Boat hulls would be scrapped. Thus the 11 uncompleted U-Boats were listed in the TNC's Final Report, being defined as unallocated submarines afloat and therefore scheduled to be sunk not later than 15 February 1946.

This may have been the case with the three type VIICs (Hull Nos: G-146 (U 1174), G-148 (U 1176) and G-149 (U 1177)), but the remaining eight (Hull Nos: G-1680 to G-1686 (U 3535 to U 3542)), which were all type XXI U-Boats, were not sunk or otherwise destroyed until later. All eight were allocated Soviet Navy alfa-numeric designations but, despite this, there is no evidence that they were ever used operationally. U 3535 to U 3539 were sunk off Cape Ristna in Estonia in August 1947, and U 3540 to U 3542 were broken-up in February 1948.

Second, the TNC allocated 10 U-Boats to the USSR (U-1057, U-1058, U-1064, U-1231, U-1305, U-2353, U-2529, U-3035, U-3041 and U-3515), and the transfer of these from the UK to the USSR in 1945/46 was code named Operation Cabal. It involved their delivery by the Royal Navy from Lisahally to the Soviet-controlled Baltic port of Libau in Latvia, and began on 24 November when nine of the U-Boats (less U-3515) sailed from Moville at the mouth of Lough Foyle. Five of these nine U-Boats made the transit under their own power (U-1057, U-1058, U-1064, U-1305 and U-1231), and four (U-2353, U-2529, U-3035 and U-3041) were towed.

U-3515 was a late substitute for U-3514, which had collided with another U-Boat just before the transfer was due to start. The Soviet Embassy in London therefore agreed that U-3515 should be transferred instead; thus accounting for the latter's late sailing (under tow) on 6 December.

The five U-Boats which sailed under their own power, but with escorts, had a relatively trouble-free journey to Libau. However, it was a different matter for those that were under tow. The four which set out on 24 November experienced bad weather on route, and all had problems with their towing gear. Thus only seven of the U-Boats (U-1057, U-1058, U-1064, U-1231, U-1305, U-2353 and U-2529) arrived at Libau on 4 December. The remaining three (U-3041, U-3035 and U-3515) all suffered considerable delays due to a combination of poor weather, technical defects and the towing problems. U-3041 did not arrive in Libau until 10 December, and U-3035 did not arrive until 14 December. Lastly, the transfer of U-3515 was beset with problems, the final one of which was a delay in Rosyth Dockyard with "a serious defect", the exact nature and cause of which is unclear, but sabotage may have been involved. Because of this and more bad weather, the departure of U-3515 from Rosyth was delayed until 26 January, and it did not arrive in Libau until 2 February 1946.

These 10 U-boats were then used by the Soviet Navy's South Baltic Fleet under a variety of alpha-numeric designations until their own submarine designs made the German ones obsolete. In general, these 10 U-Boats were used operationally until 1955, when they were placed in reserve and employed on a variety of non-operational tasks. Five of them were scrapped in the late 1950’s, but U-1231 was not broken-up until January 1968, and U-2529 and U-1064 were not scrapped until September 1972 and March 1974 respectively. U-1057 and U-1305 were not scrapped, but instead sunk in nuclear bomb tests in 1957 and 1958.

Third, the TNC’s Final Report of 6 December 1945 highlighted a number of U-Boats that had been scuttled in Soviet-controlled waters before the end of the war, and directed that they should be destroyed. They included U-18 and U-24 which had been scuttled at Constanza in the Black Sea. Despite this, U-18 and U-24 were raised, but it is unlikely that they were put into service with the Soviet Navy, and they were both sunk off Sevastopol by the Soviet submarine M-120 on 26 May 1947.

The Soviets also found a number of sunk and damaged U-Boats in various Baltic ports (including U-4, U-10, U-21, U-108 and U-902), but none were put into operational use before they were broken-up, mostly in-situ. Finally, the Soviet Navy salvaged U-250 which had been sunk in the Gulf of Finland in July 1944. On 25 September 1944 it was taken to Kronstadt near Leningrad (now St Petersburg) and, though it was given the designation TS-14, it was scrapped on 20 August 1945.


In May 1945 five U-boats surrendered from sea in the USA. These were:

U-234Surrendered on 19 May in Portsmouth Navy Yard, NH
U-805 Surrendered on 15 May in Portsmouth Navy Yard, NH
U-858 Surrendered on 14 May at Fort Miles, Lewes, Delaware
U-873 Surrendered on 16 May in Portsmouth Navy Yard, NH
U-1228 Surrendered on 17 May in Portsmouth Navy Yard, NH

Additionally, two of the U-Boats that had been transferred from Norwegian and German ports by the Royal Navy to Lisahally in Operation Pledge to await decisions about their final disposal, were quickly handed over to the US Navy. These were U-2513, which had surrendered on 9 May in Norway, and U-3008, which had surrendered from sea in Germany on 21 May. They were taken over by the USN on 30 July, and sailed for the USA on 6 August. The Atlantic crossing was made on the surface, and in company with a US Navy tug. On 16 August both U-Boats diverted into the Argentia US Naval Base in Newfoundland, Canada, U-3008 for rudder repairs and U-2513 to land two sick crewmen. On 20 August they departed Argentia, and arrived at the US Navy Submarine Base at Groton, New London on 22 August. They were then moved from Groton to the Portsmouth Navy Yard, with U-2513 arriving on 5 September, and U-3008 on 14 September.

U-1406, which was a Type XVIIB hydrogen peroxide-powered U-Boat, had surrendered in Cuxhaven on 5 May and then, in contravention of the Surrender Agreement, had been scuttled in Cuxhaven harbour on 7 May. It was raised on 1 July and towed to the Howaldt-Werke shipyard in Kiel. On 14 September it was loaded onto the US freighter SS Shoemaker and transported to the Portsmouth Navy Yard as deck cargo, arriving there on 11 October 1945.

The two U-Boats that surrendered from sea in Argentina, U-530 which had surrendered on 10 July and U-977 which had surrendered on 17 August, were both taken to the USA in September 1945. U-977 was taken over by a US Navy crew and, after having to repair the engines whilst at sea, it arrived at the US Navy Yard in Boston on 13 November. Similarly, U-530 was towed, with a US Navy crew on board, to the US Navy Yard at Boston. On their journey north, both U-Boats called at Rio de Janeiro, where they were inspected by the President of Brazil, and they then called at Trinidad, where they were inspected by the Tripartite Naval Board for the Western Hemisphere on 3 October.

The result of the TNC's review was that U-234, U-530, U-858, U-873, U-889, U-977, U-1105, U-1406, U-2513 and U-3008, eight of which were already in the possession of the US Navy, and one of which (U-889) was located in Canada, were formally allocated to the USA for use by the US Navy. Thus only one more U-Boat needed to be moved across the Atlantic. This was U-1105, which had been transferred from Lisahally to the UK Royal Navy Submarine Base at Gosport on the south coast of England on 5 August. It was handed over to the US Navy on 15 December, left Gosport on 19 December 1945, and arrived at the US Navy Yard in Portsmouth, NH on 2 January 1946. U-889 was transferred from Canada to the USA on 10 January 1946, arriving at the Portsmouth Navy Yard on 11 January.

Of the 11 U-Boats located in the western Atlantic area, the two which were deemed by the TNC to be in the poorest condition (U-805 and U-1228) were declared surplus to requirements and, as a result and in accordance with the agreed disposal agreement, they were scuttled by the US Navy off Cape Cod (U-805 on 8 February 1946 and U-1228 on 5 February 1946).

The 10 U-Boats which had been allocated to the USA were used for a variety of purposes by the US Navy in the late 1940s, during which time the US President Harry Truman even went to sea in U-2513 on 21 November 1946. They were then disposed of as follows:

U-234 Sunk on 20 Nov 1947 by US S/M Greenfish off Cape Cod.
U-530 Sunk on 20 Nov 1947 by US S/M Toro off Cape Cod.
U-858 Sunk on 20 Nov 1947 by US S/M off Cape Cod.
U-873 Sold for scrap in New York on 10 Mar 1948. Broken up in 1948.
U-889 Sunk on 20 Nov 1947 by a US S/M off Cape Cod.
U-977 Sunk on 13 Nov 1946 by US S/M Atule off Cape Cod.
U-1105 Decommissioned on 11 February 1946. Sunk on 18 Nov 1948 after demolition tests in Chesapeake Bay. Raised in July/August 1949, and sunk again on 21 December 1949 at the mouth of the Potomac River.
U-1406 The US Navy did not repair and operate U-1406. Portsmouth Navy Yard estimated that it would cost $1 million to put U-1406 back into service, and so the plans to do so were rejected. It was sold for scrap in New York on 18 May 1948, and broken up later that year.
U-2513 Decommissioned in July 1949 at Portsmouth, NH. Moved to Key West, FL in 1951 for use as a target for surface warship trials, and sunk on 7 Oct 1951 off Key West by destroyer USS Robert A Owens.
U-3008 Decommissioned on 18 June 1948 at Portsmouth Navy Yard, NH. Technical tests and trials were carried out until 1952. It was scuttled in a series of demolition tests in May 1954. The hulk was then raised and towed to the US Navy dry dock at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico where it was sold for scrap to Loudes Iron & Metal Co on 15 September 1955. Loudes took possession of it on 17 January 1956, and it was subsequently broken up in Puerto Rico in 1956.


Of the 10 U-boats allocated to the UK by the TNC, eight were at Lisahally, one was in Barrow-in-Furness and one was in Canada. The latter (U-190), which had surrendered from sea in Bay Bulls, Newfoundland, was then given to the Royal Canadian Navy, and two others (U-2326 and U-2518) were transferred to France.

Of the remaining seven U-boats allocated to the UK one, U-1407, which had surrendered in Cuxhaven on 5 May and then been scuttled in Cuxhaven harbour on 7 May, but raised on 1 June and taken to Kiel, was towed from Kiel to the Vickers Shipbuilding Yard in Barrow, where it was refitted with a complete set of new machinery (captured in Germany). It was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 25 September 1945 as HMS Meteorite.

The seven U-boats were used for a variety of trial and experimental purposes by the Royal Navy between 1946 and 1948 before being sold for scrap in 1949, as follows:

U-712 Arrived at the Thomas Ward shipyard at Hayle, Cornwall on 28 June 1949, and broken up during 1950.
U-953 Broken up by Clayton and Davie ship-breakers at Dunston on the River Tyne in June, 1949.
U-1108 Arrived at the Thomas Ward shipyard at Briton Ferry, Glamorgan, S Wales on 12 May 1949, and broken up during 1949.
U-1171 Sold for scrap to Thomas Young’s shipyard, Sunderland in April 1949.
U-1407 Broken up by Thomas Ward Ltd in the Vickers Yard at Barrow, in December 1949.
U-2348 Sold for scrap to John Leigh and Co, Belfast in April 1949.
U-3017 Broken up by J Cashmore and Co in Newport, S Wales in late 1949.

Some 50 years later another U-Boat came to the UK. This was U-534, which had been sunk in an air attack in the Baltic east of Anholt Island on 5 May 1945. It was located by divers in 1986, and raised on 23 August 1993. It was first taken to Hirtshals in northern Denmark, and then it was transported to Liverpool where it arrived on 30 May 1996. The intention was to renovate U-534 and display it in the Maritime Museum at Birkenhead. However this was not possible for financial reasons and, instead, the U-Boat was cut into 4 separate sections and is now on public display at the Woodside Ferry Terminal at Birkenhead, near Liverpool.


At the time of the German surrender in Europe in May 1945, there were six U-Boats in the Far East, all of which were then taken over by the Japan and commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN).

U-181 surrendered in Singapore on 5 May and became I-501
U-195 surrendered in Surabaya, Java on 5 May and became I-506
U-219 surrendered in Batavia, Java on 5 May and became I-505
U-862 surrendered in Singapore on 5 May and became I-502
U-IT-24 surrendered in Kobe, Japan on 9 May and became I-503
U-IT-25 surrendered in Kobe, Japan on 9 May and became I-504

Additionally, U-511 was already in service with the IJN, having been one of two U-Boats gifted from Germany to Japan during the war. It was handed over to the IJN in Penang on 20 July 1943 before being moved, with Japanese liaison staff on board, to Kure, Japan where it arrived on 7 August. It was commissioned as RO-500 on 16 September 1943, and then used by the IJN for training purposes, first at Kure and then at the Otake submarine school and the Maizuru Naval Base. On 15 August 1945, rather than surrendering immediately, RO-500's crew decided to join the fight against the USSR, and it departed from Maizuru on 18 August. However, the C-in-C of the IJN submarine force learned about this and instructed RO-500 to return to Maizuru on the same day.

On 26 July 1945, the USA, UK and China had released the Potsdam Declaration announcing their proposed terms for Japan's surrender, which included the statement that: The Japanese military forces shall be completely disarmed. After the Japanese surrender on 15 August, and in order to implement this policy, the US Government's "Post-Surrender Policy for Japan" included the statements that: Japan's ground, air and naval forces shall be disarmed and disbanded and Naval vessels shall be surrendered and shall be disposed of as required by the Supreme Commander. As a result, all IJN submarines which surrendered were to be demolished, scuttled, or otherwise destroyed.

The seven ex-U-boats flying the Japanese flag which surrendered to the Allies in August 1945 were:

Taken over by the IJN at Seletar Naval Base, Singapore and commissioned as I-501, with the intention of using it for operations. However, other than some short crew training sorties, this did not prove possible before it surrendered at Seletar on 16 August 1945, and was captured there by the Royal Navy in September 1945. On 15 February 1946 it was towed by HM Tug Assiduous to the Straits of Malacca, off Singapore, where it was scuttled by the frigate HMS Loch Glendhu.
Taken over by the IJN in Surabaya, Java and commissioned into the IJN as I-506. Because of a lack of Japanese crew, it never left its moorings. It surrendered in Surabaya in August 1945, and for a time its diesel engines were used to provide electricity for the city. It was scuttled by the Royal Navy in the Bali Sea, east of Kangean Island, on 15 February 1946.
Taken over by the IJN in Batavia (now Jakarta), Java and moved to Surabaya for servicing and to be commissioned into the IJN as I-505. It then returned to Batavia where it surrendered in August 1945. It was sunk by gunfire from the Royal Netherlands Navy destroyer HNMS Kortenaer (ex-HMS Scorpion) south of the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra, on 3 February 1946.
Surrendered to US forces at Maizuru, Japan, on 18 August 1945. Sunk by the USN in Wakasa Bay near Maizuru in the Sea of Japan on 30 April 1946.
Taken over by the IJN at Seletar Naval Base, Singapore and commissioned as I-502 with the intention of using it for operations. However, other than some short crew training sorties, this did not prove possible before it surrendered at Seletar on 16 August 1945, where it was captured by the Royal Navy in September 1945. On 15 February 1946 it was towed into the Straits of Malacca, off Singapore, by HM Tug Growler and scuttled there by the frigate HMS Loch Lomand.
This ex-Italian submarine (Commandante Cappellini) which had been captured by the IJN at Singapore on 10 September 1943, and then handed over to the Kriegsmarine on 22 October 1943, was itself captured whilst being overhauled in dock at Kobe after the German surrender, and then taken over by the IJN. Though it was commissioned into the IJN as I-503 it took no part in operations. It was captured in the Mitsubishi Shipyard, Kobe by US forces on 2 September 1945, and subsequently sunk by the USN on 16 April 1946 in the Kii Suido between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Shikolu.
This ex-Italian submarine (Luigi Torelli) which had been captured by the IJN at Singapore on 10 September 1943, and then handed over to the Kriegsmarine on 22 October 1943, was itself captured in Kobe after the German surrender, and then taken over by the IJN. Though it was commissioned into the IJN as I-504 it was undergoing an overhaul at the time and took no part in operations. It was captured at the Kawasaki Shipyard, Kobe by US forces on 2 September 1945, and subsequently sunk on 16 April 1946 by the USN in the Kii Suido.


After the completion of Operation Pledge, there were seven U-Boats in Norway which, although they had surrendered, had been found to be too unseaworthy to be transferred to the UK. They were U-310, U-315, U-324, U-926, U-995, U-1202 and U-4706. However, the TNC had no direct jurisdiction over the ultimate fate of these U-Boats, and its Final Report simply “requested” that any U-Boats remaining in other countries [including Norway] should be scrapped or sunk by 15 February 1946.

There were also seven other decommissioned/damaged (war loss) U-boats in Norwegian harbours (U-92, U-228, U-256, U-437, U-622, U-985 and U-993), and the TNC's Final Report specified that all 14 of these U-Boats should be scrapped or sunk by 15 February 1946. The latter seven were scrapped as requested, and U-310, U-315 and U-324 were scrapped in March 1947 when it was found that they would be too costly to renovate. However, Norway chose to ignore the TNC in the case of the other four, and thus U-926, U-995, U-1202 and U-4706 were repaired and taken over by the Royal Norwegian Navy in 1948 with a view to their future use.

One of the U-Boats which had been repaired (U-4706 which had been renamed Knerten), was found to be unsuitable for use, and it was sold to the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club on 14 April 1950 for use as a storeroom, before being scrapped in 1954. In contrast, the other three were commissioned into the RNoN: U-926 as Kia on 10 January 1949, U-995 as Kaura on 1 December 1952, and U-1202 as Kinn on 1 July 1951.

After use by the RNoN for 10 or more years, these three ex-U-boats were disposed of as follows:

U-926 Decommissioned in March 1964, and scrapped in West Germany
U-995 Decommissioned on 15 December 1962, and sold to the German Navy Association in October 1965 for the symbolic price of one Deutsche Mark. On 2 October 1971 it became a museum ship at the Laboe Naval Memorial near Kiel, where it remains on display.
U-1202 Decommissioned on 1 June 1961, and scrapped at Hamburg in 1963.


The two U-Boats that surrendered from sea in Canada were U-190, which had surrendered on 14 May in Bay Bulls, Newfoundland, and U-889 which had surrendered on 13 May in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Of these, U-889 was moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia on 15 May but, after trials with the Royal Canadian Navy, it was then allocated to the USA as part of the Tripartite agreement. However, whereas when U-889 was inspected by the Tripartite Naval Board in September 1945, it was found to be fully operable, it was in a non-operational condition when transferred to the US Navy in January 1946.

U-190, which had been allocated to the UK and then gifted to Canada, was moved to Halifax on 25 May and remained in Canada with the RCN. Its first task in summer 1945 was to undertake a publicity tour of the ports and communities along the St Lawrence River and in the Gulf of St Lawrence and thereafter, operating out of Halifax, it was used as an anti-submarine training vessel. U-190 was paid-off on 24 July 1947, and on 21 October 1947 (Trafalgar Day) it was towed to the spot where, on 16 April 1945, it had torpedoed and sunk the minesweeper HMCS Esquimalt. The ceremonial sinking was designed as a publicity event involving a joint air and sea assault, however U-190 sank less than 20 minutes after the start of the operation, and before the surface forces could get involved.


The two U-Boats which surrendered from sea in Argentina were U-530 which surrendered on 10 July 1945 in Mar del Plata, and U-977 which surrendered on 17 August 1945, also in Mar del Plata. They had chosen to "escape" to Argentina rather than to obey the Allied surrender instructions, and the crews were therefore surprised when they and their U-Boats were handed over to the US authorities very soon after they arrived in Mar del Plata. On 28 July U-530 was towed from Mar del Plata to the Rio Santiago Naval Base at Ensenada, near Buenos Aires, arriving on 29 July. The two U-Boats were subsequently allocated to the USA by the TNC.


In the course of the debates which led to the Potsdam Agreement, the UK had suggested that a share of the German fleet should be allocated to France, but this was vetoed in July 1945 by the USSR when it was made clear that a four-way division to include France was unacceptable. Indeed, during the same debates, the French Navy had indicated informally that it was anxious to obtain the 16 partially completed U-Boats found in the Deschimag AG -Weser shipyard in Bremen. However, this suggestion also failed to gain Allied support. Thus the French Navy gained no advantage from the Tripartite division of the German surface fleet, and were allocated no U-Boats by the TNC.

The only U-boat that surrendered afloat in France on 9 May 1945 (U-510) was unseaworthy, and it therefore remained in St Nazaire rather than being moved to the UK and sunk in Operation Deadlight. However, whilst U-510 was specifically earmarked to be sunk by 15 February 1946 in the TNC's Final Report of 6 December 1945, the TNC had no direct jurisdiction over France, which decided not to follow the recommendation. Instead, U-510 was repaired and commissioned as Bouan on 24 June 1947. It served with the French Navy until it was taken out of service on 1 May 1959. The TNC's Final Report also listed four decommissioned/sunk (war loss) U-boats in French harbours (U-178, U-188, U-466 and U-967), and these were all destroyed by France. There were also 10 other such U-Boats which were not mentioned in the TNC’s Final Report, and it was three of these (U-123, U-471 and U-766) which were subsequently raised and/or refitted and taken over by the French Navy.

The UK decided that it did not need all of the 10 U-Boats that it had been allocated by the TNC, and so the Royal Navy agreed that one of its type XXIII U-Boats (U-2326) and one of its type XXI U-Boats (U-2518) would be transferred on a 2-year loan to the French Navy. The transfer of the two U-Boats from the Royal Navy to the French Navy, which was code-named "Operation Thankful" involved their move from Lisahally on 5 February 1946, and ended with their handover in Cherbourg on 13 February 1946.

Of these two, U-2326 was used by the French Navy for schnorkel trials, but was lost with all hands on 6 December 1946 when it failed to surface after a deep diving test off Toulon. The other boat, U-2518, remained in France after the 2-year loan period expired, and was commissioned into the French Navy as Roland Morillet on 9 April 1951. It was used operationally until 15 April 1967, when it was placed in reserve. It was decommissioned on 12 October 1967 and sold to ship breakers in La Spezia, Italy for scrapping on 21 May 1969.

The three damaged and decommissioned U-boats repaired and recommissioned by the French Navy were U-123 which had been paid off and abandoned at Lorient in August 1944, U-471 which had been sunk in an air raid on Toulon in August 1944, and U-766 which had also been paid off and abandoned at La Pallice in August 1944. These three U-boats were given the French names Blaison, Mille and Laubie respectively, and served for many years in the French Navy. Blaison (U-123) was placed in reserve in August 1957 before being paid-off on 18 August 1959, Mille (U-471) was withdrawn from service on 9 July 1963, and Laubie (U-766) was decommissioned in 1961 after being seriously damaged in the third collision of its career. It was paid-off on 11 March 1963 and scrapped on 17 October 1962.

During the war, two incomplete French submarines, Africaine and Astree, had been taken over by the Germans in June 1940 but, although they were given the designations UF-l and UF-3 respectively on 5 May 1941, they were never completed and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine. After the war, the French resumed the construction of these two submarines, and they were commissioned into the French Navy. Africaine was launched on 7 December 1946, withdrawn from service on 1 July 1961, and scrapped on 28 February 1963. Astree was commissioned in October 1949, withdrawn from service in 1962, and scrapped on 27 November 1965.

West Germany

The then West Germany raised and put into service three U-boats which had been scuttled by their crews at the end of the war.

U-2365 had been scuttled in the Baltic north west of Anholt Island on 8 May 1945 and was raised in June 1956. It was commissioned into the W German Navy on 15 August 1957 as Hai (S-170), and used for training until 14 September 1966 when it was lost in the North Sea, off Heligoland, near the Dogger Bank in a marine accident. It was raised a week later (on 19 September), but was decommissioned on 24 September, and scrapped at Emden in 1968.

U-2367 had been scuttled in the Baltic south east of Schleimunde on 9 May 1945 and was raised in August 1956. It was commissioned into the W German Navy on 1 October 1957 as Hecht (S-171). It was decommissioned on 30 September 1968 at Kiel, and scrapped there in 1969.

U-2540 had been scuttled near Flensburg on 4 May 1945 and was raised in June 1957. It was rebuilt at Kiel, and commissioned into the W German Navy as a research vessel on 1 September 1960. It was decommissioned on 28 August 1968 for engineering work, and recommissioned again in May 1970 as Wilhelm Bauer and then used for experimental purposes. It was damaged in an under-water collision with a destroyer on 6 May 1980, taken out of use on 18 November 1980, and finally retired on 15 March 1982. It was then acquired by the German Maritime Museum at Bremerhaven and has been on display there since 27 April 1984.

East Germany

The then East Germany raised two U-boats, but did not commission either into service. A type VIIC U-Boat (U-1308) which had been scuttled by its crew on 1 May 1945 was raised off Warnemunde in February 1953. In November 1953 it was taken to Stralsund in the Baltic, but it was found to be beyond repair and was broken up in early 1955. The other was a type XXIII (U-2344) which had been sunk in the Baltic off Heiligenhaven on 18 February 1945 after a collision with U-2336. It was raised on 22 January 1955 for intended use as an anti-submarine warfare training target. However, although U-2344 was taken to Rostock for refit, it was found to be beyond repair, and was broken up in 1958.


Yugoslavia raised, commissioned and operated U-IT-19 (ex- Italian Nautilo) under the name of P-802 Sava. U-IT-19 was one of the Italian submarines captured (intact) by the Germans in Pola after the Italian surrender in September 1943, but it was not commissioned into the Kriegsmarine. It was sunk in Pola during a USAAF air attack on 9 January 1944, but in 1947 it was raised and repaired by Yugoslavia and taken into service with the Yugoslav Navy until 1968, and finally broken up in 1971. There were reports in the 1950’s that U-81, which had been sunk in Pola on the same day as U-IT-19, had also been raised and put into service with the Yugoslav Navy. However, these reports were not confirmed, and it is most likely that it was just raised and scrapped as beyond repair.


Two U-boats were interned in Spain during the War. One was U-760 which had initially been interned in Vigo in northern Spain, before being moved to El Ferrol, near Corunna, where it remained until July 1945. U-760 was then handed over to the Allies, moved to Loch Ryan, and then sunk in Operation Deadlight. The other was U-573 which had been interned in Cartagena in south east Spain after being badly damaged by air attack north west of Algiers on 1 May 1942. This U-Boat was decommissioned by the Kriegsmarine on 2 August 1942, but then purchased by Spain in 1943. After repair, it was commissioned into the Spanish Navy on 15 November 1947 as the Spanish submarine G-7. On 15 June 1960 it was re-designated as S-01 and served in the Spanish Navy until it was decommissioned on 2 May 1970 before being broken up for scrap. Additionally, U-167, which was sunk near the Canary Islands on 6 April 1943, was raised by the Spanish Navy in 1951, but was scrapped as being of no further use.


Other than U-IT-24 (ex-Commandante Cappellini) and U-IT-25 (ex-Luigi Torelli) which surrendered under the Japanese flag (see above), whilst Italy was responsible for raising several of the sunken Italian U-IT submarines during the clearance of the Italian harbours after 1945, only one U-Boat (U-IT-7) was found to be of any further substantive use. U- IT-7 (originally Bario) had been captured by the Germans in an unfinished state at Monfalcone on 9 September 1943. However, whilst it was launched on 23 January 1944, it was damaged at Monfalcone during an air raid on 16 March 1945 and scuttled on 1 May 1945. Whilst it was raised later in 1945, it was not until 1953 that it was taken in hand for reconstruction and modernization. It was relaunched as Bario on 21 June 1959, had its name changed to Pietro Calvi and commissioned into the Italian Navy on 16 December 1961. It was then used for training until it was laid up in 1971, and it was finally discarded in April 1973.

Additionally, two 92-ton midget submarines which had been allocated U-IT numbers, but which were never used by the Kriegsmarine, were in evidence post-May 1945. The first of these was U-IT-17 (ex-CM1) which had been captured by the Germans in Monfalcone on 9 September 1943. It was transferred to the Italian Fascist Navy and completed on 4 January 1945. Thereafter it was taken over by a partisan crew and moved south to re-join the R Italian Navy in April 1945. It was discarded on 1 February 1948, and then broken up.

The second one was U-IT-18 (ex-CM2) which had been captured by the Germans in an unfinished state at Monfalcone on 9 September 1943. It was never completed, and was damaged on its slipway in a USAAF air raid on 25 May 1944. It was scuttled on 1 May 1945, but then refloated in October 1950. In 1951 it was transferred to the Naval Museum at Trieste in 1951 - where it was on display for several years.


On 5 May 1945 whilst in transit from the Baltic to Norway, U-3503 was damaged during an attack by RAF aircraft in the Kattegat. As a result, it took refuge in Swedish territorial waters and entered Vinga on 6 May. On the evening of 8 May, the U-Boat began to sink (probably scuttled by the crew), eventually sinking in the Gothenburg Skerries in 8/9 fathoms of water. Despite this, it was listed by the TNC as having sunk in shallow water in the British Zone of north Germany. In early 1946 the Swedish Government therefore asked the TNC for permission to raise and scrap U-3503. This request was granted, and the retrieval operation started on 3 May. The U-Boat was raised on 24 August and moved to Gothenburg where it was docked on 27 August. It was then made watertight and transferred to the Nya Varvet Swedish Navy Yard in Gothenburg for investigation and dismantling, finally being totally scrapped by July 1947.

The Two U-Boats that were Captured

U-570, which was captured by UK forces on 27 August 1941, was renamed HMS Graph on 29 September 1941, and used operationally by the RN during 1942 and 1943. It was placed in reserve in February 1944, and then sent to the scrap yard in March 1944. However, while on the way to the scrap yard on 20 March it was wrecked on the Island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland after breaking adrift from the tow during a storm.

The U-Boat that had been captured by the USA was U-505, which had been forced to the surface on 4 June 1944 by a US Navy escort carrier task group 150 miles off the west coast of Africa. U-505 was then towed to the Port Royal Bay US Navy Base in Bermuda for technical examination. U-505 was kept in Bermuda for the remainder of the war and, because of the security imperative to maintain the illusion that she had been sunk rather than captured, it was temporarily renamed as USS Nemo. After the war, U-505 was moved to the US Navy Yard at Portsmouth, NH for use in gunnery and torpedo target practice. However this proposed fate came to the attention of Admiral Gallery (who had commanded the carrier USS Guadalcanal when U-505 was captured), and through his initiative the U-Boat was eventually donated by the US Government to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, being dedicated as a permanent exhibit and war memorial on 25 September 1955 - where it remains on display.

The Remaining Unserviceable U-Boats

When the war ended there were many U-boats in or near French, Norwegian, and German harbours (especially the latter) which had been damaged, decommissioned, destroyed, scrapped or scuttled during the course of the war. Others had not been completed in the German shipyards where they were being built or assembled. These U-boats had to be cleared from these harbours, and either broken up for scrap metal or sunk in deep water and, as a result of this clearance process, there have been many reports that U-Boats other than those specifically mentioned above have been raised since 1945. However, no significant historical fact is ignored by discounting them.


156 Kriegsmarine U-Boats surrendered at the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, and seven ex-U-Boats in service with the IJN surrendered at the end of the war in the Far East. Today only one of those U-Boats still survives (U-995) where it is on display at Laboe, near Kiel. There are three others in museums. U-505, which was captured by the USN in 1944, and U-534 and U-2540, both of which were raised after the war.

All the others have either been sunk or scrapped, the main element of which was in Operation Deadlight when, between November 1945 and February 1946, the Royal Navy sunk/scuttled 116 U-boats in the North Atlantic to the north west of Northern Ireland. After the war, 30 U-Boats were allocated equally between the UK, the USA and the USSR, where they were used for various testing and experimental purposes before being sunk or scrapped.

An important point of this article has been to show that, despite the generally successfully accomplished British aim of ensuring the early and total destruction of all the U-Boats, a limited number remained operational for several years after the end of the war in a variety of Navies. Indeed, it was not until 1970 that U-573 was retired after service with the Spanish Navy, and it was not until 1971 that the last of them (U-IT-7) was retired from the Italian Navy.

This article was published on 10 Jan 2011.

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