U-boat patrols

Patrol info for U-573

DepartureArrival / FateDuration
20 Apr 1942Pola2 May 1942Cartagena13 days


Officers *

Kptlt. Heinrich Heinsohn

Oblt. Erwin Schwager

Ltn. Ernst-August Racky

Patrol description

The boat was ordered to operate against enemy aircraft carriers that entered the Western Mediterranean from Gibraltar to launch fighter aircraft for Malta.

On 29 April, U-573 developed engine troubles and headed east while the crew tried to repair the engine. In the afternoon on 1 May, the U-boat was bombed and badly damaged by a Hudson aircraft northwest of Ténès, Algeria. After reporting the distress, the nearby U-74 and U-375 were sent to assist and the Italian submarines Emo and Mocenigo also joined the rescue operation, while the Allies sent other aircraft from Gibraltar and detached two destroyers to intercept the crippled U-boat. Heinsohn initially thought that he had to scuttle the disabled boat, but the engineers managed to restart one of the electrical engines and so they slowly headed northwards, until they were ordered by the SKL to head for Cartagena in neutral Spain, where the boat arrived at 11.36 hours on 2 May. However, the Allied forces searching for U-573 located and sank U-74 during the afternoon.

Daily positions, sinkings and allied attacks during the patrol of U-573

We have 12 daily positions for the 13 days U-573 was at sea.

Departure from Pola on 20 Apr 1942.
21 Apr 1942 - 22 Apr 1942 - 23 Apr 1942 - 24 Apr 1942 - 25 Apr 1942 - 26 Apr 1942 - 27 Apr 1942 - 28 Apr 1942 - 29 Apr 1942 - 30 Apr 1942 - 1 May 1942 -
Arrival at Cartagena on 2 May 1942.

Ships hit by U-573 during this patrol

General Events during this patrol


1 May 1942. On 1 May 1942 U-573 was seriously damaged by bombs from a Hudson aircraft NW of Ténès, Algeria. The SKL ordered the boat to make for neutral Spain. U-573 arrived at Cartagena the following day, and the Spanish authorities conceded a three month period for repair. This was very irregular, a period of this length not being allowed under international regulations, and for this reason the British embassy in Madrid made several strong protests to the Spanish Foreign Ministry.
S-01, former U-573, in Barcelona harbour during a protocol visit.Finally, after several meetings, the Kriegsmarine sold U-573 minus torpedoes to the Armada (Spanish Navy) for 1.5 million Reichsmarks. At 1000hrs on 2 August the Spanish Navy took possession of the boat as submarine G 7, and the Spanish flag was raised in a simple ceremony just one day before the end of the concession period.
S-01 on Cartagena's slipway no. 2 during regular maintenanceThis was a very good solution for both parties, because it was not possible to repair the boat in the period granted. After repairs were completed, she entered service in 1947 and was renamed S-01 on 25 June 1961. In May 1970, the boat was decommissioned and auctioned for 3,334,751 Pesetas (about $26,500). Despite efforts to preserve her as a museum, the former U-573 was broken up for scrap.* The crew of U-573 was repatriated from Spain in small groups through January and February 1943. Kptlt. Heinsohn returned to Germany with the last group in March, where he took over command of U-438, in which he perished with all his crew on 6 May 1943.See also U-boats Interned in Spain.

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Attacks on U-573 during this patrol

1 May 1942

15.56 hrs, approx. 40 miles north-west of Ténès, Algeria: British Hudson bomber AM735 (RAF Sqdn 233/M, pilot: Sgt Brent) on patrol from Gibraltar dropped three 250lb depth charges on the boat. Two were seen to explode very close on the starboard side aft, lifting the stern out of the water as the boat dived. U-573 was then seen to resurface close to a large patch of oil with about ten men standing on the bridge and raising their hands in surrender. The pilot felt it was not justified to strafe the U-boat as the crew did not man the AA guns, but the assessment of Coastal Command was that he should have machine-gunned the crew because there were no surface vessels nearby to accept the surrender. The aircraft circled the area until it was low on fuel, returning to base at 16.20 hrs.

U-573 was left severely damaged, with one electric motor and both diesel engines out of order, both batteries damaged, leaks in the diving and ballast tanks on the starboard side and a large dent in the pressure hull at the stern. On receiving a distress call from U-573, the FdU ordered the nearby U-74 and U-375 to assist, and Italian submarines Emo and Mocenigo also joined the rescue operation. The Allies sent aircraft from Gibraltar and detached HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler from a group of five destroyers on A/S patrol east of Gibraltar to intercept the crippled U-boat. The commander of U-573 at first thought he would have to scuttle the boat, but the engineers managed to restart one of the electric motors to move slowly northwards. The radio was also initially out of action, and U-573 was unable to report her position to rendezvous with her rescuers. On the morning of the 2nd May, SKL ordered her to proceed to Cartagena in neutral Spain, where U-573 arrived at 11.36 hrs. Allied forces searching for U-573 located and sank U-74 shortly afterwards.

(Sources: Norman Franks, ADM 199/1782)

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* These are officers that later became commanders themselves.

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