List of all U-boats




Ordered25 Sep 1939
Laid down21 Nov 1939 Blohm & Voss, Hamburg (werk 529)
Launched7 Nov 1940
Commissioned23 Dec 1940Kptlt. Karl Thurmann (Knights Cross)
23 Dec 1940 - 20 Jan 1943  KrvKpt. Karl Thurmann (Knights Cross)
10 patrols
23 Dec 1940-1 Apr 1941  7. Flottille (training)
1 Apr 1941-30 Nov 1942  7. Flottille (active service)
1 Dec 1942-20 Jan 1943  3. Flottille (active service)
Successes12 ships sunk, total tonnage 61,390 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 925 tons
2 ships damaged, total tonnage 15,273 GRT

Missing since 20 January 1943 in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland. There is no plausible explanation for its loss. 47 dead (all hands lost).

Loss position

See the 15 ships hit by U-553 - View the 10 war patrols

U-553 was last seen by U-465 (Wolf) south-west of Ireland in position 48.15N, 15.35W in the evening on 20 January 1943. The boat had reported troubles with its periscope the day before, but was still heading for its operational area with the wolfpack Landsknecht in the eastern North Atlantic and was reported missing on 28 January after repeatedly failing to signal its position.

Wolfpack operations

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 and other events

15 Oct 1941
At 16.24 hrs, 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 hrs, the U-boat fired a stern torpedo at the destroyer, but she managed to evade the attack after a lookout saw the torpedo track. HMCS Columbia picked up a good contact and delivered an accurate depth charge pattern, but U-553 had already dived to 55m (180ft) and suffered only minor damage. In the meantime HMS Gladiolus 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 90m (295ft) 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.

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-boat Emblems

We have 1 emblem entry for this boat. See the emblem page for this boat or view emblems individually below.


Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

U-Boat Operations of the Second World War - Vol 2

Wynn, Kenneth

German U-Boat Losses During World War II

Niestle, Axel

Hitler's U-boat War, Vol II

Blair, Clay

Hitler's U-boat War

Blair, Clay

Related page:
U-boats Missing in Action.

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