Heinz Schäffer

Oberleutnant zur See (Crew XII/39)

No ships sunk or damaged.

Born  28 Apr 1921 Berlin
Died  15 Jan 1979(57)Berlin, Germany


1 Dec 1939 Offiziersanwärter
1 Nov 1940 Fähnrich zur See
1 Nov 1941 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1942 Leutnant zur See
1 Dec 1943 Oberleutnant zur See


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

U-boat Commands

U-148 30 Nov 1943 15 Dec 1944   No war patrols 
U-977 Mar, 1945 17 Aug 1945   1 patrol (108 days) 

Earlier in the war Schäffer served on U-445 as 1st Watch Officer (I WO) for four patrols. He then took command of the small type IID U-boat U-148.

He later took over U-977 from Hans Leilich, and it was under Oblt. Schäffer’s command that U-977 set off from Norway on her very famous (and no doubt arduous) voyage to Argentina when Germany announced her surrender. He made sure to keep the full complement of torpedoes, despite the cramped conditions in a type VIIC U-boat, to avoid any accusations of having sunk ships after the ceasefire (Blair, 1998).

After the war he wrote a book, U-boat 977, about this patrol and all the bizarre rumours related to it.


Blair, C. (1998). Hitler’s U-boat War. The Hunted, 1942-1945.
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).

Patrol info for Heinz Schäffer

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-977 13 Apr 1945  Kiel  20 Apr 1945  Horten   8 days
2. U-977 29 Apr 1945  Horten  30 Apr 1945  Kristiansand   2 days
3. U-977 2 May 1945  Kristiansand  17 Aug 1945  Mar del Plata, Argentina  Patrol 1,108 days

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

U-Boat 977

Schaeffer, Heinz

Listing of all U-boat commanders

As an Amazon Associate uboat.net earns a commission from qualifying purchases.