Hans-Joachim Hesse

Fregattenkapitän (Crew 25)

4 ships sunk, total tonnage 25,417 GRT

Born  18 Jan 1906 Norden,Ostfriesland
Died  12 Feb 1943(37)west of Cape St Vincent, Portugal

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16 Nov 1925 Seekadett
1 Apr 1927 Fähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1929 Leutnant zur See
1 Jul 1931 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Oct 1935 Kapitänleutnant
1 Feb 1940 Korvettenkapitän
1 Feb 1943 Fregattenkapitän


U-boat Commands

U-654 5 Jul 1941 24 Nov 1941   No war patrols 
U-442 21 Mar 1942 12 Feb 1943  (+)  2 patrols (116 days) 

Hans-Joachim Hesse joined the Reichsmarine in 1925. From July 1939 to April 1940 he served as the 1st Gunnery Officer on the light cruiser Köningsberg, then he commanded Naval Artillery Detachment 504 until Oct 1940 (Busch & Röll, 1999).

Hans-Joachim Hesse served at BdU, U-boat High Command, and went through U-boat training from Oct 1940 to March 1941. He then went though U-boat Commander training and an U-boat familiarization (Baubelehrung) in preparation for his own command from March to July 1941 (Busch & Röll, 1999).

On 5 July 1941 KrvKpt. Hans-Joachim Hesse commissioned the brand new type VIIC boat U-654 at Hamburg. Hesse trained in the Baltic until Nov 1941 when he left the boat to join the 1st Flotilla at Brest, France until Feb 1942. During Feb and March he went through another U-boat familiarization (Baubelehrung), this time for the brand new U-442 being built at Danzig. He commissioned the boat on 21 March 1942 (Busch & Röll, 1999).

After training in the Baltic the boat left for its first operational patrol on 17 Sept 1942. Hesse patrolled in the North Atlantic convoy lines, sinking two ships from two convoys before arriving at France after 61 day at sea (Busch & Röll, 1997).

Hesse sailed again on 20 Dec 1942 from St. Nazaire, France and headed into the mid Atlantic, operating off the Azores and the Gibraltar-UK convoy route (Busch & Röll, 1997). Hesse sank two large ships with a total of 16,983 tons on this patrol, again from two convoys (Rohwer, 1998).

KrvKpt. Hans-Joachim Hesse died when the U-442 was sunk on 12 Feb 1943 west of Cape St. Vincent by depth charges from a British Hudson aircraft (48 Sqdn.). There were no survivors from a crew of 48 (Niestlé, 1998).


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).
Niestlé, A. (1998). German U-boat losses during World War II.
Rohwer, J. (1998). Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two.

Patrol info for Hans-Joachim Hesse

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-654 16 Nov 1941  Kiel  19 Nov 1941  Stavanger   4 days
2. U-442 17 Sep 1942  Kiel  16 Nov 1942  St. Nazaire  Patrol 1,61 days
3. U-442 20 Dec 1942  St. Nazaire  12 Feb 1943  Sunk  Patrol 2,55 days
2 patrols, 116 days at sea

Ships hit by Hans-Joachim Hesse

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
25 Sep 1942U-442 Empire Bell1,744brUR-42
4 Nov 1942U-442 Hatimura6,690brSC-107
9 Jan 1943U-442 Empire Lytton9,807brTM-1
27 Jan 1943U-442 Julia Ward Howe7,176amUGS-4

4 ships sunk (25,417 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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