Convoy battles


13 Aug 1942 - 13 Aug 1942

The Convoy34 ships
First sightingOn 13 Aug 1942 by U-658

British destroyer HMS Havelock (H 88) (Cdr E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN), British corvettes HMS Godetia (K 226) (Lt A.H. Pierce, OBE, RN) and HMS Lavender (K 60) (Lt L.G. Pilcher, RNR), the American patrol craft USS PC-462, USS PC-463 and USS PC-478 and the American submarine chaser USS SC-533


U-658 * (Kptlt. Senkel)

* U-boats that fired torpedo or used the deck gun

The battle

On 9 Aug, 1942, the convoy WAT-13 left Key West consisting of 37 merchant ships in nine columns, escorted by one destroyer, two corvettes, three patrol craft and one submarine chaser. Three ships were detached while the convoy proceeded along the coast of Cuba and 34 were present when they entered the Windward Passage, where U-658 spotted the convoy WAT-13 during a night without moon and calm weather southwest of Cape Maysi at 03.10 hours on 13 August. The Senior Officer Escort (SOE) on HMS Havelock and the convoy commodore R.S. Parr, USN had been warned about the presence of a U-boat in this area the day before.

At 05.07 hours on 13 August, the U-boat fired two spreads each of two G7e torpedoes while on the surface on the starboard quarter of the convoy at a big tanker and a freighter of approx. 8000 grt and claimed both ships sunk after observing two columns of fire after 3 minutes 35 seconds and another after 3 minutes 58 seconds. However, the Germans had misjudged the course and speed of the convoy which proceeded at only 7 knots in order to arrive off Guantanamo Bay at dawn, so all torpedoes missed the intended targets and only one of them struck and sank Medea in station #74 while the British steam merchant Lodestone in station #43 was severely shaken by a torpedo that apparently detonated at the end of its run. U-658 then turned around, fired the stern torpedo at a freighter of approx. 6000 grt and retreated to reload its torpedo tubes without being detected by the escorts, despite star shells being fired by HMS Lavender in this area. The freighter was also claimed as sunk when hearing a detonation after 5 minutes, but this was probably the explosion of a single depth charge dropped by USS PC-463 off the starboard bow of the convoy. The U-boat tried to attack the convoy again before dawn, but had to evade a corvette and could only fire the stern torpedo tube at a straggler of approx. 7000 grt at 08.05 hours. The torpedo missed the target and Senkel claimed that it hit and sank a steamer of approx. 5000 grt when he observed a flash on the stern of another ship after 4 minutes 58 seconds, followed by several smaller detonations. However, the Medea was the only ship hit during these attacks and her survivors were picked up by USS SC-533, assisted by USS PC-478. U-658 eventually left the area without being attacked, mainly because the number of escorts was inadequate for the size of the convoy and only one of the warships was capable of chasing a U-boat on the surface.

The convoy WAT-13 continued to sail towards Trinidad via Guantanamo, Aruba and CuraƧao with ships leaving at each intermediate station until the remaining 19 ships arrived at Port of Spain on 19 August. The attacks of U-658 on convoy WAT-13 and of U-600 on convoy TAW-12 in the Windward Passage on 13 August led to a re-routing of the next convoys on these routes through the Yucatan Channel.

Article compiled by Rainer Kolbicz

Ships hit from convoy WAT-13

Date U-boat Commander Name of ship Tons Nat.Map
13 Aug 1942U-658Hans Senkel Medea1,311nlA

1 ship sunk (1,311 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

2 convoys on route WAT were hit by U-boats in the war. Read more about them.

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