U-boat Types

An encounter in the Atlantic

The Milch Cows

What is a Milch Cow?

The Milch Cows were U-boats of type XIV and which their role was to support the operating VII and IX fighting U-boats by delivering supplies and ammunition. These boats were successful while operating out of US coast where their location 1000km out of New York permitted the smaller VIIC Atlantic boats to operate in US waters, and in the Caribbean during 1942 but vastly improved allied radar and better air coverage of the Atlantic eliminated them during 1943 and 14 other XIV were cancelled. The Milch Cows were of course a priority target for all Allied forces.

The first 'Milch Cow' (U-459) was commissioned on November 15 1941 and went out on its first patrol in March 1942 after training and trials in the Baltic. The last 'Milch Cow' (U-490) was sunk on June 11. 1944 on its first operational patrol. She was sent out to support the Monsun boats in the far east (India Ocean).

The Milch cows and their fates

U-459 She went out on 6 patrols starting in March, 1942 and during her career she supported 72 U-boats. U-460 From June 1942 to October 1943 she went out on 6 patrols supporting 86 U-boats.
U-461 This boat supported 75 U-boats during 6 patrols from June, 1942. U-462 She supported 64 U-boats in 5 patrols starting in July 1942.
U-463 This boat supported 74 U-boats in 5 patrols from July 1942. U-464 She was sunk on her maiden patrol and supported no U-boats.
U-487 During her 2 patrols she supported 25 U-boats. U-488 in her 3 patrols 41 U-boats were supported by her.
U-489 She was sunk on her maiden patrol and aided no U-boats. U-490 Sent out on her first patrol to assist the Monsun boats in May 1944 she was sunk a month later.

289 were killed while serving on the Milch Cows out of an estimated complement of 530-576 men. According to my sources the 10 'Milch Cows' only went on 35 patrols (3,5 per boat), 3 of them were sunk on their maiden patrol and two had only been on patrols for roughly half a month when they were sunk.

Planned Milch Cows and Transport boats

14 other XIV boats were planned to be built at Deutsche Werke in Kiel and 3 of them (U-491 - U-493) were about 75% done when all work was stopped and they were scrapped in July - August 1943.

The other 11 planned XIV boats were U-494 - U-500 (7 boats) and U-2201 - U-2204 (4 boats) all to be constructed at Germaniawerft in Kiel but had not been laid down when they were cancelled on May 27. 1944. On that same day Dönitz dropped development plans for the XX class (30 boats on order) which were large transport boats that would not have been ready until the summer of 1945. 3 of the most advanced XX boats (U-1701 - U-1703) were continued and modified as H(2)O(2) transports but were finally cancelled in early 1945.