German submarine U-53 (1939)

German submarine U-53 was a Type VIIB U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 of the German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. She was laid down on 13 March 1937 at Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

 Germaniawerft in Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 and went into service on 24 June 1939 under the command of Dietrich Knorr.

U-53 began its first war patrol on August 29, 1939, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, under the command of Ernst-Günter Heinicke. Also aboard was Ernst Sobe, the commander of the 7th ("Wegener") Flotilla. U-53 sank two British ships on this patrol: the freighter and the tanker . A second patrol under Heinicke beginning October 21 produced no results. U-53, along with the and , was to penetrate the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

 and raid Allied shipping in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. Daunted by the strong British forces at the straits, Heinicke did not attempt to force them and was transferred to the merchant raider on his return to Germany.

Harald Grosse replaced Heinicke for U-53s third and final war patrol, which began on 2 February, 1940. Grosse sank six ships for , including the Spanish neutral Banderas, whose sinking strained relations between Germany and Spain. On February 23 U-53 was engaged and sunk by the British destroyer west of the Orkney Islands
Orkney Islands
Orkney also known as the Orkney Islands , is an archipelago in northern Scotland, situated north of the coast of Caithness...

with loss of all hands.

Raiding career

15 September 1939 SS Cheyenne  United Kingdom 8,825 Sunk
17 September 1939 SS Kafiristan  United Kingdom 5,193 Sunk
11 February 1940  United Kingdom |8,022 Damaged
11 February 1940 SS Snestad  Norway 4,114 Sunk
12 February 1940 SS Dalarö  Sweden 3,927 Sunk
13 February 1940 SS Norna  Sweden 1,022 Sunk
14 February 1940 SS Martin Goldschmidt  Denmark 2,095 Sunk
18 February 1940 SS Banderas  Spain 2,140 Sunk

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