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U-47 file photo [1904]


Ship ClassType VII-class Submarine
BuilderFriedrich Krupp Germaniawerft
Yard Number583
Slip/Drydock NumberIII
Ordered21 Nov 1936
Laid Down25 Feb 1937
Launched29 Oct 1938
Commissioned17 Dec 1938
Sunk8 Mar 1941
Displacement761 tons standard; 865 tons submerged
MachineryTwo 1400PS diesel engines and two 375PS electric motors
Speed17 knots
Armament5x torpedo tubes, 1x88mm gun, 1x20mm anti-aircraft automatic cannon
Submerged Speed7.6 knots


ww2dbaseU-47, commanded by G√ľnther Prien, navigated around the natural and man-made obstacles of Holm Sound and infiltrated the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow on 14 Oct 1939. After firing a spread of three torpedoes and missed (due to torpedo failure), her second salvo of four torpedoes hit and sank the battleship Royal Oak. After an equally stunning escape from Scapa Flow after the attack, Prien became a national hero and U-47 went on to become one of the more successful German raiders, sinking 30 Allied vessels totaling 164,953 tons. She was found and attacked by British destroyer Wolverine in Mar 1941 south of Iceland, though the account had not been completely proven. Attacked or otherwise, she was lost with no survivors.

ww2dbaseSources: the Last Lion, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jul 2006

Submarine U-47 Interactive Map


Scharnhorst and U-47 at Kiel, Germany, 23 Oct 1939German U-boat, probably U-47, photographed from battlecruiser Scharnhorst, circa late 1939

U-47 Operational Timeline

17 Dec 1938 U-47 was commissioned into service.
14 Oct 1939 German submarine U-47 penetrated defenses and entered Scapa Flow in Scotland, United Kingdom and sank British battleship HMS Royal Oak, killing 833 out of a crew of 1,257.
25 Mar 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Danish steamer Britta 30 miles north of Scotland at 0540 hours, killing 13. 5 survivors were rescued by Danish steamer Nancy.
14 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 sank British ship Balmoralwood southwest of Ireland; the crew of 41 would later be rescued.
21 Jun 1940 At 2007 hours, German submarine U-47 under command of Kapit√§nleutnant G√ľnther Prien fired a torpedo at a tanker in the middle of Allied convoy HX-49 in a position 50 miles south-southwest of Cape Clear in the southwestern tip of Ireland. The tanker was the 13,056-ton British San Fernando which was carrying 13,500 tons of crude oil and 4,200 tons of fuel oil, and she was hit and came to a stop. Prien then fired two more torpedoes but did not observe the result as he had to submerge rapidly to avoid being seen by a nearby steamer. The damaged San Fernando was taken under tow by two tugs.
24 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Panamanian ship Cathrine with the deck gun about 300 miles west of Land's End in southwestern England. As the entire crew of 19 escaped to lifeboats, they were given food and red wine by the crew of U-47 before being set adrift for their eventual rescue.
27 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 shelled Norwegian merchant ship Lenda off southwest Ireland at 0400 hours; 1 was killed and 27 survived. At 1700 hours, U-47 shelled Dutch tanker Leticia in the same area; 25 of the crew took to lifeboats, while the other 3 who dove into the water were rescued by U-47 and brought to the lifeboats; the crew of U-47 offered the survivors first aid material, sausages, and wine before leaving.
29 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 torpedoed and sank British ship Empire Toucan southwest of Ireland, which broke in half; 3 were killed and 31 were rescued. Destroyer HMS Hurricane scuttled the aft portion of the ship which remained afloat.
30 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Greek ship Georgios Kyriakides west of Ireland; all 30 crew members survived.
2 Jul 1940 German submarine U-47 sank the British liner Arandora Star off the coast of Ireland; the liner was carrying 1,500 Italian and German prisoners of war to Canada.
2 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Belgian ship Ville de Mons with four torpedoes 200 miles west of Isle of Lewis, Scotland at 1900 hours. All 54 aboard survived.
4 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 sank British ship Titan of Allied convoy OA-207 250 miles northwest of Ireland at 0128 hours, killing 6. 89 survivors were rescued by escorting destroyer HMCS St. Laurent.
5 Sep 1940 Matrosenobergefreiter Heinrich Mantyk fell overboard from German submarine U-47 300 miles northwest of Ireland while operating the deck gun. He was lost.
7 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 sank British ship Neptunian (killing all 36), British ship Jos√© de Larrinaga (killing all 40), and Norwegian ship Gro (killing 11; 21 survived) 300 miles northwest of Ireland between 0400 and 0533 hours.
9 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Greek ship Possidon of Allied convoy SC-2 70 miles north of Ireland at 0024 hours; 17 were killed.
21 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 detected Allied convoy HX-72 400 miles west of Ireland. With only one torpedo left and seeing so many potential targets (the convoy contained 41 merchant ships and had only 4 destroyers, 1 sloop, and 2 corvettes in escort), commanding officer of U-47 G√ľnther Prien radioed the finding to eight other German submarines. Between 0312 and 0447 hours, German submarine U-99 sank British tanker Invershannon (16 killed, 32 survived), British ship Baron Blythswood (entire crew of 34 killed), and British ship Elmbank (2 killed, 54 survived). At 0614 hours, German submarine U-48 sank British ship Blairangus (6 killed, 28 survived). At 2310 hours, German submarine U-100 sank British ship Canonesa (1 killed, 62 survived), British ship Dalcairn (entire crew of 48 survived), and British tanker Torinia (entire crew of 55 survived). At 2338 hours, U-48 struck again, damaging British ship Broompark (1 killed).
19 Oct 1940 German submarines U-38, U-46, U-47, and two others attacked Allied convoy HX-79 200 miles west of Ireland, sinking 5 ships and damaging tanker Shirak.
20 Oct 1940 German submarines U-46, U-47, and U-100 attacked Allied convoy HX-79 50 miles northwest of Ireland, sinking 7 and damaging 1 between 0000 and 0720 hours. U-100 sank British ship Loch Lomond; 1 was killed and 111 survived.
2 Dec 1940 German submarine U-99 attacked British armed merchant cruiser HMS Forfar with five torpedoes between 0546 and 0657 hours, sinking her; 172 were killed, 21 survived. Shortly after, German submarines U-47, U-52, U-94, U-99, and U-101 attacked Allied convoy HX-90 unescorted 300 miles west of Ireland between 0400 and 0730 hours; her ocean escorts had departed on the previous day, and her coastal escorts failed to arrive due to poor weather. 5 ships were sunk (totaling 22,868 tons), while 2 were damaged; 119 were killed. After the coastal escorts finally arrived, U-94 pressed one further attack after dark, sinking two more ships, killing 5.
26 Feb 1941 German submarine U-47 attacked Allied convoy OB-290 190 miles northwest of Ireland before dawn, sinking 3 merchant ships (5,254-ton Belgian vessel Kasongo, 3,636-ton Norwegian vessel Borgland, and 3,197-ton Swedish vessel Rydboholm) and damage 1 (8,106-ton British vessel Diala). U-47 was attacked by depth charges, which called for assistance in the form of Fw 200 bombers of I. Gruppe KG 40 based in Bordeaux, France. The aircraft attacked from three different directions from 0900 to 1845 hours, sinking 7 ships without losing any aircraft. The victims of the Fw 200 bombers were 4,328-ton British vessel Swinburne (all survived), 7,181-ton British vessel Mahanada (3 killed), 4,966-ton British vessel Llanwern (27 killed), 8,156-ton Dutch merchant steamer Amstelland (1 killed), 4,328-ton Dutch merchant steamer Beursplein (21 killed), 4,340-ton Greek merchant steamer Kyriekoula (all survived), and 2,580-ton Norwegian merchant steamer Solferino (3 killed).
27 Feb 1941 German submarine U-47 sank British ship Holmelea west of Ireland overnight; 27 were killed, 11 survived.
28 Feb 1941 The 4,223-ton British merchant steamer Holmelea, owned by Morrison & Son, Cliffside Shipping Co Ltd, was en route from Rosario, Argentina for hull with a cargo of 7,000 tons of grain, linseed and maize when she was attacked by gunfire from German submarine U-47 (Kapit√§nleutnant G√ľnther Prien) and then sunk by torpedo southwest of Rockall, a granite islet in the North Atlantic. The master, John Robert Potts and 26 crew members were lost from a total crew of 39.
7 Mar 1941 German submarines U-47, U-70, U-90, and U-A attacked Allied convoy OB-293 320 miles northwest of Scotland, United Kingdom. British whaling factory ship Terje Viken (largest in the world) and British tanker Athelbeach were sunk, while two others were damaged. U-47 was lost with all 48 on board to unknown causes on the same day. U-70 was rammed by Dutch tanker Mijdrecht, then suffered a four-hour depth charging by corvettes HMS Camellia and HMS Arbutus, killing 20; the 25 survivors eventually surrendered.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
25 Jun 2014 05:01:18 PM

type vii submarines had 5 torpedo tubes, not 6, 4
forward, 1 aft between their propellor shafts.

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Scharnhorst and U-47 at Kiel, Germany, 23 Oct 1939German U-boat, probably U-47, photographed from battlecruiser Scharnhorst, circa late 1939

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