Daily Event for October 29, 2013

SMS U-52 was born at Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel, Germany in 1915. She was launched on Dec. 8 of that year and entered the Kaiser's navy on Mar. 16, 1916. The U-51 type boat carried six torpedoes with 4 tubes (2 bow, 2 stern). During her career through Sept. of 1917 she had sunk or damaged over 100,000 tons of shipping. By Oct of that year the boat was back in the Kiel dockyard for repairs and to be re-supplied for her next cruise. The commanding officer, KpLt. Hans Walther was also replaced, Oberleutnant zur See Johannes Spiess was put in command on Sept. 19.

Spiess was a veteran commander and would end the war with a total of over 75,000 tons of shipping sent to the bottom. But on October 29, 1917 it was his boat that would go to the bottom. While tied up at the dockyard an explosion at the stern sank the boat. The water being shallow rescue was relatively easy. The bow was raised above the water and the surviving crewmen escaped, however five of their number did not survive. It is assumed that a torpedo had exploded in the stern tube, but what had caused the explosion seems not to have been explained. Perhaps the Germans looked into it, but I have not been able to obtain any details of an inquiry.

Perhaps because it was late in the war repairing the boat was more important than finding the cause, and U-52 was repaired, but never sank another ship. She was surrendered when the war ended and was finally sold to George Cohen, Sons and Company of London and scrapped in Swansea.
© 2013 Michael W. Pocock

In Erinnerung an die gefallenen Besatzungsmitglieder der SMS U-52
"In memory of the fallen crewmen of SMS U-52"

Fritz, Jakob
Hollfelder, M.
Richter, Gustav
Schwer, Gerhard
Uhl, Max

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