Unterseeboot 556

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German submarine U-556 was a Type VIIC U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 2 January 1940 at the Blohm & Voss yard in Hamburg, launched on 7 December 1940, and commissioned on 6 February 1941 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Herbert Wohlfarth, who commanded her for her entire career. U-556 conducted only two patrols, sinking six ships totalling 29,552 tons and damaging one other grossing 4,986 tons, before she was sunk on 27 June 1941.


Service history

1st patrol

U-556 sailed from Kiel for her first patrol on 1 May 1941. She headed out into the waters of the northern Atlantic, south of Greenland.[3] She made her first kill on 6 May, sinking the 166 ton Faroese fishing trawler Emanuel with her deck gun west of the Faroe Islands.[4]

On 10 May she joined the wolf pack West[5] attacking Convoy OB-318 south-east of Cape Farewell. Her first victim was the 4,986 ton British merchant ship Aelybryn, hit by one of the torpedoes fired by the U-boat at 04:42. Badly damaged, but suffering only a single casualty, the ship was towed to Reykjavík by HMS Hollyhock.[6]

The convoy scattered, and at 07:52 U-556 torpedoed and sank the 4,861 ton British merchant ship Empire Caribou. Nine crewmen and two gunners were later picked up by HMS Malcolm, but the master, 31 crewmen, and two gunners were lost.[7]

The U-boat has her third success of the day at 20:37, sinking the 5,086 ton Belgian merchant ship Gand. One crewman was lost and another wounded. The master, 38 crewmen and four gunners were rescued.[8]

Ten days later, on 10 May, the wolf pack attacked Convoy HX-126. Between 14:48 and 15:16 U-556 fired torpedoes at the convoy and sank two British merchant ships, the 4,974 ton Darlington Court[9] and the 5,995 ton Cockaponset,[10] and also the 8,470 ton tanker British Security. Loaded with 11,200 tons of benzine and kerosene the tanker caught fire and burned for three days before sinking. There were no survivors from her crew of 53.[11]

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