|Ordered:||4 November 1940|
|Builder:||AG Weser, Bremen|
|Laid down:||5 July 1941|
|Launched:||21 May 1942|
|Commissioned:||10 October 1942|
|Fate:||Sunk, 20 August 1943|
|Type:||Type IXD2 submarine|
|Displacement:||1,610 t (1,580 long tons) surfaced
1,799 t (1,771 long tons) submerged
|Length:||87.6 m (287 ft 5 in) o/a
68.5 m (224 ft 9 in) pressure hull
|Beam:||7.5 m (24 ft 7 in) o/a
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
|Height:||10.2 m (33 ft 6 in)|
|Draft:||5.4 m (17 ft 9 in)|
|Propulsion:||2 × MAN M9V40/46 supercharged 9-cylinder diesel engines, 4,400 hp (3,281 kW)
2 × SSW GU345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (746 kW)
|Speed:||20.8 knots (38.5 km/h) surfaced
6.9 knots (12.8 km/h) submerged
|Range:||12,750 nmi (23,610 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
213 nmi (394 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)|
|Complement:||55 to 63|
|Armament:||• 6 × torpedo tubes (four bow, two stern)
• 22 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedoes
• 1 × Utof 105 mm/45 deck gun (110 rounds)
• AA guns
|Part of:||4th U-boat Flotilla
(10 October 1942–31 March 1943)
12th U-boat Flotilla
(1 April–20 August 1943)
|Commanders:||KrvKpt. Robert Bartels
(10 October 1942–20 August 1943)
3 April–20 August 1943
|Victories:||Three commercial ships sunk (21,267 GRT)
One commercial ship damaged (7,181 GRT)
German submarine U-197 was a Type IXD2 U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 5 July 1941 at the AG Weser yard in Bremen as 'werk' 1043. She was launched on 21 May 1942, and commissioned on 10 October under the command of Korvettenkapitän Robert Bartels. After training with the 4th U-boat Flotilla at Stettin, U-197 was transferred to the 12th U-boat Flotilla for front-line service on 1 April 1943.
On 20 May, while in the South Atlantic, north-east of Ascension Island, she torpedoed the 4,763 ton Dutch tanker Benakat. After the crew of 44 men abandoned ship in three lifeboats a second torpedo broke the ship in two, and the bow section sank. The U-boat surfaced and sank the stern section with her deck gun.
On 30 July, the unescorted 7,181 ton American Liberty ship William Ellery was hit by a single torpedo about 300 mi (480 km) east southeast of Durban. A second torpedo narrowly missed, and despite a 450-square-foot (42 m2) hole in the port side, the ship escaped and arrived at Durban on 1 August under her own power.
The unescorted 6,921 ton British merchant ship Empire Stanley was torpedoed and sunk south southeast of Cap Sainte Marie, Madagascar on 17 August. From the 54 men aboard, 25 were lost, while the 29 survivors were later picked up in two lifeboats.
On 20 August 1943 U-197 was attacked south of Madagascar, in position Coordinates: , by a British PBY Catalina aircraft of No. 259 Squadron RAF with six depth charges and slightly damaged. As the aircraft had no more bombs, it attempted to strafe with her machine guns, but the U-boat responded with ferocious AA fire. The aircraft then circled the U-boat at a safe distance and radioed for assistance. The U-boat remained on the surface, perhaps assuming that any support was unlikely, and that the aircraft would eventually have to abandon her vigil. Unfortunately another Catalina, FP 313 of 265 Squadron and piloted by captain Ernest Robin, (receiving the D.F.C. [Distinguished Flying Cross] for the sinking of the vessel), arrived. U-197 promptly crash-dived, and the aircraft dropped three depth charges, two of which detonated to port of the U-boat, but the third hit her squarely, sinking her with all 67 hands.
Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat, commander of U-196, was severely criticised by the Befehlshaber der U-Boote (BdU) [U-boat headquarters] for his lack of support for U-197. KrvKpt. Robert Bartels of U-197 had radioed a distress signal. The correct response by any boat in the vicinity, according to orders, would have been to assist at top speed. The BdU twice ordered U-196 to aid U-197 before Kentrat responded, and by that time U-197 and the entire crew were lost.
|20 May 1943||Benakat||Netherlands||4,763||Sunk|
|24 July 1943||Pegasus||Sweden||9,583||Sunk|
|30 July 1943||William Ellery||US||7,181||Damaged|
|17 August 1943||Empire Stanley||United Kingdom||6,921||Sunk|
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