Unterseeboot 521

Unterseeboot 521

U-Boat Infobox
fieldpost number=
yard number=
order date=
launch=May 12, 1942
commission=May 12, 1942
yard=Deutsche Werft, Hamburg
U-Boat Patrol
startdate=Start Date
enddate=End Date
assigned unit=Assigned Unit
U-Boat Patrol
startdate=October 14 1942
enddate=June 2 1943
assigned unit=2th Flotilla
U_Boat Command
startdate=May, 1942
enddate=June, 1943
name=Kptlt. Klaus Bargsten
U_Boat Sink
type=Type of Ship Sunk
total=Number of Ships Sunk
tonnage=Gross Registered Tonnage
U_Boat Sink
type=Commercial Vessels
U_Boat Sink
type=Military Vessels

Unterseeboot 521, also known as U-521, was a German U-Boat commanded and commissioned by Kapitänleutnant Klaus Bargsten before being sunk on July 2, 1943 by PC-565. The only survivor was Klaus Bargsten himself.

The ship is the second ship under the command of Klaus Bargsten, and the first under his command that suffered heavy losses. The wreck of the submarine has never been found.


"U-521" was a 750-ton U-boat, type IXC, built by the Deutsche Werft, Finkenwerder, Hamburg. She belonged to the series U-501 to U-523 assigned to this yard.

It was officially commissioned in May 1942 and assigned to Klaus Bargsten as captain.

First Patrol

"U-521" sailed from Hamburg on her first patrol about mid-October 1942. She followed the usual course, sailing up the coast of Norway and then west, through the “Rosengarten” into the Atlantic. When she was north of Scotland, "U-521" was attacked by a plane. According to Bargsten, he was standing on the bridge when a plane suddenly appeared out of the clouds, flying very low. The plane was carrying a trailing antenna, which almost struck the boat. Bargsten thought at first that it was a new weapon. The bomb-bay doors were open, but the plane did not drop any bombs. U-521 submerged, and, after it had obtained considerable depth, several bombs were heard to explode.

The first war cruise lasted over nine weeks and accounted for five merchant vessels and a corvette. Two ships were sunk from an eastbound convoy and two from a westbound convoy. The fifth ship was a freighter which had been crippled by an attack from another U-boat and had dropped out of convoy. She was guarded by a corvette. "U-521" approached this target by night on the surface. The first torpedo was fired at a range of about 2,000 meters. Because of the presence of the corvette, Bargsten was somewhat cautious and after firing, immediately turned the boat in order to be able to fire again from his stern tube while escaping. The first torpedo passed astern of the merchantmen and hit the corvette which sank rapidly. The freighter was then easily disposed of at close range.

The first patrol of "U-521" ended about mid-December 1942. She put in at Lorient where she was attached to the 2nd Flotilla, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Viktor Schütze of the 1925 naval term. Schütze was greatly admired by Bargsten, and he spoke of a four-hour interview that he had with the Flotilla commander. Bargsten was given credit for having sunk 29,000 tons of shipping and one corvette.

U-521 remained in Lorient for about three weeks, taking on supplies and preparing for the next cruise.

econd Patrol

Early in January 1943, "U-521" sailed from Lorient on her second patrol. Her operational area was in the vicinity of the Azores.

Several convoys were attacked on this patrol in company with other U-boats. One of these attacks took place about February 25, 1943 in company with a boat commanded by Oberleutnant Johannsen (Note: Johannsen was Commanding Officer of Unterseeboot 569 which was sunk on May 22, 1943).

During the course of an attack on a Gibraltar-bound convoy, "U-521" sank three ships. After firing at the last of the three, Bargsten noticed another U-boat on a collision course. "U-521" came to a full stop, and the other boat crossed her bow at about 50 meters. These maneuvers attracted the attention of American destroyers escorting the convoy, and "U-521" was severely depth charged. Although about 70 depth charges were dropped, Bargsten was rather scornful of this attack. He stated that he easily eluded his enemies without making use of the S.B.T. and he criticized the destroyers for lack of tenacity. The U-boat sustained some damage including a slightly bent propeller shaft.

In spite of the damage, "U-521" was able to remain at sea and succeeded in sinking another merchantman and a corvette. The freighter, a Liberty ship, was hove to and was being guarded by a corvette when she was sighted by the U-boat. It was a bright moon lit night, and the corvette was patrolling the dark side of the freighter. Bargsten, realizing that the corvette expected an attack from the dark side, approached from the moon lit side, on the surface. While drawing near to his target, Bargsten turned to his Executive Officer and said,

“I feel like a naked man walking through the streets of a city."

The Executive Officer fired five torpedoes. Four of them missed completely and the fifth hit the corvette just as she was coming forward of the target. A sixth torpedo was fired by the Second Watch Officer and found its mark. Bargsten attributed the poor marksmanship of the Executive Officer to the fact that he failed to take into account the slight roll of the boat when he was making his calculations.

When U-521 was almost ready to return to her base, she was met by a supply U-boat from which she took over oil and provisions. Bargsten stated that other U-boats were present, including U-569 commanded by Oberleutnant Johannsen.

"U-521"' returned to Lorient about mid-March after having been at sea 79 days. Schütze had been replaced by Korvettenkapitän Ernst Kals of the 1924 naval term as Commanding Officer of the second Flotilla. Bargsten’s interview with Kals was a brief one, and he felt that Kals was much less understanding than Schütze. Bargsten was credited with sinking 39,000 tons of shipping and one corvette on this patrol.

"U-521" entered drydock in Lorient for repairs. Bargsten was given leave and went to his home in Bremen where he remained until April 28, 1943. While in Bremen, he witnessed a daylight bombing raid by American flying fortresses. He said that about 20 of the American bombers were shot down.

Bargsten arrived in Lorient April 29, 1943. On May 2, 1943, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. Korvettenkapitän Hans-Rudolf Rösing of the 1924 naval term made the presentation.

Three days later, "U-521" sailed on her last patrol.

Third And Last Patrol

"U-521" sailed from Lorient at about 1300 German Summer Time, May 5, 1943. Her operational area was designated as being off the U.S. coast in the neighborhood of Cape Hatteras. She reached this area about May 30, 1943 and on the same day, sighted planes and two destroyers. U-521 was not discovered, however.

On June 2, 1943 at about 1200Q, "U-521" was proceeding on course 250 at a depth of 31 meters. The sound operator reported propeller noises, but a few minutes later he reported that the noises had faded out and that all was quiet. Bargsten was lying in his bunk reading a travel book, immersed in a chapter called “Middletown, U.S.A.”, when PC-565 gained a Q.C. contact on U-521 and was closing for attack.

Disappearance of U-521

At about 1230Q on June 2, 1943 in position coord|37|43|N|73|16|W|scale:20000000, while escorting Convoy Convey NG-365, PC-565 obtained her first contact on "U-521". She altered course, maintained contact, and at 1239Q dropped a standard five charge pattern set for 100 feet.

Meanwhile Bargsten was peacefully reading in his bunk when the sound operator rushed in to report propeller noises directly overhead. Immediately thereafter, the depth charges exploded. Instruments were shattered, the lights went off, the motors stopped, rudder and diving planes were rendered useless, and water entered the control room through the depth gauge and tank pressure gauge connections.

Bargsten at once gave the order to dive, although he did not know the extent of the damage received. After a few seconds, the Engineer Officer reported that the boat was at 150 meters. Bargsten told him that was “nonsense”, but the Engineer insisted and called off further readings from the control room depth gauge: “160 meters; 170 meters”. The order was given to blow all tanks, and the boat rose rapidly to the surface. Later on, Bargsten realized that the U-boat could not have descended to the depths called off by the Engineer Officer without becoming heavy by the bow or by the stern, whereas she had kept an even keel throughout. Upon breaking surface, Bargsten went to the bridge to make a topside estimate of the situation.

PC-565 was about 350 meters distance when the U-boat appeared on the surface. The patrol craft fired about 55 rounds with her 20 mm. gun, scoring several hits on the conning tower. Her gun jammed as she was turning to ram her target. Another escort vessel, named USS Brisk (PG-89), fired one shell from her No. 1 gun and missed the U-boat by about 50 meters. She ceased firing then, as PC-565 was in the line of fire.

When Bargsten observed the maneuvers of PC-565 and saw the patrol craft bearing down on him, he realized the U-boat’s position to be hopeless and gave the order to flood and abandon ship. It was not until he saw his Engineer Officer coming through the conning tower, that Bargsten realized the former had become panicky, since the Engineer’s station was in the control room.

"The accuracy of the depth charges was devastating. Inside U-521, all instruments were shattered, all breakers blown, and the diving planes and rudder were disabled. Cold seawater was coming down the main hatch. Bargsten gave the order to dive for cover. After a few seconds, Oberleutnant Ing. Henning reported that they were sinking. She was already down to 150 meters and dropping rapidly. Even though it did not make sense to Bargsten that the u-boat could plummet so quickly, he gave the order to blow all ballast. The main depth gauge must have been knocked out by the depth charges. Before he knew it, the u-boat broke the surface. Bargsten snapped open the conning tower hatch and rushed outside to assess the situation. His last view of his boat was of water pouring down the conning tower hatch as she went under. U-521 then suddenly sank, leaving Bargsten swimming in the water. All 51 crewmembers died, except Bargsten himself."

When the u-boat disappeared, PC-565 altered course to the right to pass ahead of the swirl. At 1243Q she dropped one depth charge set at 30 meters about 100 meters ahead of the position of the sinking. She then moved in to pick up the survivor and several large air slugs were observed. The patrol craft continued to search the area and at 1325Q several oil slicks were sighted. One slick was dark with globules of brown oil, but it was not iridescent. Patches of vegetable fiber and splinters of freshly broken wood were observed. At 1338Q, PC-565 picked up a large piece of human flesh. The search was abandoned at 1430Q.

At 0045 on June 3, 1943, USS Chickadee (AM-59) conducted a box search in the vicinity of the sinking. Results were negative. At daylight, an oil slick was seen, originating at the approximate position of the sinking and extending approximately 0600 for 31.7 km. Its width varied from 20 meters to 300 meters. Samples of oil were taken and, after analysis, proved to be lubricating oil.

Operating on the theory that the u-boat was not sunk but was proceeding submerged and bleeding oil, USS Chickadee conducted a box search in the vicinity of the origin of the slick. The results were again negative. It was observed that the current was flowing in the direction of the wind, 0600 T. The conclusion was reached that the combined effect of wind and current caused the great length of the oil slick and that, in fact, the u-boat had been sunk.

External links

* [http://www.uboat.net/boats/u521.htm uboat.net webpage for "U-521"]

ee also

* List of U-boats
* Klaus Bargsten
* Kriegsmarine
* U-512 (Schultz's Boat)
* Franz Machon (Similar Story)

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