u 550 Type IX C-40 - Mercantile Convoy CU 49 of 1944

u 550
Type IX C-40
Built by Deutsche Werft, Hamburg
Keel laid 2.10.42 Launched 12.5.43
Commissioned 28. 7 .43 Feldpost Nr M 53 4 73
Sunk 16.4.44 S of Nantucket Island (40°09 'N 69°44 'W)
Served with
4 U-Flottille, Stettin July 1943 - January 1944 (ab)
1O U-Flottille, Lorient February 1944 -16.4.44 (fb)
Commanded by
KL Klaus Hanert July 1943 - 16.4.44
Patrols: 1
Ships sunk: 1 (11,017 grt)
1. 6.2.44 Left Kiel for the North Atlantic.
U 550 initially carried out weather-reporting duties. In the latter
part of March she went to the Newfoundland area and later moved
south and in mid-April was off the US east coast.
On the 16th U 550 was S of Nantucket Island, when she sighted
eastbound convoy CU 21. She torpedoed and sank the tanker
SS Pan Pennsylvania (am 11017t). Whilst destroyer-escorts were
picking up survivors, U 550 was located by USS Joyce and depthcharges were dropped.
The boat surfaced close by and USS Gandy opened fire and
prepared to ram. U 550 tried to manoeuvre clear but was struck
near the stem. Gandy moved away and began firing again. She was
joined by Joyce and USS Peterson. A muffled explosion was heard
from within the boat and some time later she began to sink.
Of U 550's crew, 44 men were lost and the commander and 11
others were picked up and made Po W.
On the attached action, ( battle report enclosed
as authorized by LCDR. William A. Sessions,
U.S.N.R. # 60924 and who was awarded the
Legion of Merit ), the U.S.S. Gandy rammed the
U-550 at about 15 knots. Within 32 minutes, the
submarine sank stern first. Four ( 4 ) members of
the U.S.S. Gandy were wounded in the fight and
her ramming plate was broken. The wreckage
was discovered on July 23, 2012.
mck 5-17-15
-------------CON I- lDL.l'! TIAL
lJ April. 194/t
Moored as before, s tarboard side to pier ff l o, berth 1, U• .:; . !>la.v al Frontier
Base, T"oi.ipkinsv-llle, St~ten Island, N. Y.
0900 Ueported to Commanoer :::scort Id.vis ion 22 i'or uut.y; reference Com'fasklo oi· 29
ci spatcb 01'der lOl?.)l o! April 1944.
April 1944
;1oored as be!"ore, starboard side to pier ii 10 , berth 1,
Base, 'l'omp.lcin~ville, Jtaten !sla.nd, l~. Y.
u• ..,. ::.ava.1 Frontier
as before,, sttrboard s ide to pier 1i 10, berth l, u. 3. Naval Frontier
Base, Tompkinsville, .:>tat.en Isle.nd) fl. Y.
1004 Underway from U• ..>. ~aval Frvntier Base, Tompkinsville, .3t aten Island, N. I.
in accordance with verbal inst.ructions froot CTG 21.5 operating in accordance
with GTG 21.5 OpOrd rt 2-i.J.. Proceeding in c001pn.ny llith u• ..>. o. POOIA l DAl.51),,
u . .... . ::;. mn.,~01: ( D1il52), u.s . ~ . ii:>•.'V..:J:.AiN ( D~316J, u• .;. ->. JOYaE {DE317) and
U U.J. ; . KYKFA~:.ICK {DEJ18) which COltlpOSe Escort Eivision 22; proceedine out
New York Harbor channel. Task Group t.:01:T.lrulder in U..S • .:1. POOLE lm.J.51).
1125 Anchored off .Sandy Hook in company with other Leatroyer Escorts of l!:scort
IJi vision 22.
J..402 Underway from :..>endy Hook Ba;y in company with othe:r Destroyer iscorts ct
Escort Division. ;!2 to. conduct sound search off channel entr;mce prior to
aortie of convqy.
14JO CQnvoy cQlllr2nced scrtie under condition of very low vi.sibility.
1455 Cotiriieneed patrolling on various courses and speeds on port flank of convoy.
Relayin_g me~saces to merchant vessels as directed by ~scort Coanander.
2000 .:>bip•s position: lat. 32° 10' ti. Long. 6So 10' ~••
20J5 Convoy cleared. swept channel and assumed base course 0900 T.. Stea.mine in
sing.le <11lwnn, wtable to foI'Jll up in convoy because of low visibility. u.s.s.
uJJ:DY lvE164
station at 15 lmots on port. flaok of column.
16 April 19Aft
Steaming as before in cOlllpany with Escort Division 22, escorting Convoy Cu-2l,
patrolling port flank of convoy. Escort Comander in u•.$. s. fO'•.LE (DEl.51).
0505 tixercised at morn i.ng General ~uarters.
0605 Secureti :from General '.uu.rters, set .Jar l.'rui sing ~. atch.
0800 .:>hipts posit.).on; Lat. 40° 09 1 30" ii . Long. 69° 47 1 \, ,
-----------U ON YllJll;N'!'I /, L
0805 Pan- !,en.nsyl v: nia was struck by a tor_ 1edo . The Cor.:nanding Officer o?·<le1·ed
widening of t he se.'U'ch ilrc and more erratic zi~-zn1~ in.;. Patrolled up und
down the " ort flt~nk in search of the subm;1r ine . At '4\.x,ut 0830 orde:r3 \'fere
re~eived to return to the !'lcene of t he l orp.,.,.loin... Wld assist u. s. s.
J~l'&"wCi! in cove:-inr; tile Prui.- Fennsylva nia ::ind 11•
J •
.;vrcl v1ho 1'1'.IS t'> p-ick
up survivors . C:une .i bout and went to nank s0t.ed.
OR37 ttie tih::tft revolutions "ere 6cx:l per minute. ·
0848 !\umber 4 >W'.lin en:;i ne was securt>d due to cr.. 11kc;1se explC>sion and overheotin:;
of Cl'linders 6 ano 7, co111,oellinc r~iuced :inn unbclJU"Jced apeed throur.hout the
:remainder of the operation. En."Oute to scene, what appeared to be torpedo wake
v1l!.S .noticetl pa1•<1llel to t his ves sel about 75 yor ds ,JistMt._ St.oorl erratically
down the cou.r se for about 5COO yards without cont::ict until tr.ice •1as los t and
then Pl'OCeeried to cover lf. ;:;;. s. JO'ICE in picking up survi-vors. There were
t oo many su.....Yivors and O. s. ~ . PE'l'filIBOU vros a irecied to assist,
•'hile circling t hes e t l";o ships the after lookout reported streaks of bubbles
:i.n the water which appeared to be torpedo l'la.ke comin~ !rom .iU't. Came about
in an attempt to track t hem ti.own but oecided after a short search that ttiey
had been l~te in seeing them and r.iiey _oo: sibl., c~ from the orther d:irection
and proceedecl to 61fln{l ;-..round tne other tHo vessels.
0950 u. s. s. JOYC;~ finished picking up s urvivors ruia st... :rt.ed-00 a ssist covering
u. s .. s. ffiTill'~:,;c~; when she mat.le cont ~t. ;,t this time both vessels were ot1
our port. liCJ!4 and rse Y1ere on 265 T at 15 knot s . U, s. S, JOYCE steamed across
our bov1 reporting that she had contact a t relative bearing 000 , relative,
speed 15 knots and about. 400 y-drds -ahead of her. U. ~ . s. JOYCE' :i course "as
.j •
JlO T.
0956 u. S,. S,. G/.WDY changed course to 239 T to clear the gt>een llltll"ker of the
pattern dropped bf u. s. s. JOYCE.
0956 Cau.e right 30 degrees to 2.69 'l' to open sliehtly on the su'b•s a ssumed cQQrse
of 270 to 290 T1 sound searebing tbe area constantly with no re8Ults , even
from the pat.tern of o. s. s. JOYCE.
1000 Tbe sub's bow broke water at a n angl~ of about 30 ~oa<i on st.arboard b0Wf1
distance about bOO yards from lf. s. s. GFJIDY and 20C/ to 250 7ards west of the
marker. The Commandine Officer Ge.Ve the order1 "Riftlt full ru'-der, oo me to
3201 open tire and stand by to ram. 11 on the order to ram the sound head was
1002 rammed · the sub about 25 or 30 feet from it 1s ster.n. It is ~lievetl that t.lle
ai'ter sect.ion was cut off. After striking, the rudder l4ae left at niet't .full''
to t hrotl propellors clear. Hunfire was continuerl ll9 this '\'e-S$el 6WUJle left
along starbo:ird si de of the sub and further casual.ties- to sub personnel were
observed. tit &>out this t:.ime t.he sub was -well on r;;JIDY' 3 quarter ano a voice
was heard on one of the voice r adios shout:ing somethi ne in a germanic eccont.
$upposing it en offer to surrender t be Conrnanding Officor Ql'dare4 ''Cease firing",
'1hich, after a few seconds delay got t hrough to the l uns , iUmost iramediately
the ::iub manned a machine e;un ba.tt~ry and CQIJlllenced firing. The G.\h-CY swung
left to bring guns to be<-:r and after a very few bursts, fire on the sub
cea.sed and they comnenced abnodontng s hip.
----~------,:;...it. LiI ;JtY
1_6 ;\pril 1244 _(concluded)
U. S. ~ . J OYCtt ce.ine alon:;~-ide t.he sub t o p ick up survivors while v:e
crelT off to cover them anti a szess 01.Jl" cia.tlage.
1034 The sub sank stern first. A thorough check of the ship disclosed small
buckling of pl:ite8 abaft the doubling plate for ram, various antenna shot
away , pock ruarke from s hr apnel. and 50 caliber and a larger hole in eta.ck,
minor caliber holes in boat, SA Co;;X;el leaking pos:sibly tro1n v1hip in ma-st.,
p os si\.,l.,y fro1£1 shrapnel. Personnel casualties wel'e as follows: (l} TAYLOR,
l. illie Chester, SK3c, 9.33 OB 60, lbN-I - :.ound, thorax, left lower (shrapnel)
admi tted to !i.ck list-. i;onsidered serious. (2) L\NPS, Suford FrMk, $2c 1
;356 13 139 ~ U3NR - ,;ound, cheek, ri.gbt, and hand, left ( ehrap..el), treauientshrapnel removed, dressing applied am returned to dut.y. {3) LA'rHALI,, Vincent
J . r.., SMJc 1 532 699, USCGR - t;ound, l e.ft. index.> right ~ snrapnel) 1 treatment •
shrapnel removed, dreesin(; applied and returned to uuty. l4) 1liH U>rm1Ar~T, ~i'eldon
::>le, 625 62 JS, USNR - •.ound, ri.$1t cheek anti left hand \shrapnel).
Treatment - Shrapnel re1110ved 1 dI-essing applied and returned to dl.lty.
G:.tDY i.bout. eight opera ting days out of shakeaown and t he crew performed t heir
duties very r1ell except in t he r..at ter of records. Quarterm· ster l og was not
kept c:na course and times are f rom G. I . c. v:hicn f<liled for about two ntlnutes
at time of c..ttack. Speed at ratillni.ng was slit:htl.y les s t han 15 knot.o due t.o
drag of a full rudder.
1035 Tanker s. s. Pen- Pennsylvania , ii 21 1 sank at Lat. 40° 09' 3011 N.
Long. 69° 44 1 JO'' \J.
1036 Sound contact ana proceeded to attack.
1040 Dropped a thirteen ch<i.rge u~um pattern.
1041 .:iound zenr went out, evidently dana.ged by depth charge. Other ships acted
as s creen until da.m ge was repaired.
1150 Unable tg make fwther oor.taets, determined contact non sub, re$wned baae
cou.rse 090 T in ce>inpatV rith U. S.S . PET~~ Ci~ (DEl!)2) an<i -. . S. 3. JOYCE (·DE.317) .
Stee.mil!g in l ine formation as second ship in line, 2000 yards between ships.
1200 vhip' S position: Lat. Ji)o 11' N. Long~ 69° .lil' ~i ,
1920 Ex.ercised at evening General ~uarters. ilJ .l reprdro CQlllpleted except plating
am> coaxiol.
2000 Ship ' s position; J:.at. 40° 09 1 N. Long. 61;> Cfl' fl.
2020 S ec~ed from General ~uarters, set War Cruising ~.atcb .
2l4J. aejoined convoy on screen~ station II 4 in accor&aice wit)'! night ec:reen:ing
plan 6 NAN. Com.renced patrolling stat;i.on at 15 knots speed, Coovoy- formed
in se'll'en s olumns, distance 600 yards, interval 1000 yards . Convoy C.:Ol'.lllllander
in the .J • .:>. LIGHTJ!!ii:OO, 1! 41.
Steaming a s before in canpany with Escort Division 22, escorting Convoy CU-2)...
Patrolling on st:ition # 4 in accordance mt.h nieht screening plan 6 NAN . rimCruising ..atch set.
0425 Exerci sed at morning General <.1:Iarters.
0527 Asswned station if 4 :in accordance with day BCJ'eening plan DOO 6.