Operation Kreuzotter (i)


'Kreuzotter' (i) was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the Atlantic against the ONS.144 convoy (8/24 November 1942).

The wolfpack comprised U-84, U-184, U-224, U-262, U-383, U-454, U-521, U-522, U-606, U-611, U-624 and U-753, and for the loss of Kapitänleutnant Günther Dangschat’s U-184 sank seven ships (31,935 tons including the Free Norwegian corvette Montbretia) and damaged one 5,432-ton ship.

When the 'Natter' wolfpack was broken up on 7 November, the U-boats with the least fuel were concentrated as the 'Kreuzotter' (i) wolfpack: these boats were U-84, U-244, U-383, U-521, U-522 and U-753, and by 217 November these had been supplemented by U-454, U-606 and U-624, which had been refuelled at sea, and U-184, U-262, U-264 and U-611, newly arrived from their European bases.

On 12 November Oberleutnant Hans-Karl Kosbadt’s U-224 sank the independently routed 5,614-ton Panamanian Buchanan. On 15 November 1942 Kapitänleutnant Klaus Bargsten’s U-521 spotted and reported the ONS.44 convoy of 33 ships supported by Lieutenant Commander C. A. Monssen’s British Escort Group B6 (Free Norwegian corvettes Potentilla, Eglantine, Montbretia and Rose, British corvette Vervain and HF/DF-equipped rescue ship Perth). U-521 made unsuccessful attacks before being depth-charged and driven off by Rose. In poor visibility U-611 also lost contact which had been only briefly established. Only during the afternoon of 17 November were U-521 and then U-184 able to approach the convoy. The latter led the other boats to the scene with D/F bearings.

During the night of 17/18 November U-262, U-264, U-184, U-521, U-224, U-383, U-454 and U-624 attacked in succession, Kapitänleutnant Hartwig Looks’s U-264 sinking the 6,696-ton Greek Mount Taurus and Kapitänleutnant Günther Dangschat’s U-184 the 3,192-ton British Widestone. Kapitänleutnant Ulrich Graf von Soden-Fraunhofen’s
U-624 sank the 4,732-ton US Parismina and 5,344-ton British President Sergent, and torpedoed and damaged the 5,432-ton US Yaka, which was later sunk by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Schneider’s U-522; U-624 also just missed Eglantine. The other boats missed their targets and were depth-charged by Rose, Montbretia and Potentilla.

Toward morning Kapitänleutnant Heinz Franke’s U-262 sank Montbretia. U-753 missed Perth, which was with Rose. Because of their expenditure of torpedoes and increasing shortage of fuel, most of the boats had to depart on 18 November, leaving only U-184, U-262, U-264 and U-611 to continue the operation.

During the afternoon of 18 November and morning of 19 November, salvoes from U-264 and U-184 missed their targets and then the escort, reinforced in the evening by the destroyers Badger and Firedrake, drove off the boats.

Toward daybreak on 20 November Potentilla attacked and slightly damaged U-264 and damaged the contact-keeper U-184, and shortly after this U-264 missed Rose. Dangschat’s U-184 was then lost to unknown causes. In the morning anti-submarine escorts of the western local escort force met the convoy, and the U-boats ended their effort.