This was a U-boat wolfpack seven-part operation (‘Rügen I’ to ‘Rügen VII’) in the Atlantic (23 December 1943/7 January 1944).
At various times the ‘Rügen I’ wolfpack comprised U-364, U-545, U-547, U-741, U-744, U-762, U-972 and U-981, and for the loss of none of its own number sank one 7,359-ton ship of the ON.217 convoy; the ‘Rügen II’ wolfpack comprised U-364, U-545, U-741, U-744, U-762, U-972 and U-981, and for the loss of Klaus-Dietrich König’s U-972 sank no ship; the ‘Rügen III’ wolfpack comprised U-302, U-390, U-392, U-471, U-763, U-846 and U-960, and neither lost any of its own number nor sank any ship; the ‘Rügen IV’ wolfpack comprised U-92, U-302, U-311, U-392, U-471, U-846, U-960 and U-976, and neither lost any of its own number nor sank any ship; the ‘Rügen V’ wolfpack comprised U-92, U-260, U-311, U-672, U-757, U-846 and U-976, and neither lost any of its own number nor sank any ship; the ‘Rügen VI’ wolfpack comprised U-260, U-309, U-421, U-544, U-625, U-653, U-666, U-672, U-731 and U-976, and neither lost any of its own number nor sank any ship; and the ‘Rügen VII’ wolfpack, which existed between 28 December 1943 and 2 January 1944, comprised U-309, U-653 and U-731, and neither lost any of its own number nor sank any ship.
The ‘Rügen I’ to ‘Rügen VII’ wolfpacks were created out of the boats of the former ‘Amrum’, ‘Föhr’ and ‘Sylt’ wolfpacks in the area of the Atlantic to the west of Ireland, and initially comprised ‘Rügen I’ with U-364, U-972 and U-981, ‘Rügen II’ with U-545, U-744 and U-781, ‘Rügen III’ with U-390, U-471 and U-546, ‘Rügen IV’ with U-302, U-392, U-960 and U-976, ‘Rügen V’ with U-92, U-311 and U-672, and ‘Rügen VI’ with U-421, U-625 and U-653.
On 22/23 December the westbound UC.8 tanker convoy, followed by the TU.5 convoy escorted by the US Task Force 68 and the US battleship Nevada, passed between the ‘Rügen II’ and ‘Rügen III’ wolfpacks. On 23 December U-471 missed the US battleship Arkansas of Task Unit 5 and was then damaged by an aeroplane of RAF Coastal Command. U-653 missed a frigate from the escort of the CU.9 tanker convoy farther south. An attack by U-392 on a small convoy during 26 December was also unsuccessful.
On 30 December some of the boats established contact with stragglers from the ON.217 convoy, which was supported by the Canadian Escort Group C5: the 7,539-ton British Empire Housman was first missed by U-744, then damaged by Kapitänleutnant Gert Mannesmann’s U-545 and finally sunk by Oberleutnant Heinz Blischke’s U-744. U-731 missed another ship. U-92, U-260, U-302, U-309, U-311, U-364, U-386, U-390, U-392, U-471, U-545, U-547, U-666, U-731, U-741, U-747, U-762, U-846, U-972, U-976 and U-981 operated individually from 5 January, but were again unsuccessful.