Operation Störtebecker

(German mediaeval pirate of the late 14th century)

'Störtebecker' was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the Atlantic against the OS.11 convoy (1/11 November 1941).

The wolfpack comprised U-69, U-77, U-85, U-96, U-98, U-103, U-107, U-123, U-133, U-201, U-332, U-372, U-373, U-402, U-552, U-567, U-571, U-572 and U-577, and neither lost any of its own number nor sank any ship.

The wolfpack was initially deployed in the area to the west of Spain to locate and attack the HG.76 convoy, which the Germans expected to depart Gibraltar on 1 November. But the convoy was not found by four Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor long-range reconnaissance bombers of the I/Kampfgeschwader 40, and the same happened on 6 November to six aircraft and the wolfpack’s patrol line.

From 7 November the 'Störtebecker' wolfpack, now without U-103 and U-107, was ordered to the SL.91 convoy, which had been located by the B-Dienst naval signals interception ands analysis service, but by 11 November this convoy too had not been found by reconnaissance aircraft or the U-boats. On 15 November the 'Störtebecker' wolfpack, now with U-69, U-77, U-96, U-98, U-201, U-373 U-552, U-567 and U-572, was launched against the OS.11 convoy, which had been located by the B-Dienst. U-332 and U-402 arrived on 17 and 18 November to strengthen the patrol line, but the convoy was re-routed clear of the wolfpack.

On 19 November the boats were re-formed into three smaller and looser patrol lines to meet the expected OG.77 convoy as the 'Gödecke' wolfpack (U-69, U-98, U-201 and U-572), the 'Beneke' wolfpack (U-96, U-332, U-402 and U-552) and the 'Störtebecker' wolfpack (U-85, U-133, U-571 and U-577). However, on 22/23 all boats with sufficient fuel were ordered to relocate into the area west of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean in response to British successes in the North African campaign.