Operation Wiking (iii)

Viking

This was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the Kara Sea (1 August/8 October 1943).

The wolfpack eventually comprised U-302, U-307, U-354, U-601, U-703, U-711 and U-960, and for the loss of none of its own number sank four ships (10,157 tons including three of the VA.18 convoy) and damaged one 3,771-ton ship.

As part of ‘Wunderland II’, Oberleutnant Erich Harms’s U-255 departed on 27 July, on passage sinking the 300-ton Soviet survey ship Akademik Shokalsky, to establish a base on 1 August near Spory Navolok on the north-east coast of Novaya Zemlya. Here, on 4 August, the boat refuelled a Blohm und Voss Bv 138 flying boat that on 5, 6, 7 and 11 August undertook reconnaissance flights as far to the east as the Vilkitsky Strait (between the Taimyr peninsula and Bolshevik island in the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, and thus connecting the Kara and Laptev Seas) as part of the preparatory programme for operations against Soviet convoys by the ‘Wiking’ wolfpack.

The wolfack initially comprised U-302, U-354 and U-711, and was designed to support the pocket battleship (ex-pocket battleship) Lützow waiting in the Altafjord of German-occupied northern Norway. When the flying boat was no longer available, a second effort was made between 4 and 6 September, supported by U-255 and U-601, but again failed to find any convoy. On 21 August U-354 spotted a convoy off Port Dikson and shadowed this as it moved to the east. Only on 27 and 28 August did U-302 and U-354, which had arrived in the Vilkitsky Strait, try to take the offensive in the western part of the Siberian Sea, where they damaged the 3,771-ton Petrovsky and sank the 2,900-ton Dikson.

Between 13 August and 25 September the boats of the ‘Dachs’ wolfpack undertook mining operations in the Kara Sea with the aid of some of the ‘Wiking’ wolfpack’s boats. U-960 operated east of the Matochkin Strait, where U-711 made an unsuccessful hunt for a Soviet patrol ship known to be in the area. U-601 and U-960 patrolled off Port Dikson. On 9 September U-711 explored the area off Wardroper island, and on 18 and 24 September undertook gunfire bombardments of the radio stations at Pravdy and Blagopoluchiya.

On 30 September U-601, U-703 and U-960 relieved the original three boats of the ‘Wiking’ wolfpack, and on the same day spotted the VA.18 convoy from the east with four merchant vessels escorted by the minelayer Murman and minesweeping trawlers T-886, T-896 and T-909. On 30 September Oberleutnant Günther Heinrich’s U-960 sank the 2,480-ton Arkhangyel’sk off the Sergeya Kirova islands. On 1 October Oberleutnant Joachim Brünner’s U-703 sank the 4,146-ton Sergei Kirov but missed the Mossovet, while U-601 missed Murman and was taken under fire by her. Heinrich’s U-960 sank the 611-ton T-896 but missed A. Andreyev.