U-53 in Newport, Rhode Island 7 October 1916
|Ordered:||23 August 1914|
|Laid down:||17 March 1915|
|Launched:||1 February 1916|
|Commissioned:||22 April 1916|
|Fate:||1 December 1918 - Surrendered. Broken up at Swansea in 1922.|
|General characteristics |
|Class & type:||Type U 51 submarine|
|Height:||7.82 m (25 ft 8 in)|
|Draught:||3.64 m (11 ft 11 in)|
|Test depth:||50 m (164 ft 1 in)|
Construction and commissioning
Service with the Kaiserliche Marine
Rose became the 5th ranked German submarine ace of World War I sinking USS Jacob Jones and 87 merchant ships for a total of 224,314 gross register tons (GRT). Rose's first patrol with U-53 was to Newport, Rhode Island. His mission had been to sink any British warships in position to ambush the merchant submarine Bremen; but he heard a radio broadcast on 28 September 1916 indicating Bremen had been sunk. U-53 entered Newport harbor on the morning of 7 October 1916. Rose paid courtesy visits to Rear Admiral Austin M. Knight, Commandant of the United States Second Naval District, and Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves aboard the cruiser USS Birmingham; and then received courtesy visits from both admirals aboard U-53. Admiral Gleaves brought his wife and daughter to visit U-53. It took the neutral American government about two hours to decide how to handle this surprise visit. When the harbor master started talking about quarantine regulations, Rose returned to sea to avoid being interned.
U-53 commenced military operations the next morning two miles off the Lightship Nantucket. The American steamer Kansan was stopped by a shot across the bow at 0535, and then released when examination of her papers revealed no contraband cargo. A large passenger liner was allowed to pass at 0600 because Rose felt unable to provide for the safety of a large number of passengers. The 4,321-ton British steamer Strathdene was stopped at 0653 and torpedoed at 0743 after the crew had abandoned ship. The 3,878-ton Norwegian steamer Christian Knutsen with a cargo of diesel oil for London was stopped at 0803 and torpedoed at 0953 after the crew had abandoned ship. The 3,847-ton steamer West Point was stopped at 1130 and sunk by explosive charges after the crew had abandoned ship.
Seventeen American destroyers were dispatched from Newport to search for survivors in response to the Nantucket lightship's reports of sinkings. The destroyers arrived about 1700 as U-53 stopped the Dutch steamer Blommersdyk bound for England with contraband cargo. The 3,449-ton British passenger liner Stephano was stopped and the gathering American destroyers took off its crew and passengers. Rose used his last torpedoes to sink Blommersdyk at 1950 and Stephano at 2230. Rose set a homeward course via the Gulf Stream and evaded three British destroyers sent from Canada to intercept him.
Political Ramifications from Trip
There was a great deal of anger amongst the Allied powers after the visit of U-53 to the American port and the subsequent sinking of Allied shipping. While all of the sinkings were done according to Prize Court laws and nobody was killed during them, the attacks instilled fear in the British because of the reach of the German U-boats, and the United States because these attacks occurred so close to American shores.
The British were further outraged that most of the attacks occurred while the submarine was surrounded by American destroyers. After a soothing speech by Sir Edward Grey, these complaints were calmed when he pointed out that the American ships had no legal right to interfere with these attacks and had done all they could to rescue the sailors in the water. German newspapers celebrated the trip as a great demonstration of the reach of the German Navy and Captain Rose was praised for his actions.
Career after voyage
Rose was relieved by von Schrader in 1918. The sub operated primarily within the English Channel after this, attacking Allied and neutral vessels. Von Schrader sank ten more ships of 1,782 tons with U-53 before the armistice on 11 November.
Summary of raiding career
|11 July 1916||Calypso||United Kingdom||2,876||Sunk|
|8 October 1916||Blommersdijk||Netherlands||4,850||Sunk|
|8 October 1916||Christian Knutsen||Norway||4,224||Sunk|
|8 October 1916||Stephano||United Kingdom||3,449||Sunk|
|8 October 1916||Strathdene||United Kingdom||4,321||Sunk|
|8 October 1916||West Point||United Kingdom||3,847||Sunk|
|22 January 1917||Anna||France||154||Sunk|
|22 January 1917||Zeta||Netherlands||3,053||Sunk|
|28 January 1917||Nueva Montana||Spain||2,039||Sunk|
|29 January 1917||Algorta||Spain||2,117||Sunk|
|31 January 1917||Hekla||Norway||524||Sunk|
|2 February 1917||Odin||Norway||1,045||Sunk|
|3 February 1917||Housatonic||United States||3,143||Sunk|
|4 February 1917||Aimee Maria||France||327||Sunk|
|4 February 1917||Bangpuhtis||Russian Empire||259||Sunk|
|5 February 1917||Bravalla||Sweden||1,519||Sunk|
|9 February 1917||Marian||Netherlands||71||Sunk|
|2 March 1917||Gazelle||United Kingdom||119||Sunk|
|2 March 1917||Utopia||United Kingdom||184||Sunk|
|3 March 1917||Theodoros Pangalos||Greece||2,838||Sunk|
|5 March 1917||Federico Confalonieri||Kingdom of Italy||4,434||Sunk|
|9 March 1917||Cavour||Kingdom of Italy||1,929||Sunk|
|9 March 1917||Lars Fostenes||Norway||2,118||Sunk|
|10 March 1917||St. Feodor||Russian Empire||126||Damaged|
|11 March 1917||Folia||United Kingdom||6,705||Sunk|
|11 March 1917||Gracia||Spain||3,129||Sunk|
|12 March 1917||Hainaut||Belgium||4,113||Sunk|
|14 March 1917||Aquila||Norway||1,092||Sunk|
|18 April 1917||Scalpa||United Kingdom||1,010||Sunk|
|18 April 1917||Sculptor||United Kingdom||3,846||Sunk|
|19 April 1917||Tempus||United Kingdom||2,981||Sunk|
|21 April 1917||Pontiac||United Kingdom||1,698||Sunk|
|22 April 1917||Neepawah||Canada||1,799||Sunk|
|23 April 1917||Eptapyrgion||United Kingdom||4,307||Sunk|
|24 April 1917||Anglesea||United Kingdom||4,534||Sunk|
|24 April 1917||Ferndene||United Kingdom||3,770||Sunk|
|25 April 1917||Elisabeth||Denmark||217||Damaged|
|25 April 1917||Laura||United Kingdom||335||Sunk|
|26 April 1917||Hekla||Denmark||169||Sunk|
|27 June 1917||Ultonia||United Kingdom||10,402||Sunk|
|8 July 1917||Asheim||Norway||2,147||Sunk|
|8 July 1917||Atlantic||Denmark||1,087||Sunk|
|10 July 1917||Cedric||United Kingdom||197||Sunk|
|10 July 1917||Mabel||United Kingdom||205||Sunk|
|10 July 1917||Pacific||United Kingdom||235||Sunk|
|10 July 1917||Peridot||United Kingdom||214||Sunk|
|10 July 1917||Pretoria||United Kingdom||283||Sunk|
|10 July 1917||Romantic||United Kingdom||197||Sunk|
|10 July 1917||Sea King||United Kingdom||185||Sunk|
|10 July 1917||Stoic||United Kingdom||200||Sunk|
|16 August 1917||Athenia||United Kingdom||8,668||Sunk|
|21 August 1917||Devonian||United Kingdom||10,435||Sunk|
|21 August 1917||Roscommon||United Kingdom||8,238||Sunk|
|22 August 1917||Verdi||United Kingdom||7,120||Sunk|
|23 August 1917||Boniface||United Kingdom||3,799||Sunk|
|26 August 1917||Durango||United Kingdom||3,008||Sunk|
|26 August 1917||Kenmore||United Kingdom||3,919||Sunk|
|10 October 1917||Bostonian||United Kingdom||5,736||Sunk|
|10 October 1917||Gowrie||United Kingdom||1,031||Sunk|
|11 October 1917||Lewis Luckenbach||United States||3,906||Sunk|
|15 October 1917||San Nazario||United Kingdom||10,064||Damaged|
|17 October 1917||Manchuria||United Kingdom||2,997||Sunk|
|17 October 1917||Polvena||United Kingdom||4,750||Sunk|
|19 October 1917||Parkhaven||Netherlands||2,635||Sunk|
|20 November 1917||Megrez||Netherlands||2,695||Sunk|
|20 November 1917||Nederland||Netherlands||1,832||Sunk|
|23 November 1917||Westlands||United Kingdom||3,112||Sunk|
|24 November 1917||Dunrobin||United Kingdom||3,617||Sunk|
|1 December 1917||Helenus||United Kingdom||7,555||Damaged|
|5 December 1917||Earlswood||United Kingdom||2,353||Damaged|
|6 December 1917||USS Jacob Jones||United States Navy||1,050||Sunk|
|9 December 1917||Nyanza||United Kingdom||6,695||Damaged|
|9 December 1917||War Tune||United Kingdom||2,045||Sunk|
|10 December 1917||Øiekast||Norway||605||Sunk|
|4 February 1918||Treveal||United Kingdom||4,160||Sunk|
|6 February 1918||Holkar||United Kingdom||61||Sunk|
|6 February 1918||Marsouin||France||55||Sunk|
|7 February 1918||Beaumaris||United Kingdom||2,372||Sunk|
|8 February 1918||Basuta||United Kingdom||2,876||Sunk|
|9 February 1918||Lydie||United Kingdom||2,559||Sunk|
|11 February 1918||Merton Hall||United Kingdom||4,327||Sunk|
|2 April 1918||Meaford||United Kingdom||1,889||Sunk|
|7 April 1918||Cadillac||United Kingdom||11,106||Damaged|
|7 April 1918||Knight Templar||United Kingdom||7,175||Damaged|
|7 April 1918||Port Campbell||United Kingdom||6,230||Sunk|
|20 June 1918||Aisne||United Kingdom||315||Damaged|
|27 June 1918||Keelung||United Kingdom||6,672||Sunk|
|28 June 1918||Queen||United Kingdom||4,956||Sunk|
|30 June 1918||W.M.L.||United Kingdom||145||Sunk|
|2 July 1918||Erme||United Kingdom||116||Sunk|
|6 July 1918||Gullfaxi||Iceland||46||Sunk|
|28 August 1918||Pauline||Russian Empire||134||Sunk|
|1 September 1918||Ami De Dieu||France||45||Sunk|
|1 September 1918||Etoile Polaire||France||51||Sunk|
|2 September 1918||Hirondelle||France||38||Sunk|
|2 September 1918||Nicolazic||France||42||Sunk|
|4 September 1918||War Firth||United Kingdom||3,112||Sunk|
|5 September 1918||Rio Mondego||Portugal||733||Damaged|
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-53". German and Austrian U-Boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- Gröner 1985, p. 33-34.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Kapitänleutnant Hans Rose - German U-boat commanders of WWI". German and Austrian U-Boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Oberleutnant zur See Otto von Schrader - German U-boat commanders of WWI". German and Austrian U-Boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
- Tarrant 1989 p.146
- Long, October 1966, pp.89-92
- Long, October 1966, p.93
- Long, October 1966, pp.93-94
- Massie 2003 p.690-691
- Tarrant 1989 p.153
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-53". German and Austrian U-Boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
- Gröner, Erich (1985). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815–1945 (in German). III. Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 3-7637-4802-4.
- Long (October 1966). "The Cruise of the U-53". United States Naval Institute Proceedings.
- Tarrant, V.E. (1989). The U-Boat Offensive 1914-1945. Cassell & Company. ISBN 1-85409-520-X.
- Massie, Robert. (2003). Castles of Steel. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-40878-0.
- Spindler, Arno (1932). Der Handelskrieg mit U-Booten. 5 Vols (1933, 1934, 1941/1964, 1966 ed.). Berlin: Mittler & Sohn. Vols. 4+5, dealing with 1917+18, are very hard to find: Guildhall Library, London, has them all, also Vol. 1-3 in an English translation: The submarine war against commerce.
- Beesly, Patrick (1982). Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918. London: H Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-10864-2.
- Halpern, Paul G. (1953). A Naval History of World War I. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85728-498-0.
- Roessler, Eberhard (1997). Die Unterseeboote der Kaiserlichen Marine. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-5963-7.
- Schroeder, Joachim (2002). Die U-Boote des Kaisers. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-6235-4.
- Koerver, Hans Joachim (2008). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol I., The Fleet in Action. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-76-3.
- Koerver, Hans Joachim (2009). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol II., The Fleet in Being. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-77-0.
- Photos of cruises of German submarine U-54 in 1916-1918. Great photo quality, comments in German.
- A 44 min. film from 1917 about a cruise of the German submarine U-35. A German propaganda film without dead or wounded; many details about submarine warfare in World War I.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-53.". German and Austrian U-Boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- Room 40: original documents, photos and maps about World War I German submarine warfare and British Room 40 Intelligence from The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, UK.
- National Maritime Museum webpage - Portrait of Commander Rose on the deck of U-53 in the collection of the National Maritime Museum