On 9 December 1941 U-557 left Messina for her last patrol.




U-557...Sank on 16 December 1941 in the Mediterranean Sea west of Crete, in position 35.31N, 23.19E, after erroneous ramming by the Italian torpedo boat Orione. 43 dead all hands lost.


On 9 December 1941 U-557 left Messina for her last patrol. Six days later she sank the British cruiser HMS Galatea off the Egyptian coast. The U-boat headed back the same day for the base of the 23rd Flotilla at Salamis.

At 1806hrs on 16 December, U-557 sent a short radio signal indicating that she was 18 hours from port. At 1800hrs on the same day, the Italian torpedo boat Orione (TV M. Gambetta) left the Cretan port of Suda. The commander had no knowledge that a German U-boat was in the area off Crete and he did not receive any information to this effect during his patrol.

When the Italian commander saw a submarine at 2144hrs, heading in a northerly direction, he decided to ram it, supposing it to be British. U-557 sank immediately with all hands; the now-damaged Italian torpedo boat headed back to base. During the investigation of this incident, it was realized that word about U-557's location had reached the Italian Navy first at 2200hrs or later. The position of the incident was given by the Italian commander as 35.31N, 23.19E.


photo:U-557 deports from Tirpitz Pier, Kiel Harbor for her first patrol, 13 May 1941.

The 2nd Watch Officer, Author Herbert A. Werner, is leaning forward. Herbert Werner, author of the famous book Iron Coffins, served as a Watch Officer under Paulssen on U-557 for the first two patrols, but then left to serve as I WO on U-230. third photo: commander Ottokar Arnold Paulssen



The position of the incident given by the Italian commander as 35.31N, 23.19E. Crew Lost in the Mediterranean Sea west of Crete on 16 Dec 41 Surname Given Name Rank Date of Birth Boats Served On

Paulshen Ottokar KpLt 11 Oct 1915 u-577 Albrecht Erich MtrGfr 19 Sep 20 U-557 Böttcher Erwin MaschMt 01 Oct 17 U-557 Bouchard Hans MaschMt 11 Jan 16 U-557 Bruns Bernard FkMt 11 Jan 20 U-557 Büch Richard OFkMstr 04 Feb 16 U-557 Claß Alfred MechOGfr 25 Jan.18 U-557 Claß Fritz MechOGfr 04 Apr 20 U-557 Dattner Paul FkOGfr 01 Jan.22 U-557 Feder O Lt.ing Unknown U-557 Forberger Kurt Fahnr.z.S 13.11.1921 U-557 Franke Fritz OMasch 03.01.1914 U-557 Gehlhaar Herbert MaschMt 05.09.1916 U-557 Gilsheuser Erich Fahnr.z.S 21.01.1922 U-557 Groh Jakob MaschOGfr 12.11.1919 U-557 Hamm Ulrich MtrGfr 05.06.1921 U-557 Hartmann Friedrich-Josef MaschOGfr 22.02.1921 U-557 Henzel Rudolf MaschOGfr 21.05.1921 U-557 Heyne Karl Lt.ing 16.03.1912 U-557 Johannsen Hans MaschMt 06.03.1919 U-557 Kadner Siegfried MtrOGfr 08.08.1920 U-557 Klosterkamp Kurt MaschOGfr 16.01.1916 U-557 Kluczewski Franz MaschOGfr 17.04.1920 U-557 Koziol Leo-Alois Mtr.II 09.06.1922 U-557 Loser Karl-Heinz MaschOGfr 09.09.1921 U-557 Müller Heinrich OMasch 30.03.1913 U-557 Mürköster Karl-Heinz OMech 11.08.1914 U-557 Munsteiner Rudolf MaschGfr 25.08.1922 U-557 Putsch Kurt BtsMt 25.03.1917 U-557 Rosinski Herbert OStrm 29.06.1914 U-557 Ruttkowski Walter MaschOGfr 24.02.1920 U-557 Scholz Günther MaschMt 10.12.1915 U-557 Schott Karl MtrOGfr 08.03.1921 U-557 Schürmann Heinz MaschOGfr 16.02.1919 U-557 Seifert Willi MtrOGfr 08.11.1921 U-557 Seybold Joachim Lt.z.S 03.01.1918 U-557 Stöcker August MaschOGfr 11.03.1920 U-557 Theis Karl MaschMt 28.02.1918 U-557 Trenkler Erhard OLt.z.S 09.03.1917 U-557 Wagner Heinz MtrOGfr 23.12.1919 U-557 Walther Johann MtrOGfr 14.12.1920 U-557 Wildbichler Theodor FkGfr 12.11.1922 U-557 Wissel Heinrich BtsMt 16.07.1919 U-557 Wüstenhagen Ernst MtrGfr 08.08.1919 U-557 Zbikowski Max OBtsMt 04.07.1916 U-557