SM U-15 (Germany)

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SM U 15 unterwegs.jpg
U 15 underway
Name: U-15
Ordered: 23 February 1909
Builder: Kaiserliche Werft Danzig
Cost: 2,101,000 Goldmark
Yard number: 11
Launched: 18 September 1911
Commissioned: 7 July 1912
Fate: Rammed 9 August 1914 off Fair Isle, Scotland, at position 58°22′N 0°58′E / 58.367°N 0.967°E / 58.367; 0.967Coordinates: 58°22′N 0°58′E / 58.367°N 0.967°E / 58.367; 0.967. 23 dead.
Class and type: German Type U 13 submarine
  • 516 t (508 long tons) surfaced
  • 644 t (634 long tons) submerged
Length: 57.88 m (189 ft 11 in)
Beam: 6 m (19 ft 8 in)
Draught: 3.44 m (11 ft 3 in)
  • 2 shafts
  • 2 × Körting 6-cylinder and 2 × Körting 8-cylinder two stroke paraffin motors with 900 PS (660 kW; 890 shp)
  • 2 × SSW electric motors with 1,040 PS (760 kW; 1,030 shp)
  • 550 rpm surfaced
  • 600 rpm submerged
  • 14.8 knots (27.4 km/h; 17.0 mph) surfaced
  • 10.7 knots (19.8 km/h; 12.3 mph) submerged
Test depth: 50 m (160 ft)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
1 dinghy
Complement: 4 officers, 25 men
Armament: 4 × 45 cm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes (2 each bow and stern) with 6 torpedoes
Service record
Part of:
  • I Flotilla
  • 1–9 August 1914
  • Kptlt. Richard Pohle[1]
  • 1–9 August 1914
Operations: 1 patrol
Victories: None

SM U-15[Note 1] was one of the three Type U 13 gasoline-powered U-boats produced by the German Empire for the Imperial German Navy. On 9 August 1914, U-15 became the first U-boat loss to an enemy warship after it was rammed by British light cruiser HMS Birmingham.

Constructed by Kaiserliche Werft Danzig, U-15 was ordered on 23 February 1909 and was commissioned three years later on 7 July 1912. The boat left port for its first patrol on 1 August 1914, but on 9 August, U-15 was forced to lie stopped on the surface off the coast of Fair Isle, in Shetland, Scotland, after its engines had failed.

While stranded on the surface, the British warship HMS Birmingham spotted the boat through a thick fog and could hear hammering from inside the boat as the crew tried to repair the damaged engines. The Birmingham's Captain Arthur Duff ordered his crew to fire on the U-boat, but missed. As U-15 attempted to dive to avoid the attack, Duff ordered for his ship to ram the submarine at full speed, cutting it in half and killing all 23 members of its crew.



  1. ^ "SM" stands for "Seiner Majestät" (English: His Majesty's) and combined with the U for Unterseeboot would be translated as His Majesty's Submarine.


  1. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Richard Pohle". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 15 March 2015.


  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4.
  • Kemp, Paul (1997). U-boats destroyed, German submarine losses in the World Wars. London: Arms & Armour Press. p. 9. ISBN 1-85409-321-5.
  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: U 15". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 25 August 2006.
  • "First World". HMS Birmingham & U-15. Retrieved 25 August 2006.
  • Eberhard Möller and Werner Brack, The Encyclopedia of U-Boats From 1904 to the Present, Greenhill Books, London, 2004. ISBN 1-85367-623-3.

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