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Unterseeboot 869

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Laid down:5 April 1943
Commissioned:26 January 1944
Fate:sunk by circular-run torpedo
General Characteristics
Unterseeboot 869 (U-869) was a Type IXC/40 U-boat of the Kriegsmarine. Her keel was laid down 5 April 1943 by AG Weser of Bremen. She was commissioned on 26 January 1944 with Kapitänleutnant Hellmut Neuerburg in command. Neuerburg went down with his boat.

U-869 conducted one war patrol without success. She suffered no casualties to her crew until she was lost in February 1945 with all hands (56 dead).

On 28 February 1945 the US destroyer escort USS Fowler[?] and the French submarine chaser L'Indiscret[?] conducted a depth charge attack on a submerged contact in the mid-Atlantic near Rabat and reported a kill. U-869 had been previously ordered by BdU to move her area of operations from the North American coast to the Gibraltar area, and for many years this attack was assumed to have been her end.

However, on 2 September 1991, an unidentified U-boat wreck was discovered 73 meters deep (a hazardous depth for free diving) off the coast of New Jersey. The discoverers continued to dive the wreck for the next several years, taking considerable risks to recover a knife inscribed with a crew member's name, part of the UZO torpedo aiming device, and spare parts from the motor room engraved with serial- and other identifying numbers. On 31 August 1997 they concluded that the boat they found is the U-869. What (if anything) the destroyers actually attacked off Rabat is unknown.

The cause of U-869's loss is unknown, but it is quite possible she was hit by a circular torpedo run. At least two other U-boats are known to have been lost to their own torpedoes: U-377[?] in 1944 and U-972[?] in late 1943.

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