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  U-181 (I-501)
Type IXD2 U-boat

1,616 Tons (surfaced)
1,804 (submerged)
287.4' x 24.6' x 17.7'
6 x 53.3cm torpedo tubes
4 bow, 2 stern with 24 torpedoes
or 72 TMA mines
1 x 105/45mm deck gun
1 x 37mm gun
1 x 20mm gun

Sub History
Built by AG Weser at Bremen, Germany. Laid down March 15, 1941 as Type IXD2 U-boat werk number 1022. Launched December 30, 1941. Commissioned May 9, 1942 in the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) as U-181 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth. After training with 4 Unterseebootsflottille at Stettin, attached to 10 Unterseebootsflottille service on October 1, 1942, then transferred to 12 Unterseebootsflottille on November 1.


Sixth Sailing (War Patrol)
On October 19, 1944 departed Batavia (Jakarta) and patrolled in the Indian Ocean. On November 1, 1944 spotted the tanker SS Fort Lee sailing alone in a zig-zag pattern. U-181 was able to get ahead and in a position to fire upon her. On November 2, 1944 at 8:02pm the submarine fired one torpedo that hit the port quarter and destroyed her boilers, stopping her engines and flooding the fire room.

At 8:18pm as lifeboats #3 and #5 were being lowered into the water, a second torpedo hit the starboard quarter, destroying lifeboat #3 and broke #5 in half. Lifeboats #1, #2, #4, and #6 were successfully launched and recovered the survivors from #3 and #5. A total of nine were killed in the attack and the ship sank at 21:10. This was the submarine's last victory of the war.

U-181 surfaced and interrogated the crew about their cargo and destination. They refused to answer any questions, but accepted a flare gun, food, blankets and medicine. Afterwards, the submarine ended the patrol at Batavia (Jakarta) on January 5, 1945.

Seventh Sailing
On January 14, 1945 departed, but returned two days later.

Japanese Service
After Germany's surrender in May 1945 the U-boat was taken over by the Japanese Navy at Singapore and commissioned as I-501 on July 15, 1945. Surrendered to Allied forces there in August 1945.

Sinking History
On February 12, 1946 scuttled in the Strait of Malacca at roughly Lat 03°05′50″N Long 100°41′50″E by the Royal Navy (RN) frigates HMS Loch Glendhu and HMS Loch Lomond.

References U-181
Combined Fleet - IJN Submarine I-501: Tabular Record of Movement

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Last Updated
August 22, 2020


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