Friday, February 03, 2006



By Luis Mota
Fevereiro 03, 2006

The U-1277 was built in the Bremer Vulcan shipyard in Bremen - Vegesack, commissioned on the 3rd May 1944 and launched May 18th of the same year. Her command was delivered to Captain-Lieutenant Peter-Ehrenreich Stever.

She belongs to VIIC class and was, originally, 67m (221ft) long, 6.20m (20ft) high and 4.74m (15ft) waterline beam. Two of her four engines (two diesel and two electric engines) that generated a power of 3200hp with a maximum speed of 17.6 knots on surface and 750hp with maximum speed of 7.6 knots when submerged.

She displaced 769 tons on the surface and 871 when submerged. The sub had a range of 8500 miles at 10 knots on surface, 130 miles at 2 knots submerged, 3250 miles at 17 knots on surface and 80 miles at 4 knots submerged. She could submerge to a maximum depth of between 150m (495ft) and 180m (594ft) with a minimum crash-dive time between 25 and 30 seconds and she had the capacity to store 113.5 tons of fuel.

The sub was fitted with four torpedo launch tubes on the bow, two on starboard and two on portside, and a fifth on the stern (all 533mm), carrying a total of 14 torpedoes. She also had anti-aircraft guns installed on the conning tower. These guns were 37mm automatic cannon and two twin 20mm machine guns.

This submarine was integrated into the 8th flotilla, where she worked first as an experimental and instruction ship. On February 1945, because of the few remaining U-boats still active, she was transferred to Bergen (Norway), home of the 11th flotilla. This sub was now a front boat. Her first and only patrol was to sail across the Iceland Strait into the Atlantic and position herself on the entrance of the English Channel. The U-1277 left port on April 22nd 1945.

The crew was composed by 45 men, four of which were officials - The Commandant (Peter-Ehrenreich Stever), the First Subordinate officer (Johannes Malwitz), Second Subordinate officer (Carl Hermann Stachow) and the machine officer (Ernst Engel) - four sergeants and the remaining crew were sailors. The age of the crew of the U-1277 averaged between 18 and 27.

The U-boat was scuttled on the dawn of June 4th 1945 out of Cabo do Mundo, near Oporto, by order of her Commander, Captain-Lieutenant Stever, after sailing without course through the Atlantic for a period of one month (the Armistice was signed on the 8th of May 1945, one year after her launch into the water and almost one month before she was sunk).

In October 1973 a group of sport divers and local fishermen went out to sea to find out the cause taking hold of all their fishing nets. It was with some luck and happiness that they found that the obstacle was the famous German submarine that sank on our coast at the end of the World War II. The sub rests since 1945 at 31m (102ft) on a sandy seabed, with the stern completely silted up and lain about 45 degrees on her portside. Althought the bow is missing, the four torpedoes launch tubes and the conning tower where all anti-aircraft guns were mounted is still visible.

Original frame outline

Visible part remaining

Sand bottom level (31m)

Hidden part remaining

The hull is dressed with little white anemones (Sargatia elegans), thousands of types of small fish and the largest conger eels that can be found in these waters. Also huge octopuses and the amazing colony of pink anemones descending from the North Sea may be found here. These are some of the natural attraction of this wreck. On the conning tower, divers can only see the hard hull, made with 22mm solder rigid sheet metal, the periscope and the open hatchway.

Even in this state of deterioration, the U-1277 is still clearly one of the best and more interesting wreck dive sites of Portugal and the best in the north of our country.



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