U-58, a German submarine, along with UC-29 and UC-30 served as an escort to SMS SeaGull on November 23, 1916.
Escort service provided SeaGull with a way to observe and avoid ships of the British blockade. Sailing many miles ahead of the escorted ship, the submarine sailed with its deck awash, which made the boat practically invisible to other ships. Crewmen on the submarine were able to observe blockade ships in safety. Preset radio codes were used to pass information of the presence and location of these ships. Escorted vessels could then alter course to avoid the blockade ships.
Submarines doing escort work were not to engage the enemy. Their sole purposes were to observe and communicate any sightings. If significant enemy ships were encountered they were to radio the situation, submerge and return to Germany.
On escort duty the crew of the submarine would not likely see the escorted vessel during the voyage.
U-58 was built by A. G. Weser, at Bremen Germany and commissioned on August 9, 1916. She was 219 feet in length, displaced 1,104 tons with a surface speed of 15 knots and a submerged speed of 9 knots. She had two bow and two stern torpedo tubes. A 105-mm and an 88-mm naval cannon were mounted on the deck.
Kapitanleutnant Gustav Amberger commanded U-58 with a crew of 39 when she was attacked by the United States destroyers Fanning and Nicholson on November 17, 1917 at the entrance to Cork Harbor, Ireland. The German crew scuttled the submarine; two Germans died in the attack.
Gustav Amberger is shown leading the crew of U-58 into the US Government War Prison at Fort McPherson on April 18, 1918. The picture was obtained from NARA.
The 38 surviving crewmen of U-58 were the only German submariners captured by the United States during the war. Originally they were interned at prisoner of war camps in England, Scotland and Wales. The German government complained as the Hague Convention dictating the rules of war require captured combatants be interned only by the country that captured them. They were transported to the United States on the USS Leviathan (formerely the Hamburg-American liner Vaterland) and interned at the War Prison Barracks, Fort McPherson, Georgia.
The wreck of the U-58 is frequently visited by scuba divers.
In remembrance of the two souls lost while serving aboard U-58, during World War I. Deaths were the result of the encounter with United States destroyers on November 17, 1917.
- Petty Officer Franz Baden went down with his ship.
- Petty Officer Franz Glinder was drowned. He was buried at sea by the crew of the Fanning with full honors.
This is a complete list of U-58 crewmembers interned at Fort McPherson.
Gustav Amberger, Lieutenant Commander Fritz Bachmann, Stoker Eduard Birk, Petty Officer Viktor Bornheim, Petty Officer Bernhard Brauns, Sailor Adolf Busch, Sailor Hugo Gorgen, Stoker Ernst Grunert, Chief Petty Officer Arthur Haupt, Petty Officer Reinhard Kading, Sailor Kurt Kretzschmar, Sailor Ernst Krueger, Stoker Herman Kuhlmann, Sailor Franz Litwin, Petty Officer Frederick Mueller, Lieutenant Willie Oesschig, Petty Officer Karl Peterson, Stoker Ernst Rauschnner, Sailor Fritz Renz, Sailor Heinrich Repke, Warrant Officer Herman Rippe, Petty Officer Peter Schiffers, Stoker Kurt Schneider, Stoker Paul Schroeder, Ober Lieutenant Willy Selberg, Stoker Fritz Shulz, Sailor Adolph Simmons, Stoker Michael Sommueller, Petty Officer Albert Sporhage, Stoker Joseph Steinau, Stoker Hans Stoffels, Petty Officer Herman Thiel, Sailor Paul Trumphold, Stoker Walter Ueckerann, Sailor Otto Von Ritgen, Ober Lieutenant Philip Weyer, Stoker Heinrich Wissemann, Petty Officer Berthold Wittenbacher, Stoker
RELATED WEB SITES:
U-58 A German submarine wreck of Cork Harbor.
Fanning A more detailed article about the destroyer.
Nicholson A more detailed article about Nicholson.
NARA US National Archives Records Administration.
uboat.net A site dedicated to German U-boats.
RAIDERS OF THE DEEP, by Lowell Thomas.
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