U-571 under Helmut Möhlmann June 1942 Bahamas patrol


The third and final U-boat to enter the area on the same day, on roughly the same course and in roughly the same position was the Type VIIC boat U-571 under Helmut Möhlmann. Arriving on the 30thof June 1942 just south of Bermuda, he proceeded west-southwest towards the north of Grand Bahama, where he arrived on the 5th of July. At that point the boat turned sharply to port and entered the Gulf Stream in the Straits of Florida, bucking the current for several days until the 7th.

On 7 July U-571 sank the Umtata. This ship had been badly damaged by U-161 (under Achilles) earlier in the war in a daring attack on Castries harbor, St. Lucia in the Caribbean, only to be sunk while under tow and near its final repair yard. The day later the U-boat encountered and sank the J. A. Moffett, also off southeastern Florida. On the 9th the boat rounded Key West inbound to the US Gulf, and the following day sank the Honduran freighter Nicholas Cuneo.

On the return trip Möhlmann doubled Key West on the 16th of July and opted for a different course homeward: this time he sailed down the length of the Old Bahama Channel, utilizing the Saint Nicholas Channel between the Cay Sal Bank and the north coast of Cuba. After four days he reached the northwest coast of Inagua, which he left to starboard and headed back into the open Atlantic via the Caicos Passage.

U-571 exited the area mid-way between Bermuda and Anegada on the 23rd of July, making for La Pallice again where it was based with the Third Flotilla. The other victim of this patrol was the impressive tanker Pennsylvania Sun(damaged), of 11,394, bringing total tonnage lost or damaged (the Moffett was a constructive total loss, meaning it would cost more to repair her than she was worth), was 30,374 GRT.

On the way to the patrol area U-571 took part in a patrol line, called Endrass, initially against convoy HG 84 along with five other boats. When the patrol line was disbanded U-571 was refueled west of the Azores by U-459 (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.47). The patrol began in La Pallice / La Rochelle on the 11thof June and ended there on the 7th of August 1942.

A member of the Class of 1933, Kapitänleutnant Helmut Möhlmann was promoted to Korvettenkapitän in the last weeks of the war. He joined U-boats in April 1940 and sailed in eight patrols of 344 days before joining the BdU staff, eventually commanding the 14th Flotilla in Narvik, Norway. In April 1943 he received the Knights Cross and a year later the U-boat Front Clasp. His awards began in June 1939 with the Spanish Cross in Bronze without swords.

Over his career Möhlmann sank five ships for 33,511 including the Koll (sister ship to the Kollskegg whose survivors were landed in Nassau) and the Margaret off the US coast, plus the Pennsylvania Sundamaged, the Moffet a loss, and an auxiliary warship also a total loss for 3,870 tons. Möhlmann lived until 1977, passing away at age 63.

SOURCES: Gudmundur Helgason, Rainer Kolbicz, www.uboat.net, 2011m Kenneth Wynn, U-boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 1997