German submarines sailing to Japan in WW2?

 I just discovered your web site

And I love it!

Happy birthday, hope you have at least 85 more

I will be exploring the site in detail over the next several weeks and really looking forward to it!

I am especially interested in submarine traffic between Germany and Japan

I know about the Japanese "golden sub", but are there more?  How about German subs going to Japan?

You have probably already covered this, I need to get up to speed on your site

Sincere thanks for your work

Hello there,

I cannot address you properly as you did not sign off in your letter.

Thank you for your kind words and greetings, Terry my web master in Atlata Georgia and I are gratified by your compliment.

I have only explored the Japanese Golden Submarine (see "I-52 - Japan's Golden Submarine") on her way to Germany when she was clobbered, and have not done anything on the two way trade between Japan and Germany vis submarines. Perhaps I should take a look at that aspect of WW2.

Below is a brief note about the U-boats used in that regard, and the ill fated voyage of U-234.

The Type XB U Boats
The largest boats built by the Kriegsmarine were the XB type and originally designed as minelayers. Eight were built of 2,177 tons displacement and 294 feet long. Some of these craft were converted as cargo carriers to Japan. Speed on the surface was 16 kts and two defensive torpedo tiubes we fitted aft. One 105mm gun was fitted and two 20mm cannon and one 37 mm flak gun. In a resupply and rendevous role they were usually betrayed by radio transmissions and were easy targets on the surface for aircraft due to their slow dive capability.

U 234 set course for Japan from Norway at the end of the war in a resupply role with 10 German and two Japanese passengers. In addition plans and prototypes of the latest weapons under test and development were on board. Also sealed contaimers of uranium oxide. The boat was hunted down with surprising diligence by the US Navy and was eventually captured and taken to Portsmouth New Hampshire. The uranium was quickly removed but the weapons it was to have been used for remain a mystery.

U-864. Another one sunk when off to Japan.

A German submarine that was sunk off Norway at the end of World War II will be buried in special sand to protect the coastline from its cargo of toxic mercury, the government announced Tuesday.

The U-864 submarine, which was found by the Royal Norwegian Navy in March 2003, is believed to have about 70 tons of mercury on board.

Despite demands from local villagers to remove the mercury, Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Dag Terje Andersen said the government was following expert recommendations to instead bury the sub in sand and stone.

"A raising operation involves great risk of spreading mercury pollution to new areas, areas which are currently clean," he said.

Andersen said the submarine and polluted sections nearby would be covered with a special absorbent sand and then covered with heavier fill to prevent erosion.

The U-864 had been headed for Japan when it was sunk Feb. 9, 1945 about 2 1/2 miles off the island of Fedje. The sub now lies under about 500 feet of water.


Mackenzie Gregory.


Thanks for your reply
My name is Jack, sorry I failed to mention it

I know you have "a lot on your plate" and maybe there is very little here, but I have long been in wonderment of how the Japanese and Germans may have communicated their plans and objectives and transferred goods and services.  Depending on how you sail, it is a long way between the two countries

Reading of the golden subs 21,000 mile range amazed me!  I wonder how much of that was surface time?

Other questions

What items did they trade?

Why was Japan sending gold to Germany?  Repaying a debt?

I saw the comments about the uranium shipment...does that suggest possible German or Japanese Atomic warheads?  What else do you use uranium for (in 1945?)

Don't mean to dominate your time

Thanks again


Of course the Japanese Type C3 submarines were large, some 2,564 tons,and were designed to hump cargo.

Germany needed raw materials unavailable in domestic Europe such as Rubber ( a real priority in any shipments from Japan, picked up in the old Dutch East Indies )  medicine like quinine, oils and fats. The gold would be to pay for products shipped back to Japan.

When I was in the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide, in 1942 in the Indian Ocean we ran into the German Blockade Runner Ramses, she was carrying 4,000 tons of rubber,  quinine, oils such as whale oil, fish oil, lubricating oil, fats, and the luxury of tea.

We sank her combined with the scuttling charges the Germans set off before abandoning ship, we stood off about 10,000 yards, not wanting to emulate HMAS  Sydney, sunk by the Raider Kormoran in 1941, by going in too close.

On Ramses' stern was a large gun, but to our suprise it was not fired in the action, as the ship went down, this gun floated off, merely a wooden one fitted in Japan  to give the allusion she was armed, The Germans rowed up to us in their lifeboats, and as we were hoisting them inboard, when up swam both a dog and a pig from Ramses.

The Captain ordered " Get that dog and pig on board " thus pointing out our priority in the rescue operation.

Amongst those rescued were about 10 Allied ship Captains POW's after their respective ships had fallen to various German Armed Raiders, now they were freed, and their  former free masters took over their previous role. Oh! the fortunes of WAR.

From Germany to Japan, technology such as the V2 Rocket project, two jet ME-262 Jet aircraft were in one U-Boat shipment, but it was sunk, uranium oxide  for Japan's nuclear project. I think torpedoes may have gone to Japan, but then their own Long Lance Torpedo, a 24 inch diameter monster, was in my view, the best torpedo  produced by any country in WW2.

Jack I hope these few notes combined with the E-Mail I sent may give you a feel of this interesting interchange of goods and services across great distances in WW2.


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