It's History

U-86 was commissioned on 30 November, 1916 and served until it was surrendered at the end of the War.
It’s first commander was Kapitänleutnant Friedrich Crüsemann, who was in charge of the boat until June 22nd, 1917. On June 23rd Kapitänleutnant Alfred Götze took over as commander. Oberleutnant zur See Helmut Patzig was the last commander of U-86. He was appointed on January 26th, 1918 and served until the boat was surrendered at the end of the war on November 11th, 1918.
Between 1917 and 1918, U-86 was assigned to the 4th U-Flotilla. Altogether the boat conducted 12 patrols. It sank a total of 33 ships (125.580 tons), warships excluded.

In 1918

As an example for the general service of U-86, information for the year 1918 has been extracted from the German naval war diary.
In 1918 U-86 conducted operations in the Skagerrak (the waters between Norway and Denmark), the Irish Sea, the North Sea and the Bristol Channel. It sank the following ships:
  • the British steamer Kafue (6044grt): 1 May, 1918
  • the British steamer Medora (5135grt): 3 May
  • the British steamer Leeds City (4298grt): 7 May
  • the Norwegian steamer San Andres (1656grt): 12 May
  • the British steamer Atlantian (9399 BRT): 26 June
  • the US troop transport Covington (16,339grt):1 July
In June 1918 U-86 was involved in one of the worst war crimes committed by a U-boat commander during the First World War, the sinking of the British hospital ship Llandovery Castle and the subsequent murder of the surviving crew members in the water.
The Llandovery Castle, clearly marked as a hospital ship and known to the German government as such, was en route from England to Halifax, Canada, with nurses, officers and men of the Canadian Medical Corps on board when she was torpedoed by U-86 in the evening of June 27, about 116 nautical miles south-west of Fastnet.
According to witness statements at the later Leipzig war crime trial, the commander of U-86, Oberleutnant zur See Patzig, gave the order to torpedo the Llandovery Castle even though he knew that she was a hospital ship, the sinking of which was illegal under international law and the Hague convention.
Even though the Llandovery Castle sank within ten minutes, a number of boats were lowered successfully and the ship was abandoned in a calm and efficient manner. The lifeboats proceeded to rescue survivors from the water but were interrupted by Patzig, who started interrogating crew members to obtain proof of the misuse of the hospital ship as an ammunition carrier.
When no proof could be obtained, Patzig gave the command ‘Ready for Diving’ and ordered the crew below deck. Only himself, the two accused officers and the boatswain’s mate Meissner stayed on deck.
However, the U-boat did not dive, but started firing at and sinking the life boats in an attempt to kill all the witnesses in order to cover up the incident. To conceal this, Patzig extracted promises of secrecy from the crew, and faked the course of U-86 in the logbook so that nothing would connect U-86 with the sinking of the Llandovery Castle. Of the 258 persons on board only 24 survived.
After the war Patzig fled the country and only the first and second officer of U-86, Dithmar and Boldt could be arrested and tried for their action in the incident.
At the Leipzig trial, both Dithmar and Boldt were sentenced to four years of hard labour. Patzig, with whom the responsibility for the incident rested was never found and prosecuted. Dithmar and Boldt were both released from prison after a few months due to the political changes in Germany.
U-86 was in the first group of u-boats that were handed over to the Allies as part of the armistice treaty at the end of the war. She was taken from Brunsbüttel, Germany to Harwich, England, on November 20th, 1918. From September 1919 to March 1920, U-86 was commissioned into the Royal Navy to test her design and make comparisons with other classes and later designs.
After decommissioning U-86 was scuttled at sea at the end of June 1921. The evidence of the ROV survey suggests that the bow and stern of the U-boat may have been blown off to sink the vessel.