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SM U-30

1st September 1914 U-Boat Index - WW1  SM U-30

Type U 27 Shipyard Kaiserliche Werft, Danzig (Werk 20) Ordered 19 Feb 1912 Launched 15 Nov 1913 Commissioned 26 Aug 1914.
25 Sep 1914 - 22 Jun 1915 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski.
1 May 1916 - 20 Nov 1917 Franz Grünert

Career 6 patrols.
start date unknown - 22 Jun 1915 IV Flotilla.
15 Oct 1916 - 19 Nov 1917 IV Flotilla.
19 Nov 1917 - 11 Nov 1918 training Flotilla.

Successes 27 ships sunk with a total of 48,060 tons.
1 ship damaged with a total of 5,189 tons.

  • 20 Feb 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Cambank 3,112 br
  • 20 Feb 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Downshire 337 br
  • 28 Apr 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Mobile 1,905 br
  • 29 Apr 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Cherbury 3,220 br
  • 30 Apr 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Fulgent 2,008 br
  • 30 Apr 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Svorono 3,102 ru
  • 1 May 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Edale 3,110 br
  • 1 May 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Europe 1,887 fr
  • 1 May 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Gulflight (damaged) 5,189 am
  • 3 May 1915 U 30 Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski Minterne 3,018 br
  • 26 Oct 1916 U 30 Franz Grünert Lysland 1,745 nw
  • 1 Nov 1916 U 30 Franz Grünert Brierley Hill 1,168 br
  • 11 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Saxo 711 da
  • 11 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Nancy 1,325 da
  • 11 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Star 818 nw
  • 11 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Sylfiden 796 nw
  • 12 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Kolaastind 2,368 nw
  • 13 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Bokn 336 nw
  • 13 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Frixos 2,471 fi
  • 13 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Gama 107 nw
  • 13 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Glenlora 805 nw
  • 13 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Zara 1,331 br
  • 14 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Fjeldli 954 nw
  • 15 Apr 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Paris 1,634 nw
  • 16 May 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Middlesex 7,265 br
  • 23 May 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Freden 166 da
  • 16 Jul 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Cyrus 293 ru
  • 28 Jul 1917 U 30 Franz Grünert Atlas 2,068 fr

Fate 22 Nov 1918 - Surrendered. Broken up at Blyth in 1919-20.

There was another U 30 in World War Two.
That boat was launched from its shipyard on 4 Aug 1936 and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine on 8 Oct 1936.

1st May 1915 Gulflight Incident 1915  The American 5,189 ton tanker Gulflight, was built by the New York Shipbuilding Co. of Camden, New Jersey for the Gulf Refining Company (a predecessor of Gulf Oil). It was launched on 8 August 1914. The ship became famous when it was torpedoed early in World War I and became the center of a diplomatic incident which moved the United States closer to war with Germany. The ship survived the attack but was eventually sunk in 1942 by torpedo attack in World War II.

World War I controversy

The ship was torpedoed by the German U-boat U-30 commanded by Captain von Rosenberg-Gruszczynski on 1 May 1915 despite America being a neutral party in the war at that time. The ship left Port Arthur on 10 April carrying a cargo of gasoline in the ship's tanks and barrels of lubricating oil to Rouen, France. During the latter half of the voyage the ships radio operator had heard messages from a British cruiser which judging from the transmission strength had been keeping station with Gulflight. At a point 22 miles west of the Bishop Rock lighthouse, Scilly Isles, at 1100 am on 1 May, Gulflight was challenged by two British patrol vessels, Iago and Filey which queried her destination. The patrol ships had been searching for a submarine which had been sinking ships in the area over the last couple of days. The patrol vessels were not satisfied with Gulflight's papers and suspected her of refuelling the U-boat, so ordered the tanker to accompany them into port. The patrol ships took up station one either side of Gulflight, Iago close on the starboard side and Filey further ahead on the port. While under escort, Gulflight's second officer Paul Bowers reported sighting a submarine ahead some 28 minutes before the ship was hit. He reported this to the captain who decided that the submarine must be British as the escorts had not reacted to its presence. The submarine was visible for 5 minutes and then disappeared. Shortly before 1300 a submarine surfaced ahead of the ships and ordered them to stop. Filey attempted to ram the submarine which submerged but fired a torpedo at the tanker. Von Rosenberg reported that he had seen a tanker under escort by ships flying the white ensign and had seen no flag on the escorted ship. After firing the torpedo he spotted a US flag on the tanker, so broke off the attack. At 1250 an explosion took place sending a column of water into the air alongside Gulflight's starboard bow. The ship immediately started to sink and shortly the forward deck was awash. The crew abandoned ship and were taken onboard by the patrol ship Iago which turned towards St Mary island. At about 0230 Captain Gunter from the Gulflight was taken ill and died around 0340 from a heart attack. The remainder of the crew arrived at St. Mary by 1000 on Sunday 2 May. The Gulflight did not sink but instead was towed to Crow Bay by the patrol vessels. Ralph Smith previously first officer was now invited to inspect the ship which was examined by divers and had a large hole in the starboard bow. Smith and the first engineer remained with Gulflight while the remainder of the crew were evacuated to Penzance. Of the 38 crew there were three fatalities. The captain had suffered a heart attack and two crew members were reported lost when they jumped overboard after the torpedo hit. She was the first American ship to be torpedoed during World War I although another ship, the Cushing, had been bombed shortly before again by mistake because no American markings could be seen from what was then a somewhat novel air attack. The German government apologized for attacking Gulflight but refused to change its strategy of unrestricted submarine warfare. A report by the British admiralty into the attack concluded that the German commander had behaved properly according to "Cruiser rules" defined in international law. A merchant ship under escort by military vessels forfeited any right to be warned before being attacked so the patrol ships had made Gulflight a legitimate target by taking her under escort. As an American ship, the submarine would not have attacked had he seen her nationality, but apart from an ordinary flag Gulflight was not carrying any additional markings painted on the hull to make clear her nationality, which other ships were then doing. The report also suggested that the tanker being stopped and then slowed down by the accompanying patrol had made her an accessible target. The admiralty report was not published at the time and official comment did not explain the circumstances. The three deaths were the only Americans killed as a result of attacks on American ships by German submarine until 16 March 1917, when diplomatic relations had irreparably broken down just before the declaration of war. American official reaction to the incident was determined by President Woodrow Wilson under the advice of United States Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan and Counselor to the State Department Robert Lansing. Bryan favoured reconciliation with Germany and avoidance of war, but this policy was becoming increasingly unpopular and was opposed by his subordinate Lansing. Lansing submitted a memorandum proposing immediate and vigorous protest and coupled with the Cushing incident and the sinking of RMS Lusitania on 7 May, a British ship but carrying American passengers who drowned, president Wilson made a forceful response to Germany. In June Bryan resigned and was replaced by Lansing. Despite his belligerent formal advice, Lansing's private papers suggest that he considered the rights and wrongs of the situation much more finely balanced and the logical outcome ought to have been impartial military trade sanctions against both belligerents. However, the US economy was already heavily committed to producing military supplies for the British, while American support for one side or the other was likely to prove decisive in choosing the eventual victor. The incident, along with the sinking of RMS Lusitania, caused the American government to increase spending on the US Navy.

Later career and sinking in World War II

In 1937 the vessel was sold to the Nantucket Chief SS Co Inc of Port Arthur, Texas and renamed the SS Nantucket Chief. In 1938 it was sold again, this time to Harris & Dixon Ltd, London and was renamed the SS Refast. On 26 January 1942 the Refast was torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat U-582 south of St Johns, Newfoundland.

19th August 1916 Bombardment of Sunderland   The raid on Sunderland, 19th August 1916, was part of a German post-Jutland attempt to draw our units of the British Grand Fleet to ambush them hoping to inflict losses to try to address the numerical superiority of the British Fleet.

The Action of 19 August 1916 was one of two further attempts made by the German High Seas Fleet in 1916 to engage elements of the British Royal Navy following the mixed results of the Battle of Jutland in World War I. The lesson of Jutland for Germany had been the vital need for reconnaissance so as to avoid the unexpected arrival of the British Grand Fleet during any raid, so on this occasion four Zeppelins were deployed to scout the North Sea between Scotland and Norway for signs of British ships, while four more scouted immediately ahead of German ships. Twenty four submarines were also deployed off the English coast in the southern North Sea and off the Dogger Bank.


Although Jutland had been officially hailed as a success, the German commander Admiral Reinhard Scheer felt it important that another raid should be mounted as quickly as possible to maintain morale in his severely battered fleet. It was decided that the raid should follow the pattern of previous ones, with the battlecruisers carrying out a dawn artillery bombardment of an English town, in this case Sunderland. Only two battlecruisers were still serviceable after Jutland, Moltke and Von der Tann, so the force was bolstered by the addition of three battleships, Bayern, Markgraf and Grosser Kurfürst. The remainder of the High Seas Fleet, comprising 16 dreadnought battleships, was to carry out close support 20 miles behind. The fleet set sail at 2100 on 18 August from the Jade river.


Information about the upcoming raid was obtained by British Intelligence in Room 40 through intercepted and decoded radio messages. Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, commander of the British fleet, was on leave so had to be recalled urgently and boarded the light cruiser Royalist at Dundee to meet his fleet in the early hours of 19 August off the river Tay. In his absence, Admiral Cecil Burney took the fleet to sea on the afternoon of 18 August. Vice-Admiral David Beatty left the Firth of Forth with his squadron of six battlecruisers to meet the main fleet in the Long Forties. The Harwich Force of 20 destroyers and 5 light cruisers commanded by Commodore Tyrwhitt was ordered out, as were 25 British submarines which were stationed in likely areas to intercept German ships. The battlecruisers together with the 5th Battle Squadron of five fast battleships were stationed 30 miles ahead of the main fleet to scout for the enemy. The assembled fleet now moved south seeking the German fleet, but suffered the loss of one of the light cruisers screening the battlecruiser group, HMS Nottingham, which was hit by three torpedoes from submarine U-52 at 0600.

Finding the opposition

At 0615 Jellicoe received information from the Admiralty that one hour earlier the enemy had been 200 miles to his south east. However, the loss of the cruiser caused him to first head north for fear of endangering his other ships. No torpedo tracks or submarines had been seen, so it was unclear whether the cause had been a submarine or entering an unknown minefield. He did not resume a south-easterly course until 0900 when William Goodenough, commanding the light cruisers, advised that the cause had been a submarine attack. Further information from the admiralty indicated that the battlecruisers would be within 40 miles of the main German fleet by 1400 and Jellicoe increased to maximum speed. Weather conditions were good, with plenty of time for a fleet engagement before dark. The German force had received reassurances about Jellicoe's position, when a zeppelin had spotted the Grand Fleet heading north away from Scheer, at the time it had been avoiding the possible minefield. Unfortunately for the British, the Zeppelin L 13 sighted the Harwich force approximately 75 miles ENE of Cromer, mistakenly identifying the cruisers as battleships. This was precisely the sort of target Scheer was seeking, so he changed course at 1215 also to the south-east and away from the approaching British fleet. No further reports were received from zeppelins about the British fleet, but it was spotted by a U-boat just 65 miles north of Scheer. Scheer turned for home at 1435 abandoning his potential target. By 1600 Jellicoe had been advised that Scheer had abandoned the operation and so turned north himself.

The actual attack

A second cruiser attached to the battlecruiser squadron, HMS Falmouth, was hit by two torpedoes from U-63 at 1652 and sank the following day while being towed to the Humber, when hit by two more torpedoes fired by U-66. By 1745 the Harwich force had sighted German ships, but was too far behind for any prospect of an attack before nightfall so abandoned the chase. A British submarine HMS E23 commanded by Lieutenant-Commander R.R Turner managed to hit the German battleship SMS Westfalen at 0505 on the 19th, but the ship was able to return home.


This was the last occasion on which the German fleet travelled so far west into the North Sea. On 6 October a decision was made in Germany to resume attacks against merchant vessels by submarine, which meant the submarine fleet was no longer available for combined attacks against surface vessels. On 13 September a conference took place on Jellicoe's flagship to discuss recent events and it was decided that it was unsafe to conduct fleet operations south of latitude 55.5° North (approximately level with Horns reef and where the battle of Jutland had taken place), except in extreme emergency such as a German invasion force. Scheer was unimpressed by the efficiency of the zeppelin reconnaissance. Only three zeppelins had spotted anything and from seven reports four had been wrong. On 18–19 October Scheer once again led a brief sortie into the North Sea and British intelligence gave warning. However, the Grand Fleet declined to prepare an ambush, staying in port with steam raised ready to sail. The German sortie was abandoned after a few hours when SMS München was hit by a torpedo fired by E38, Lieutenant-Commander J. de B. Jessop, and it was feared other submarines might be in the area. Scheer suffered further difficulties when in November he sailed with Moltke and a division of dreadnoughts to rescue U-20 and U-30 which had become stranded on the Danish coast. British submarine J1, Commander J. Laurence, managed to hit the battleships Grosser Kurfürst and Kronprinz. The failure of these operations reinforced the belief, created at Jutland, that the risks involved in such operations were not justified by the outcomes. Both sides feared the loss of their capital ships to submarines or mines.

5th November 1916 Naval Action - 5th November 1916  The Naval Action on the 5th November 1916 was fought between a Royal Navy submarine and a dreadnought squadron of the Imperial German Navy. It took place in the months after the Battle of Jutland and is significant as it signalled a major shift in German naval policy.


On the 2nd November 1916, the German U-boat U-30 suffered a mechanical failure while patrolling off the Norwegian coast. She sent a distress signal which was answered by U-20 returning from patrol around Ireland. They met and both U-boats set off for the Danish coast where they were to be met off the Bovsberg Light. The British meanwhile had intercepted this wireless traffic and dispatched a destroyer force to intercept them, but were unsuccessful. However, on the 4th November, both U-boats went aground during the evening fog. The German Admiralty were concerned that the Danes would intern the two U-boats or that the British would find them. They were also mindful of the reputation of U-20 and her skipper who were responsible for the sinking of the ocean Lusitania. Admiral Scheer dispatched a salvage group, with a cover force comprising destroyers of the 4th Half-Flotilla and the battlecruiser SMS Moltke. These were followed by four dreadnoughts of 3rd Battle Squadron (SMS König, Grosser Kurfürst, Kronprinz and Markgraf). This move was also detected by the British, who alerted the submarine HMS J1, which was on patrol in the area. On the evening of 5 November, J1 encountered the Battle squadron and was in a position to attack.


On the 5th November, J1 was submerged on patrol in the North Sea, 30 miles south-west of Horns Reef. Her skipper, Commander NF Laurence, had been alerted to the approach of the German forces and, at 1150 in heavy seas, he spotted the four dreadnoughts of 3rd Battle Squadron only 2 miles away. Laurence went deeper to manoeuvre into a firing position, but on returning to periscope depth, he found that the dreadnoughts had altered course and were moving away. Surfacing to take advantage of J1's higher surface speed, but risking detection by the Squadron's destroyer escort, Laurence again moved into a firing position and at 1208 dived to launch four torpedoes. Two of these hit, striking Grosser Kurfurst astern and Kronprinz on the bow. Both were damaged, but were able to return to base under their own steam. J1 had not been detected by any of the screening destroyers during her approach and they were unable to make an effective counterattack. Laurence remained submerged until 1430 and on surfacing found the area was clear. The two damaged dreadnoughts were able to return to base, but both were under repair in drydocks for several months. The other German forces were able to return to base without further incident. U-30 was also able to return to base, but U-20 was unrecoverable and was scuttled to avoid capture. Laurence was awarded a Bar to his Distinguished Service Order for this action.


Following this action, Scheer came under criticism from Pless, the Naval chief of staff, and the Kaiser himself, who felt that risking so many capital ships of the High Seas Fleet and having two dreadnoughts put out of action, for the sake of two U-boats, was inappropriate. However, Scheer defended himself robustly, stating that it was imperative to give the men of the U-boat arm the fullest possible support. He also stated that Germany's naval strategy should be to concentrate all her efforts on the U-boat offensive. Henceforth the main role of the German surface fleet should be to ensure the safety of the U-boat force. It was a major demonstration of the shift in German naval policy to the war on commerce by her U-boat arm.

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