SHIP NOTES: (Sources: Gentile, Wynn Vol. 1)
Name: U-352 Type: Submarine (VII-C)
Built: Flensburger Schiffsbau Keel Laid: 3/11/1940
Date Sunk: 5/9/42 Cause: Depth-charged by USCG Icarus and scuttled by crew
Size (ft.): 218 x 20 x 15 Tonnage: 1070 displacement tons fully loaded
Propulsion: Two diesel engines/two electric motors Location N34° 13.682'/W76° 33.907'

Constructed between 1938-1944, the VIIC boats were slightly larger internally than their predecessor, the type VIIB and also had a slightly improved surface range. (9700 nautical miles to 9400 nautical miles, at 10 knots, combined diesel/electric drive) Their maximum surface speed was 17-17.7 knots and their maximum submerged speed was 7.6 knots. The type VIIC carried 14 torpedoes (4 in forward tubes, 8 in forward torpedo compartment, 1 in aft torpedo tube and 1 aft torpedo compartment). The orginal VIIC design included a 88mm deck gun mounted forward of conning tower. Effective against surface vessels in the early years of the war, this gun was removed from new and older boats after 1942 due to the increased danger of enemy air attack. The boat was designed to carry 60 men (4 officers and 56 enlisted men) The type VIIC was by far the most common of the World War II German u-boats with 660 boats built.

SHIP HISTORY: (Sources:Wynn)
Commander: KL Hellmut Rathke [August, 1941 to May 5, 1942]
Group: 3rd U-Flotille, Kiel/La Pallice
Patrols: 3/Ships Sunk: 0

Patrol I:
1/15/1942 left Kiel, Germany;
1/19/1942 arrived Bergen, Norway

Patrol II:
1/20/1942 Left Bergen, Norway for operations in the Atlantic Ocean
Assigned as one of 12 boats to form a "wolfpack" just west of Rockall Scotland, in patrol the convoy routes.
The U-352 along with 7 other boats were ordered to patrol the Iceland/Scotland/Faroes area in search of a convoy assembly area; No activity was found;
After performing some weather observation duty, the U-352 returned to base
2/26/1942 arrived St. Nazaire, France

Patrol III:
4/7/1942 Left St. Nazaire, France for the east coast of the United States
Was refueled in late April by U-459 approximately 500 NE of Bermuda and continued on towards the Hatteras area off North Carolina
• Over the course of two days (5/5 to 5/6), the u-boat trailed the Swedish ship SS Freden in an attempt to sink her. The U-352 fired a total of 4 torpedoes but all failed to hit or detonate in the ship. Convinced of its impending "death", the captain of the Freden ordered "abandon ship" two different times. In the end, the Freden made it successfully to New York and the U-352 headed towards North Carolina looking for a way to assuage its frustrations.
• On 5/7/1942,. the U-352 was spotted on a the surface by a patroling aircraft and was aerial depth-charged. It submerged and escaped undamaged
• On 5/9/1942, the U-352 spotted another vessel and quickly fired two torpedoes. Both failed to hit their target. The ship turned out to be the US Coast Guard Cutter Icarus which quickly turned and made its initial attack run on the U-352. The Icarus fired 5 depth charges which severely damaged the u-boat internally, wrecked the conning tower and blew off its deckgun. Two more depth charge attacks forced the U-352 to the surface where the u-boat commander KL Rathke ordered the scuttling and abandonment of his ship. The Icarus continued its attack with machine guns and 3 inch guns while the u-boat crew attempted to abandon ship. In the end, 17 crew were killed and the rest were taken to Charleston, SC as prisoners of war. [Action Reports - USCG Cutter Icarus / POW Interrogation Report]

USCG Cutter Icarus arrives in Charleston, SC
with U-352 survivors (23)
U-352 survivors after disembarking from the
USCG Cutter Icarus (23)
U-352 Commander KL Hellmut Rathke (2nd from L) (23) U-352 survivors in POW mess hall (23)

Looking down the pressure hull at the deck gun mount with
conning tower in the background. Battery loading hatchway just forward of the deck gun mount (circa 2009)
U-352 (circa 2023) the rusted edges are the only thing left of about half of the port side external ballast tanks
Diving Depths: 100-115 ft.
Visibility: Generally very good; range 50 to 100+ ft.
Current: Slight to moderate
Summer Temperature: high 70s to lo 80s
Points of Interest: Hey! It's a U-Boat! What more needs to be said?
Fish/Animal Life: The usual array of NC marine life, with unusually smart grouper and small tropical fish.
Description:This is the wreck that most of the people first come to North Carolina to dive. The wreck is small and intact and can be circumnavigated a couple of times during a normal dive. It is sitting on its keel, with a strong (45 degree?) list to the starboard side. Most of what you see on the bottom is the remains of the pressure hull. The U-boat's outer casing has, for the most part, rusted away. Back in the day, the rounded edges of the u-boat made it a very hard wreck for captains to anchor into, but the recent technique of a mate rolling in with the anchor and GPS, the captains can pick the spot to tie into.

UPDATE 2009: I recently returned to the U-352 after not diving least in the daylight...for nearly a decade. Did two dives on it and had a unexpectedly good time each dive. The wreck has some classic "Kodak moments" and has an abundance of small to mid-size marine life. The starboard propeller has uncovered...something I certainly don't remember from 10 years ago and the bow seems to have collapsed and twisted a bit more. A fun dive, but still gets a bit crowded for my tastes if you are diving more than a "6 pack" or another boat beats you to the site.

UPDATE 2023: I have gotten to enjoy this wreck more in the recent years as part of the BFDC WreckQuest dives. It is great to do as a second dive, especially if there is someone on the WreckQuest that has never done the U-352 before and we know there is good conditions. Maybe it is nostalgia, but with many of our NC wrecks collapsing with age and their icon parts now only memories from the 1970s and 80s, the u-boat is mostly unchanged and it is a unique and thrilling sight as you drop down the anchor line.

With ideal conditions, dropping down onto the U-352 is still thrilling even if it isn't your first time
With ideal conditions, dropping down onto the U-352 is still thrilling even if it isn't your first time
Stern toropedo loading hatch
Stern view
Conning tower hatch.
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Forward torpedo loading hatch
Bow control machinery
High pressure flask
Close-up of the gun mount
Port-side, bow diving plane
Bow, torpedo-loading hatch
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External bow torpedo tubes at the pressure hull
Stern port side diving planes and propeller shaft
Port-side propeller shaft, rudder and diving plane Starboard-side propeller

Unless specifically noted, all photos, text and content Copyright © 2023 by Paul M. Hudy

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