German submarine U-133 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine for service during World War II. She was laid down on 10 August 1940 by Vegesacker Werft, Bremen-Vegesack as yard number 12, launched on 28 April 1941 and commissioned on 5 July that year.

January of 1942. The German submarine U-133 had underwent serious damages after participating in a naval battle at Er Salam, during which the submarine sunk the English destroyer “HMS GURKHA”. The extensive damages made necessary its immediate transportation to the Naval Base of Salamina, which then was under German possession, where it arrived with escort on 22/1/1942.

Κurt Sommer, the chief engineer of another German submarine, was the only eye witness: “On 14 March 1942 the submarine U 133 departed. Its direction was south-east when it arrived at the antisubmarine grid. The grid opened and the submarine passed it with no problem. . After a while, we heard a deafening noise and we saw smoke going up to the air. When the atmosphere cleared, we did not see the submarine U 133 on the sea surface.

On March 1942, the repairs had been completed and the submarine was ready to depart. On 14 March 1942, at 17.00, the submarine departs from the Naval Base of Salamina with its captain the Lieutenant Eberhard Mohr. In the submarine were also two officers of Africa Corps and the mission as well as the destination were confidential. At 19.02, the submarine was sailing on the sea surface, close to Aegina, when suddenly a terrible explosion was heard.

At 22.08, the commander of the 23rd flotilla broadcasted a signal that the U 133 fell on a mine and sank at the sea area of Tourlos cape, Aegina. He thinks that, for unknown reasons, the submarine did not follow the programmed route and as a result it entered the German minefield and fell on a mine.

We assumed that it had fallen on a mine or it had been shot by an English torpedo. The U-133 submarine had fallen on a mine. In a few minutes, the submarine sank with its men in it and the 45-member crew was dead. Two lifeboats, two tugboats and two high speed vessels run immediately for help, but they did not find anyone alive, not even debris from the submarine.”

At the night of 29 to 30 October, the minefield setting was realized with Vickers and Moraitis mines by the destroyers Panthir, Aetos, Ierax and Hydra under the protection of the destroyers V. Georgios, Leon and Spetses. According to the documents of the Mine-Sweeping Administration of Hellenic Navy, the Germans did not repeal the Greek minefield. They maintained it and placed their own minefields before and after the Greek one.

According to the confidential order K 27/4332 of the Hellenic Navy on 23 August 1940, a plan of minefield setting had been notified at the area where is situated the wreck. The day when the war was declared, Hellenic Navy gave an executive signal for the above order to set a Greek minefield.

The German minefield, in which the Germans said that the submarine fell, is close to the Greek one. However, the German submarine wreck is situated in the coordinates of the Greek minefield. So, the sinking of the submarine U-133 is a part of the successes that the Hellenic Navy had during the Second World War!

So, the Greek minefield was there the day that the U-133 sunk and according to the coordinates of the wreck, the German submarine is situated in it. So, the submarine U-133, for an unknown reason, did not follow the defined route and entered the Greek minefield, the location of which was known to the Germans. As a result, the submarine fell on a Moraiti mine and sunk.

There is a story that shows up in a half a dozen places on the internet about a German attempt to destroy Hoover Dam using a submarine during World War II. The story tells of the supposedly last mission of the German submarine U-133 that was to travel up the Colorado River from Baja, California and somehow take out the dam. The same story is repeated basically over-and-over, word-for-word, on all of the internet sites except for maybe one or two that leave out the so-called source. When the source is cited it is always a somewhat questionable and rather elusive publication called the USS Shaw Newsletter from the year 1996 even though the USS Shaw herself was decommissioned in October 1945 and sold for scrap in July 1946. For the record, there is a report carrying a certain amount of validity of an actual attempt on by the Germans against Hoover Dam using a submarine, the vessel so used however was an unnumbered boat and had nothing to do with the U-133.

In 1994, two years before the supposed USS Shaw Newsletter was published, the diving team of the Sea Breeze Technical Dive Facility under Divemaster Aristotelis Zervoudis managed to locate and identify the wreck of a German submarine on the seabed of the Saronic Gulf. That submarine turned out to be the U-133.

The main body of the shipwreck is standing upright on the bottom of the seabed with a north-south axis, having a left slope of 30-40 degrees. The bow is below the aft part of the wreck, forming a right angle on an east-west shaft. The maximum depth is 78 meters (propellers), eastward the depth increases while to the west it decreases. The turret lies at a depth of 67 meters, while the body of the wreck at 75 meters. Around the wreck there are compressed air bottles, probably for the submarine’s needs at the time. The cannon of 88 mm remains in place, but around it nature has composed its own colors, covering it with colorful sponges and other benthic organisms.

Many people where involved in presenting the amazing story of U-133. We can only share their work and thank each and every one of them who contribute to the discovery and identification of U-133

Mr. Dimitris Galon

This article was based primarily on primary sources. These include German war records, such as those of the Federal Archive of Freiburg and the War Diaries of the German units operating in Greece and filed in the microfilms of the NARA, Washington D.C. But without the assistance of distinguished researchers and friends, archival research and field research would not have been possible or at least would not have reached the historical depth which characterizes this work. At this point, therefore, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who contributed to this article on U-133. Many thanks go to Theodore Dorgeist, Peter Schenk, Reinhard Kramer, René Stenzel, Axel Urbanke, Byron Tezapsidis and Platonas Alexiadis. The field survey and its results, which led to the confirmation of the identity, history and sinking of U-133, would not have been possible without the assistance of Vassilis Mavros, Yiannis Protopappas, Giorgos Vandoros, Nikos Pitaras and Stelios Therianos. Finally, I would especially like to thank Efstathios and Konstantinos Baramatis for their willingness to assist in research concerning the history of the wreck after its 1986 discovery, Aristoteles Zervoudis, who provided me with data from his archive, primarily that of the German war correspondent Werner Hartmann, as well as Louis Panagos, who willingly assisted in this research by offering data from the archive of his late father Yiannis Panagos.

Photo Credits:

Dimitris Galon
Antony Grafas /
Helen Tsopouropoulou /
Kostas Katsaros


Dimitris Galon