Convoy OB-293

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Convoy OB-293
partof=World War II
date=6th/8th March 1941
place=Western Approaches
result=Allied victory
commander1=Admiral Karl Dönitz
escort:LtCdr JM Rowlands
strength1=4 U-boats
strength2= 37 ships
4 escorts
casualties1=2 U-boats sunk
1 damaged
casualties2=3 ships sunk
2 damaged

OB-293 was a North Atlantic convoy which ran during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II.It was notable for seeing the loss to the Kriegsmarine (KM) of "U-47", with her commander KL Günther Prien.


OB293 was a west-bound convoy of 37 ships, either in ballast or carrying trade goods, and sailed from Liverpool on 2nd March 1941 bound for ports in North America.

It was escorted by an escort group of 2 destroyers, HMS "Wolverine" and HMS "Verity", and 2 corvettes, HMS "Arbutus" and HMS "Camellia". They were led by LtCdr Rowlands of "Wolverine", which would stay with them till they left the Western Approaches. (At this stage of the campaign escort groups were too scarce to provide “end-to-end” cover).

On 6th March 1941 the convoy was sighted by "U-47" commanded by Prien.After sending a sighting report he set to shadowing the convoy, being joined throughout the day by 3 other boats. They were "U-99" (Kretschmer) "U-70" (Matz) and "U-A" (Eckerman).


On the night of the 6th/7th March the pack launched its attack.

In the early hours of 7th March "U-99" slipped into the convoy from ahead, to attack on the surface; she torpedoed the tanker "Athelbeach", sinking her, and the whale factory ship "Terje Viken", which was damaged."U-70" hit a freighter "Dunaff Head", which sank, and a Dutch tanker, "Mijdrecht". She was only damaged, however, rounding on" U-70" and attempting to ram; "U-70" was forced to crash-dive to escape."U-A" hit a freighter but did not sink her.

The response of the escorts was swift and effective. The U-boats were subjected to a fierce bombardment as the warships chased down contacts; over 100 depth-charges were expended over a 5 hour period."U-A" was damaged but was able to escape;"U-99" only escaped by diving deep and waiting out the attack."U-70" was damaged in the onslaught and forced to the surface, where she was fired on and sunk by the corvettes "Camellia" and "Arbutus".

"U-47" avoided damage and was able to stay in contact with the convoy, sending further reports and requesting re-inforcements. He had also been able to torpedo "Terje Viken" which was straggling after being damaged, though she still remained afloat. The escorts attempted to bring her to port, but she finally sank on the 14th; her loss was credited to both "U-99" and "U-47".

Meanwhile, on the night of 7th/8th, at about 1am on the 8th, "Wolverine" sighted a U-boat on the surface which she identified as "U-47". She and" Verity" attacked, and after 4 hours, which had shown evidence of damage, the U-boat was driven to the surface within yards of "Wolverine", before diving again. The destroyer sent down a pattern of depth-charges and was rewarded with an underwater explosion, marked by an orange glow, and flames that broke the surface.


"Wolverine" was credited with destroying "U-47", and this featured in the official record until the late 1990’s. However, after reviewing the available records modern historians regard this attack as being directed against "U-A", which was badly damaged, but survived to reach port.

No conclusion can be reached about the fate of "U-47", and it is thought likely to be the result of a diving accident.

The success of the defence of OB293, with the loss of the U-boat ace Prien, coupled with the successful defence of Convoy HX-112, and the loss of two more aces, Kretschmer and Schepke, one week later, marks a minor turning point in the Atlantic campaign.


* Stephen Roskill : The War at Sea 1939-1945 Vol I (1954). ISBN (none)
* Dan van der Vat : The Atlantic Campaign (1988). ISBN 0 340 37751 8
* Arnold Hague : The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945 (2000). ISBN (Canada) 1 55125 033 0 . ISBN (UK) 1 86176 147 3
* Paul Kemp : U-Boats Destroyed ( 1997). ISBN 1 85409 515 3
* Axel Neistle : German U-Boat Losses during World War II (1998). ISBN 1 85367 352 8

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