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Unterseeboot 96

Unterseeboot 96 (U-96) has been the designation of two submarines of the German Navy.

During World War I, U-96 was launched on February 15, 1917, and commissioned into the Kaiserliche Marine on April 11, 1917.

The second U-96 was a Type VIIC submarine of the Kriegsmarine. Her keel was laid down September 16, 1939 by Germaniawerft, of Kiel. She was commissioned September 14, 1940 with Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock in command. Lehmann-Willenbrock was relieved in March of 1942 by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel. He was relieved in turn in March 1943 by Oblt. Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel. In February 1944 Oblt. Wilhelm Peters took command, turning the boat over to Oblt. Horst Willner in June of that year. Oblt. Robert Rix commanded the boat until February 1945.

U-96 conducted 11 patrols, sinking 28 ships totalling 190,094 tons and damaging four others totalling 33,043 tons. On March 30, 1945, U-96 was sunk by US bombs while in the submarine pens in Wilhelmshaven. In her entire career, U-96 suffered no casualties to her crew.

During 1941, a war correspondent named Lothar-Günther Buchheim joined U-96 for a single patrol. His orders were to photograph and describe the U-boat in action for propaganda purposes. From his experiences, he wrote a short story, "Die Eichenlaubfahrt" ("The Oak-Leaves Patrol") and a novel which was to become an international best-seller, Das Boot.