Karl-Friedrich Merten

Kapitän zur See (Crew 26)

27 ships sunk, total tonnage 170,151 GRT

Born  15 Aug 1905 Posen
Died  2 May 1993(87)Waldshut / Tiengen / Württemberg, Germany

Karl Friedrich Merten


1 Apr 1926 Offiziersanwärter
26 Oct 1926 Seekadett
1 Apr 1928 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jun 1930 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1930 Leutnant zur See
1 Apr 1933 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Apr 1936 Kapitänleutnant
1 Apr 1941 Korvettenkapitän
1 Jan 1944 Fregattenkapitän
15 Apr 1945 Kapitän zur See


2 Oct 1939 Iron Cross 2nd Class
2 Aug 1941 U-boat War Badge 1939
31 Dec 1941 Iron Cross 1st Class
13 Jun 1942 Knights Cross
16 Nov 1942 Knights Cross with Oak Leaves
30 Jan 1943 U-boat War Badge with Diamonds

U-boat Commands

U-68 11 Feb 1941 21 Jan 1943   5 patrols (368 days) 

Korvkpt. Karl-Friedrich Merten

After a ten-year stint on warships and serving on the WWI battleship Schleswig-Holstein during the attack on Westerplatte which started the invasion of Poland in September 1939, Merten joined the U-boat arm on 1 May 1940. He operated all over the world, patrolling in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. U-68 was in wolfpack Eisbär (Polar bear), which in the course of a few weeks during September/October 1942 sank more than 100,000 tons of shipping off South Africa.

In January 1943 Merten became the commander of the 26th (Training) Flotilla U-boat Flotilla at Pillau. There the new U-boat crews received their final training before going to the front. In March 1943 Merten transferred to command the 24th (Training) Flotilla at Memel. This was the training flotilla for future U-boat commanders.

After the war Merten salvaged sunken ships in the Rhine with another famous former U-boat commander, Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock. He later worked in the shipbuilding industry.

Karl-Friedrich Merten during the funeral of Großadmiral Dönitz in 1981,
behind him Oblt. Otto Westphalen (U-968)


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1997). Der U-Bootkrieg 1939-1945 (Band 2).
Rohwer, J. (1998). Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two.

Patrol info for Karl-Friedrich Merten

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-68 30 Jun 1941  Kiel  1 Aug 1941  Lorient  Patrol 1,33 days
2. U-68 11 Sep 1941  Lorient  25 Dec 1941  Lorient  Patrol 2,106 days
3. U-68 11 Feb 1942  Lorient  13 Apr 1942  Lorient  Patrol 3,62 days
4. U-68 14 May 1942  Lorient  10 Jul 1942  Lorient  Patrol 4,58 days
5. U-68 20 Aug 1942  Lorient  6 Dec 1942  Lorient  Patrol 5,109 days
5 patrols, 368 days at sea

Ships hit by Karl-Friedrich Merten

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
22 Sep 1941U-68 Silverbelle5,302brSL-87
22 Oct 1941U-68 Darkdale8,145br
28 Oct 1941U-68 Hazelside5,297br
1 Nov 1941U-68 Bradford City4,953br
3 Mar 1942U-68 Helenus7,366br
8 Mar 1942U-68 Baluchistan6,992br
16 Mar 1942U-68 Baron Newlands3,386br
17 Mar 1942U-68 Ile de Batz5,755br
17 Mar 1942U-68 Scottish Prince4,917br
17 Mar 1942U-68 Allende5,081br
30 Mar 1942U-68 Muncaster Castle5,853brST-18
5 Jun 1942U-68 L.J. Drake6,693am
6 Jun 1942U-68 C.O. Stillman13,006pa
10 Jun 1942U-68 Surrey8,581br
10 Jun 1942U-68 Ardenvohr5,025br
10 Jun 1942U-68 Port Montreal5,882br
15 Jun 1942U-68 Frimaire9,242fr
23 Jun 1942U-68 Arriaga2,345pa
12 Sep 1942U-68 Trevilley5,296brOS-38
15 Sep 1942U-68 Breedijk6,861nl
8 Oct 1942U-68 Koumoundouros3,598gr
8 Oct 1942U-68 Gaasterkerk8,679nl
8 Oct 1942U-68 Swiftsure8,207am
8 Oct 1942U-68 Sarthe5,271br
9 Oct 1942U-68 Examelia4,981am
9 Oct 1942U-68 Belgian Fighter5,403be
6 Nov 1942U-68 City of Cairo8,034br

27 ships sunk (170,151 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

About ranks and decorations
Ranks shown in italics are our database inserts based on the rank dates of his crew comrades. The officers of each crew would normally have progressed through the lower ranks at the same rate.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim


Vause, Jordan

Silent Hunters

Savas, Theodore P. (editor)

Aces of the Reich

Williamson, Gordon

Goodnight, Sorry for Sinking You

Barker, Ralph

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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