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List of successful U-boat commanders contains lists of the most successful German U-boat commanders in the two World Wars based on total tonnage.

The tonnage figures (and sometimes the number of ships sunk) is still being debated among historians. This is often due to convoy battles at night when an attacking wolf pack fired torpedoes into the convoy and two commanders claimed the same ship. Although post-war research has eliminated most of those doubtful victims, there are still some in question.

World War I

This list contains the most successful German U-boats commanders during the First World War based on total tonnage. Only sunk commercial vessels are included, not military (warships) nor damaged ships.

Top-scoring U-boat commanders of World War I
# Commander Patrols Ships sunk Tonnage Picture
1 Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière 15 194 453,716 tons Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière.jpg
2 Walther Forstmann 47 146 384,300 tons Forstmann12.JPG
3 Max Valentiner * 150 299,300 tons Max Valentiner.jpg
4 Otto Steinbrinck * * 231,614 tons
5 Hans Rose * 79 213,900 tons Hans Rose.jpg
6 Walther Schwieger 34 49 183,883 tons Bundesarchiv Bild 134-C1831, Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger.jpg
7 Reinhold Saltzwedel * 111 170,526 tons Reinhold Saltzwedel.jpg
8 Johannes Lohs * * 165,000 tons
9 Waldemar Kophamel * 54 148,852 tons

World War II

This list contains the most successful German U-boats commanders during the Second World War based on total tonnage. Only sunk commercial vessels are included, not military (warships) nor damaged ships.

The Aces of the Deep were the ten German U-Boat commanders during World War II who sank the most enemy merchant ships during their naval services, ranked according to the total tonnage of the ships they sank. The term is related to flying ace, a World War I name for a pilot who shot down five or more enemy planes. The currently accepted list is as follows:

Top-scoring U-boat commanders of World War II
# Commander Patrols Ships sunk Tonnage Notes Picture
1 Otto Kretschmer 16 46 273,043 tons Otto Kretschmer was the most successful of the Aces of the Deep, sinking 47 merchant ships totalling 272,958 tons in a remarkably short period of time. Kretschmer was captured in 1941 and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp in Bowmanville, Canada.
Born on May 1, 1912 in Heidau, Liegnitz and died on August 5, 1998, Kretschmer was also known as "Silent Otto" for his reluctance to make radio transmissions to U-boat headquarters (often to the infuriation of his superiors) for fear of giving away his location to Allied direction-finding posts.
Kretschmer commanded U-35, U-23, and U-99 during his time in the navy. After the war, he joined the Bundesmarine (postwar German navy), and went on to become the Chief of Staff of the NATO Command COMNAVBALTAP in May 1965, a position he held for four years. He retired in September 1970 with a rank of Flotillenadmiral.
Otto Kretschmer died in a hospital after a boating accident in the summer of 1998, while celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary.
Otto Kretschmer.jpg
2 Wolfgang Lüth 15 46 225,204 tons Wolfgang Lüth was born in 1913 and was the second most successful one in the Aces of the Deep. During his service in the navy, he sank 46 merchant ships, for 225,204 tons. He was shot by a German sentry on May 13, 1945. Wolfgang Lüth.jpg
3 Erich Topp 12 35 197,460 tons Born in 1914, Erich Topp is the third most successful out of the Aces of the Deep, sinking 34 merchant ships with 197,233 tons. He died on December 26, 2005.
Topp served as an advisor for the U-Boat simulation Silent Hunter II.
Erich Topp.jpg
4 Heinrich Liebe 9 34 187,267 tons Born in 1908 and died in 1997, Heinrich Liebe is the fourth most successful among the Aces of the Deep, sinking 34 merchant ships for 187,267 tons. Heinrich Liebe.jpg
5 Viktor Schütze 7 35 180,073 tons Viktor Schütze (1906-1950) sank 35 merchant ships for 180,073 tons, and was the fifth most successful among the Aces of the Deep. Viktor Schütze.jpg
6 Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock 10 25 179,125 tons Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (December 11 1911 - April 18 1986).
During his service in the navy, Lehmann-Willenbrock commanded the submarines U-5, U-8 and U-96. U-96 was sunk in Wilhelmshaven.
One of his patrols with U-96 was documented in the novel and film Das Boot.
He placed sixth among the Aces of the Deep, sinking 24 merchant ships for 170,237 tons.
Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock.jpg
7 Karl-Friedrich Merten 5 27 170,151 tons Born in 1905 and died in 1993, Karl-Friedrich Merten was the seventh most successful among the Aces of the Deep.
During Merten's service in the navy, he sank 27 merchant ships for 170,151 tons.
Karl-Friedrich Merten.jpg
8 Herbert Schultze 8 26 169,709 tons As the eighth most successful out of the 10 Aces of the Deep, Schultze sank 26 merchant ships for 169,709 tons. Herbert Schultze.jpg
9 Günther Prien 10 30 162,769 tons Born in 1908 and died in 1941 during the Second World War, Günther Prien was the ninth best in the Aces of the Deep.
Prien became a national hero after he infiltrated Scapa Flow and sank the British battleship HMS Royal Oak at anchor.
During his service in the German navy, Prien sank 30 merchant ships for 162,768 tons.
His total tonnage was 211,393 from 32.5 ships over 10 cruises. His boat U-47 disappeared with all hands on March 7, 1941 - cause unknown.
Günther Prien.jpg
10 Georg Lassen 4 26 156,082 tons Georg Lassen, born in 1915, is the tenth of the 10 Aces of the Deep and the only one still living. He sank 26 ships for 156,082 tons. Georg Lassen.jpg
11 Joachim Schepke 14 37 155,882 tons Joachim Schepke.jpg
12 Werner Henke 7 24 155,714 tons Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1980-115-23A, Werner Henke.jpg
13 Carl Emmermann 5 26 152,080 tons Carl Emmermann.jpg
14 Heinrich Bleichrodt 8 24 151,260 tons Heinrich Bleichrodt.jpg
15 Robert Gysae 8 25 146,815 tons GYSAERobert.jpg
16 Ernst Kals 5 20 145,656 tons Ernst Kals.jpg
17 Johann Mohr 6 27 129,292 tons JohannMohr.jpg
18 Klaus Scholtz 8 25 128,190 tons Klaus Scholtz.jpg
19 Adolf Cornelius Piening 8 25 126,664 tons Cornelius Piening.jpg
20 Helmut Witte 4 23 119,554 tons Helmut Witte.jpg
21 Günther Hessler 3 21 118,822 tons
22 Ernst Bauer 5 25 118,560 tons
23 Engelbert Endrass 10 22 118,528 tons Engelbert Endrass.jpg
24 Reinhard Hardegen 5 22 115,656 tons Reinhard Hardegen.jpg
25 Werner Hartmann 4 26 115,337 tons
26 Hans Jenisch 6 17 110,139 tons
27 Robert-Richard Zapp 5 16 106,200 tons Richard Zapp.jpg
28 Victor Oehrn 4 23 103,821 tons
29 Jürgen Oesten 13 19 101,744 tons
30 Wilhelm Rollmann 8 22 101,519 tons
31 Erwin Rostin 2 17 101.321 tons
32 Hans-Ludwig Witt 3 19 100,773 tons
33 Günther Krech 10 19 100,771 tons
34 Harald Gelhaus 11 19 100.373 tons
35 Werner Hartenstein 5 20 97,504 tons
36 Fritz-Julius Lemp 10 20 96,639 tons
37 Adalbert Schnee 12 23 96,547 tons Adalbert Schnee.jpg
38 Reinhard Suhren 6 18 95,544 tons Reinhard Suhren.jpg
39 Karl-Heinz Moehle 10 21 93,197 tons Karl-Heinz Moehle.jpg
40 Georg-Wilhelm Schulz 8 19 89,886 tons Georg-Wilhelm Schulz.jpg
41 Georg Schewe 10 16 85,779 tons
42 Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske 4 16 85,299 tons
43 Ulrich Heyse 5 12 83,639 tons
44 Ulrich Folkers 5 17 82,873 tons
45 Herbert Kuppisch 14 16 82,108 tons Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-3495-04, Uboot U 96, Herbert Kuppisch.jpg
46 Jürgen Wattenberg 3 14 82,027 tons
47 Rolf Mützelburg 8 19 81,987 tons MUTZELBURG.jpg
48 Werner Winter 5 15 79,302 tons
49 Fritz Frauenheim 9 19 78,853 tons Fritz Frauenheim.jpg
50 Jürgen von Rosenstiel 4 14 78,843 tons

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