Wilk (Dutch)

Build Group: Wilk
Fate: Declared unfit for service, decommissioned from the Polish Navy, and scrapped in 1954
ORP Wilk
ORP Wilk

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Built by Chantiers et Ateliers Augustin Normand shipyard at Le Havre in France. ORP Wilk was the lead boat of her class of mine-laying submarines of the Polish Navy. The ship saw service in the Polish Navy from 1931 to 1951. Her name means "Wolf" in Polish.

When World War II began on September 1, 1939, Wilk, commanded by Captain Boguslaw Krawczyk, took part in the Worek Plan for the defence of the Polish coast, operating in Gdańsk Bay.

On September 4 and 5 the Wilk was under continuous depth charge attacks and had to lay on the sea bottom during daytime, suffering minor damage. During the next days, attempts at attacking enemy shipping were unsuccessful. Then she left the Polish coast, successfully passing the Danish straits (Øresund) on September 14/15, escaping from the Baltic Sea and arriving in Great Britain on September 20. Only ORP Orzeł managed to accomplish the same feat later; the other three Polish submarines were interned in neutral Sweden.

In February, 1940 the ORP Wilk was involved in an incident in the Kattegat. It is reported to have sank a German U-boot, damaged another, and was then depth-charged for thirty hours. The Royal Navy Liaison Officer onboard, Sub Lt Cyril Branson RN, got the Captain to surface and assisted in bringing the badly damaged Wilk safety back to Rosyth. Sub Lt Branson was later awarded the Cross of Valour (Polish: Krzyż Walecznych) for his role in this action.

On June 20, 1940 at 0.25 am, the ORP Wilk rammed an unidentified object at position 56°54′N 03°30′E. There was a long dispute upon this incident. The commander reported, that the Wilk had collided with a submarine. The 2nd in command Sub Lt Bolesław Romanowski, being the officer of the watch then, reported, that he had seen a "triangular shape". However, in his post-war memoires "Torpeda w celu" he claimed, that he deliberately rammed a German U-boat. According to new research, the only German submarine in that area was U-99, but it did not report any damage nor encounter with the enemy on that day. The other submarine U-122, lost after 21 June, was too far away If submarines are considered, most probable would be an Allied Dutch submarine O13, also lost in that area around that time. However, according to newest analysis of Wilk's damages and all reports, the object was most likely German minefield protector buoy (Sprengboje), since only both Wilk's propellers got damaged, while a rudder and rudder's connector below them, were intact, which was unlikely in case of ramming a submarine. Moreover, searching of the O13 wreck in area of the Wilk's reported collision was fruitless.

The Wilk undertook nine patrols from the British bases, without success. The last patrol was between 8 and 20 January 1941, then the submarine was assigned to training duties. Due to her poor mechanical shape, ORP Wilk was decommissioned as a reserve submarine on April 2, 1942.

Related Pages
When A Wolf And An Eagle Came Up The TayRead
The 'Orzel' (Eagle) and the 'Wulk' (Wolf) joined the five-nation (Britain, Poland, France, Holland and Norway) underwater fleet based on HMS Ambrose at Dundee's Stannergate from 1939 - 45. Both had escaped from the Baltic despite the German blockade of the Skagerrak and the Kattegat.


12-04-1929 : Launched
31-10-1931 : Commissioned into the Polish Navy
02-09-1939 : Spotted the destroyer Erich Steinbrinck, but could not attack because Wilk fell under attack by minesweepers (a German report of firing a torpedo at Steinbrinck is not confirmed by the Poles).
07-09-1939 : Beginning of 2 days under continuous depth charge attacks and had to lay on the sea bottom during the daytime, suffering only minor damage.
10-09-1939 : The commanding officer of Wilk requested the Naval High Command for permission to enter the Hela or Gdynia harbour for repairs. The High Command refused and ordered him to sail to England or Sweden. The Crew decided to break out from Baltic to Britain.
20-09-1939 : Arrived in Britain and entered the harbour of Rosyth under the escort of the British destroyer HMS Sturdy
07-12-1939 : German fishing boat MFK Pil 55 Heimat was sunk by a mine laid by Wilk on the 2nd of September.
02-04-1942 : Decommissioned to reserve submarine
28-09-1946 : Came under British control from the Polish Government in Exile. The submarine remained laid up at Harwich.


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