U-128 was a Type IX C, a larger boat than the more prevalent Type VII. Prior to Steinert, the boat had been on a number of successful war patrols so the crew was experienced. In March 1943 the existing Kommandant was promoted out of the boat to a training assignment and Steinert was then assigned as Kommandant of U-128.
He made one war patrol, which ended after 42 days with the destruction of the U-Boat. During his first and only war patrol, Oblt. Steinert, like the majority of U-Boat commanders, never sank an Allied ship nor was he ever decorated for anything.
U-128 left Lorient on 6 April 1943. On 17 May 1943 in the South Atlantic, the boat was attacked by American aircraft and heavily damaged.
Two destroyers, USS Moffett (below-left) and USS Jouett (below-right), were directed to the scene. As soon as the Germans identified the ships as American destroyers, Steinert gave the order to abandon ship. 47 German crewmen survived, 7 were killed in action during the attack of the American planes.
Although Hermann Steinert was interrogated on 18 June 1943, he is listed as an Oberleutnant, although he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant on1 May 1943. Perhaps he did not know he had been promoted although this would have been very unusual since U-Boat Command promptly communicated that type of news. Because of this discrepancy, I’m not convinced he was promoted to KptLt, the rank he is listed under on U-Boat.net.
He became a dentist after the war. According to my sources in the German Navy, Steinert is alive and well in Germany.
[Images courtesy of U-Boat Archive.]