The commander of U-boat 158 distinguished himself on his very first war patrol, when he sank five ships. The fourth ship that he sank — and the first U.S. vessel — was the Caribsea. His second patrol, in the Gulf of Mexico, was one of the most successful of WWII in terms of tonnage, with 12 ships totalling 62,536 tons sunk. In all, on just two patrols in less than four months, Kapitänleutnant Erwin Rostin’s U-boat sank 17 merchant ships and damaged two others.
Born in the northern German town of Güstrow on October 8, 1907, Erwin Rostin died in the North Atlantic, west of Bermuda, on June 30, 1942, aged 34. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, the greatest achievable honor for a German submariner, two days before he died.