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|Ordered:||14 May 1940|
|Builder:||Deutsche Werke, Kiel|
|Laid down:||22 November 1940|
|Launched:||13 September 1941|
|Commissioned:||15 November 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk, 24 July 1943|
|Type:||Ocean-going submarine tanker|
|Height:||11.70 m (38 ft 5 in)|
|Draught:||6.51 m (21 ft 4 in)|
|Test depth:||240 m (790 ft)|
|Complement:||6 officers and 47 enlisted|
Her keel was laid down on 22 November 1940 by Deutsche Werke in Kiel as yard number 290. The submarine was launched on 13 September 1941 and commissioned on 15 November, with Kapitänleutnant Georg von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff in command; he remained in charge until the boat was lost, receiving promotion to Korvettenkapitän in the process.
German Type XIV submarines were shortened versions of the Type IXDs they were based on. U-459 had a displacement of 1,688 tonnes (1,661 long tons) when at the surface and 1,932 tonnes (1,901 long tons) while submerged. The U-boat had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 48.51 m (159 ft 2 in), a beam of 9.35 m (30 ft 8 in), a height of 11.70 m (38 ft 5 in), and a draught of 6.51 m (21 ft 4 in). The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft supercharged four-stroke, six-cylinder diesel engines producing a total of 2,800–3,200 metric horsepower (2,060–2,350 kW; 2,760–3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two Siemens-Schuckert 2 GU 345/38-8 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 240 metres (790 ft).
The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 14.4–14.9 knots (26.7–27.6 km/h; 16.6–17.1 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 6.2 knots (11.5 km/h; 7.1 mph). When submerged, the boat could operate for 120 nautical miles (220 km; 140 mi) at 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 12,350 nautical miles (22,870 km; 14,210 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-459 was not fitted with torpedo tubes or deck guns, but had two 3.7 cm (1.5 in) SK C/30 anti-aircraft guns with 2500 rounds as well as a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 guns with 3000 rounds. The boat had a complement of fifty-three.
U-459 conducted six patrols, but as a supply boat, she avoided combat. The submarine initially served in the 4th U-boat Flotilla, for training, before moving on to the 10th (in April 1942) and the 12th flotillas (in November of the same year), for operations.
Having moved from Kiel to Helgoland U-459 set-off for occupied France, arriving in St. Nazaire on 15 May 1942, after traversing the north-central Atlantic. Her captain, von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, was at 48, one of the oldest skippers at the time.
Her second patrol began on 6 June 1942. It was at about this time that von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf was promoted to Korvettenkapitän.
Her third foray saw the boat sail into the south Atlantic, as far as Namibia. She departed St. Nazaire on 18 August 1942 and returned on 4 November.
Her fourth patrol was her longest, from 20 December 1942 to 7 March 1943, a total of 78 days. She started in St. Nazaire and finished in Bordeaux. This voyage included sailing toward Cameroon, the boat's nearest position to that country was reached on 18 January 1943.
Her fifth patrol began when she left Bordeaux on 20 April 1943. On 30 May, she shot down a British Whitley aircraft. She was also attacked, on the same day, by an RAF Liberator with a total of ten depth charges. The boat was not damaged, the aircraft was.
She returned to her French base on 30 May.
Having left Bordeaux on 22 July 1943, U-459 was attacked by two British Wellington aircraft of No. 172 Squadron RAF near Cape Ortegal, Spain on 24 July. The boat shot one of the Wellingtons down, but 19 submarine crewmen were killed and she was so badly damaged by this attack that she had to be scuttled. 41 of her crew survived to be taken prisoner.
U-459 took part in one wolfpack, namely.