The Laconia incident was a series of events surrounding the sinking of a British passenger ship in the Atlantic Ocean on 12 September 1942, during World War II, and a subsequent aerial attack on German and Italian submarines involved in rescue attempts. , carrying 2,732 crew, passengers, soldiers, and prisoners of war, was torpedoed and sunk by , a German U-boat, off the West African coast. Operating partly under the dictates of the old prize rules, the U-boat's commander, Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartenstein, immediately commenced rescue operations. U-156 broadcast her position on open radio channels to all Allied powers nearby, and was joined by the crews of several other U-boats in the vicinity.
After surfacing and picking up survivors, who were accommodated on the foredeck, U-156 headed on the surface under Red Cross banners to rendezvous with Vichy French ships and transfer the survivors. En route, the U-boat was spotted by a B-24 Liberator bomber of the US Army Air Forces.