Wednesday, February 28, 2007

U-boat off Malin Head Salvage Plan

February 2007

Geoff Millar, Derry diver, announced that a plan was launched to salvage a German WWII U-boat from the seabed off Malin Head last week. Geoff said "There's a type 1 U-boat U778 that is in pristine condition in 70 metres deep water 16 miles northwest of Malin Head that should be raised. He went on to say "I've spoken to Derry city councillor Sean Gallagher and he is trying to get a motion passed at council promising support. I sought funding from the Inishowen Rural Development scheme some time ago, but they didn't have the resources to help."

Mr. Millar said there is huge potential for tourism. "Divers from all over the world come to Inishowen. "There are more sunken oceangoing liners off the coast of Inishowen than anywhere else in the world. Lots of B & B's near Malin are filled with foreign divers in the summer." he said.

116 U-boats were sunk in deep waters off Malin, after the German U-boat fleet surrendered to British Admiral Sir Max Horton at Lisahally on the Foyle on May 14th 1945. The closest U-boat to the coast is U861, three miles northwest of Malin Head and in water 43 metres deep. Unfortunately it has broken into three pieces and can't be raised. Another vessel favoured by divers is U1271, eight miles off shore in 56 metres deep. It is hoped the raised vessel will be housed in a museum as an educational aid. The German authorities may all be asked to assist the project. So far only two U-boats have been brought up from the seabed and preserved for public display in Europe - one in Birkenhead in England and another in Germany.
For more information visit


Saturday, February 24, 2007

German writer of ‘Das Boot’ dies at 89

February 24, 2007

Lothar-Guenther Buchheim

BERLIN - The German war correspondent whose U-boat memoir was adapated into the movie “Das Boot” has died at the age of 89.

Lothar-Guenther Buchheim was acclaimed for his works of fiction and nonfiction, including several about his World War II patrol aboard U-96 in the Atlantic Ocean in 1941. He crafted that experience into the novel “Das Boot,” or “The Boat,” published in 1973.

In 1981, the book was turned into the international hit film starring Juergen Prochnow that detailed the stress of the undersea war.

Buchheim served in the German navy as a reporter in World War II, taking part in U-boat operations for propaganda purposes. He later wrote a short story, “Die Eichenlaubfahrt,” or “The Oak Leaves Patrol,” as well as “Das Boot.” He also wrote a three-volume nonfiction work, “U-Boat Krieg,” or “U-Boat War.” His other works included “The Fortress” and “The Parting,” but it was “Das Boot” that seared itself into the German consciousness and gained worldwide fame.

The U-96 was commissioned in September 1940 and went on 11 patrols without suffering any casualties before it was sunk in March 1945 during a U.S. bombing raid on Wilhelmshaven. More than three-quarters of Germany’s 39,000 U-boat sailors were lost in action against the Allies.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Retired Submarine, 63, Seeks Loving New Home


Going Coastal
By John Holl
February 12, 2007

AFTER decades of service, the U.S.S. Ling SS-297, a World War II submarine, is docked here along the Hackensack River next to a parking lot and across the street from an auto supply store.

While the Ling never saw combat and spent most of its active career in Connecticut as part of the Atlantic reserve fleet and then as a training vessel, today it is the star attraction of the New Jersey Naval Museum. The museum, which has a building about the size of a double-wide trailer, also has a few deactivated missiles and torpedoes — including one whose nose recently fell off — and other retired vessels.

“We may not look active, but we really are,” Thomas Coulson, the museum treasurer, said during a recent tour of the submarine and the museum.

Since 1972 the museum has paid $1 a year to lease a patch of land adjacent to the river from the North Jersey Media Group, which owns The Record of Bergen County. But last month, Malcolm A. Borg, the chairman of the media group, told the museum that he planned to sell the 25-acre property to developers and that the Ling would have to leave within a year.

There will be no battle, no fights to stay on the site. Instead, the governing members of the museum — mostly retired sailors or submariners themselves — say they see the move as a challenge. Their big problem is where the Ling and the museum will wind up.

The group has spoken to the naval museum in New London, Conn., and written to the operators of the U.S.S. New Jersey, a decommissioned battleship that is docked on the Camden waterfront.

The Ling, a Balao Class diesel-powered submarine, was launched on Aug. 15, 1943; slept nearly 85 men; could reach 21 knots (about 24 miles an hour) and dive to 412 feet; and carried 24 torpedoes, each weighing about 3,000 pounds.

“It deserves to be seen,” said Joseph A. McDevitt, the vice president of the New Jersey Naval Museum. He said he would like to have the submarine and museum moved to the Meadowlands, where it would be easily accessible to people throughout the New York metropolitan area.

But money will be a factor. With the museum having roughly 10,000 visitors a year and an annual operating budget of about $75,000, its backers do not have the money for a move. Plus, moving the Ling out will not be as easy as getting it in.

In the early 1970s, when the Ling was floated up to the museum, backward, the Hackensack River was a different place.

Container ships brought paper for The Record’s printing presses, and a factory across from the museum relied on ships to haul cargo. No cargo ships serve the area now.

“She still floats,” Mr. Coulson said of the Ling. “We’re sure of that. But the river silted up, so we’ll need to get the Army Corps of Engineers in here to dredge the Hackensack.”

Dennis McNerney, the Bergen County executive, called the Ling “a piece of America” and said he was committed to helping the museum find a new home within the county.

If it can happen, moving to a new location might be good for the Ling and the museum. After 34 years in Hackensack, attendance is down, museum officials say. Its Web site,, says the museum is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. but advises people to call ahead first “to confirm that the museum will be open.”

While the submarine and the museum were open on the first weekend in February, fewer than 10 people stopped to visit.

“If the move does not happen,” Mr. McDevitt said, “the whole thing will be demolished — the wrecking ball.”


Friday, February 09, 2007

Pampanito declared ship-shape and ready for S.F. museum duty

February 09, 2007

Even the air pressure of the periscope tube -- which helps send it shooting above the ocean's surface -- was checked as part of the makeover the USS Pampanito has been undergoing in Alameda.

That was among the easiest jobs.

Workers at Bay Ship & Yacht Co. also blasted an estimated 40 cubic yards of barnacles and other sea growth from the hull of the famed World War II submarine, which usually rests along Pier 45 at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.

With the work now wrapped up, the Pampanito is set to leave the dry-dock along the Oakland-Alameda Estuary early today and make its way back to the spot where it sits as a floating museum.

'There were no major surprises,' said David Rasmussen, who managed the restoration. 'Of course, you always have to expect something, but that's part of the job.'

The Pampanito will not travel to San Francisco under its own power, however.

The U.S. Navy removed its propellers when it handed over the submarine to the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, and so tugboats will guide it back across the Bay.

During the restoration the hull got a fresh coat of gray and black paint, making the Pampanito look almost as crisp as it did that November day it was commissioned in 1943.

The cramped interior of the 311-foot submarine also got new paint job as part of the spruce-up, which happens every seven years and will cost about $250,000.

Len Vaden spent Wednesday aboard the boat installing a water heater -- one salvaged from another vintage submarine, the USS Sailfish.

It's a necessary piece of equipment because Boy Scouts routinely spend the night aboard the Pampanito on field trips, said Vaden, who has been volunteering at the submarine for 26 years.

'It's just neat to hear the history and the stories of the guys who served aboard this sub,' said Vaden, a Dublin resident and U.S. Navy veteran.

The Pampanito sank six enemy ships and damaged four others during World War II. Its crew also rescued 73 POWs from the waters of the Pacific after the Pampanito attacked a convoy carrying war materials to Japan -- not knowing hundreds of British and Australian prisoners were aboard.

With the Pampanito now a museum, every one of the approximately two dozen chunks of rusting metal that were removed from the submarine were saved. Some of it came from the gun turret.

'They want to be able to archive it and catalog it,' Rasmussen said about the museum operators. 'They want to know what was there and what we've taken out.'

A Balao class submarine, the Pampanito displaces 2,415 tons when submerged. It opened as a museum in 1982.

'We could not have asked for anything more,' said Aaron Washington, the Pampanito's manager, about the restoration. 'We're extremely pleased.'

The job has been a labor of love, Rasmussen said.

A Navy veteran himself, Rasmussen served aboard another submarine, the USS Daniel Boone, from 1976 until 1981.

'It brought back memories,' Rasmussen said about the project. 'Especially being able to walk everywhere and compare the technology then with the modern boats.'

He considers the restoration a tribute to the sailors from another era.

'This is all about the men who served on the Pampanito,' Rasmussen said.

To celebrate the Pampanito's return to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, the museum will offer free admission on Saturday. For more information on the submarine and its history, visit


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Soviet-era submarine sinks near Denmark

February 06, 2007

A Soviet-era submarine being towed to a museum in Thailand has sunk near Denmark. The Whiskey class sub was being tugged from a Polish shipyard. It began taking on water about 34 miles from the Danish coast, and the tugboat crew had to disconnect the towing cable as the boat sank.

There were no people, arms or fuel on board, and the vessel does not pose an environmental hazard. However, because the submarine sank in a busy area, it represents a potential obstacle to navigation, and authorities have promised to salvage it.

More than 200 diesel electric submarines of Project 613 (Whiskey class) were built in the Soviet Union between 1949 and 1957, based on German Type XXI submarines.