Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bowfin aims its periscope on German sub Thursday


Honolulu Advertiser
February 20, 2008

PEARL HARBOR — Daniel Martinez, a noted historian at the USS Arizona Memorial, will give a free presentation on the U-505 German submarine on Thursday, Feb. 21.

The 7 p.m. talk is part of the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park's Adventures in History lecture series.

The U-505, which is the only German submarine captured by the U.S. Navy during World War II, is now enclosed in a 35,000 square foot interactive exhibit in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Martinez will share the story of the German craft, including its fascinating history and the rebuilding of the museum around the submarine.

He will also let attendees take a virtual tour inside the submarine museum, showing how it was built around the U-505 to create an astonishing experience.

Video clips, a submarine model and artwork are incorporated into the presentation.

Martinez, in addition to being the historian at the USS Arizona Memorial, is a much sought after historical consultant. He has worked on documentaries about Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway and Little Big Horn.

He is a frequent guest speaker at national historical events.

Thursday's free program will take place at the Bowfin Park lanai, with light refreshments to be served at 6:30.

The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore and preserve the World War II submarine USS Bowfin (SS-287). Located next to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center, it is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call 423-1341 or go online to


Monday, February 18, 2008

Euro-cash for Wirral U-Boat project


Liverpool Daily Post
By Liam Murphy
February 18, 2008

A SCHEME to rejuvenate Woodside ferry terminal by siting a former German U-Boat there has received a cash boost from the EU.

The plans by Merseytravel would aim to see the Wirral ferry terminal become a major tourist attraction in the £2.5m scheme.

Now the plans have been boosted by a £550,000 grant, and it is expected the U-Boat will be opened to the public this summer.

Work has already started on cutting up the U-534 which will become the centrepiece of the attraction.

Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel, which owns and operates the Mersey Ferries, welcomed the extra cash for the scheme.

He said: “This is a great boost to an exciting project which has a twofold objective.

“It will complement the wider regeneration of the Woodside development and help maintain Mersey Ferries as the premier paid for attraction in the region.”

U-534 was one of the last U-boats to be sunk by the Allies in 1945, around two days before the end of the war in Europe.

It was never involved in active combat but carried out meteorological operations, and was raised in 1993, eventually coming to Birkenhead, where it was part of the historic warship collection.

Engineers using a diamond wire cutter are cutting the sub into four sections, each of which will be moved by floating crane from its present location at Mortar Mill Quay to Woodside.

Each section will take a day to move and the operation will take about a month. The first to be removed will be a 23-metre length of the bow and work will start next month.

The cutting has been designed with such precision that the submarine could be re-assembled into one piece if required.

Preliminary work has also started on the exhibition area at Woodside, which will include artefacts from the sub and other memorabilia portraying the history of undersea warfare.

Richard Nutter, director of the European Objective One programme, said: “Objective One has long been one of the biggest supporters of the Mersey Ferries.”

SEE a video about the project to slice up the U-Boat on the Daily Post website, www.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Last hours of midget sub


The Sydney Morning Herald
By Lisa Carty
February 17, 2008

THE mystery of how the Japanese midget sub that attacked Sydney Harbour in 1942 met its end off Sydney's northern beaches has been solved.

State Government maritime archaeologist Tim Smith led a team which has found M24 came to grief as it was on its way to rendezvous with a mother sub near Broken Bay.

Five massive mother subs - each 110 metres long and carrying 100 crew - had been waiting south of the harbour for M24 and two other midget subs to return from their assault on the night of May 31-June 1.

The other midget subs were blown up in the harbour - one by its own crew after being detected, the other by the Royal Australian Navy. M24, which attacked a ferry being used by the navy, killing 21 and injuring 10, slipped out of the harbour and remained undetected until it was discovered by recreational divers in November 2006.

Mr Smith said a map recovered from one of the bombed subs combined with Australian wartime intelligence records showed the attackers had planned a second rendezvous spot off Broken Bay.

"The historical records show the Japanese had more flexibility in their recovery plans than had been postulated by researchers in the past," he said.

The two men aboard the M24 - Katsuhisa Ban, 23, and Mamoru Ashibe, 24 - had probably decided on the northern rendezvous because they did not want to draw attention to the fleet of mother subs to the south.

While one mother sub did head north, it seems Ban and Ashibe were forced to stay submerged off Bungan Head, new Newport, and died of a lack of oxygen, or fumes.

"I am sure they tried to get to the northern recovery point because the wreck lies on the agreed route but ... they either ran out of battery power or were overcome by bad air, or decided to commit suicide and end the mission," he said.

Naval historian Steve Carruthers said Mr Smith's work showed M24 did not head north by mistake.

"It wasn't on the wrong course, it was supposed to be there," Mr Carruthers said. "Tim's put forward the theory in his preliminary final report, which I have read and totally agree with."

The Japanese submariners' remains and some unexploded weapons remain in the sub, which is protected by a 500-metre exclusion zone, underwater cameras and sound detectors. Planning Minister Frank Sartor has placed a permanent heritage listing on the site, with fines of up to $1.1 million for those breaching the exclusion zone.


Friday, February 15, 2008

And up she rises


North-West Evening Mail
February 15, 2008

A FIRST World War Barrow submarine commanded by the cousin of Dracula author Bram Stoker, may rise from the dead after 90 years.

The AE2 sub was scuttled off Turkey in April, 1915, after being holed by enemy gunfire while on the surface.

Its voyage proved allied submarines could make it through the narrow, mine-infested Dardanelles straits linking the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmora.

Her successful voyage to Gallipoli on the Turkish coast helped pave the way for other subs and ships which went on to sink more than 220 Turkish vessels during the disastrous allied troop landings at Gallipoli.

HMAS AE2’s mixed Australian and British crew was commanded by Irishman Henry Stoker.

The AE2 which had a crew of 34, was launched on June 18, 1913. Since being scuttled on April 27, 1915, she lay unseen until found in 73m of water in 1998 largely intact.

BAE shipyard history and heritage representative, Tony Salter-Ellis said: “HMAS AE2 was the second of two E Class submarines built at Barrow for the Royal Australian Navy.

“Yard No 419, AE1, became the first casualty of the First World War when she was lost without trace off German New Guinea on September 14, 1914. A private diving company claimed to have found the AE1 last year but this has yet to be confirmed.”

Mr Salter-Ellis said that in the Dardanelles AE2 faced mines, submarine nets and groundings underwater and searchlights, shelling and ramming by gunboats and shelling from cliff forts whenever they had to surface to recharge batteries.

Mr Salter-Ellis added: “BAE Systems is pleased to hear of the intention of the Submarine Institute of Australia to raise and preserve AE2, so that the key role played by the Vickers Barrow-built submarine and her crew in the Gallipoli Campaign can be honoured.”

The boat is 181ft long, 22ft 6in wide, with a range of 3,225 nautical miles, and a displacement of 800 tons.

Now the Submarine Institute of Australia, where AE2’s exploits are nationally known, and the Turkish Institute of Nautical Archaeology are discussing proposals to raise her.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

WWII submarine missing for 65 years found in Bering Sea


Norwich Bulletin
By Michael Gannon
February 09, 2008

Four sailors from Eastern Connecticut were among the crew of the submarine USS Grunion in July 1942, when it disappeared off the coast of Alaska.

Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate Leo Joseph Isaie Bedard of Taftville was 34.

Torpedoman’s Mate John Harrison Wells of Gales Ferry was 22. Motor Machinist’s mate John Wesley Nobles was 25. Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate Daniel Cullinane, an Irish immigrant living in Killingly, was 47 when he gave his life for his adopted country.

Even though they are not coming home, family members are expressing confidence and relief that after 65 years, their final resting place may have been found 3,000 feet beneath the Bering Sea.

Harry Wells and his twin sister, May Laiply, of Bucyrus, Ohio, were 14 when their half brother, John Harrison Wells, was reported missing by the Navy in August 1942.

“Jude was from our father’s first marriage,” Laiply explained in a telephone interview.

“He was a junior. My niece couldn’t say junior, so she called him Jude. I was shocked when we got the news. He was so young. He had just married a Connecticut girl. She called my sister and notified us.”

The Navy has not formally identified the wreck yet. It was found last August in an expedition run and financed by the three sons of Lt. Cmdr. Mannert “Jim” Abele, the Grunion’s commanding officer.

“I was 12 years old. My brother John was 5 and my brother Brad was 7,” Bruce Abele of Newton, Mass, said of the Grunion’s sinking. “Our father was 39 when he died. He attended Annapolis and was career Navy. He never swore. I remember he was a disciplinarian, but a fair one, and he always gave us haircuts with hand clippers.”

Off Alaska
The Grunion was on patrol off the Aleutian Islands, near Japanese-occupied Kiska.

The crew reported sinking three enemy ships in its last transmission July 30, when it was ordered back to port at Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
It never made it.

“For so long, we didn’t know where he was,” said Ron Bedard of Aurora, Ill., who was 7 when his father, Leo Bedard, was lost. “When the sub first disappeared, my mother kept hoping that he had been taken as a prisoner of war, that they might find him on some desert island. But as they liberated more and more of the (POW) camps ... she never talked about him very much. After so many years, you give up hope of ever finding him.”

Jim Meagher of Dayville is married to Daniel Cullinane’s granddaughter, Karen. He said the wreck was discovered only about two months after his father-in-law — Cullinane’s son — died.

Meagher said Daniel Cullinane had gone missing in war once before — as a Marine in World War I.

“He was wounded and disappeared for about two months before turning up again,” he said. That’s what they said when the sub went missing: ‘He’ll be back. He’s done this before.’ ”

Cullinane was one of the first 100 American troops wounded in World War I. He earned the Purple Heart, and President Woodrow Wilson presented him with a citation. Cullinane was working on the Grunion as an employee of Electric Boat when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

“He was working on her (sea) trials and decided he was going to enlist in the Navy,” Meagher said.

Long search
Abele said the discovery of the sub was the result of more than 12 years of searching the Internet, reading everything available and talking to anyone the family could find.
The key information they needed came from a Japanese magazine article in which a former naval officer aboard the armed freighter Kano Maru described a battle in which his ship sank a U.S. submarine near Kiska in July 1942, giving an exact location.

In 2006, Abele ran an expedition to locate the sub and his brother, John, financed it.

They identified a “target” that was the right length and width to be the Grunion.

“And most important, it was right where it was supposed to be,” Abele said.

A return trip last year has confirmed it to the satisfaction of the hundreds of Grunion relatives and decedents who have formed a family of their own in recent years.

‘I have no doubt’
“I have no doubt it’s the boat,” said John Nobles Jr. of Apple Valley, Calif., who was 3 when his father, John Wesley Nobles, died. As proof, he noted the unusual propeller guard structure on the stern of the Grunion and on the boat the Abeles found. Grunion also is the only U.S. submarine listed as missing in the Bering Sea.

“I think the ID is positive,” Nobles said.

Lt. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Navy, said the Naval Historical Center has not received any data or video from the Abeles’ expeditions, so it can’t identify the wreck positively as the Grunion. The Abeles said they plan to send the data to the historical center.

Nobles and Harry Wells said it’s hard to describe how hearing about the discovery of the sub made them feel.

“I’d always been a realist about this,” Wells said. “I knew lost at sea was lost. But it’s always good to really know.”

“To finally know what happened was tremendous,” Nobles said. “You come to grips with something you’ve buried. Then you find out it wasn’t buried so deep after all.”


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

In Pictures: U-boat operation


February 06, 2008

U-534, the UK's only full-size World War II German U-boat, is being split into four sections to be moved to a new location.

The rusting vessel, one of only four left in the world, was originally sunk by RAF depth charges near Denmark in 1945.

Engineers are using diamond cutters to break up the submarine. It will then be moved in sections by floating crane down the water.

Merseytravel is to create a new tourist attraction at its Woodside terminal which will allow visitors to walk through the sections of the U-boat.


Sliced-up submarine gets ready for a new home


Liverpool Daily Post
By Richard Down
February 06, 2008

WORK has started on cutting up the wartime German U-boat in Birkenhead docks.

Engineers using a special diamond wire cutter will slice the sub into four sections.

The decision to chop up the U-boat has attracted some controversy, but the costs of moving the submarine intact are said to have been too expensive.

Instead each section, weighing up to 240 tons, will be moved by floating crane from its present site at Mortar Mill Quay to Mersey Ferries’ Woodside Ferry Terminal. The overall operation will take about a month to complete.

First to ship out to Woodside is a 23-metre length of the bow.

The cuts have been designed with such precision the U-534 could be re-assembled if required. A glass panel will be installed over the end of each section to allow visitors to see inside the submarine from viewing platforms.

Netherlands-based Royal Haskoning is project managing the operation from its office in Liverpool.

David Ricketts, director of infrastructure and building, said: “It is one of the most unusual projects the company has ever undertaken. There are complications because engineers are not often asked to calculate the exact weight of an old U-boat.”

Preliminary work has started on the exhibition area at Woodside, which will include artefacts from the sub and other memorabilia portraying the history of undersea warfare. It is due to open this summer.

Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel, which owns and operates Mersey Ferries, said: “We’re now moving on to the next stage in what is an exciting project to boost tourism on Merseyside.

“More people than ever before will be able to view the sub in its new location. Previously, youngsters under the age of 16 were not allowed to enter the craft.

“Our plans for the sub will now make a trip on the Mersey Ferries an even more memorable experience as well as complementing the wider regeneration of the Woodside development.”

The future of U-534 was in doubt after the Historic Warship Museum at Birkenhead, where it was displayed, closed two years ago.

THE U-534 was sunk by an RAF bomber in the Kattegat between Denmark and Sweden on May 6, 1945, just 48 hours before the end of the war in Europe.

She was raised from the sea bed in 1993, and is believed to be one of only four surviving World War II U-boats.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Submarine’s (U-534) new lease of life


Liverpool Echo
By Kevin Core
February 5, 2008

A “GIANT wire cheese cutter” sliced into a piece of Merseyside’s naval history today.

Work began this morning dividing the German submarine U-534 into four sections.

Tourist officials hope it will become a major attraction at Mersey Ferries’ Woodside terminal.

Engineers were using a state-of-the-art diamond wire cutter to cut up the 240 ton U-boat.

It was sunk en-route to Norway by depth charges dropped by a Liberator aircraft from RAF 547 Squadron.

The operation is expected to take up to one month.

Each section will make a day-long journey by floating crane from Mortar Mill Quay to Woodside.

Cuttings were designed with such precision the sub could be reassembled in one piece.

But visitors at the new attraction will be able to walk around the hull parts on raised platforms.

The first section to be removed will be a 23-metre length of the bow.

Work so far has concentrated on painting the exterior and removing rotten timbers and steelwork from the top deck.

Due to open in summer, the exhibition area will include artefacts such as tools found on the sub and memorabilia portraying the history of undersea warfare.

Fifteen thousand litres of diesel remained in the U-534’s storage tanks which had to be pumped out.

Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel which owns and operates Mersey Ferries, said: “We’re now moving on to the next stage in what is an exciting project to boost tourism on Merseyside.

“More people than ever will be able to view the sub in its new location with superb viewing areas so that everyone will be able to see what it is like inside.”

History of a relic

Launched in February 1942 U-534 was most probably a training boat in the Baltic

She never saw active combat and was used for meteorological purposes

In May 1944, U-534 was released for operational duty avoiding contact with the enemy to ensure regular weather reports

On May 5, 1945 while in the Kattegat, north-west of Helsingor, it refused Admiral Dönitz’s order for all U-boats to surrender.

Heading north towards Norway, with no flag of surrender, she was attacked by a Liberator aircraft from RAF 547 Squadron which dropped depth charges.

U-534 took heavy damage and began to sink, 49 of 52 crew members survived.

It was discovered in 1986 and was thought to be carrying Nazi gold. It was given to Merseyside by Karsten Rae.


Under the Sea at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall - Replica of the Drebbel Submarine in Exhibition


24 Hour Museum
February 04, 2008

A replica of the Drebbel Submarine, which originally dated to the early 1600s, and used oar power. © National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

It is said that the under sea world is as strange and inhospitable as outer space. Little wonder then that we have gone to extraordinary lengths to train our bodies and invent all types of equipment just to explore it.

Now the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall is launching its own exploration of this fascinating environment with an exhibition called Under the Sea. Exploring the fascinating underwater world of shipwrecks, diving, submarines, physiology, underwater warfare and photography the new exhibition promises to get you as close to the underwater world as possible – without getting wet.

One of the key exhibits is a replica of the very first submarine designed in 1620 by Cornelius Drebbel. Made of wood, this four-oared, underwater rowing machine is the beginning of a journey that focuses on the advancement of technology in submarines and submersibles, that plumbs the murky depths of everything from underwater exploration to sub-aqua warfare.

Visitors can climb inside a bell and chamber to see for themselves how time has enabled new advancements in technology and allowed greater deep-sea exploration.

Underwater warfare is also a key element of the exhibition and visitors can examine a 1930s Italian Mark 1 human torpedo, otherwise known as a Siluro a lenta corsa (SLC or slow-speed torpedo). These manned torpedoes were used in one of the most daring missions ever conducted by the Italian submersible fleet during WW2.

In 1941 the torpedoes and their crews were carried through the minefields of the Mediterranean by submarine and deployed just outside Alexandria harbour in Egypt. Navigating through the cold water, the manned chariots found their way inside the enemy harbour and disabled two of the most powerful ships in the British fleet.

Much like the early days of submarines, the genesis of people diving the depths of the ocean with breathing apparatus began in the 1600s and the exhibition takes an in-depth look at this phenomenon. Displays include an early diving bell as used in Falmouth Docks, a hyperbaric chamber and a number of valuable objects showing early diving compared to today’s modern technology.

As befits a museum in a county boasting its own champion free diver, the Cornish museum also explores the world of diving underwater without breathing apparatus. The history of this unusual sport also dates back centuries and hands-on exhibits examine the amazing pearl and sponge divers of Korea and Japan and how they contrast with the growing sport of today.

Apart from its nautical traditions, one of the reasons Cornwall has such a strong connection to diving is the abundance of shipwrecks that dot the coastline – it is currently estimated that there are over 3,000 wrecks off the south Cornish coast alone.

Highlighted are a few of the most famous wrecks with some rare and previously unseen artefacts. From the Flying Enterprise saga, including stunning artefacts retrieved from the wreck to the stories of the SS Mohegan, Cita, Anson, Association and Suevic the exhibit shows the truth behind shipwrecks and the challenges of salvage.

One of the great pioneers of underwater exploration and sport diving also gets a look in with a celebration of the great underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau. A huge icon in the diving world, Cousteau and his adventures are celebrated through film footage and objects for his studies of the sea and the life within it.

For many it was Cousteau that really opened up the world of under sea exploration and a number of award winning images by underwater photographers Alex Mustard and Mark Webster are displayed within the exhibition to bring home the wonder and beauty of the underwater world. Offering a fish eye view, the images illustrate the range of colours, the richness of our wildlife and the leisure element of our seas.

Alongside the images are objects chronologically charting the development of underwater photography such as the Calypsophot, developed for Jacques Cousteau’s underwater research group, which featured in the Bond thriller Thunderball and an early Rolleiflex camera from 1951.

The exhibition closes by looking at climate change and the Wave Hub project - a groundbreaking renewable energy project in the South West that aims to create the UK's first offshore facility for wave energy generation.

Timed to coincide with the launch of Wave Hub activities in 2008 and touching on this new technology, Under the Sea explores the plans for using the sea’s natural abilities to solve today’s energy crisis.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Adolf Hitler's 'lost fleet' found in Black Sea


By Jasper Copping
February 03, 2008

On the road: One of the U-boats being taken to Ingolstadt

The final resting place of three German U-boats, nicknamed "Hitler's lost fleet", has been found at the bottom of the Black Sea.

The submarines had been carried 2,000 miles overland from Germany to attack Russian shipping during the Second World War, but were scuttled as the war neared its end. Now, more than 60 years on, explorers have located the flotilla of three submarines off the coast of Turkey.

The vessels, including one once commanded by Germany's most successful U-boat ace, formed part of the 30th Flotilla of six submarines, taken by road and river across Nazi-occupied Europe, from Germany's Baltic port at Kiel to Constanta, the Romanian Black Sea port.

In two years, the fleet sank dozens of ships and lost three of their number to enemy action. But in August 1944, Romania switched sides and declared war on Germany, leaving the three remaining vessels stranded.

With no base and unable to sail home - the Bosporus and Dardanelles were closed to them because of Turkish neutrality - their captains were ordered to scuttle the boats before rowing ashore and trying to make their way back to Germany. However, all three crews were caught and interned by the Turks.

Now the submarines' hulls have been discovered by a team led by Selçuk Kolay, a Turkish marine engineer, who will present his findings to a shipwreck conference in Plymouth this week.

Mr Kolay established the boats' positions through research in German archives, interviews with surviving sailors and by sonar studies of the seabed.

He has already completed successful dives to the wreckage of one vessel, U-20, two miles offshore in about 80ft of water. He believes he has discovered another, U-23, at twice that depth, three miles from the town of Agva, but bad weather forced him to suspend diving until the spring.

He thinks he is also close to pinpointing the third boat, U-19, thought to lie more than 1,000ft down, three miles from the Turkish city of Zonguldak.

"It's one of the least well known stories of the war but one of the most interesting," said Mr Kolay.

"It is a quite incredible story. To get to the Black Sea these boats had to be taken across the land, and once they got there they had no way out."

All three U-boats had been operating against British shipping in the North Sea. U-23 gained notoriety for scoring one of Germany's earliest successes, sinking a British ship off the Shetland Islands days after war began. It was later commanded by Otto Kretschmer, known as "Silent Otto", the most successful U-boat ace.

In 1941, Germany invaded Russia and decided it needed a presence in the Black Sea to harass Soviet shipping there. Unable to use the Bosporus, the only shipping route into the Black Sea, the boats were dismantled at Kiel and taken by canal to the River Elbe, and upstream to Dresden.

Here, they were partly dismantled and taken by lorry to Ingolstadt, on the Danube, and then ferried downstream to the Black Sea and Constanta, where they were re-assembled.

When Romania switched sides the crews were ordered to scuttle out of sight of the Turks so the submarines' locations would remain a mystery. Mr Kolay was helped by a map drawn by Rudolf Arendt, 85, the former captain of the U-23, showing where his crew came ashore.

Mike Williams, secretary of the Nautical Archaeology Society, said: "This is a significant find because these U-boats were all scuttled, so they should be intact, like a sealed tube. They are unique survivors of the war."


Friday, February 01, 2008

Fairy's battle with U-boat


Bridlington Free Press
February 01, 2008

HMS Fairy and the sinking of the UC75

Position:53 56.770 N

000 09.893 E

Location:14.7 miles approx south east of Bridlington

Depth: 42 metres

HMS Fairy was a steel-hulled 380-ton C Class British destroyer that measured 63.7 metres in length with a beam of 6.4 metres.

She was built in 1897 by Fairfield Ship Building Co and she was one of 38 such vessels built between 1896 and 1902 at a cost of £60,000.

Fairfield also built HMS Falcon (to follow in a later article), Gypsy, Leven, Ostrich and Osprey.

She had two four-cylinder steam engines side by side, developing 6,300 horsepower, using four Thorneycroft coal-fired boilers, which powered two bronze propellers and gave a maximum speed of 30 knots.

The vessel, like all the C class, was equipped with six guns – one forward at the bow which was a 12 pounder and five at her sides and stern which were six pounders.

She had two 18" torpedo tubes positioned on her decks between the second and third funnels and depth charges fitted close at the stern.

The C class boat had three funnels and a turtle back bow, a very large forward bridge and carried 80 tons of coal and a crew of 60. The vessels were nicknamed the greyhounds of the sea as some of them could do 35 knots.

On May 31, 1918 the weather conditions were quite reasonable when a convoy of 30 merchant ships rounded Flamborough Head in the early hours of the morning.

Escorting the convoy was HMS Fairy, the senior officer's ship under the command of Lieut GH Barnish.

She was astern of the rear vessel when, at 2.05am, there was a crashing noise about 275 metres off her port bow and the alarm was raised.

The steamer Blaydonian had accidentally struck and run over the casing of a submerged submarine which turned out to be the UC75, a German minelayer operating off Flamborough Head and the Bridlington Bay area.

The UC75 was in the command of Walter Schmitz and had sailed from Flanders at 7pm on May 22, 1918, carrying a crew of 33.

Her mission was to lay mines and attack allied shipping off the English east coast.

After laying his mines, Schmitz then made his way north and cruised around, studying the situation of certain convoys that were expected off Flamborough Head.

It was then he encountered the Blaydonian, which accidentally struck the submarine casing and forced him to the surface.

HMS Fairy immediately raced to the scene and, seeing the submarine on the surface, challenged her.

After a second challenge went unanswered, Fairy put both engines at half speed and rammed the stern section of the UC75.

This was an action to frighten the crew into surrender rather than sink the submarine as there could have been British captives aboard.

There was obvious confusion in the submarine as some of her crew scrambled out onto the deck and voices were heard from the conning tower.

However, some of the crew manned the deck gun and fired a shell at the destroyer.

Fairy immediately retaliated by firing 40 rounds back at the U-boat and as she turned they went full speed ahead on both engines, ramming the submarine open and in turn causing the Fairy's bows to peal back like tinfoil as she had tried to sink a vessel much larger than herself.

Without hesitating, two of the German submariners leapt form the deck casing onto the destroyer's forecastle where they stood with their hands up, surrendering.

Twelve others who had leapt over as the submarine sank were picked up from the sea.

Unfortunately, damage sustained by the destroyer was so severe she sank within an hour of the action.

This was a significant sinking as the UC75, throughout its lifetime, sank over 125,000 tons of Allied shipping.

Lieut Barnish, captain of the Fairy, was awarded the DSO for his fine effort in protecting the convoy and sinking the U-boat.

Along with Graham Hirst, Bob Jolly and Darren Warters, we found the wreck of the Fairy in July 1989 after months of wreck researching with Tony Pockley.

I asked Tony to let me know the position of the wrecks he knew of that only marked up small on the echo sounder.

We went to the first wreck, which later turned out to be the Forest Queen.

Some weeks later we used a magnetometer to locate another small wreck and this turned out to be the wreck of HMS Fairy, which we identified when we found the two engines side by side and the 12 pounder deck gun forward.

After some research we found the link between the Fairy and the UC75, which has turned out to be quite a story.

The HMS Fairy lies approximately a mile east of the UC75. It is on a soft, sandy bed with her boilers being the highest part of the wreck.

Because of this she is very hard to find on the echo sounder.

The 12lb gun was recovered from the wreck when it became entangled in trawl gear and was given to the Bridlington Harbour Commissioners who displayed it in the harbour for five to six years.

It is now in the hands of the council and is awaiting a new home.

Over the years this has been a popular dive site, with lots of interesting finds.

But, as with every wreck sunk in the First World War, the movement of the sea is taking its toll and they are disintegrating and breaking up.

We occasionally return to the wreck of the HMS Fairy to see if the sand has shifted and uncovered anything more of interest.

The UC75 lies on a sandy, gravely bed with her bows pointing towards land and with a slight starboard list.

Her outer hull casing has rotted away, leaving only the pressure hull and conning tower intact but it is still an interesting dive.

You can go across the deck with the mine chutes still visible but full of silt and the conning tower standing some 20ft off the seabed always attracts shoals of fish, including whiting and cod.

We regularly take dive parties to the wreck of the UC75.

It is a popular site and of interest to all divers because of its history and link to HMS Fairy.


The Haunted Submarine


Ghost Ships
January 31, 2008

The Haunted Submarine was a German U-Boat called “UB65” built in 1916. Only a week after its launch, mysterious events began to happen. There was an unusually high number of fatal accidents on the sub.

The Second Officer was loading torpedos when one dropped and exploded, killing him instantly and damaging the UB65.

A malfunction in the engine room caused three men to be overcome by fumes. They died before anyone could reach them.

During a storm, a crewman mysteriously fell overboard. Onlookers said it looked like he had been pushed.

During submarine diving tests, one of the ballast tanks sprang a leak. It left the crew without any oxygen in the u-boat. The frantic crew were able to resurface just before they were all about to suffocate.

A crewman was on lookout duty in a tower as the submarine was preparing to dive. Suddenly, he spotted a figure on deck, even though all the hatches were sealed and every member of the crew was supposed to be below. The figure turned and the lookout recognised him as the Second Officer who had been killed by the torpedo blast. The ghostly figure seemed to shout a warning. The lookout’s terrified yells alerted the UB65’s captain who also witnessed the ghost before it disappeared.

Later, another crew member encountered the dead Second Officer in the corridor below deck on the submarine. Again, the ghost seemed to be trying to communicate with the crewman before it vanished.

The U-boat started getting a reputation for being haunted, and many men refused to work on board the sub. After another ghostly incident, the torpedo gunner went insane, shouting that the ghost tormented him at night and would not leave him alone. In a fit of madness, he jumped overboard and his body was never recovered. Eventually, the German naval command was forced to investigate the reported haunting and asked a priest to perform an exorcism.

That seemed to do the trick and no other ghostly apparitions were reported until the morning of July 10th. A crewman claimed he saw a shadowy figure entering the torpedo room. The crewman ran into the torpedo room and came face to face with the ghost of the Second Officer who had been killed by an explosion in that very room. The ghost was pointing at the torpedo loading bay. Then it disappeared as suddenly as it had come.

Later that same day, July 10th, an American submarine spotted the UB65 and prepared to attack. The American commander ordered several sailors to check through the periscope to make sure that he had the right number when suddenly, the UB65 exploded without being fired upon. The americans were amazed. When the smoke cleared, all that could be seen was debris. There were no survivors.

An investigation determined that the German U-Boat had tried to fire its torpedos but there was a malfunction. The torpedos were activated but not launched and they exploded inside the submarine, killing all the German crew on board. Was this what the ghost was trying to warn his fellow crew members about?