Thursday, December 17, 2015


What was that? The whole submarine had shuddered violently and had thrown him about. The deafening roar that accompanied it made his ears ring and hurt. He left his hiding place and ran while the crew were busy either recovering or trying to watch the panels. He reached a door and entered, finding himself inside the generator room. There was no one inside so he ran for an opening underneath one of the generators. Someone had opened a cover, probably to inspect the inside. It was a convenient hiding place.

Meyer staggered to Gunther, both of them shaken by the massive vibration caused by the exploding depth charge. They stared at the dials, looking for any sign that the reactor or any of its components might have been damaged. Everything seemed normal but they continued looking anyway. After a few minutes, Meyer turned to Gunther.

"Gunther, I'm going to the electrical room. Keep monitoring the reactor. Call me if you see anything that doesn't seem right...even a little, understand?"

Gunther nodded. "Yes, sir."

Meyer climbed the stairs to the catwalk and entered the electrical room. Three technicians were inspecting a panel.

"Any problems here, men?" he asked.

"Everything seems normal, sir. None of the fuses popped during the explosion."

The boat's holding up, Meyer thought. This could work! We need to get back to base and inform the admiral, Donitz, and the Fuhrer. The test is successful! The technology is viable!

U-1215 was moving at 17 knots away from the scene of the last attack. At this speed, it was almost impossible to hear anything on sonar and that was the problem of sonar chief, Johann Merk. He and another sonar operator had taken over the station after Blöhme and Schmitt were wounded by the blast. Right now, all he was hearing was water rushing by his sensors. He had recommended that they slow down to listen, something he didn't really want to do but it was the correct thing to say at the time. Werner wanted to wait a little longer to put a little more distance from the searching destroyer escorts, much to Merk's—and quite a few other's—relief.

Werner turned to Schneider and asked, "What happened to our torpedo?"

Schneider thought quickly. He had suddenly been pushed into second-in-command in the control room and the captain needed his analysis. "With the explosion happening so soon after launch, it's very possible it exploded prematurely, Captain."

Werner nodded. He'd thought as much. "Tube 3 is unusable but all the other tubes are functional. We'll move away for a while and turn around for another try."

After fifteen minutes, Werner ordered ahead slow and a rise to a depth of 50 meters. Merk reported that the two destroyer escorts were now about eight thousand meters behind them, pounding the sea with ASDIC.


Admiral Brown watched as a launch cast off to pick up Lt. Brian after he ditched in the ocean. He thought of writing a letter of commendation for the pilot. He'd probably saved the carrier. It seemed, however, that he had missed. Sonar had not heard the break up sounds of a submarine sinking towards the bottom of the ocean.

If a submarine is hulled, water would rush in and the boat would sink. Any compartments that are closed would soon implode when the sinking vessel reaches the depth where the pressure of the ocean overcomes the strength of the submarine's hull. This depth is aptly called, crush depth, and the actual value varies for each vessel. The sound of rushing water is unmistakable and the boom that accompanies the implosion, signals that men have died.

Without the telltale signs, or sounds in this case, of a sinking submarine, Admiral Brown had to conclude that the u-boat was still alive and could be coming around for another attempt. The two destroyer escorts, USS John Johnson and USS James Smith, had quickly moved in to the spot where the periscope had last been seen. They were now scouring the sea with ASDIC.

Buzzards Bay had stopped sinking though several compartments had flooded. They were going to attempt to light the boilers again to get the ship moving. A motionless ship is a sitting duck and usually didn't live very long. There was also a possible second u-boat out there and they had not found it. The two destroyer escorts were scouring the surrounding sea, looking for the telltale echo of a u-boat swimming by.

"Captain," a junior officer called out, "James Smith reports no contacts."

Admiral Brown shook his head. We have to find him before he can shoot again.

Werner made a discovery that made him swear but would have made Meyer very happy. The periscope had sprung a leak and was unusable. There was no way to repair it except to surface, find the leak, and repair it. He'd have to rely solely on sonar. Since the carrier was not making any noise, he would not be able to shoot a torpedo at it. He could still take out the two destroyer escorts, however.

Schneider took a glance at the torpedo controls. "All tubes are loaded, Captain, and waiting for targeting information."

"We'll shoot at the two destroyer escorts," Werner said. "After they are out of action, we'll surface and finish off the carrier."

Schneider nodded and was about to turn away when he remembered something.

"Captain, we can't show ourselves to the enemy."

Werner didn't speak for a few seconds. Schneider was right. The admiral's orders said to make sure that no one, friend or foe, sees U-1215. He, however, knew something that the young officer had not thought of.

"It's night up on the surface, Lieutenant. They won't be able to see us approach. They'll have a few lights, I'm sure, and that will give us the correct bearing to launch an attack."

Schneider nodded again, smiled, and turned away. Werner moved to the sonar room to get range and bearing information on the two moving warships. They were most likely sailing around a spot on the ocean where they last detected U-1215. They didn't know that the u-boat was already way out of their search box. Werner planned to launch four torpedoes, two for each vessel, but not directly at them. He would fire them at an oblique angle and then have them turn toward the ships from different directions. He hoped it would increase the chances of getting a hit.

He had not recovered from the fright of all the noise and shaking earlier. His nervous tic was really strong right now and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He stayed underneath the generator, shaking badly.

No comments:

Post a Comment