Operation Deadlight Expedition 2001DAY THREE: - 16th July 2001
Unknown submarine wreck. Never dived previously.
Depth: Weather and sea conditions:
Sunny - 2 SE - 20m underwater visibility - 69 metres depth.
Today we had hoped that the position we were to dive would turn out to be U2506. However, what we found has turned out to be a bit of a mystery. The diving team were looking at a position slightly to the north of a cluster of submarines sunk during Operation Deadlight.
At 69 metres depth, the diving team located the wreck of a Type VIIC U-boat. It is certain that this submarine is NOT one of the Deadlight fleet. According to Dr Niestle, two U-boats were lost in these waters at the end of World War Two. It seems we have found one of them, but which one?
The evidence pointing to this being a war loss is as follows:
- The attack periscope and schnorchel have been bent/broken off at about the height of the conning tower. The base of the schnorchel stands upright, still located in its collar on the conning tower. The attack periscope is bend right over, so that the lens is buried in the seabed.
- There are closed ready-use ammunition lockers around the collapsed wintergarden area. Deadlight U-boats were stripped of all ammunition.
- All the hatches on the wreck are closed - suggesting it was schnorcheling at the time of sinking.
- There are no signs of damage to the pressure hull - from gunfire/squid/air etc, as could be expected if this had been sunk during Deadlight.
- The position does not tally with any Type VIICs sunk during Operation Deadlight.
From the damage to the wreck, it seems likely that this submarine was in a collision whist schnorchelling, which resulted in the boat flooding. It is possible that we will never know how this happened.
Other observations made on the wreck included the fact that it had not been fitted with life raft canisters on the bows and that it seemed to have been constructed to carry a deck-gun, as the mounting could be seen forward of the conning tower. There was no evidence of an air radar search receiver on the head of the schnorchel.
Dr. Niestle's reappraisal of World War Two U-boat losses places both U482 and U296 tentatively in these waters. Both of these U-boats were schnorchel-equipped VIICs (U296 was a VIIC/41), launched on the same day in 1943. It is quite likely that we have found one of these two U-boats. However, as with all unidentified U-boat wrecks, the above can only be considered speculation. Two other U-boats were sunk around this area; U1014 (which has been found - see Expedition report for Day One) and U1003. The sinking circumstances for U1003 don't seem to fit the condition of the wreck we have located, because. there were survivors from U1003, meaning that the hatches could be expected to be open. Moreover the sinking of U1003 occurred several miles to the east of this wreck.
For researchers and others interested in looking into this mystery, the wreck in question was situated at approximately 55 38n 07 26w.
Diving on a wreck that seems to be a war-grave was a sombre surprise for the expedition divers. Today we remember the lost from both sides of the Battle of the Atlantic.
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