Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Today In History: Boarders away!

On this date in 1944, a U.S. task force in the South Atlantic captured the German submarine U-505.

The sub is now on display and open for tours at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

13 comments:

Blackwing1 said...

I got to tour the interior of that submarine when I was in my teens. Now, I'm a very small person (5'6"), and back then I was a whole lot skinnier than I am now. But what I remember the most was the complete and utter lack of space inside that boat. You literally couldn't turn around without banging or bashing into something.

The concept that those sailors were inside that thing for weeks on end makes me a little claustrophobic just thinking about it. Add to that somebody dropping explosives on top of you, and that's a pretty good recipe for a nightmare.

I understand that the US subs of WWII era weren't any better. Too many of the "Silent Service" became just that. Hat's off to the men who served aboard them.

Peripatetic Engineer said...

Adm Dan Gallery who came up with the idea and then executed was almost court martialed over the incident. The concern from higher up was if the capture of U-505 was not kept secret, the Germans would change the codes and the machine would be useless.

It must have been real tough for all the sailors involved to keep quiet about one of the greatest sea stories ever told.

Trebor said...

I've been on the U 505 a few times. Just a few years ago they built a new pavillion for the sub and moved it indoors. It looks GREAT now and you can actually see the outside of the sub close up now. Before it was squeezed in between two buildings.

You can get a nice look at the holes caused by the .50's used by the strafing Wildcats and the 40mm's used by the surface ships.

It is well worth a trip to Chicago to see. (Then flee quickly but to a free state)

SAWBONES said...

Interesting mention. I toured that submarine many a time at the S&I Museum many times in the '50s, as a child growing up in the Chicago area.

Tam said...

I took my share of field trips to the Museum myself during my kiddie days in Chicago.

Somewhere I think I still have the B&W prints of the sub's interior snapped by First Grade Tam with my GAF 126 instamatic. (With Sylvania Blue Dot flash cubes!)

og said...

I was there the weekend before last. The sub is now indoors, and has been hacked open for tours.

The uncovered lifters and valve springs on the twin diesels just inches from one another had to be a loverly thing to experience up close. And the only place to be not on top of them was in the forward torpedo room, surrounded by ordnance. No. Thanks.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Poor U-505.

Liberated from one fascist state, only to be firmly planted in another.

Less said...

When I was at the UofC, I'd do "sub days": buy a sub sandwich at Medici and then go see das Boot...

Ah, the carefree days of studenthood...

Freddyboomboom said...

The first time an enemy warship was captured by the US Navy, on the high seas, since the War of 1812.

So says my Bluejackets Manual...

Yar!

Anonymous said...

blackwing1,

That U-boat was one of the big ones, too (for a fighting U-boat, not a milch cow). The Type VIIs were smaller and even more cramped.

The German boats were also considered to be pretty nasty by US standards, even if the US Navy liked some of the technology.

Larry

Will said...

The website for the U-505:

http://www.msichicago.org/whats-here/exhibits/u-505/

The following is a neat site about WWI and WWII subs. Lots of photos:

http://uboat.net/index.html

Will said...

There is a video at the site showing how they moved the sub about a 1/4 mile, and then dropped it into a below ground chamber.

http://www.msichicago.org/online-
science/videos/video-detail
/activities/moving-the-u-505-
submarine/

Anonymous said...

"Freddyboomboom said...
The first time an enemy warship was captured by the US Navy, on the high seas, since the War of 1812."

Can't find the book in my bookcase but the title is "Hunter Killer" by Adm. Gallery. Interestingly enough Gallery was perfectly aware of that at the time and discussed with his XO the ramifications of issueing the order "Boarders Away", one which hadn't been heard on an American Navy vessel in earnest in over a hundred years !!

While not specifically planned and orchestrated, Gallery was aware of the possibility of capturing a U-boat and devoted quite alot of time to thinking it all through ... they even had boarding crews already made up before hand with whatever training and preperation they could think of and implement before the opportunity actually presented itself in the form of U-505.

Gallery was even so focused on creating that opportunity, that when the "general" or "atlantic wide" contact warning on the U-505 was issued from Stateside to all the navy forces in the Atlantic, he dismissed a portion of his Task Force leaving them just enough fuel to make port, spreading the remaining fuel among his diminished fleet to extend their cruise time as long as possible. They were literally hours away from suffering the unimagenable command wide (and most likely career ruining) dis-approbation of The Navy by running out of fuel and requiring a tow or re-fuel to make port, when they achieved contact with U-505.

It boggles the mind ... all the things that had to go just right. And did.

Hats off to not only the service members of Gallery's day, but also to those of today. I have to reckon victory's of this sort are not un-common today, we just won't hear about them for awhile.