Raise the U-boat: council plans to put Nazi sub in maritime museum

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Derry hopes to recover one of the many German vessels scuttled off the Irish coast

    Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
    Monday August 20, 2007
    The Guardian


    Sixty years ago the Nazi U-boat fleet that menaced wartime Atlantic convoys and threatened Britain with starvation was scuttled off the north-west coast of Ireland. The sunken hulls and rusting torpedo tubes are encrusted with coral.
    Salvage plans are now being explored to see whether one of the German submarines could be raised from the deep and brought ashore. The vessel and its wartime technology could be put on display as the central attraction for a new maritime museum in Derry.

    The wreck of U-778 which lies 16 miles north-west of Malin Head, the most northerly tip of the Irish Republic, has been identified as the best candidate for recovery from among the estimated 116 U-boats that litter the ocean floor off the northern Irish coast.

    U-778 was built at the end of the war and had never seen action before being sunk.

    "It's about 70 metres down," said Geoff Millar, a deep-sea diving specialist who is awaiting instructions to descend to the wreck and film it. "It's not stuck in the mud but sitting on a gravelly bottom. Any recovery operation would take a large salvage platform out to the site and lower slings down to the sea bed that could be slid underneath the submarine and then used to raise it up."

    A similar operation was carried out in 1993 when U-534 was raised from the sea bed between Sweden and Denmark at a cost of around £3m. It was later put on display in Birkenhead on Merseyside.

    With several Royal Navy bases no longer in use in Derry, the city council is eager to make use of one of the former sites to commemorate the city's wartime link with the campaign in the north Atlantic. A salvaged U-boat, councillors hope, could become a popular tourist attraction giving the city an alternative historical focus to its more prominent sectarian past.

    Derry's main port at Lisahally was the command post for British naval patrols on convoy and anti-submarine duty. It was also the scene on May 8 1945 of the mass surrender of the remains of the German U-boat fleet.

    Under Operation Deadlight, the British navy was ordered to destroy the surviving U-boats to ensure they could never again endanger international shipping.

    The submarines were towed out of Lisahally one by one and sunk. The operation began on November 25 1945 and the last U-boat was sunk on February 12 1946.

    Some submarines were scuttled after explosive charges had been placed around hatches and torpedo tubes. Others were used for target practice by aircraft or what was then a top secret ship-to-ship missile, the Squid. U-3514, the last submarine to go down, resisted a wave of strafing and bomb attacks before it finally upended and slipped below the water.

    Shaun Gallagher, a Social Democratic and Labour party councillor and former mayor of Derry, has been one of the driving forces behind the proposal to raise a U-boat. "We have written to the Department of the Marine in Dublin to try and establish who has salvage rights for these boats," he said. "We have arranged for dives to take place this summer and for films to be brought back so that people can see what's down there.

    "The U-boats are in international waters off Malin Head. There's one [U-778] in very clear water and completely intact because it sank when being towed into Lisahally from Norway. Because no one died on the submarines, they are not war graves.

    "All the Enigma code machines were taken off before they were sunk but there's lots of valuable brass and other metals on them. Our plan is to raise one of the U-boats, restore it and put it on display in a former naval site."
    A Derry city council spokesperson said: "The Museum and Heritage Service is ... consulting with statutory agencies in relation to maritime and archaeological legislation with regard to the removal of [a U-boat]. The council is also working to identify funding sources to assist this project."

    A tripartite agreement between Britain, the US and Russia requires permission from all three former allies before any salvage work is done.

    Richard Lafferty, of the diving firm Aquaholics, in Portstewart, County Derry, has been down to investigate U-boat wrecks. "Some are damaged by shelling," he said. "Others are intact."

    "Some are in relatively shallow water, about 40 metres deep. They are amazing wrecks that have attracted an incredible amount of marine life. There's soft coral and sponges growing on them with shoals of fish swimming in and out."

    Backstory

    The Battle of the Atlantic, a term coined by Winston Churchill, was the most protracted but decisive campaign of the second world war. "The only thing that ever really frightened me," Churchill confessed in his memoirs, "was the U-boat peril." The first German submarine attack came on September 3 1939 - the day Britain declared war - when U-30 sank the liner Athenia off north-west Ireland, mistaking it for an armed merchant cruiser. Operating from France's Atlantic ports and directed to their targets by long-range Kondor aircraft, the U-boat fleet threatened to throttle Britain's war effort. In July 1942, 143 ships were sunk in a single month. But improved anti-submarine tactics and the entry of the US into the war tilted the advantage. The turning point came in March 1943 when the cracking of German naval codes used by the Enigma machines enabled the Royal Navy to hunt U-boat packs. Around 3,500 merchant vessels and 175 warships were sunk overall. The Germans lost 783 U-boats.
     
  2. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Yeah this was posted a while back.

    Since this U-Boot was not sunk in Combat and no lives were lost then I think it is okay to be raised however if it had been sunk in combat and sailors went down with the ship it should have remained then as a war grave.
     
  3. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Totally agree with you my good man Adler.... Scuttled, then I have no problem with it. If sunk in combat with loss of life, then it's a wargrave and should be treated as such.
     
  4. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Amen to that!
     
  5. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    There are plans to move a WW1 U boat off the coast of Dover she is believed to have struck a mine with the loss of all hands. however as she is in the middle of a shipping lane in shallow water and as commercial vessel tonnage has increased she has become a shipping hazard.
    The plan though is not to raise her just move her to deep water.
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    That is understandable in my opinion.
     
  7. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Probably gonna be hard to move her in one piece. Been down there for 90 years. Hard to think she's intact after all this time, especially since there is damage from the mine. Any word on the condition of the sub?

    TO
     
  8. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I agree completely but what are the time restrictions?
    100 years? 500 years? 1000 years? Never? Is combat the determining factor?

    Should all the bones of ancient peoples in museums be returned to their resting place? If the wreck of a Greek Trireme is found very nicely preserved and human remains are discovered, is the ship left alone?

    What about the Vasa? (If you're not familiar with the Vasa.. check it out: Vasa Museum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I want to see it!)

    How many generations pass before reverence is replaced with historical curiosity?

    I'm a huge history lover. I have reverence for the dead but there comes a time when the potential knowledge surpasses emotional respect.

    (sounds like a statement from Spock!)


    I don't pretend to have the answer..

    what about the Whydah (only pirate ship found)
    Billy Bones Gift Shop


    The Hunley?
    The Confederate Submarine H L Hunley

    The Monitor?
    The USS Monitor Center | The Mariners' Museum

    The Atocha
    Welcome to Atocha.com by Forecastle Treasures, Inc.

    Those 5 ships are just off the top of my head... I'm sure there are tons more

    .
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I certainly understand where you are coming from. It certainly is a touchy subject and I too do not have the answer for this either.
     
  10. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I think that this is something that you can argue about back and forth and nobody would be happy with the answer. Maybe you should look at them individually and their historical importance. I don't know about difference in reasoning back in the day when Wasa was raised and today. Wasa was down there for 300+ years which, maybe, makes it less sensitive than a submarine that has been down for less than 100 years. Whenever they find new wreckages from war, if they find bodies in them, I'm sure that they'll give them full military honors when they bury them again. To learn about your history is painful work in more than one way sometimes....
    The points made are good ones though.
     
  11. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    If i had propose a time limit it would be 100 years after the last person that was alive when the boat was sunk....

    .
     
  12. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I think that could be acceptable.
     
  13. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I have trouble giving more weight to war/combat deaths.

    More interesting... yes.
    More glamorous... yes.

    But what about the jungle fighter that died of malaria or the peace-time aviator that lost an engine on take off? The Galleon sailor that left his family for the high seas?

    They coulda been the bravest, meanest mo-fos of all time that ran into bad luck.

    IMO they are just as honorable as a SBD tail gunner that takes a 20mm round in the face.

    --
     
  14. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Anyone who serves there country is honorable.
     
  15. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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  16. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    No one can argue with that :!: :salute:
     
  17. rogthedodge

    rogthedodge Member

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    Agree - plus it makes a difference if there's a valuable cargo involved.

    HMS Edinburgh (C16 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
     
  18. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Cool... I never heard of that:

    The Gold

    The twist in the tragic tale of the Edinburgh is that, at the time of her sinking, she was carrying a 4.5 ton consignment of gold bullion, which formed part of Stalin's payment for the supplies that the Allies were shipping to the USSR. The 465 gold ingots, carried in ninety-three wooden boxes, were being transported in the armoured bomb-rooms situated on the starboard side of the vessel, not far from the original torpedo's impact point. At the time, the estimated worth of the bullion was somewhere in the region of £1,547,080 sterling.
     
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