Kptlt. Hellmut Neuerburg
04-06-2007, 02:47 PM
This challange is to help solve the mystery of the U-Boat U-896. Sunk approxamitly 60 miles from the coast of New Jersey. The mission specs are as follows: The boat has to be as close as possable to a type IXC/40 with a "typical" outload for 1945 with at least two or more T5 homing torpedos. There has to be a convoy called CU 58 which the U-896 was presumed to be shadowing as for which direction it was headed I don't know. The boat has to be at 60 NM or more and in a position to attack a passing convoy. Escort has to be standard for the era. More to follow.
04-06-2007, 03:18 PM
This is U-869. U-896 never was. Close enough, though. ;) If you mean for a mission to be made, it might be possible. You would have to assign an objective, though. What sort of objective would it be? You couldn't say "sink 20000 tons or more" because it's 1945 and that would be madness.
There is a story here:
04-06-2007, 03:29 PM
I wasn't aware that there was even a U-896. Are you sure you don't mean U-869 which was an IXC/40. She had gone through the 4th Flotilla Training (4 Unterseebootsflotille) out of Stettin from 1 December 1944 to 11 February 1945.
U-869 was commissioned on 26 January 1944 and went on a single patrol. 2 warships were sunk for a total of 1,960 tons. 2 other ships were damaged beyond repair for a total of 11,844 GRT. 1 warship was damaged for an additional 1,400 tons.
She was sunk with all hands 11 February 1945 off the coast of New Jersey by Hedgehogs and depth charges from the destroyer escorts USS Howard D. Crow and USS Koiner. 56 souls lost. Previously credited to the destroyer escort USS Fowler and French submarine chaser L'Indiscret 28 February 1945 off the Moroccan coast near Rabat.
This all sounds like it's your 'mystery' sub.
Kptlt. Hellmut Neuerburg
04-07-2007, 10:19 PM
All right you guy now look all the information I've gotten is from U-Boat.net and one of the people who found the wreck John Chatterton.Now I've sent an e-mail to Chatterton and got a reply and he stated: "The port side is
completely blown away in the area of the Control Room from bulkhead to
bulkhead. The pressure hull is spread around these bulkheads leaving gaps as
much as 3 feet. Cracks migrate fore and aft in the pressure hull for
approximately 20 feet. The pressure hull that would have been around the
Conning Tower is gone, and the Conning Tower itself is only attached to the
wreck by the remains of the periscope. Although the pressure hull exists on
the starboard side, it is badly fractured. It is virtually blown in two.Robert Coppock, from the British Ministry of Defense, hypothesized that the most likely culprit was a T-5 Acoustic torpedo. He was the one to first propose this hypothesis. According to him, there are 5 incidents know to theBritish where U-boats were sunk by their own torpedoes and all strikes were in the area of the Control Room.There is damage in the area of the Aft Torpedo Room. This damage is typical of what we see on other subs that have been under depth charge attack, which
is to say that the pressure hull plating is pushed in. I am pretty comfortable assuming that this is damage from a depth charge, possibly at
some date after the sinking. This damage aft is relatively minor and
profoundly different from the damage at the Control Room, where the hull is
fractured and blown out. There is still no concrete evidence to indicate exactly what happened to U-869 and to tell the truth , it is still very much a mystery in conflict." End qoute.
Final Report on the Location and Identification of the World War II German Submarine U-869
By John Chatterton, Richard Kohler, and John Yurga
The information contained in this report was developed by the authors over a six year period with the assistance of numerous other divers, historians, and war veterans. This information positively identifies the wreck of a submarine located approximately sixty miles off the New Jersey coast at 39º 34’ North Latitude, 73º 02’ West Longitude, as the World War II German Submarine U-869. The U-869 was built at the Deschimag shipyard in Bremen and commissioned into the German Navy on January 26, 1944.
Prior to this date, it has been universally agreed that the U-869 was sunk in action at 34º 30’ North Latitude, 8º 30’ West Longitude, by the US Destroyer Escort Fowler and the French Submarine Chaser L’Indiscret on February 28, 1945. The reported sinking of the U-869 at this location off Gibraltar is incorrect.
On September 2, 1991 the late Captain Bill Nagle and John Chatterton led a team of experienced amateur shipwreck divers on an expedition to explore an unknown wreck at a site approximately 60 miles east of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. This site was originally suggested to Captain Nagle by a local fishing boat captain who was curious about the site he had been fishing for years. Although several experienced offshore fishermen were discretely fishing the site, it was relatively unknown, and had never before been visited by divers.
Upon descending to the wreck, divers discovered what appeared to be the remains of a submarine in approximately 230 feet (77 meters) of salt water. The general appearance was that of a World War II era wreck. On subsequent dives it was discovered that there were human remains aboard the wreck.
Cursory research of area charts and historical records gave no clue as to the wreck’s identity. In only a short time the submarine was confirmed to be a World War II German U-boat. It was relatively easy to rule out the possibility that the wreck was one of the two U-boats reportedly lost in the region. The reported sinking of the U-550 (approximately 150 miles north and east of the dive site on April 16, 1944) and that of the U-521 (approximately 110 miles south of the dive site on March 17, 1943) were well documented with submarine survivors. The possibility that the wreck we had located at 39º 34’ North Latitude, 73º 02’ West Longitude, was either the U-521 or the U-550 was virtually impossible.
The identity of the wreck was indeed a mystery. The divers nicknamed the wreck the “U-Who” and actively sought to identify the submarine and the men whose remains were still aboard.
Illustration #1 – Captain Dan Crowell’s rendering of the wreck as it existed at the time of the discovery in 1991.
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE FROM THE SITE
Diver John Chatterton recovered the following items from the wreck site:
Item #1 – On September 29, 1991, intact crockery bowls marked with the eagle and swastika and dated 1942 were recovered. These items were located aft on the port side of the non-commissioned officers quarters. The bowl in the photographs currently is in the possession of the family of Martin Horenburg, the late Funkmeister of the radio room on the U-869.
Photo 1.1 – Diver John Chatterton with bowl
Photo 1.2 – Bottom of bowl
Photo 1.3 – Bottom of bowl (close-up)
Item #2 – On November 6, 1991, again from the port side of the Non-Commissioned Officers Quarters, a stainless steel dinner knife with a wooden handle was recovered. In the handle was carved a name, “Horenburg”. This artifact is currently in the possession of the relatives of Martin Horenburg, the late Funkmeister of the radio room on the U-869.
Photo 2.1 – Horenburg knife
Photo 2.2 – Close-up of the Horenburg knife handle
Item #3 – On October 11, 1992, a schematic drawing of the ships trim and ballast systems was recovered. It is printed on an aluminum sheet and recovered from the area of the Captain’s quarters. Portions of the legend on this drawing identified it as being from a Type IX C and having been constructed at the Deschimag facility in Bremen. This schematic is currently in the possession of Mr. Horst Bredow of the U-Boat Archives in Cuxhaven, Germany.
Photo 3.1 – Full view of the schematic
Photo 3.2 – View of the lower right side of the schematic
Photo 3.3 – Close-up of Type IXC
Photo 3.4 – Close-up of Deschimag Bremen 13
Item #4 – On May 31, 1993, an escape lung was recovered from the area of the radio room. The high-pressure aluminum oxygen cylinder from the lung had retained its pressure integrity and after salvage the cylinder failed (exploded). However, from the shoulder of the cylinder remains can be seen the hydrostatic test date of April 15, 1944. This would be the date the cylinder was tested by the manufacturer prior to distribution for use. At about this same time divers were also able to finally identify the remains of the ship’s schnorkel. The schnorkel mast was located adjacent to the main body of wreckage off the port side, forward of the Control Room and partially covered by debris.
Photo 4.1 – Cylinder (full view)
Photo 4.2 – Cylinder (full view back side)
Photo 4.3 – Close-up of the Hydrostatic test date stamp
Photo 4.4 – Schnorkel Head (underwater photo)
Item #5 – On August 31, 1997, a cooperative effort by divers John Chatterton, Richard Kohler, John Yurga, and Patrick Rooney, resulted in the difficult recovery from the wreck of a wooden box marked with a plastic tag. The box was recovered from the starboard side of the Electric Item #5 (Continued) Motor Room. The tag is clearly marked with the designation U-869. This item is currently in the possession of Mr. Horst Bredow of the U-Boat Archives in Cuxhaven, Germany.
Photo 5.1 – Full view of the wooden box with the tag affixed on the lower left
Photo 5.2 – Close up of the plastic tag (after cleaning)
Document #1 – Crew list of the U-869 as compiled by the U-Boat Archives in Cuxhaven, Germany. This list shows the presence of Funkmeister Martin Horenburg.
Document #2 – Letter from Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) detailing their records relative to Martin Horenburg (2 pages).
Document #3 – US Navy Tenth Fleet U-boat Intelligence Summary dated 3 January 1945. Section 2, Subsection (b) describes the Allied tracking of U-869 as she approaches New York.
Document #4 – US Navy Tenth Fleet U-boat Intelligence Summary dated 17 January 1945. Section 2, Subsection (a) further describes the Allied tracking of U-869 as she approaches New York.
Document #5 – US Navy Tenth Fleet U-boat Intelligence Summary dated 25 January 1945. Section 2, Subsection (a) describes the Allied belief that the U-869 might in fact still be headed for the New York approaches, despite a change in operational orders directing her to Gibraltar.
Document #6 – US Navy Fleet Assessment of the attacks relative to the U-869 being sunk off Gibraltar (3 pages).
Document #7 – US Navy Armed Guard Unit Report re: the SS Harpers Ferry 17 February 1945. Section 1, Subsection (c) refers to the attack by the Armed Guard Unit.
Document #8 – Secret Log of the SS Harpers Ferry covering the period of 17 February 1945 (4 pages).
Document #9– Official Log of the SS Harpers Ferry covering the period of 17 February 1945 (2 pages).
Conclusion #1 – The U-869 was sunk at 39º 34’ North Latitude, 73º 02’ West Longitude, while engaged in military operations off the New Jersey coast at some unknown date in either February or March of 1945.
The bowl of course proved that this was a WWII era German U-boat. The schematic diagram indicated that we had located a type IX C built at the Deschimag yard in Bremen. This limited the possibilities to a submarine with one of the following designations (according to Erich Gröner in German Warships 1815-1945 Volume 2 and confirmed through Vom Original zum Modell: Uboottyp IX C by Fritz Köhl and Axel Niestlé):
U-183 through U-194
U-841 through U-846
U-853 through U-858
U-865 through U-870
U-877 through U-881
The schnorkel and the hydrostatic test date indicated that the sinking occurred either in the later part of 1944, or the first half of 1945. The presence of the “Horenburg” knife (see attached Documents #1 & #2) was problematic in that it took quite a while to develop any historical documentation to place the U-869 in the New York approaches. At the time, we believed it most likely that Martin Horenburg had been transferred, possibly at the last minute, to replace an injured or ill crewmember on another U-boat (specifically, we suspected for many reasons either the U-857 or U-879). This could have happened in Norway, at some time in late 1944 or even early 1945, with the records of that transfer being lost in the chaos surrounding the end of the war. By the time in 1994 when we became aware of the documentation supporting the presence of the U-869 in the New York approaches we felt that the U-Who was most likely the U-869. We also felt that some sort of corroborating evidence was necessary to rule out the lesser possibility that it was the U-857 or U-879, with Martin Horenburg (or at least his knife) on board. We were not convinced beyond any doubt that the wreck was that of the U-869 until the recovery of the plastic tag from the Electric Motor Room with the U-boat designation on it.
Conclusion #2 – The U-869 did not receive (or misunderstood) the radio message from BdU (U-boat Headquarters) directing it to change its operational area from the New York approaches to the Gibraltar area.
The U-869 was originally ordered to conduct military operations off the New Jersey coast (BdU KTB December 29, 1944) in the New York approaches. It took the U-869 more than a week longer than expected to break out of the northern approaches into the mid-Atlantic. This delay caused BdU to seriously consider that the U-869 had been lost to Allied Anti-Submarine Warfare forces (BdU KTB December 30, 1944). When the U-869 finally radioed in their mid-Atlantic position (BdU KTB January 6, 1945), they were re-routed to the Gibraltar area by BdU (BdU KTB January 8, 1945) in order to make the most of their now limited operational time and fuel. This series of messages was the last communication with the U-869. The U-869 continued on its mission to the New York approaches while BdU fully believed them to be on their way to Gibraltar. The possibility that this was happening was suspected by Allied Intelligence in 1945 solely on the basis of Ultra decrypt information (see attached Documents #3, #4, & #5).
Conclusion #3 –The sinking of the U-869 was the result of a terrific explosion centered on the port side of the Control Room. There were no surviving members of the crew and no witnesses to the sinking.
As the drawing of the wreck site depicts, the pressure hull is almost non-existent on the port side in the Control Room area. Both of the Control Room bulkheads are separated from the pressure hull, the forward bulkhead with a gap large enough for a diver to easily pass through on the port side. Severe fractures in the pressure hull extend forward on the port side into the officer’s quarters and aft above the Diesel Motor Room. The starboard side of the Control Room has the pressure hull mostly intact, but fractured. The skin is still on the exterior of the pressure hull in this area, leaving the skin mostly intact along the entire starboard side of the wreck.
Our confidence that there were no survivors or witnesses comes from the fact that we meticulously searched the US Navy Eastern Sea Frontier Diaries and the Allied Anti-Submarine Warfare records. We examined the records searching for U-boat sightings, missing ships or aircraft, debris sighting, etc. We searched the record for the entire war and later focused more intensely upon late 1944 and early 1945. Having done this, we could find no entries whatsoever that we could specifically link to the wreck site.
Conclusion #4 – The attack by the USS Fowler and the French Sub Chaser L’Indiscret on February 28, 1945 did not result in the sinking of any German U-boat.
The Allied Assessors assigned credit for the sinking of the U-869 only after post war analysis of the German and Allied records that were made available to them (see attached Document #6). The reason that the attack was upgraded to a Probable Sinking was due to the fact that the Allied Assessors were trying to account for the loss of the U-869, which they believed to be off the coast of Gibraltar. The Assessors of course did not have the benefits of any of the Ultra Decrypt information, specifically the Tenth Fleet intelligence reports indicating that the U-869 might not have been in the Gibraltar area. If the U-869 was not in that location, then there was no reason for the Assessors to further review and upgrade the original Gibraltar ASW reports. Other than the reported presence of the U-869, both the Allied and German records show no other U-boats in the Gibraltar area during February of 1945.
Hypothesis #1 – The sinking of the U-869 was the result of a circular run acoustic torpedo that the U-boat fired upon a target that most likely never realized that it was being attacked. The torpedo, unable to locate the intended target, eventually traveled back around striking the U-869.
The detonation most likely occurred on the port side of the Control Room. The submarine was probably submerged at the time. The T-5 Acoustic torpedo was most commonly used at single targets to which the submarine was either abeam or aft. With the target speeding away, it would be unlikely that anyone aboard would notice an explosion that occurred at some distance, possibly miles, astern and underwater. This explains why there are no ASW or ESF entries relative to this site and also explains the extensive damage we find on the wreck.
Trouble with the T-5 Acoustic Torpedoes was not unknown to the BdU (September 24, 1943 BdU-KTB) and circular run torpedoes are suspected in the sinking of both U-377 and U-972 according to Jak P. Malmann Showell in U-Boats Under the Swastika.
Hypothesis #2 – It has been suggested by some knowledgeable and respected authorities that an action report issued by the SS Harpers Ferry might have some involvement with the U-869. The authors are not in agreement with this hypothesis for five reasons:
1. The US Naval Gun Crew report is confusing and contradictory (see attached Document #7). First, visibility is stated as “1000 yards or less”, yet the object fired upon is seen 3200 yards distant and then the fire identified as being “200 to 300 yards” short. We feel this significantly affects the report credibility.
2. It appears that the patrol plane mentioned in the Gun Crew Report passed close enough to the Harpers Ferry’s port side to be easily identified. The plane, which reportedly dropped the flares, at least 4 flares, never reported to ESF or ASW any submarine sighting. This patrol plane would have certainly been in a more advantageous position to identify any submarine, yet no report was filed by any aircraft or any vessel other than the SS Harpers Ferry. No patrol planes were reported missing and no other incident significant to this location and date could be located
3. The SS Harpers Ferry makes no mention of the incident in its Secret Log (see attached Document #8). The ship’s officers should have noted any sighting of a U-boat in this log, had they made such an observation. In addition, the Official Log (see attached Document #9) of the ship makes no mention of any incident, although we would not necessarily expect any mention of a submarine sighting in this log.
4. The Naval Gun Crew Report places the ship at a location approximately 46 miles south and east from the U-869 wreck site. The co-ordinates given appear to be a DR position calculated for the time of the incident, not the SS Harpers Ferry‘s last recorded position which could have been several hours old. The navigational information is without flaw as best as we can tell. This is to say she arrived in port at the time we would expect from her described course and speed (see attached Documents #7 & #8). The only way we could place the SS Harpers Ferry over the wreck site is with some significant error in her dead reckoning position, which we cannot find.
5. The severe damage to the submarine and her pressure hull, with the conning tower and schnorkel adjacent to the main body of the wreck, would certainly exclude the possibility that submarine sank at any location other than that where the wreckage is currently located.
It would indeed be convenient to link the SS Harpers Ferry to the U-869 sinking and neatly close the book on the entire case, much like the Allied Assessors attempted in 1945. Unfortunately, it is our hypothesis that the SS Harpers Ferry was in no way witness to the sinking of the U-869 for the reasons stated above. It is probable that we will never fully understand the specifics surrounding the sinking of the U-869.
· The diving on the wreck has been difficult and dangerous due to the remoteness of the site as well as the extreme depth relative to diving. Three divers have lost their lives in accidents on the wreck. In 1991, diver Steve Feldman apparently succumbed to CO2 buildup at depth and was swept away by strong currents. It was five months before a fishing boat recovered his body more than a mile from the wreck. In 1992, Chris Rouse and his son, Chrissy, both died from serious decompression sickness. Chrissy had become trapped in the wreck by falling debris and his father had to free him. Upon extricating themselves from the wreck, the two were confused from narcosis and low on air. They made a direct ascent to the surface, omitting their required decompression. Chris died shortly after surfacing and Chrissy died undergoing recompression treatment in a hospital.
· From the time we first discovered the fact that the crew was still aboard the submarine we tried to dive the wreck with respect for their presence. At no time did we knowingly disturb any remains. We felt that it was important to identify the wreck, but not at the cost of disrespect for the crew.
· For several reasons, it has been extremely difficult to locate items on the wreck site that bore identifying marks. First, the explosion that resulted in the submarines sinking destroyed many items in and around the Control Room that could have in fact have resulted in identification of the wreck. Surviving items were then scattered by the actions of the ocean currents that now had ample access to the interior. The U-869 was built in a time of great raw material shortages in Germany. As a result, many identifying tags were made of "pot metal" instead of brass or other metals resistant to exposure in the marine environment. In trying to locate these identifying tags, like those affixed to the diesel motors or the torpedo tube hatches, we were unsuccessful because electrolysis had totally destroyed the tags. Second, the submarine has been on the bottom over 50 years. In that time the condition of the submarine has deteriorated greatly with the interior mostly filled with silt and debris that is not easily recognizable. In addition, we chose to avoid disturbing any areas we knew to contain human remains. These conditions made the successful location and recovery of specific, miniscule objects from within the submarine nearly impossible.
· We would again like to thank the numerous divers, historians and veterans who helped in developing the information in this report. Relative to the photographs in this report we would like to specifically thank Gary Gentile and Gary Szabo for their help.
John Chatterton Richard Kohler Jr. John Yurga
1112 Ocean Avenue 1603 Kathy Drive 39 Lincoln Ave.
Mantoloking, NJ 08378 Yardley, PA, 19067 Clifton, NJ, 07011
USA USA USA
Phone - (732) 295-3411 Phone - (215) 321-1071 Phone - (973) 772-8509
Respectfully Submitted March 1, 1998.
Also yes I'd like a mission based upon the said specs. As for the objective find one sutible. If anyone wants to contact Mr. Chatterton here is this web link http://www.johnchatterton.com/index.htm .
Kptlt. Hellmut Neuerburg
04-07-2007, 10:27 PM
This challange is to help solve the mystery of the U-Boat U-896. Sunk approxamitly 60 miles from the coast of New Jersey. The mission specs are as follows: The boat has to be as close as possable to a type IXC/40 with a "typical" outload for 1945 with at least two or more T5 homing torpedos. There has to be a convoy called CU 58 which the U-896 was presumed to be shadowing as for which direction it was headed I don't know. The boat has to be at 60 NM or more and in a position to attack a passing convoy. Escort has to be standard for the era. More to follow. Ok my mistake on typing 896 when I ment the U-869. Sorry for any confusion that it might have caused.
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