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Old 02-17-09, 06:51 PM   #23
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Originally Posted by harzfeld
I do wonder if Kentrat or one of his crew ever suffered cabin fever during their 225 days on patrol?
Just 2 ships sunk in over 8 months?...makes me wonder if he ever or how many times met supply ships for fresh food and refuel. I'd like to read his logbook..
I have just completed my own version of Kentrat's patrol: taking U-196 to Madagascar and back. It was a bit shorter, since I had to start in Bordeaux, not Kiel, and I spent a bit less time in the Indian Ocean and a bit more time in the mid-Atlantic. The result was not quite as boring as Kentrat's, but at times it was tedious.

Patrol Summary
Patrol Length: 178 days, 1943 APR 23 to 1943 OCT 18
Longest span without enemy surface contact: 88 days, JUN 28 to SEP 24
Longest span without contacts of any kind: 61 days, JUN 28 to AUG 28
Ships sunk: 11 for 52,646 tons.

Once U-196 passed the Canary Islands, the planned route was almost entirely outside the reach of Allied land-based aircraft. (I've lost too many IX boats to aircraft recently.) Once I reached this point, I ran much of the time between patrol areas surfaced at TC2048. In patrol areas or areas of enemy air control I rarely went above TC32, and then only if submerged.

During this trip, U-196 was plagued by engine problems. The original plan had been to go to the Indian Ocean and return without having to refuel, but a fuel leak or engine wear resulted in excessive fuel usage in the first part of the trip and U-196 had to deviate from the planned course to rendezvous with U-460 west of Freeetown.

This diversion from plan resulted in a close call on the approach to the rendezvous point on MAY 23. During very bad weather, U-196 was proceeding on the surace when she stumbled into the escort screen of a Freetown to England convoy. The FuMB detected RADAR emissions soon enough to give U-196 time to dive, but two escorts came to the attack. U-196 evaded at flank submerged speed and deployed a Bold decoy as the leading escort approached within 1.5km. U-196 then cut speed to 1.5 knots and rigged for silent running at an ordered depth of 70m. As the escorts began dropping depth charges (probably on the decoy) it was found that maintaining a depth of 170 was not possible. U-196 continued to slowly sink. Kapitaen Yung was reluctant to blow ballast, as hydrophones indicated that one of the two escorts was always approaching the u-boat, and it was feared they would hear the sound. Finally U-196 reached 230 metres and Yung gave the order to blow tanks and level off. U-196 leveled for a moment and then began to sink again, this time to 235 metres. Yung again ordered tanks blown and U-196 climbed back to 170 but when Yung gave the order to level off at that depth, U-196 soon began to sink again. During this time the escorts continued to drop depth charges just north of the u-boat's position. Yung let U-196 sink back to 230 metres before blowing tanks. This time he let the boat rise to 25 metres before leveling off. By now the escorts had given up the attack and were rejoining the convoy. When U-196 finally surfaced, it took longer to replenish the compressed air than it did to recharge the batteries.

U-196 found U-460 two days later after searching for some time in the continued bad weather. (See screenshot here.) After refueling, loading replacement torpedoes and making repairs, U-196 continued southwards. Two days later, U-196 was attacked by planes based in Freetown, and the diesel engines failed during the crash drive. The attacking aircraft missed, but U-196 was now unable to run at flank speed.

Before detouring to meet U-460, U-196 had encountered and sunk 5 merchant ships: 2 west of Spain, 2 north of the Cape Verde Islands and 1 south of the Cape Verdes. This took place during the first three weeks of May. The next victory would not occur until JUN 14, when a small merchant ship was sunk off the coast of South West Africa. Two weeks later, U-196 had rounded the Cape and on JUN 28 sank a coastal merchant in the Indian Ocean off Durban. This was to be the last enemy ship U-196 saw until SEP 24. After many fruitless days patrolling the Mozambique Channel, Yung decided to return to Bordeaux.

Problems with the diesels persisted and Yung was reluctant to pass through allied controlled airspace without top speed. U-488 would have the necessary spare parts but wasn't due on station until SEP 7, so Yung spent some time patrolling the New York to Med convoy routes in DG7 and DG8 without success. The tedium was relieved a little bit by three air attacks, which may have been from shipborne aircraft, as the patrol area was supposed to be outside land-based coverage.

U-196 rendezvoused with U-488 on SEP 15. The repairs were only partially successful. U-196 could run at flank speed, but about two knots lower than her former maximum.

With full tanks and tubes, Yung decided to patrol the mid-Atlantic convoy routes some more. On SEP 24, surfaced in heavy fog and high seas, U-196 was surprised by a C2 coming out of a fog bank 400 metres away. Before U-196 could react, the cargo's gun crew had put two shells into U-196. U-196 backed away, made repairs, and then set up an intercept course. The C2 was quickly sunk.

Four days later U-196 detected a convoy by hydrophone. By the time the convoy's course had been determined, U-196 was behind it. The fog had only lifted a bit, so visual contact could not be maintained out of RADAR range. U-196 plotted an end-around course that would take about 9 hours to arrive at a possible attack position.

About five hours into the pursuit, U-196 was rocked by a violent explosion. Her three after compartments were heavily damaged. The cause of the explosion remains a mystery. The lookouts did not see or hear any aircraft. The radar detector detected nothing, and neither did the hydrophones. U-196 was forced to give up the pursuit and head for home. The damage was so severe that Yung did not dare submerge more than 50 metres. This would make crash dives from aircraft tricky, and evading attacking surface vessels almost impossible.

Despite her injuries, U-196 managed to limp back to base, sinking 3 more merchants, and surviving a half dozen air attacks along the way. She arrived in Bordeaux on 1943 OCT 18. Yung was awarded the EK1 and his LI got the EK2.

When U-196 next goes out on patrol in January 1944 she'll be kitted out with new supercharged diesels, a snorkel, Bold 3 and Naxos.
100% realism, DiD
Harbor Traffic 1.47(incl. RUB)
Using SH3 Commander to implement many custom realism tweaks
Covered 1939-1945; now restarting in 1939 again.
Completed 39 careers, 210 war patrols, 4.7Mt sunk, 19 subs lost
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