Operation Deadlight

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42 surrendered U-boats moored at Lisahally, Northern Ireland in June 1945 HMS Ferret surrendered Uboats.jpg
42 surrendered U-boats moored at Lisahally, Northern Ireland in June 1945
Polish Navy destroyer ORP Krakowiak towing German Type XXIII U-boat U-2337 out to sea for scuttling on 28 November 1945 The Polish Navy during the Second World War HU55913.jpg
Polish Navy destroyer ORP Krakowiak towing German Type XXIII U-boat U-2337 out to sea for scuttling on 28 November 1945

Operation Deadlight was the code name for the Royal Navy operation to scuttle German U-boats surrendered to the Allies after the defeat of Germany near the end of World War II.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

Scuttling

Scuttling is the deliberate sinking of a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull. This can be achieved in several ways—seacocks or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives. Scuttling may be performed to dispose of an abandoned, old, or captured vessel; to prevent the vessel from becoming a navigation hazard; as an act of self-destruction to prevent the ship from being captured by an enemy force ; as a blockship to restrict navigation through a channel or within a harbor; to provide an artificial reef for divers and marine life; or to alter the flow of rivers.

U-boat German submarine of the First or Second World War

U-boat is an anglicised version of the German word U-Boot[ˈuːboːt](listen), a shortening of Unterseeboot, literally "underseaboat". While the German term refers to any submarine, the English one refers specifically to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First and Second World Wars. Although at times they were efficient fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, they were most effectively used in an economic warfare role and enforcing a naval blockade against enemy shipping. The primary targets of the U-boat campaigns in both wars were the merchant convoys bringing supplies from Canada and other parts of the British Empire, and from the United States to the United Kingdom and to the Soviet Union and the Allied territories in the Mediterranean. German submarines also destroyed Brazilian merchant ships during World War II, causing Brazil to declare war on the Axis powers in 1944.

Contents

Of the 156 U-boats that surrendered to the allies at the end of the war, 116 were scuttled as part of Operation Deadlight. [1] The operation was carried out by the Royal Navy and it was planned to tow the submarines to three areas about 100 miles (160 km) north-west of Ireland and sink them. [2] The areas were codenamed XX, YY and ZZ. [2] The intention was to use XX as the main area for scuttling while 36 boats would be towed to ZZ for use as targets for aerial attack. YY was to be a reserve position where, if the weather was good enough, submarines could be diverted from XX to be sunk by naval forces. [2] In the case of those submarines not being used as targets, the plan was to sink them with explosive charges, with naval gunfire as a fall-back option if that failed. [2]

When Operation Deadlight was activated, it was found that many of the U-boats were in an extremely poor condition as a result of being moored in exposed harbours while awaiting disposal. [2] Combined with poor weather, this meant that 56 of the boats sank before reaching the designated scuttling areas, and those which did, were generally sunk by gunfire rather than explosive charges. [2] The first sinking took place on 17 November 1945 and the last on 11 February 1946. [2] [3]

U-boats excluded from Operation Deadlight

Several U-boats escaped Operation Deadlight. Some were claimed as prizes by Britain, France, Norway and the Soviet Union. Four were in East Asia when Germany surrendered and were commandeered by Japan (U-181 was renamed I-501, U-195I-506, U-219I-505, U-862I-502, and a fifth boat, U-511, had been sold to Japan in 1943 and renamed RO-500). [4] Two U-boats that survived Operation Deadlight are today museum ships. U-505 was earmarked for scuttling, but American Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery argued successfully that she did not fall under Operation Deadlight. United States Navy Task Group 22.3, under then-Captain Gallery, had captured U-505 in battle on 4 June 1944. Having been captured, not surrendered at the end of the war, she survived to become a war memorial at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. U-995 was transferred to Norway by Britain in October 1948 and became the Norwegian Kaura. She was returned to Germany in 1965, to become a museum ship in 1971.[ citation needed ]

Prize (law) term used in admiralty law

Prize is a term used in admiralty law to refer to equipment, vehicles, vessels, and cargo captured during armed conflict. The most common use of prize in this sense is the capture of an enemy ship and her cargo as a prize of war. In the past, the capturing force would commonly be allotted a share of the worth of the captured prize. Nations often granted letters of marque that would entitle private parties to capture enemy property, usually ships. Once the ship was secured on friendly territory, she would be made the subject of a prize case, an in rem proceeding in which the court determined the status of the condemned property and the manner in which the property was to be disposed of.

German submarine U-181 was a Type IXD2 U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 15 March 1941 at the DeSchiMAG AG Weser yard at Bremen as yard number 1021. She was launched on 30 December 1941 and commissioned on 9 May 1942 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth. After training with the 4th U-boat Flotilla at Stettin, U-181 was attached to the 10th flotilla for front-line service on 1 October 1942, then transferred to the 12th flotilla on 1 November.

German submarine U-195 was a Type IXD1 transport U-boat which served in World War II. The submarine was laid down on 15 May 1941 at the DeSchiMAG AG Weser yard in Bremen as yard number 1041, launched on 8 April 1942, and commissioned on 5 September 1942 under the command of Korvettenkapitän Heinz Buchholz.

Deadlight U-boats discovery

In the late 1990s, an approach was made to the British Ministry of Defence for salvage rights to the Operation Deadlight U-boats, by a firm which planned to raise up to a hundred of them. Because the U-boats were constructed in the pre-atomic age, the wrecks contain metals which are not radioactively tainted, and which are therefore valuable for certain research purposes. No salvage award was made, due to objections from Russia and the U.S. and potentially from Great Britain. [5]

Low-background steel is any steel produced prior to the detonation of the first nuclear bombs in the 1940s and 1950s. With the Trinity test and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and then subsequent nuclear weapons testing during the early years of the Cold War, background radiation levels increased across the world. Modern steel is contaminated with radionuclides because its production uses atmospheric air. Low-background steel is so-called because it does not suffer from such nuclear contamination. This steel is used in devices that require the highest sensitivity for detecting radionuclides.

Between 2001 and 2003, nautical archaeologist Innes McCartney discovered and surveyed fourteen of the U-boat wrecks; [6] [7] including the rare Type XXI U-boat U-2506, once under the command of Horst von Schroeter; the successful Type IXC U-boat, U-155 commanded by Adolf Piening and the U-778 , which was the most promising salvage.[ citation needed ]

Innes McCartney Nautical archaeologist

Dr. Innes J. McCartney is a British nautical archaeologist, and historian. He is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Bournemouth University.

Horst von Schroeter German World War II U-boat commander

Horst von Schroeter was a German U-boat commander during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany. After World War II he joined the West German Navy and from 1976 to 1979 held the position of Commander of the NATO Naval forces in the Baltic Sea Approaches (COMNAVBALTAP).

German submarine <i>U-155</i> (1941) German world war II submarine

German submarine U-155 was a Type IXC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine built for service during World War II. Her keel was laid down on 1 October 1940 by DeSchiMAG AG Weser in Bremen as yard number 997. She was launched on 12 May 1941 and commissioned on 23 August with Kapitänleutnant Adolf Piening in command. Piening was relieved in February 1944, by Oberleutnant zur See Johannes Rudolph.

In 2007, Derry City Council announced plans to raise the U-778 to be the main exhibit of a new maritime museum. [8] On 3 October 2007, an Irish diver, Michael Hanrahan, died whilst filming the wreck as part of the salvage project. [9] In November 2009, a spokesman from the council's heritage museum service announced the salvage project had been cancelled for cost reasons. [10]

Bibliography

See also

Related Research Articles

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References

  1. Waller, Derek. "Operation Deadlight". German U-boats of WWII – uboat.net. Archived from the original on 12 November 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Paterson, Lawrence (2009). Black Flag. The Surrender of Germany's U-Boat Forces 1945. Pen & Sword books. pp. 161–163. ISBN   978-1-84832-037-6.
  3. Paterson, Lawrence (2009). Black Flag. The Surrender of Germany's U-Boat Forces 1945. Pen & Sword books. p. 174. ISBN   978-1-84832-037-6.
  4. Helgason, Guðmundur. "uboat.net – Fates – U-boats after World War Two". German U-boats of WWII – uboat.net. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2009.
  5. "Raise the U-boat: council plans to put Nazi sub in maritime museum". The Guardian . Archived from the original on 31 August 2013.
  6. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Operation Deadlight Expedition phase 1". German U-boats of WWII – uboat.net.
  7. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Operation Deadlight Expedition phase 2". German U-boats of WWII – uboat.net.
  8. Bowcott, Owen (20 August 2007). "Raise the U-boat: council plans to put Nazi sub in maritime museum". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 31 August 2013.
  9. "Team to recover U-boat diver body". BBC. 3 October 2007. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  10. "Costs sink plan to raise U-boat". BBC. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.