German submarine U-505

German submarine U-505

"U-505" is a Type IXC U-boat of the Kriegsmarine that was captured on 4 June 1944 by United States Navy Task Group 22.3 (TG 22.3). Codebooks and other secret materials from "U-505" assisted Allied code breaking operations. U-505 was the first warship captured at sea by the Navy since 1815, when USS "Peacock" seized HMS "Nautilus" during the War of 1812.

As of 2008 U-505 is a museum ship at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois.

ervice History Prior to Capture

Her keel was laid down June 12, 1940, by Deutsche Werft of Hamburg, Germany. She was launched on May 25, 1941, and commissioned on August 26, 1941 with "Kapitänleutnant" (Kptlt.) Axel-Olaf Loewe in command. On September 6, 1942, Loewe was relieved by Kptlt. Peter Zschech. On October 24, 1943, "Oberleutnant zur See" Paul Meyer found himself in command for about two weeks until he was relieved on November 8 by Oblt. Harald Lange. Lange commanded the boat until her capture on June 4, 1944.

"U-505" conducted twelve patrols, sinking eight ships totaling of 44,962 tons—three American, two British, and one each Norwegian, Dutch, and Colombian. The next-to-last ship sunk by "U-505" was the three-masted Colombian schooner "Roamar" from Cartagena. The sailing vessel refused to stop for a warning shot and was then sunk by 22 rounds from "U-505"'s 105 mm deck gun. Upon return to Germany, hastened by Kptlt. Loewe's attack of appendicitis shortly after sinking "Roamar", Admiral Karl Dönitz's staff officers commented that, "The sinking of the Colombian schooner had better been left undone."

On November 10, 1942, the second watch officer and one lookout were seriously wounded in an air attack by a Lockheed Hudson aircraft of No. 53 Squadron RAF. The aircraft was shot down or damaged by her own bombs and crashed in the attack. The U-boat was damaged heavily and headed back to port. Twelve days later, the wounded watch officer was transferred to the "Milchkuh" ("milk cow") "U 462".

After six months in Lorient for repairs, the U-boat's next cruise was aborted several times due to equipment failure and sabotage. This happened so many times that she became the butt of jokes throughout the fleet at Lorient. Upon one return, they found a sign painted in the docking area reading, "U-505's Hunting Ground". At a time when many U-boats were being sunk, "U-505"'s new commander, Kptlt. Peter Zschech, overheard another U-boat commander joke, "There is one commander who will always come back … Zschech."citequote

After ten months in Lorient, "U-505" was once again crossing the Bay of Biscay on her way to the Atlantic Ocean. On October 24, 1943, Kptlt. Zschech, while in command of "U-505" and under a heavy depth charge attack, committed suicide. The first watch officer, Oblt. Paul Meyer, saved the boat and took her back to port. For his part in saving the ship and her crew from almost certain destruction after their commander had abandoned them, Meyer was merely, "absolved from all blame".

The Capture of "U-505"

The Anti-Sub Task Force

The American task force, known as "Guadalcanal", was commanded by Captain Daniel V. Gallery, USN, and comprised the escort aircraft carrier USS "Guadalcanal" (CVE-60), and five destroyer escorts under Commander Frederick S. Hall, USN: "Pillsbury" (DE-133), "Pope" (DE-134), "Flaherty" (DE-135), "Chatelain" (DE-149), and "Jenks" (DE-665). The task group sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, on 15 May 1944, for an anti-submarine patrol near the Canary Islands. The action took place in the Atlantic Ocean, at coord|21|30|N|19|20|W|display=inline,title|name=U-505|type:landmark, about convert|150|mi|km|0 off the coast of Rio de Oro, Africa.

Alerted by Allied cryptanalysts who had decrypted the German naval Enigma code "Shark", the men of the "Guadalcanal" task group knew U-boats were operating off the African coast near Cape Verde. They did not know the precise location, however, because the coordinates in the German message were encoded separately before being enciphered for transmission. By using high-frequency direction-finding fixes ("Huff-Duff") and air and surface reconnaissance, the Allies could narrow down a U-boat's location. The "Guadalcanal" task group intended to use all these methods to find and capture the next U-boat they detected.

Depth Charge Attack

For two weeks they searched unsuccessfully, steaming as far south as Freetown, Sierra Leone. On Sunday, 4 June 1944, with fuel running low, the warships reluctantly turned north and headed for Casablanca at 10:59. Ten minutes later, at 11:09, aboard "Chatelain", Lt. Cmdr. Dudley S. Knox, USNR commanding, made sonar contact on an object just convert|800|yd|m|-2 away off of her starboard bow. The "USS Guadalcanal" immediately swung clear at top speed to avoid getting in the way, as "Chatelain" and the other escorts closed the position. "USS Guadalcanal" launched two Wildcat fighter planes.

In the minutes required to identify the contact definitely as a submarine, however, "Chatelain" closed too rapidly and could not attack—her depth charges would not sink fast enough to intercept the U-boat. The escort held her fire, opened range and set up an attack with her hedgehog battery. Regaining sonar contact after a momentary loss due to the short range, "Chatelain" passed beyond the submarine and swung around toward it to make a second attack with depth charges.

As the ship heeled over in her tight turn, one of the two Wildcat fighters sighted the submerged U-boat and dived on it, firing into the water to mark the submarine's position. "Chatelain" steadied up on her sound bearing and moved in for the kill. A full pattern of depth charges set for a shallow target splashed into the water around the U-boat. As their detonations threw geysers of spray into the air, a large oil slick spread on the water; the fighter pilot overhead radioed, "You struck oil! Sub is surfacing!"citequote Six and one-half minutes after "Chatelain'"s first attack, "U-505" broke the surface with her rudder jammed, her lights and electrical machinery out, and water coming in.

urface Action

As the submarine broached only convert|600|m|yd|-2 from "Chatelain", the escort opened fire with all automatic weapons that would bear and swept the U-boat's decks. "Pillsbury", Lieutenant George W. Casselman, USNR, and "Jenks", Lieutenant Commander Julius F. Way, USN, farther away, and the two Wildcats overhead all joined the shooting and added to the intense barrage. Wounded in the torrent of fire, and believing that his submarine had been mortally damaged by "Chatelain"'s depth charges, the commanding officer of "U-505" quickly ordered his crew to abandon ship. So quickly was this command obeyed that scuttling measures were left incomplete and the submarine's engines continued to run.

The jammed rudder caused the partially-submerged "U-505" to circle to the right at a speed near Convert|7|kn|km/h. Seeing the U-boat turning toward him, the commanding officer of "Chatelain" ordered a single torpedo fired at the submarine in order to forestall what appeared to be a similar attack on himself. The torpedo passed ahead of "U-505", which by now appeared to be completely abandoned. About two minutes later, the escort division commander ordered cease fire and called away "Pillsbury"'s boarding party.

alvage Operations

While "Chatelain" and "Jenks" picked up survivors, "Pillsbury" sent its motor whaleboat to the circling submarine where Lieutenant (junior grade) Albert David led an eight-man party on board. Despite the risk of "U-505" sinking or blowing up at any minute, and not knowing what form of resistance they might meet below, Lt David and his men clambered up the conning tower and then down the hatches into the boat itself. After a quick examination proved the U-boat was completely deserted (except for one dead man on deck—the only fatality of the action), the boarders set about bundling up charts, codebooks, and papers, disconnecting demolition charges, closing valves, and plugging leaks. By the time the flood of water had been stopped, the U-boat was low in the water and down by the stern.

Meanwhile, "Pillsbury" twice went alongside the turning submarine to put over tow lines and each time the escort's side was pierced by the U-boat's bow plane. Finally, with three of her compartments flooded, "Pillsbury" was forced to haul clear to attend to her own damage. The boarding party was then reinforced by a party from "Guadalcanal", led by Commander Earl Trosino, USNR, Chief Engineer of the "Guadalcanal" and a pre-war Merchant Marine chief engineer with Sunoco. The carrier's men completed temporary salvage measures and connected a towline from "Guadalcanal" to "U-505". The salvage crew was later joined by Commander Colby G. Rucker, USN, who arrived with the seaplane tender "Humbolt" (AVP-21).

In an ingenious solution to the heavy flooding, under Trosino's direction, the salvage crew disconnected the boat's diesels from her motors. This allowed the propellers to turn the shafts while under tow. After setting the main switches to charge the batteries, "Guadalcanal" towed the U-boat at high speed, turning the electric motors over and causing them to function as generators. This enabled the salvagers to recharge the submarine's batteries. With power restored, the salvage crew could use the U-boat's own pumps and air compressors to finish pumping out seawater and bring her up to full surface trim. Gallery always credited Trosino's vast knowledge of marine engineering, far greater than the average naval officer's, with enabling the task group to keep the boat after they captured her.

After three days of towing, "Guadalcanal" was relieved of her burden by the fleet tug "Abnaki" (ATF-96). Arriving with the tug was the tanker "Kennebec" (AO-36), sent to provide much-needed fuel to the task group. On Monday, 19 June 1944, "U-505" was brought into Port Royal Bay, Bermuda, after a tow of convert|1700|mi|km|-1. "U-505" was kept there in secrecy until the end of World War II.

Outcome of the Capture

The capture of codebooks on U-505 allowed Allied cryptanalysts to break the special "coordinate" code in enciphered German messages and determine more precise locations for U-boat operating areas. In addition to directing hunter-killer task groups to these locations, these coordinates enabled Allied convoy commanders to route shipping away from known U-boat locations, greatly inhibiting the effectiveness of German submarine patrols. The material captured from U-505 arrived at Bletchley Park on 20 June 1944, and, in addition to the coordinate code, included the regular and "Offizier" settings for June 1944, the current short weather codebook, and the short signal codebook and bigram tables due to come into effect in July and August respectively.Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, "Enigma: Battle for the Code", 2000, p. 342, ISBN 0-7538-1130-8]

That the U-505 itself was captured and towed — rather than merely sunk after the codebooks had been taken — was considered to have endangered the Enigma secret, to the extent that Admiral King considered court-martialling Captain Gallery. To protect the secret, the captured German crewmen of U-505, who knew of the U-boat's capture, were isolated from other prisoners of war; the Red Cross were denied access to them. Ultimately, the German Kriegsmarine declared the crew dead and informed the families as well. The last of the German crew was not returned until 1947.Sebag-Montefiore, 2000, p. 343]

The U-505 crew was interned at Camp Ruston, near Ruston, Louisiana. Among the guards were members of the U.S. Navy baseball team, composed mostly of minor league professional baseball players that previously toured combat areas to entertain the troops. In order to keep their skills sharp for expected post-war careers, the players taught some of the U-505 sailors to play the game in order to have a team to play against (the German sailors insisting on lop-sided rules heavily favoring them over the professional athletes). [Gary W. Moore, "Playing with the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World at War, and a Field of Broken Dreams", 2006, p. 107-168, ISBN1-932714-24-3]

Fifty-eight prisoners had been taken from the water during the action. One man had been killed and three (the commanding officer, executive officer, and one enlisted man of the U-boat) wounded. Lieutenant (jg) David's part in saving the abandoned submarine earned him the Medal of Honor; Torpedoman's Mate Third Class Arthur W. Knispel and Radioman Second Class Stanley E. Wdowiak each received the Navy Cross; and Commander Trosino received the Legion of Merit. Captain Gallery, who had conceived and executed the operation, received the Distinguished Service Medal. The task group itself was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, cited the Task Group for "outstanding performance during anti-submarine operations in the eastern Atlantic on 4 June 1944, when the Task group attacked, boarded and captured the German submarine "U-505" … The Task Group's brilliant achievement in disabling, capturing, and towing to a United States base a modern enemy man-of-war taken in combat on the high seas is a feat unprecedented in individual and group bravery, execution, and accomplishment in the Naval History of the United States."citequote

"U-505" herself was kept at the navy base in Bermuda and intensively studied. Many of the new technical advances incorporated into her were subsequently included in postwar US Navy diesel submarine designs. For purposes of maintaining the illusion that she had been sunk rather than captured, she was temporarily renamed the USS "Nemo"."Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II", 2001, p. 290]

"U-505" Becomes a Museum Ship

As the U.S. Navy was far more interested in the advanced engineering design of fast underwater U-boats such as the streamlined Type XXI and Type XXIII submarines rather than the familiar fleet-boat types illustrated by "U-505", the captured submarine was investigated by Navy intelligence and engineering officers during 1945 and then slated for disposal. The intention was to use the hull for gunnery and torpedo target practice, a fate similar to those of many other captured enemy submarines.

In 1946, however, Father John Gallery learned of this plan from his brother, then-Admiral Daniel Gallery, and called Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) President Lenox Lohr to see if MSI would have an interest in saving "U-505". The museum, established by Chicago businessman Julius Rosenwald as a center for "industrial enlightenment" and public science education, specialized in interactive exhibits, not just viewable displays and artifacts. Since the museums long-range plans included a submarine, the acquisition of the "U-505" seemed ideal.

The people of Chicago raised US$250,000 to help prepare the u-boat for the tow and installation at the museum. In September 1954, "U-505" was donated to Chicago at no cost by the U.S. Government. On 25 September 1954, "U-505" was dedicated as a permanent exhibit and war memorial to all the sailors on both sides who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic. In 1989, "U-505", the only Type IXC still in existence, was designated a National Historic Landmark.cite web|url=
title=U-505 (German Submarine) |accessdate=2008-06-11|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
] By 2004, the U-boat's exterior had suffered noticeable damage from weather, and on 8 April, 2004, the museum began the multi-week process of moving the U-boat to a new underground, covered, climate-controlled location. Now in an enclosed area and protected from the elements, the restored "U-505" reopened to the public on 5 June 2005.

When "U-505" was donated to the Museum, her guts had been thoroughly stripped during the years she sat neglected alongside the dock at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Admiral Gallery proposed a possible solution. Major Lohr contacted all of the German manufacturers who had supplied the components and parts that went into her, in hopes of restoring her to near-new condition. As the Admiral reported in his autobiography, Eight Bells and All's Well, the Major expected at best responses that boiled down to "Go to hell." However, to his and the Museum's surprise, every company supplied the requested parts without charge. Most included letters that said in effect, "We are sorry that you have our U-boat, but since she's going to be there for many years, we want her to be a credit to German technology."Daniel V. Gallery, "Eight Bells and All's Well", 1965, p. 248, Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 65-18021] An article by the boat's former curator, Keith Gill, published in "Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-boat War in the Atlantic", pp. 161–220 (Theodore Savas, editor) offers an in-depth and fascinating behind the scenes account of how U-505 ended up in Chicago.


ee also

* Ultra
* "U-110"
* "U-534"
* "U-559"
* "U-571" (film)
* "Das Boot" (film)
* List of U-boats



*Gallery, Daniel V. (1965). "Eight Bells and All's Well". New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
*Gallery, Daniel V. (1978). "U-505. New York: Warner Books". ISBN 0-446-32012-9
*Goebeler, Hans, with Vanzo, John. (2004) "Steel Boat, Iron Hearts: A U-boat Crewman's Life aboard U-505". Savas Beatie LLC, New York, NY.
*Kohnen, David. “Tombstone of Victory: Tracking the U-505 From German Commerce Raider to American War Memorial, 1944-1954” in "The Journal of America’s Military Past" (Winter 2007).
*Kohnen, David. "Commanders Winn and Knowles: Winning the U-boat War with Intelligence, 1939-1943" (Enigma Press, 1999).
*Kohnen, David. “F-21 and F-211: A Fresh Look into the Secret Room” in Randy C. Bolano and Craig L. Symonds, ed., "New Sources in Naval History: Selected Papers from the Fourteenth Naval History Symposium" (Naval Institute, 2001).
*Moore, Gary W. (2006) "Playing with the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World at War, and a Field of Broken Dreams." Savas Beatie LLC, New York, NY.
*Savas, Theodore P., Editor. (2004) "Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-boat War in the Atlantic". Savas Beatie LLC, New York, NY.
*cite web | title=| work= The Boats – U-505| url=| accessdate=25 March| accessyear=2007
*cite web | title=| work= U-505| url=| accessdate=25 march| accessyear=2007

External links

* [ Chicago Museum's page on "U-505"]
* [ "U-505"]
* [ DNSDATA including a first person account of the capture]
* [ Publisher's page with books on U-505]
* [ True story, soon to be a major motion picture, involving U-505 crewmen.]
* [ HNSA Ship Page: "U-505"]
* Mariners' Museum Online Exhibit []

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