The History of the Nazi Submarine that Sunk in Cuba

During World War II, the German navy began activating the long-planned plan to send submarines to operate in the waters of the Caribbean Sea.

During the Second World War, the German Navy began activating the long-planned plan to send submarines to operate in the waters of the Caribbean Sea with the purpose, principally, of cutting off sources of supply to the United States and creating panic and insecurity in the convoys of merchant ships, among other objectives.

On August 12, 1942, a convoy that included the Cuban merchants Manzanillo, Santiago de Cuba and Julián Alonso sailed from Key West.

Moments before leaving the ships, the American submarine fighters explored the area and did not detect anything. But it was not like that. The German submarine U-508, under the command of Lieutenant Georg Staats, at the depth of the periscope and with the machines stopped, was waiting for him.

The first to be hit by two torpedoes was the Manzanillo, which exploded and immediately sank. Minutes later the Nazi submarine attacked the ship Santiago de Cuba.

20 crew members from Manzanillo and 11 from Santiago de Cuba lost their lives.

The fire caused on merchant ships could be observed by a group of sailors who studied at the Key West Naval Base. Months later, the sailor Norberto Collado Abreu, who was one of the helmsmen of the yacht Granma, would receive training there.

In search of security

It was not certain that the merchant ships would sail without the escort of the submarine fighters. That was more than clear. And who did it ran the risk of being sunk, as unfortunately happened with the convoy of August 1942.

These security measures were taken into account when a convoy of several merchant ships was organized to sail westward. From Isabela de Sagua to Havana.

The protection and custody of this formation were in charge of the submarine fighters cs-11, cs-13 and cs-22, who sailed two miles from the coast in a zigzag, ten minutes to land, and ten to the starboard side of the coast. ships

It would be approximately 5:00 p.m. on the hot May 15, 1943, when an American seaplane Vougt King Fisher of the US Navy flew over the convoy and sent smoke signals to warn them of the presence of a submarine in the area.

Immediately the leader of the submarine fighters alerted the ships. He ordered Fragata’s lieutenant Mario Ramírez Delgado, who commanded the CS-13, to locate him and launch deep charges to the enemy submarine.

Norberto Collado, who was one of the sonarists of CS-13, was on duty in the sonar room: *

“… I was surprised at 1,600 yards or so a metallic sound, clean, clear, like a bell. It was the same sound that I heard so many times in the practice polygon. Quick I communicated with the bridge of command so that the commander directed the ship towards where I indicated. This moment is the dream of every detectorist because in his hands is the ship’s address.

“In full combat and speed, the boat was launched towards the target. The whole structure of our ship was moving. We enter the danger zone. The distance was reduced quickly and I was communicating:

-800 yards, 750, 700, 600 …

-Collado, are you sure it’s a submarine? -the commander asked me.

-Yes. Be careful that in less than a second we will pass over it.

Every time we were closer: 500, 400 yards … The sweat ran down my forehead. I had to turn the projector and inform the command post the direction of the submarine and the distance at which we were on it.

Course in degrees and direction of movement. For the submarine everything was a surprise; I was greedy and intoxicated by the recent triumphs, I was hunting for an apparently easy prey and did not notice our presence because we got out of it. The convoy ships had them in front when they were about to attack them from the rear.

“Under these circumstances, the enemy enjoyed advantages: a sea completely calm, our sonar equipment had difficulty locating by the existing, compact salinity at that time; On the other hand, the team picks up the larger sound of the propellers of the convoy’s ships and they always try to attack from the rear, get into the center of the convoy to choose their victims.

From the depth of the sounding room, the seconds seemed hours. It is a moment of great tension; nor breathe. “What will be happening on deck?” One wonders. The wait was pure nerve. I looked at Abela, he at me. Both without saying a word. Suddenly, a great rumble accompanied by a sudden movement shook the entire ship. We both went against the walls of the narrow room full of electronic equipment. I had no doubt, the first bomb had exploded.

At the moment when, through the acoustic tube, he told the commander:” We have him underneath, we can not escape “, another rumble; the second exploded … the third. With the stopwatch in hand, Ramírez was ordering the launch of the graduated pumps at different depths.

Reiner Dierksen was the experienced commander of that submarine, the u-Boat-176. He quickly tried to perform an escape maneuver. Immerse yourself at full speed as much as you could to avoid the depth charges that were being thrown at you.

But he did not succeed. After the third depth bomb, a fourth explosion was heard, more powerful as if one of its torpedo cameras had exploded.

The explosion was of such magnitude that the submarine fighter sank its bow into the water, and part of it reached the engine room. And a column of murky water rose strongly, indicating that the enemy ship had been hit by the depth charge.

The sub-hunt was then placed in the area where it had launched other depth bombs, turned off the engines and Collado was in listening position. He reported that he clearly heard how the submarine got water, as when a large empty doorknob is submerged and the glu, characteristic, begins.

The History of the Nazi Submarine Sunk in Cuba

An oil slick on the surface of the sea with bubbles began to increase in diameter, confirming that the enemy had been mortally wounded. The German submarine was sinking with more than 50 crew on board.

Corvette captain Reiner Dierksen was assigned on November 15, 1941, to the 4th. flotilla. He conducted patrols from July 1942 until May 15, 1943. He had sunk 11 merchant ships.

It operated in the Atlantic. He was decorated with the Iron Cross of First and Second Class, among other decorations.

* Fragments taken from the book Collado. Helmsman of the Granma.

 

 

Source: Granma