“A remote island belonging to the Allies?” the captain said in surprise.
“We built a dummy observation post on the island and placed the mines around the island. The Allies bombed the observation post after a month but yet to clear the mines. Allied ships occasionally clear a small portion of the mines but we will place back the mines using the midget U Boats during the night. After a while, the Allies gave up and bypass this island completely. Further this island is not strategic nor of any value for normal Allied naval boats. A major part of its coastal water is rocky and not suited for landing crafts but for a U Boat, it is a totally different story” explained Admiral Kantz as they walked towards U X.
The captain noticed his U 133 crew waiting for him next to the new U Boat and they were too glad to see him. It has been a while since they saw their captain and their second in command. Seeing his men next a beaming new U Boat made the captain more determined to complete the mission in success.
“Captain, this U Boat is much better, faster and powerful than our old U 133” remarked a young sailor when he saw his captain standing next to him.
The captain wasted no time walking up and boarding the new U Boat. The layout was much different from the current layout of U 133. The U X has its own mission room with a newer generation of periscope system. The captain and Ernst walked along and inspected the various compartments in U X. The living quarters were roomier than the living quarters in the standard U Boats. It has been expected to be so since U X is expected to perform a very long range mission to the Far East. There were separate living quarters for the scientists and the specialised extraction team. The captain quarters were twice as big as the captain’s old quarters in U 133.
The U X was covered with a thick synthetic rubber to reduce sonar signature and had array of signals and radar antennas. It also have a new terrain following radar which will be helpful if the U Boat is to navigate its way using the sea floor. The U X’s radio room was full of new systems and gadgets. The torpedo room was also impressive – it had many compartments to store the torpedoes and each compartment is sealed tight to avoid mis-firing of the torpedoes. In the event of fire or battle damage, the torpedo compartments are water sealed to prevent flooding. It is a problem that haunts the current U Boat design and is the main cause of death and injuries of U Boat crew in accidental firing of the torpedoes. It is hoped that this new design will reduce such casualties.
For U X, Admiral Kantz weapons team have been experimenting with newer range of torpedoes which has a better range and track ability. For U X’s mission, older version and newer version of the torpedoes has been loaded to improve the usability of the on board weapons.
U X also has a better fire control system with auto lock system in place in case the hull has been compromised and flooding occurs.
Special attention has given on the U X’s main three engines and power propulsion system that have been put in place. Once again, each of the 3 massive engines is water sealed and placed in separate engine compartments so that damage to one compartment will not have any impact on the performance of the Boat. In the past, the engines are kept in a single engine room which meant damage to the engine room means the breakdown in the performance of the vessel. Some smaller naval boats had been crippled with damaged engine and were unable to sail away from the Allied ships.
The whole design of the U X has been made so that it is sleeker in the water. It reduces the ripples in the water and therefore making it even harder for the enemy ships to detect the U Boat from afar.
The new U Boat came with additional storage place which meant a large supply of food, water and fuel can be kept without the need to resupply often. For the mission to the Far East, the U X is expected to be resupplied three times when sailing to Malaya and resupplied in the same manner when returning from Malaya.
“Had a good tour of the Boat?” asked Admiral Kantz when the captain and Ernst had completed their rounds in the new U Boat.
“I have seen most of the critical areas but I have yet to see the complete area of this boat?” informed Captain Franz.
“Don’t worry, you will have plenty of time to venture and get to know this boat during your mission to the Far East. My men have spend plenty of time to layout the best U Boat design for the mission and we are hoping to migrate some of the technologies to our current U Boats to maintain their upper hand”
It was time for dinner and the captain and his second in command opted to dine with their men. It has been a while since they have done that. During the month long Wolf Pack missions, it is very normal for them to dine with the men. It helps to strengthen the crew’s bondage and trust. It is a standard practice of all U Boat captains.
Dinner was not luxurious but it was still better than what they usually have when they are on long range missions. The Admiral Kantz dined in his quarters and invited the captain and Ernst for a drink after the dinner. They talked about many things and this included Admiral Kantz military service during the World War One. By the time World War Two came, Admiral Kantz opted for early retirement and decided to be involved himself in the construction sector. He was already a successful businessman when the calls for ex-military ranking officer to relist were made. Thankfully having the right connection with the German High Command and being the Kriegsmarine main construction firm had helped the Admiral to make more money without directly involved in the war.
The Admiral family was one of the wealthiest families in Berlin but after the start of the Third Reich, much of the wealth has been reduced by harsh government policies and systematic reduction of power by certain people close to the Fuhrer. The Admiral family migrated to an independent state and are only started to rebuild their wealth. The Admiral however stayed back to help to built the Kriegsmarine which was devastated by the end of the World War One.
The U X has been his long ambition to upgrade and replace all the current U Boats. However due to the high cost and time to build the U X class of U Boats, so far only one such boat has been built. The German High Command hesitated to indulge more funding to more U X boats as the Army has been asking for more funding as well for its Panzer Tank Divisions. One U X construction cost can easily cover the construction cost of ten Tiger II main battle tanks. Funding has been limited; some of the U X funding came from private corporations, patriotic to the Third Reich.
Slowly but surely the only one U X that has been built being upgraded and tested. And the Admiral is confident of the capability of U X. U X is ready for its mission now.
The next day, Captain Franz was up early and waiting for his crew. Today is the first day he will helm the U X and he had decided to test the U Boat for the next days, putting it through battle manoeuvres and see its combat limits. Captain Franz decided to take the U X on a long range patrol to the main shipping lines and engage the Allied naval boats. This was communicated to the Kriegsmarine High Command who hesitated to commit the U X on such patrols but a strong assurance from Admiral Kantz changed their mind and the Captain Franz was given the go-ahead with the patrol.
The departure from the U X’s U Boat base was tricky as the coastal waters were loaded with German anti-ship mines. But a careful manoeuvre by the Captain saw no trouble for it to leave the base and head towards the Allied shipping lanes. The shipping activities by the Allies have drastically reduced in the last few days for a Wolf Pack was active in the waters. But the Wolf Pack had returned to its base and the Allied tried another run of the merchant ships with a heavier combat escort. They did not know that a single but a much larger U Boat was pacing itself to their shipping lane.
The U X’s sensitive sonar quickly picked up two battle cruisers, one destroyer and five smaller naval boats escorting six merchant ships laden with goods to the Allied bases in Europe. The captain had a hard time picking the first target for U X. He decided to attack the larger battle cruisers instead. He hoped to have enough time and brute power to attack the merchant ships later.
He ordered the launch of the newer class of torpedoes toward the first battle cruiser as he takes aim at the second battle cruiser just next to the first battle cruiser. It was late when the men in the first battle cruiser alerted their captain of an on-coming torpedo. It was dead strike – a large gorge in the ship’s hull was seen after a powerful blast. The battle cruiser did not sink immediately but it was not moving. Immediately the remaining ships in the flotilla took evasive actions with the merchant ships breaking off and following a naval boat each.
The captain ordered the launch of another aiming for the second battle cruiser but the torpedo found the mark on a merchant ship that this battle cruiser was escorting. Seeing that the ship that it was escorting sunk by a torpedo, the battle cruiser tried to make a run for it. It knew that it will suicidal to continue to sail to escort the slower merchant ships. Besides, the battle cruiser was not equipped with U Boat detection system, so hunting for the U Boat was out of the question.
The remaining ships took off in different directions, hoping to rendezvous at a safer point. In the meantime, the nearest U Boat hunting naval ship has been summoned to try and find the attacking U Boat, hopefully before it is too late. U X’s impressive speed gave Captain Franz several options – to give chase to all the merchant ships or pick the main merchant ships and head back home.
The captain decided to test the limit of the U X by going for all the merchant ships. It sped off to launch the torpedoes against the first merchant ship and making a strong turn, pick the second merchant ship for another torpedoes attack. This was done in a similar for the third ship. By the time, the captain had picked up last of the merchant ships for the torpedo attack; the merchant ship has now been joined by a U Boat hunting ship.
The captain became cautious but at the same time, was happy to test the U X’s defence systems against the Allied U Boat hunting ship, a ship which was much feared by the U Boat Wolf Packs as it was fast, highly flexible and deadly. The captain waited for the U Boat hunting ship to make its move. Sonar detection was detected by the operator in the radio room. Due to its outer rubber coating, the sonar signature from U X was extremely low. But the smart sonar operator in the U Boat hunting ship managed to isolate a proximity area of U Boat presence and reported back to the captain. The U Boat hunting ship launched its attack. Proximity fuse was launched with anti U Boat bombs.
The captain knew that a proximity explosion of the bombs would easily let off the location of U X. He ordered the U Boat to go lower and slowly sail out the U Boat hunting ship’s anti bomb range.
The first anti U Boat bombs went off far from the U X’s current location. The sonar operator got the location wrong and he is making the necessary corrections. The next U Boat bombs went off slightly closer to U X. The U X started to drift slowly out of the U Boat range but it was taking too much time. The U Boat hunting ship need to be destroyed but getting in line to launch torpedo was out of the question. With the sonar operator perfecting the estimated place of the U Boat, the captain knows that it is only time before the anti U Boat bombs found its mark.
The U X continued drifting and that kept it from the range of the U Boat hunting ship. After almost an hour, the bombs became silent. The bombs were stopped and the hunting ship is once again, trying to pinpoint the location of the U Boat with sonar.
So far the outer layer of the U X’s hull was holding back the attack from this U Boat hunting ship’s anti U Boat bombs. Clearly the U X was being hunted. Captain Franz decides to make a break for it. He hoped to make enough buffers between U X and the hunting ship, to make use of the long range torpedo.
The order was made to maximise the U Boat’s engine speed and the crew to brace them for sudden sprint of the U Boat. The U X’s sprint caused minor ripples on the surface of the sea which was quickly noticed by the hunting ship. It knew where U X was but it has a hard time knowing where the U X is. The captain ordered the speed to reduce to cruising speed and checked on the buffer between U X and the hunting ship. It was growing gradually but was still not enough to make the turn and launch the torpedoes. The captain also noticed that the merchant ship was taking this chance to make it escape from the U Boat attack. It was heading the other way around.
The hunting ship under the impression that it was making good progress against the German U Boat continued to keep up the pressure. Blinded by the dim sonar signature, it had no way to know the exact buffer between the hunting ship and the U Boat. The captain in the meantime was closely monitoring the buffer between the hunting ship and the U X. He should have enough windows to make the turn and launch the torpedoes. Ten minutes had passed when the captain ordered speed to be slowed down and a hard turn to the left to be made. The U X was realigning itself for a torpedo launch. The men in the torpedo room had already loaded three torpedoes into the torpedo tubes and were waiting for the order. As the U X was making its turn, the captain ordered the proximity fuse at the three torpedoes to set at different time range.
The U X had completed the turn when the order to launch the torpedoes was given and immediately two deadly torpedoes were making its way towards the hunting ship. The captain ordered the third torpedo to be on hold for several seconds and then launched. The hunting ship detecting torpedoes on water took evasive active and managed to slip past the first torpedo. The second torpedo almost slip pass the ship but the proximity fuse lighted and the torpedo went off causing minor damage to the rudder of the ship. It was not long before the third torpedo found it mark and caused the deadly damage to the hunting ship. The captain ordered the U Boat to turn and head back home.
The U X has passed its first battle test but the captain sensed that there is more challenges facing the U X soon.No tags for this post.