It looked like it is going to be another ordinary day in U X.
Travelling in deep waters means there is virtually no engagement with surface boats. The crew was getting more experts with the new technologies in U X and the captain took time to learn of the new gadgets himself. It is going to be another two weeks before they will reach the second rendezvous point with the supply ship.
An alarm went off at one of the console.
“Captain, we are slowing down and there is a system malfunction”
The captain called the engine room and asked B on what’s happening.
“I don’t know, captain. We were at the cruising speed and all the sudden, the engine started to slow down. We are still moving but we are unable to get back to cruising speed. We are still checking”
The captain knows that at their current speed, they will not be able to reach the rendezvous point on the scheduled date.
“I am going to down to the engine room” said Captain Franz as he motioned Ernst to take over the bridge.
When the captain entered the engine room, he saw a very frustrated B in front the engine management console.
“B, any good news?
“I don’t know captain, we have checked and rechecked all the systems here but we are still unable to increase the speed. There is a leakage somewhere and we still looking for it.”
“Have you checked the manuals? Anything stated there?”
“Yes, we have done that several times but nothing is working”
In the meantime, the U X was slowing down even more now and this is noticed by everyone on board. There was a call from Ernst from the bridge.
“Captain, we are getting another warning from the consoles here – this time it is from the environment control. The climate control system has stopped working. It is going to get very warm soon. The temperature is already rising”
“Ok, sound general quarters and get everyone back to their quarters. Only essential crew men are allowed to move around. Place additional sentries at the torpedo room, communication room and the control room. Place additional guards near the scientists and the specialist extraction team quarters. I do not want any more warning lights to go off”
“Ernst, check also who is missing from the quarters. It could the work of the saboteurs”
Boris still could not find the source that has caused the U X’s speed to be down. His team have gone through the checklists several times and check the essential systems in the engine room.
“Ernst, I am in the engine room looking for the cause of the engine problem. Assemble a team to check on the climate control system”
Two teams were quickly assembled – team one is headed by the captain and they will look at the engine problem whilst Ernst heads team two who will look at the climate control system. On the offset, both problems are not a major problem. The U Boat can still move but at a slower speed and the ballast system is still working to provide the U Boat the ability to dive or surface. On the climate control system, the system recycles and filters the air in the U Boat. Without this working, the level carbon dioxide will increase. The U X has a built in system to warn the crew if the carbon dioxide levels increases too high. If this cannot to be fixed in time, the captain has decided on the second best option which is to surface and manually pump the air from outside. This option of course leaves the U Boat vulnerable to surface attacks but it is a risk that captain have to take.
“Boris, let start all over again. Let’s start from the propulsion system, work towards the diesel engine and then the batteries” said the captain as they trace back the checklist for engine performance failure.
They started to check in details the parts as per the checklist and it seems like it is in order. Nothing looks out of the ordinary. The captain knew that they were missing something. If the failure was due to the faulty engine parts or faulty design, it would have shown up during intensive sea trials. Why now and why hundreds of miles away from base?
“Captain, there is another checklist on secondary wiring layouts. Perhaps we can find something there” said B when he found that the engine performance failure checklist mentions checking on the secondary wiring layouts checklist. The captain took the secondary wiring layouts checklist and turned to the page relating on the engine. There were three areas of wiring connectors to be checked. B started with the first connectors and found that it was connected correctly. But when they opened the second connectors, they noticed two main wires have been cut.
“It looks like we have found the cause of our problems – someone had cut the wires. And I bet that one of this wires belongs to the climate control system” said the captain not realising that the U Boat has been designed to be self sustaining craft. There were thousands of wires interconnected with the major systems in the U Boat to provide optimum performance. Looking at the strength of the wires used in U X, it would not been easy to cut these two wires. The captain suspects that the saboteurs may have wanted to cut more wires but it would have take plenty of time to completely cut the wire. By the general alarms has been sounded and this has spooked the saboteurs from proceeding further.
The electrician team took almost an hour to reconnect the wires and retest the system. When the first wires were connected, the air started to refresh and the heat was slowly reducing. Ernst reports that the environment alarm has stopped and the level of carbon dioxide was dropping drastically. After the second wire was reconnected, B and his team restarted the engines and increased the speed. The speed increased without many problems. U X was back on its cruising speed and was making good of the lost time. They need to catch the second supply ship before it leaves the rendezvous point.
The act of the wires being cut off proves the fact that the captain has dreaded all this time – that the saboteurs are indeed in his U Boat and will try to do anything to cripple the mission. The captain had to be more careful now. Despite the security measures that he has taken, the saboteurs have found other means to cripple this U Boat.
“Ernst, we cannot take things for granted. Someone in this boat does not want us to succeed with the mission. Such persons will not hesitate to put the life this U Boat and its crew in great harm to achieve it. As the captain of this U Boat, that is the last thing I want”
“Captain, what shall we do? We already placed more than enough sentries at the key area of the U Boat but there are plenty of areas for us to guard all the time? It is not possible to get the sentries to guard these areas – we don’t have enough men to do it. Like the incident just now, the engine room is guarded strictly but the saboteurs worked on the wirings instead and this is something that we did not anticipate. And there are hundreds of miles of wiring in the U Boat alone. We will not know certain which of it is connected to the key systems”
“That’s true Ernst but try we must. The mission and more importantly our life depends on it”
The captain and Ernst decided on several measures. First the U X crew was divided into four teams. The first two teams will take the U X operations and sentries’ responsibilities whilst the remaining two teams will take a break before they take over from the first two teams during their twelve hours shift. Ernst and the captain will take turns manning the bridge. The scientists and the specialist extraction team will be confined to the quarters until they have reached their destination. The scientist protested when this message was conveyed to them. They are not prisoners argued them but the captain had explained to Professor Z on the reasons why such drastic measures are being taken. The captain did not move from his earlier decision and the professor had to accept the decision under protest.
“Ernst, we cannot guard the entire area of the U Boat but we can certainly watch over the people onboard this U Boat. Our priority now is to catch up on the supply ship. They are not going to wait for us for long. And without the supply especially fuel; we are not going anywhere far. Our mission will be doomed if that happens”
“That’s right captain, I agree with you. I have assembled the men into 4 teams as instructed. Team A will take the first watch and I will handle Team B, captain”
“That’s good, Ernst. We cannot afford to have anymore surprises”
The U X seasoned crew, the same crew worked under the captain in U 133 U Boat was briefed and they are made to aware that there is a saboteur onboard. This piece of news will surely put the crew on alert and beware of others when they are duty. U X was operating on a skeleton crew and some of the non essential areas have been sealed off from any unauthorised personals. The scientists continued to protest but seeing a strong force of armed sentries at the entrance silenced them temporarily. The specialist extraction team remained in their quarters; they did not voice any dissatisfaction on the captain’s rulings. They are professionals and they too would have done the same thing if they were in the captain’s shoes.
The only time the scientists or the specialist extraction team is allowed to move from their quarters is when they wanted to have their meals. They are escorted to the mess hall and escorted back to their quarters once done.
U X was late for the rendezvous point by almost a day. The captain was not sure whether the supply ship was waiting for them. He knows that the captain of the supply ship despite being paid handsomely would not expose his ship for another day longer. He faces threats from the naval ships that may ply the waters and also pirates who are on the lookout for lonely heavily laden merchant ships.
The captain decided that if they missed the supply ship, he is going to tear the U Boat apart for the saboteurs. They have already cost him and the mission dearly.
Looking into his periscope, the captain scanned the horizon for any ships still waiting at the rendezvous point. Some time had passed before he spotted a dark shape of a boat. The supply ship has been waiting for them. The captain ordered the U Boat to surfaced immediately and head towards the supply ship. Ernst joined the captain at the bridge. He was happy that despite the setback they had, they were still on course.
The U Boat docked next to the supply ship and immediately the crew of both vessels got busy connecting the supply lines and getting the resupply to start.
“I thought you were not coming. We were preparing to leave” said the Indian captain of the supply ship when the U Boat docked along side it.
“We got delayed by engine problems” replied the captain
“Same here, we have a problem with the engine and it took us the whole day to fix it. Otherwise we would have left the moment we did not see you here” laughed the captain. The Indian captain ordered his men to load a box of bottles for the U X crew. It was high quality Indian rum and he had extra boxes from his previous smuggling mission.
“Something for your good luck” laughed the Indian captain as a bottle of the Indian rum was given to the captain who took several gulps and handed the bottle to Ernst. Captain Franz on the other hand ordered two bottles of German wines to be handed over to the captain of the supply ship as a token of appreciation.
“And this is your bad luck of having engine problems” laughed Captain Franz.
The resupply took four hours to complete and soon the supply ship and the U Boat parted and headed to their own destinations. There was no further incident of sabotage detected by the crew after the captain ordered the confinement of the men in their quarters.
The U X need to rendezvous with one more supply ship before they will reach Malaya and this time the captain decided to arrive much early at the rendezvous point. The next supply ship may not have engine problems. The moment they don’t see the U Boat, they will definitely leave. Getting nearer to the Japanese Imperial Navy vessel patrols means the captain of any supply ships out there will be very edgy and will not dare to take any uncalculated risks.
The captain instructed the communication officer to send message back to base with a coded message “Meeting with Bird 2 success”. H did not want to alert the Admiral with the fact that U X was almost sabotaged.
Every twelve hours, the shift ends and the second team take over. The captain retreated back to his quarters for a rest. He knows that he need to catch the saboteurs before it is too late but for now, he did not have any defined suspects although he can count on a number of people who can qualify as suspects.