Monday, November 06, 2006

Convoy Sighted!

5 April 1942
13:18 local time
I knew by the excited laughter coming from around the corner from my cabin what was about to happen. Carl ripped off his headphones, "Sir! I've picked up multiple contacts bearing 352! Sounds like merchants and I can hear at least one warship!" Time for action; at least a little.

We couldn't ask for a better scenario. Foul weather, no moon tonight, and deep water. Of course, things don't always work out as you think they should. We spotted the destroyer emerging from the fog just as he saw us! I would estimate that he was only about 3000m ahead and he began to fire just as our ballast tanks were filling for a crash dive. We spiraled down and away then went to silent running as we coasted to 168m. The weather was on our side tonight and he passed by us without a single DC drop.

We slowly came back up to periscope depth over an hour later near the rear of the convoy. We could make out at least a dozen ships, but I know there were more out there. There was one American liberty ship in the center of the group and instantly I knew my target. Firing solutions were quickly worked out (I have Frtiz Friederichs work them out separately to verify my numbers) and the order was given to let all four eels loose from the bow. We also fired off a quick solution for the stern torpedo in hopes of a lucky shot on a smaller cargo ship that was trailing behind.
At least two impacts were heard in the direction of the liberty and one on the smaller merchant as we slipped away. Raising the observation scope for a quick scan I saw the coastal ship breaking up and, to my relief, the liberty was in flames and going down by the stern!!! Now we just needed to get away!
The escorts seemed to be on the sides and front of the convoy, so we kept our nose pointed to the northwest and dove deep; surfacing only when the contacts were nothing but a faint memory.
Coastal merchant: estimate 2000 tons
Liberty Cargo ship: estimate 7000 tons
5 torpedoes expended, no damage, no crew injured. If we make it back to Brest I'm sure get get a promotion and, hopefully, pick up a few more experienced crew for my next patrol. I shouldn't think about hat though; no luck in it!

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