The Capture of U-505 by USS Guadalcanal. 4th. of June 1944

U-Boat 505.
Commissioned on the 26th. of August 1941, in all she made 12 patrols sinking 8 ships with a tonnage of 44,962 tons. On the 24th. of October 1943, whilst under a heavy depth charge attack, her Commanding Officer, Kptlt. Peter Zschech committed suicide, the only such case in WW2. The boat was saved and brought back safely to port.

24th. of June 1944.
U-505 under the command of Oblt.Lange, was on her way back to her base at Brest in France, she was at the fag end of an 80 day patrol in the Gulf of Guinea, to destroy Allied shipping, and about 150 miles west of Cape  Blanco in West Africa.

US Task Group 22.3.
This group was made up of a baby carrier, USS Guadalcanal, and five Destroyer Escorts, US Ships, Pillsbury, Chatelain, Pope, Flaherty, and Jenks, commanded by Captain Daniel V. Gallery, and they were operating in the same area as was U-505. Prior to his force sailing, Captain Gallery had ordered his group, if practicable, to capture the first U-Boat that they came across. His pilots were to concentrate attacks on personnel, rather than the U-Boat, only sinking it if absolutely necessary. His objective, to capture the German communication codes.

Captain Daniel V. Gallery Commanding Officer of Task Group. 22.3

Captain Daniel V. Gallery Commanding Officer of Task Group. 22.3

Sound Contact.
At 1110 ( 11.10 AM ) on the 4th. of June 1944, USS Chatelain picked up a possible sound contact, and classified it as Submarine, this contact was in a perfect position to fire torpedoes at the carrier. Aircraft were scrambled from the carrier, and Chatelain launched an attack with her ahead throwing weapon Hedgehog, any of the 24 projectiles launched will only explode if they actually hit their target. This salvo forced the German U-Boat to the surface, it circled to the right at about 7 knots. Small calibre fire forced the crew to abandon their boat, in their haste they had only opened one scuttling valve.

A salvo of Hedgehog projectiles in the water with three about to arrive on the right

A salvo of Hedgehog projectiles in the water with three about to arrive on the right

The U-Boat had fired one torpedo at Guadalcanal, it had fortunately missed its mark, Chalelain also fired one torpedo at the U-Boat trying to avert any further attack on her carrier, it too missed.

Boarding party on board U-505.

Boarding party on board U-505.

Nine men from Pillbury quickly boarded the German submarine, and soon had it under their control, it became the first enemy warship to be captured by the US Navy since 1815. Guadalcanal soon reinforced the initial boarding party, and they plugged up all the leaks, during this salvage operation, it became necessary to enter the after torpedo room to manipulate the steering gear in order to be able to move the U-Boat forward.

U-505 with Old glory flying

U-505 with Old glory flying

Captain Gallery was onboard U-505, and personally opened what was a suspected booby trap on the hatch leading to the torpedo room. Pillbury now went alongside the submarine to use her pumps to empty the incoming water which was threatening to sink U-505, one of the ropes securing the destroyer alongside parted with the strain, and the submarine's bow hydroplanes slashed through her plates, just like opening up a sardine can, two compartments were flooded, and the destroyer had to withdraw to make repairs. To keep the German boat afloat, she had to be taken in tow by Guadalcanal, as the tow slowly tightened, the submarine came to the surface, now saved, amid cheers from all the watching sailors.

USS Guadalcanal takes U-505 under tow


USS Guadalcanal takes U-505 under tow

The Task Group now shaped a course for Dakar on the west coast of Africa, but as it was reportedly full of German spies, and the capture of this U-boat needed to be kept secret, the force was directed to Port Royal Bay, Bermuda.

During the towing saga, the submarine's batteries were recharged and the boat's own pumps started, and used to remove all the excess water that resulted from the action. U-505 was once more brought to full surface trim. After three days of towing, the fleet tug Abuaki arrived to take over  towing duties.

On the 19th. of June, U-505 arrived at Port Royal Bay, Bermuda, and Naval Intelligence combed the boat for useful technical and operational data, and equipment. The German radio code came to light, and a new type of torpedo found.

Post War.
After WW2 came to an end, U-505 toured the Eastern port cities, and was laid up at the Navy Yard at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As Captain Gallery hailed from Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry in that city saved  the submarine from the scrap yard, and she was transferred there to a permament site.

Presidential Citation.
The entire Task Force 22.3 received the Presidential Citation.

Post Script.
In April 2004, it was announced that U-505 will be closed down as an exhibit until the Spring of 2005, when it will reopen in a new exhibition space after restoration. Since 1954, 23 million visitors have toured this U-Boat.

New home for U505 being prepared in Chicago

New home for U-505 being prepared in Chicago

It is fortunate that this submarine will not be lost to history, and for many years to come, it will attract people to swarm over its deck, and then probe its internal mysteries.

 

Hedgehog Ahead Throwing Weapon

Hedgehog Ahead Throwing Weapon

 

USS Guadalcanal

USS Guadalcanal

 


   

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