The Expedition

Aims

Among the U-boats sunk during Operation Deadlight are some of the most famous U-boats of the Second World War which were captained by some of the greatest commanders. Phase I of the expedition, which took place in July 2001, based aboard MV Salutay, resulted in some stunning underwater images and video footage of some of the wrecks.

Of particular note was the location and identification of U2511 - a revolutionary Type XXI 'electro' U-boat. The Type XXI has been called the world’s first true submarine because it was designed to operate entirely underwater. Earlier U-boat designs should perhaps be more correctly described as 'submersibles', as they were reliant on frequent returns to the surface for battery charging and ventilation. The Type XXI was introduced into service in 1945, but many unresolved technical problems prevented it from reaching its true potential.

Conning tower, taken from ROV

Conning tower, taken from ROV

Adelbert Schnee, commander of U-2511

Adelbert Schnee,
commander of U-2511

U-2511 was captained by Adelbert Schnee, and was the only Type XXI U-boat to sail against the Allies. Horst von Schroter’s U-2506, another Type XXI, will be a key target for Phase II of the expedition.

The successful U-155, a Type IXC which was captained between 1941 and 1944 by Adolf Piening, was located and filmed by the expedition in 2001. Piening was responsible for the sinking of 26 ships including the British carrier 'Avenger'. Jurgen Oesten’s cargo U-boat U-861, and Heinrich Schroteler’s U-1023 are targets for 2002. U-1023 was the last German U-boat to sink an Allied warship: Schroteler torpedoed the British minesweeper NYMS 382, before surrendering at Portland six days later.

These vessels represent the wide ranging activities of U-boats in World War Two and each has an interesting service history.

Logistics

MV Salutay

The expedition boat MV Salutay is a 59 foot motor yacht, well equiped for technical diving. She carries two compressors, a Haskel booster pump and the necessary supplies of oxygen and helium, and is fitted with Vosper stabilisers to help cope with choppy conditions.

The diving depths will be in the 75m range and diving will be done using both open-circuit and closed-circuit trimix.

Based aboard the Salutay, the team hope to be able to range widely across the Operation Deadlight area. The seas north of Malin Head have little or no tide so the dive team will be able to use a ROV to look at three or four submarines each day, before they deciding on which one they wish to dive.

Positions of Operation Deadlight U-boats

Approximate positions of the Operation Deadlight U-Boats

The Ministry of Defense and the UK Hydrographics Office have been fully informed of the expedition's plans and objectives.