Warship Wednesday Oct. 7, 2015: Los Submarinos!
Here at LSOZI, we will take off every Wednesday to look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015: Los Submarinos!
Here we see what could have very well been the last of old Adolph’s U-boat fleet in fleet operations, Submarino S-01 of the Armada Española.
Starting life as U-573, a Type VIIC U-boat built for Germany’s Kriegsmarine, she was laid down 24 October 1939, roughly 76 years ago this month, at Blohm and Voss in Hamburg. As such, she was a war baby, with the German invasion of Poland beginning some two months before. She cost the Germans 4 million marks.
The Type VIIC design was the backbone and icon of the U-boat force, with 568 commissioned from 1940 to 1945. For instance, the submarine in Das Boot, U-96, was a VIIC.
These 800-ton, 220-foot long vessels had great range (8,500 nm), could make 17.7 knots on the surface which was faster than most merchantmen of the day, and carried 14 advanced torpedoes and an 88mm SK C/35 gun with some 200~ rounds for those ships not worthy of a torp.
Commissioned 5 June 1941, on the cusp of the invasion of the Soviet Union, U-573 completed four combat patrols in eight months between 15 September 1941 and 2 May 1942. Spending 119 days at sea, her inaugural skipper, Kptlt. Heinrich Heinsohn, helmed the vessel the whole time.
The city of Landeck in Tyrol adopted the submarine within the then-popular sponsorship program (Patenschaftsprogramm), organizing gifts and holidays for the crew, earning her the honorary name “U-573 Landeck,” and she carried that town’s coat of arms briefly.
U-573s four patrols produced lackluster results, only chalking up one kill, the 5,289-ton Norwegian flagged steamer Hellen, sunk by two of three torpedoes fired by the submarine about 4 miles off Cape Negro. The bow broke away and the Norwegian sank shortly after midnight without loss of life. All 41 crew members were picked up by the armed trawler HMT Arctic Ranger and landed in Gibraltar the next day.
Speaking of Gibraltar, on April 29, 1942, U-573 was encountered on the surface by a Lockheed Hudson bomber (U.S. A-28) of RAF Sqdn. 233/M who promptly dropped 325-pound depth charges on her until she submerged.
Damaged, the submarine was again attacked by Hudsons from No. 233 the next day.
With one man killed, his batteries leaking, a crack in his hull that prevented submergence to more than 45 feet, and numerous other issues, Heinsohn made for the closest friendly harbor– that of neutral but pro-German Spain– arriving at Cartagena on 2 May.
There, under the howls of British diplomatic protests, the Spaniards allowed the sub 90 days to patch up and get back into the Med. However, the battered U-573 was too far gone for pierside ersatz repairs against a waiting British blockade and on 2 August 1942, Germany sold her to Franco for 180 million pesetas (1.5 million marks) in a warm handover, minus torpedoes and shells, which were destroyed to help keep the British happy. Her flag, books, code machine, and crests were given to the German ambassador.
Her 43-man crew, officially to be interned for the duration, snuck back to the Reich in small groups, and was replaced by a few civilian German naval technicians who remained with Spain’s new sub as advisers until well after the war.
(Note- One other German Type VIIC sub, U-760, was interned under the guns of the Spanish cruiser Navarra at Vigo harbor in 1943 and, her engines dismantled, was towed away by the British in 1945.)
While the war ended and Hitler was swept away with all of his legions of VIICs (Heinsohn himself and most of Crew 33, were killed on other U-boats after they returned home), U-573, rechristened G-7 by the Spanish, endured.
Why G-7? You see Franco had planned to build six of their own VIICs that were to be numbered G1 to G6, but that never happened.
The thing is, the sole Type VIIC the Spanish did have was still a wreck. A floating wreck to be sure, but far from operational by any stretch of the imagination.
It wasn’t until 17 November 1947, after an extensive refit in dry-dock to include much German contract labor, salvaged gear from Hamburg, and new (American) batteries, she was in active service.
Painted gray, she still carried her 88mm Rheinmetall Borsig forward although her 20mm AA gun was landed. The Armada had acquired 12 working 533mm torpedoes and mounted a 7.62mm MG3 on her tower when needed. Still, she was far in advance of the few smallish pre-WWII subs the Armada had been using.
Tested to 120 meters depth (half or original design), her Spanish crew consisted of a Commander, Deputy Commander, Chief Engineer, Deputy Engineer, three CPOs, 13 Cabos (NCOs), and 24 ratings.
Across her tower was installed “Todo por la Patria” (All for the Fatherland) in place of the old Landeck crest.
The most modern Spanish submarine until the 1950s, she was the pride of the fleet and made frequent appearances in period movies and film footage portraying German U-boats for obvious reasons.
“U 47 – Kapitänleutnant Prien,” a 1958 German film starring one U-573/Submarino G-7
In 1961, refitted with the help of the U.S., she was repainted black and renamed S-01.
CC. D. GUILERMO CARRERO GARRE of –.–. 1947 to 26.9.1949
CC. D. Ayuso SERRANO JACINTO of 26/09/1949 to 27/11/1952
CC. Joaquín Florez of 27/11/1952 to 19/11/1954
CC. D. TOMAS NAVARRO CLAVIJO of 11/19/1954 to 17/04/1956
CC. Juan A. MORENO AZNAR from 04/17/1956 to 04/05/1960
CC.D. ENRIQUE ROMERO GONZALEZ of 05/05/1960 to 09/29/1961
TN. D. Luis Rodriguez Mendez-Nunez 09.29.1961 to 15.02.1965
CC. D. LUIS FERNANDO MARTI NARBONA of 15/02/1965 to 20/09/1966
CC. ENRIQUE SEGURA Agacino of 20/09/1966 to 04/16/1968
CC. JAVIER GARCIA CAVESTANY of 16/04/1968 to 05/10/1969
CC.D. AREVALO EMILIO Pelluz of 05/10/1969 to 02/05/1970
Docked for the last time in February 1970, she was stricken from the Armada on 2 May that year. Plans to preserve her as a museum fell through and she was sold for about $25,000, her value in scrap metal.
She was replaced in service 11 months later by USS Ronquil (SS-396), a Guppy’d Balao-class smoke boat that became SPS Isaac Peral (S-32)— with much of S-01‘s former crew aboard. Ironically, Ronquil was also a movie star, having appeared as the fictional USS Tigershark in the film Ice Station Zebra.
While numerous submarines are preserved in museums, including 9 in Germany, there is only one Type VIIC on public display– U-995 at Laboe, Germany. Like U-573/S01 she was a Blohm and Voss boat and is a near sister.
(Note, U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago, Illinois is a type IXC).
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.50 m (165 ft. 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.20 m (20 ft. 4 in) (o/a)
4.70 m (15 ft. 5 in) (pressure hull)
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft. 6 in)
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft. 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged 6-cylinder 4-stroke Germaniawerft diesel engines totaling 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 shp). Max rpm: 470–490. Two Brown, Boveri & Cie GG UB 720/8 double-acting electric motors
Speed: 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Calculated crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft.)
Complement: 44-52 officers & ratings
Armament: 5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (4 bow, 1 stern)
14 × torpedoes or 26 TMA or 39 TMB mines
1 × 8.8 cm SK C/35 Rheinmettal Borsig naval gun with 220 rounds
1x Rheinmettal 20mm antiaircraft
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