The ‘last U-boat’ takes her final dive, 73 years ago today
Here we see a rather dramatic explosion as USS Greenfish (SS-351)‘s torpedo sinks U-234 off Cape Cod, Mass, 20 November 1947.
Greenfish was a Balao-class fleet sub commissioned 7 June 1946, too late for WWII. She did, however, perform duty during the Korean and Vietnam wars and, after she was decommissioned in 1973, was transferred to the Brazilian Navy as the submarine Amazonas (S-16), who kept her in service for another 20 years before she was ultimately scrapped in 2001. The Greenfish also sank at least one other submarine– her sistership and former Warship Wednesday alumni USS Barbero (SS/SSA/SSG-317) off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 October 1964 after that ship was stricken.
U-234, on the other hand, was a Type XB U-boat built as a long-range cargo submarine with missions to Japan in mind. Commissioned 2 March 1944, she left Germany in the last days of the war in Europe with a dozen high-level officers and advisors, technical drawings, examples of the newest electric torpedoes, one crated Me 262 jet aircraft, a Henschel Hs 293 glide bomb and 1,210 lbs of uranium oxide. She never made it Japan as her skipper decided to make for Canada instead after the fall of Germany. Two Japanese officers on board committed suicide and were buried at sea while the sub– packed with her very important glow in the dark stuff– surrendered to the destroyer escort USS Sutton south of the Grand Banks, Newfoundland on 14 May, a week after VE Day.
Though other U-boats popped up after her (U-530 and U-977 arrived in Argentina in July and August 1945, respectively) U-234 has been called “The Last U-Boat” in at least two different documentaries about her voyage.