Παρασκευή, 26 Αυγούστου 2016

The Only Submarine Sunk By a Dump on the Toilet – U-1206


Joris Nieuwint
 
Image of the U-1206 via Buchandivers.com
 


The U-1206 was commissioned on March 16, 1944 and a type 7C U-boat. This type U-Boat was equipped with a new type of toilet designed to allow the submarine to dive deeper and avoid Allied attack. It was a very complicated high pressure valve system which required special training to use them.
After being commissioned, under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Günther Fritze, the submarine took part in training exercises with the 8th U-boat Flotilla until July 1944 when it was assigned to the 11th U-boat Flotilla. Command was handed over to Kapitänleutnant Karl-Adolf Schlitt. The boat was then fitted with a Schnorchel underwater-breathing apparatus before being released for patrol duties.
For the U-Boat Crews that served on submarines life was not only very dangerous, the life expentency wasn’t good at all, it was also unpleasant. A Submarine isn’t large and the space is mostly filled up with machinery leaving little space for the crew. Typically there were only two toilets (heads) on board and one of them was often used to store food for the (hopefully) long journeys, leaving only one toilet for the entire crew to share.

Karl-Adolf Schlitt
Karl-Adolf Schlitt – Bundesarchiv CC BY-SA 3.0
On 28 March 1945 the submarine departed from Kiel for its first training patrol in the North Sea, returning on March 30. The submarine departed from Horten for a one-day patrol on 2 April, returning to shore for the last time.
Their first and only patrol started on April 6th 1945 and lasted only 8 days, they left from Kristiansand, ?Nazi occupied Norway and headed towards the British Islands in search of Allied shipping. All went well until on April 14th 1945 when a crew member, reportedly the captain, used the head (toilet) and had trouble operating it. An Engineer was called to help and he opened the wrong valve, this caused a torrent of sewage seawater to enter the submarine.
U-625 sinking after being attacked by allied aircraft.
U-625 sinking after being attacked by allied aircraft.
They had difficulty closing down the leaking toilet and as more water entered the submarine it started to flood the forward compartments and then it reached the giant internal batteries which were located directly below the head. That in turn caused highly poisonous chlorine gas to form in the u-boat leaving Captain Schlitt with no other option than to surface the ship. Chlorine gas was used extensively during the First World War in gas attacks, you don’t want to inhale it.
Unfortunately for the U-Boat crewman, they were very close the the Scottish coast and quickly spotted. The crew was frantically blowing clean air into their U-Boat when they were spotted by Allied aircraft. These immediately this excellent target, an U-Boat stationary in the water in broad daylight.
Being unable to enter the U-Boat and dive because of the Chlorine gas the Captain Schlitt decided to let the U-Boat sink. This ended his first and only combat command.
“The crew reached the Scottish coast in rubber dinghies,” Schlitt added. “In the attempt to negotiate the steep coast in heavy seas, three crewmembers tragically died. Several men were taken onboard a British sloop. The dead were Hans Berkhauer, Karl Koren and Emil Kupper.”
In its eight days on patrol, the U-1206 never got to attack any Allied shipping. It would not have made any difference to the Nazi war effort, three weeks later they were completely defeated and surrendered.
The wreck lay undiscovered until the 1970s when it was rediscovered when a pipeline was build. There have been no attempts to recover it.

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