Friday, November 01, 2019

Fullbore Friday

There is something a bit otherworldly about finding the long lost remains of a ship lost in battle. They are, more than anything else, war graves.

This has been a busy week or so for this part of naval history. Most here are aware of the probable discovery of parts of the legendary USS Johnson (DD-557), but that wasn't the only discovery from WWII this year.

Two other discoveries may slip by a normal scan. One was a bit of a mystery, the other not.

First the mystery;
A 77-year-long mystery has been solved as scientists finally located and identified the wreck of Royal Navy’s wartime submarine HMS Urge off Malta.

The submarine was found sitting upright on the seabed of the Mediterranean more than 400 feet down, her bow buried in the ocean floor, her deck gun facing forward, her hull encrusted with marine life.

The distinctive features of the U-class submarine have been compared with contemporary photographs and the undisclosed location of the wreck compared with official records to identify Urge.

HMS Urge, which was adopted by the people of Bridgend, is one of 19 U-class boats lost in World War 2, 13 of them in the Mediterranean. The submarines were small and originally meant to be used purely for training.

Urge left the island on her final mission on April 27 1942 bound for Alexandria in Egypt as the 10th Submarine Flotilla moved its base to escape the Axis Powers’ constant bombing of Malta. Aboard were not just her 32 crew, but 11 other naval personnel and a war correspondent.

She never reached North Africa. The Admiralty concluded she ran into an enemy minefield shortly leaving the island, but the wreck was never found.
Well, they found her.
...Canadian naval researcher Platon Alexiades, Francis Dickinson – grandson of Urge’s commanding officer – and Professor Timmy Gambin of the University of Malta’s Classics and Archaeology Department and a team of students, plus the Royal Navy’s official historians.

... deep sea research confirms the original Admiralty estimate – the boat did indeed succumb to a mine laid by a German E-boat; the impact caused catastrophic damage and led to Urge plunging out of control to the seabed.

Here is a little detail about the history of HMS Urge;
On 23 March, (Italian light cruiser) Bande Nere was damaged in storms and, needing repairs, was sent to La Spezia on 1 April 1942. While en route, she was hit by two torpedoes from the submarine HMS Urge, broke in two and sank with the loss of 381 men.
The Vieste minesweeper of the Navy, during an activity of technical verification and surveillance of the seabed in the Tyrrhenian Sea near the island of Stromboli, has found the wreck of the Light Cruiser Giovanni Delle Bande Nere sunk in the 1942.

Unlike the wholesale grave robbing going on in SE Asia, in the Med they should be safe. May they rest well.

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