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Historical Notes - SHIPS




Over the years, research on sunk, wrecked or missing ships brought to light some useful, and not so useful, information. For those interested... read on.

Updates will be inserted in this color and changed back later




General Information

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U-35 was the most successful U-boat of both world wars. She sunk a total of 224 ships for a total of 535,900 tons, and served under 4 captains. U-48 was the most successful of world war 2 with 51 ships to her credit for a total of 310,007 tons.

U-151 was the first U-boat to cross the Atlantic during WW1. Those operating in US waters during this period were U-151, U-156, U-155, U-152, U-139, U-140 and U-117. U-155 was the former Deutschland.

During WW1, submarines from U-19 onward had diesel engines and U-1 to U-18 were paraffin driven.

May 2nd to 3rd 1945, 192 U-boats were scuttled in the following locations:
Gelting Bay - 43. Kiel/Wik - 39. Travemunde - 32. Wilhelmshaven - 21. Flensburg -10. Hamburg - 10. Kupfermuhlen Bay - 8. Wesermunde - 8. Bremen - 5. Horup Haff - 5. Schickau Yard - 4. Neustadt - 4. Eckernforde - 3. Rendsburg - 3. Warnemunde - 3. Cuxhaven - 2. Wasserleben Bay - 2. with others at - Bremerhaven - Vegesak - Nordenham - Lubeck - Kieler Fjord and Bornholm

Operation Deadlight took place November 25th 1945 to February 12th 1946. 119 U-boats were scuttled off Malin Head, Ire. Lisahally, Ire. and Loch Ryan, Scotland. 35 U-boats were used for other purposes and discarded later. The UK government has recently awarded a contract for the salvage of these vessels, one of the reasons given is that the metals pre-date 1945 and are not contaminated.

Convoy PQ-17 lost a great amount of military hardware, including 3,350 vehicles, 430 tanks, 210 aircraft and 99,316 tons of general war equipment.

The steamship Pioneer was the first prop driven vessel to cross the Atlantic in October 1851. She sailed from New York to Liverpool, UK.

In July 1946 a US McDonnell Phantom 1 landed on the deck of USS Franklin D Roosevelt. This was the first jet to perform such a landing. First navy jet squadron formed in 1948.

Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk, accounted for the loss of 9 British and French destroyers and 8 transports. Of the known 848 civilian craft, 72 were sunk, 163 lost in collision and 45 were badly damaged.

The first air flight from a ship was in 1910 from USS Birmingham

From the early 1800's British warships carried small libraries in the hope that some of the crews would become more enlightened.

There were 733 American cargo vessels lost to enemy action during WW2.

32 American steamers were scuttled off Normandy both during and after June 6th 1944.

Of the 94 German vessels scuttled in 1921 at Scapa Flow, only 7 remain. There are 83 wrecks in and around Scapa Flow, 43 are blockships.

The White Star Line merged with Cunard in the 1930's. Records relating to the White Star Line prior to the merge did not survive. However, a great deal of information still survives in books etc, it just takes a little searching.

Estimated 33,000 Italian sailors lost their lives in WW2.

2,513 Italian non-naval vessels lost during WW2.

Tuesday, 26th September,1939 The first German aircraft to be destroyed by British Forces was a Dornier Do 18D, Forced down by Skua aircraft from 'HMS Ark Royal', in a sortie in the North Sea. It was also the first Luftwaffe loss in operations against Great Britain. The above Dornier Do 18D Flying Boat was forced down by Lieutenant B.S. McEwen and his air-gunner Petty Officer Airman B.M. Seymour in their Skua of No 803 Squadron from 'HMS Ark Royal', north of the Great Fisher Bank. After taking the four man crew prisoner, the destroyer HMS SOMALI sank the plane by gunfire. (North East Diary)

So as World War 2 begins to rear it's ugly head in Britain the following songs could be heard on the radio and in the pubs:
Jeepers Creepers - Begin the Beguine - You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby - Two Sleepy People - My Own - Beer Barrel Polka - If I Didn't Care - Little Sir Echo - Run Rabbit Run - There'll Always be an England - Woodchopper's Ball - Over the Rainbow - Blue Skies Around the Corner - It's in the Air - The Umbrella Man - Undecided - Hold Tight, Hold Tight - My Heart Belongs to Daddy - We'll Meet Again - An Apple For the Teacher - Wings Over the Navy - Le Fiacre - We're Going to Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line - Tears on my Pillow - Deep Purple - J'attendrai. (North East Diary)

and in the cinemas:
Goodbye Mr Chips with Robert Donat and Greer Garson.
Pygmalion with Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard.
Pinocchio by Walt Disney.
Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon.
Gone with the Wind with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.
Stage Coach with John Wayne and Claire Trevor.
Babes in Arms with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
Roaring Twenties with James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Priscilla Lane.(North East Diary)

August 1939 the British Admiralty starts to requisition Hull's trawler fleet and in September, 140,000 hospital patients are discharged and 187,000 to 190,000 new and old beds are made ready for casualties. (North East Diary)

War Grave !!...In September 1914 the German submarine U-9 torpedoed and sunk cruisers HMS Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue off Holland. The total loss of life was about 1,500 souls. I am led to believe that in the 1950's the British Government sold the wrecks to a German Salvage Co of Stahl and Eisen. The Aboukir was blasted to pieces and scrap salvage was landed in Holland. Plate armor from the vessel was taken to Germany for use in hospital x-ray protection. "Rest in peace you guys, you are not forgotten on this web site"

War related losses Baltic Sea 1941 Russia - 217 vessels, 126 were naval vessels remainder were civilian. Estonia - 71 vessels, 2 naval. Germany - 52 vessels, 35 naval. Latvia - 32 vessels, 4 naval. Sweden - 4 civilian vessels. Finland - 3 naval. Lithuania - 3 vessels. 1 naval.

Thursday, 31st May,1945 - Twenty-three merchant ships arrived in the Clyde, the final Russian convoy. This was the last of a total of 75 convoys comprising a total of 1,500 merchant ships that were escorted to and from North Russia by the Royal Navy's Home Fleet, who also had to provide air cover for them. (North East Diary)

June 6th 1944 - Allied forces landed in Normandy, France, in the largest amphibious operation ever undertaken. The naval force consisted of 138 bombarding ships - 221 escorts - 287 minesweepers - over 4,000 landing craft of all sizes - 423 ancillary ships and craft and 1,260 merchant ships. 79% of the combatant ships sailed under the White Ensign. On the first three days, 38 convoys, comprising 743 ships, had been sent across the Channel; and by the tenth day 500,000 men and 77,000 vehicles had been landed.

April 17th 1986 - The 335 year war between Holland and the Isles of Scilly ended.

FROM THE UK COAST GUARD "There appear to be some misconceptions about what finds need to be reported, what the function of the Receiver of Wreck is, and what the process of reporting is. We would like to take this opportunity to dispel some commonly held myths: All wreck brought ashore in the UK must by law (Section 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995) be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. It is not up to the finder to decide whether the item recovered is significant or important. This is the job of the Receiver of Wreck. The basic premise for the legal duty to report wreck, is that all wreck material has an owner who retains title, however long the material has been wrecked. The owner may for instance be an individual, an insurance company, a shipping company or a dive club who may still have an interest in the wreck. By reporting the material, you are giving them the opportunity of having their property returned. The Receiver of Wreck, on receiving a report, researches the ownership of the wreck. When an owner is found, he or she can decide if they want their property back. Finders who act within the law have salvage rights. If the owner decides he or she would like the material back, they must first settle salvage with the finder. This is primarily based on the value of the material, and reasonable costs incurred. In many cases the material is unclaimed, i.e. the owner cannot be found, or no longer has an interest in the wreck. Generally unclaimed wreck belongs to the Crown. It is the duty of the Receiver of Wreck to dispose of unclaimed objects appropriately. Often the finder is given title to the material in lieu of salvage. However, in the case of historically important material, artefacts may be purchased by a museum, so that they are properly conserved and made accessible to the public. The finder will receive a salvage award from the price paid for the object by the museum. Remember, there are substantial penalties for not reporting wreck. If you do not report your wreck finds you are liable to pay a fine of up to 2,500 for each offence. You will forfeit any salvage rights, and will have to reimburse the owner, or the person, entitled double the value of the find. You have nothing to lose by reporting your find since you will either be entitled to a salvage award, or will be given title to the find in lieu of salvage. It is surely not worth risking a criminal record - report your find!

Proposed Wreck Amnesty
Another matter which you may want some clarification on, is the proposal for a Wreck Amnesty. Such an amnesty would, for a limited time, offer the opportunity to report undisclosed finds without fear of prosecution for not reporting them under s. 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. If such an amnesty occurs, it will be widely publicised within the diving community. It is impossible to predict when such an Amnesty might occur, although it remains under active consideration. In the meantime the Receiver of Wreck can assure finders who have been slow in reporting their finds, that they will receive a sympathetic response if they have material they have yet to report.

Contact Us
Report of Wreck & Salvage forms are available directly from the Receiver of Wreck, from Coastguard Stations, and from MCA Marine Offices. If you would like further information, advice or just some forms, please contact the Receiver of Wreck office on 023 8032 9474, by email at Veronica_Robbins@mcga.gov.uk or by post at Bay 1/05, Spring Place, 105 Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1EG............fron the UK CG - July 2000.






Earlier Vessels

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Builders Measure - Up till about 1873 the tonnage of a vessel was called Builders Measurement (BM). This was more than likely based on the number off casks the vessel could carry. After this date displacement tonnage was used and from about 1926 on the actual weight is calibrated. Data on some vessels is shown in BM, but over time this number has been converted in some references to actual tons, and may not be true. e.g. a vessel shown as 100BM is not automatically 100 tons.


A Guide to Ship Dimensions 1500 to 1820

Tonnage Length Beam Draft
100 52ft 19ft 7.5ft
200 66 24 9.5
300 76 27 10.5
400 84 30 12
500 92 33 13
600 98 35 14
700 102 37 15
800 104 37.5 15
900 107 38 15.25
1000 109 39 15.33
1100 110 40 15.5
1500 120 44 16
2000 152 60 18


Types of Sailing Vessels

TypeHistory
ArgosyLarge pre-18th century trading vessel
AzogueSpanish mercury carrying vessel
Barkentine3 or more masts, normally square rigged
BergantinaSmall vessel powered by oars or sail, used in the Mediterranean
between 14th and 16th centuries
BrigantineTwo masted vessel, square rigged
BudgerowA cabined passenger vessel used mainly on the rivers of India
CaravelSmall sailing vessel of the 15th and 16th century. Used mainly by the
Spanish and Portuguese
CarrackSimilar to a galleon but not so sturdy and slower. Used mainly as a
merchant. Square rigged
CogA broad beam trading vessel used mainly in Europe between the
13th and 15th centuries
DhowSmall lateen rigged sailing vessel used mainly in the Indian Ocean
DrifterNormally used for fishing, uses the tides and winds to cause it to
be carried along
FluteA vessel used strictly for cargo or personnel transportation.
Designed as a large vessel with a flat bottom. Normally armed
GaleraA Spanish galley type warship
GalleassA hybrid craft, half sail and half oared. Long and narrow. Could
carry up to 50 guns. Able to operate in calm weather. Galley slaves
were chained to the benches
GalleonLarge sailing vessel, normally square rigged, used between the
15th and 17th century.
GalleyA low, long vessel propelled either by oars or sail. These are the
vessels associated with the ancient times of Greece and Rome.
Still in use between 1500 and 1600
HulkLarge, bulky trading vessel. Also refers to an abandoned decaying
vessel
JunkFar Eastern sailing vessel with a flat bottom, high stern and square
bow. Mainly used by the Chinese
KetchTwo masted vessel, fore and aft rigged. Could be used as a persuit
vessel
LongshipOar powered Viking ship with one square sail constructed for speed
LorchaSailing vessel with a western style hull and Chinese style rigging
PacketInter-port mail and package carrier
PatacheA swift dispatch vessel
PinkA small square rigged vessel
PinnaceSmall two masted vessel often used for carrying messages between
the larger vessel of the fleet
SaettiaSmall lateen rigged Venetian sailing vessel
SchoonerTwo masted vessel on which the sails are not square rigged
ShipFully rigged vessel
SloopSingle masted vessel, fore and aft rigged with at least one jib.
Used mainly now for racing
SnowEuropean two masted trading ship, popular between 16th and
9th centuries. These vessels had a particular shaped bow
TankerVessel constructed for the transportation of bulk solid or
Liquid goods
Tern SchoonerAmerican term for 3 masted schooner rigged fore and aft.
Used to identify and register type of vessel
TrawlerA vessel used to trawl for fish
UrcaStoreship
Viking KnorrOld Norse merchant vessel usually with one mast and a square sail
XebecSmall 3 masted vessel used from the 16th to 19th centuries in the
Mediterranean
YachtA vessel that can be described as specially built for racing or private
pleasure and is not restricted to wood or sail. The term originated
with the Dutch



Radioactivity

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Radioactivity in the atmosphere has increased over time with the continual testing of atomic bombs of all types. Steel makers need vast amounts of air to make steel so it would follow that steel made nowadays contains certain amounts of radioactivity. Prior to dropping the first A bomb in 1945, steel was radioactive free, and the only source of this 'clean' steel left lies in pre 1945 wrecks that lie on the seabed.

Nuclear Submarines: There are at least six nuclear reactor powered submarines lying in the seabed, two American and four Russian. The American submarines are USS Scorpion lost Southwest of the Azores in 1968 and USS Thresher lost off New Hampshire in 1963. The Russian submarines are K-8, November Class, lost in 1970 in the Bay of Biscay, K-219, Yankee Class, lost in 1986 North of Bermuda (2 reactors and 16 nuclear missiles), K-27, scuttled in the Kara Sea and K-278 (Komsomolets) Mike Class, lost 1989 in the Norwegian Sea (2 nuclear warheads).




World War One and Two - Facts and Figures

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German destroyers of WW1 era each had a number and a letter designating the place of construction:


Letter Yard
S Schickau Yard at Danzig
G Germaniawerft at Kiel
V AG Vulcan at Hamburg
B Blohm & Voss at Hamburg
H Howaldswerke at Kiel



Destroyer Losses WW2

Nationality Lost
American 99
British 169
Dutch 9
French 60
German 44
Italian54
Japanese134
Russian37

Above list excludes 36 French destroyers scuttled in 1942.
87% of above were lost in action.



Allied Merchant Shipping Losses WW2

Year Vessels Lost Tonnage
1939221...755,237
19401,0593,991,641
19411,2994,328,558
19421,6647,790.697
19435973,220,137
19442051,045,629
1945105...438,821
Totals5,15021,570,720


Of the 5,150 Allied Merchant vessels sunk, 2,828 were sunk by Axis submarines.


German submarine losses, according to latest Admiralty assessments, are:


YearLoss
1939...9
1940..24
1941..35
1942..87
1943237
1944242
1945151
Total785


Other WW2 Losses

Germany
2 Battleships - 2 Battlecruisers - 3 Pocket Battleships - 2 old Battleships - 2 Heavy Cruisers - 5 Light Cruisers - 44 Destroyers - 86 Light warships/Raiders - 1,377 Minor warships - 550 Landing Craft.

Japan
10 Battleships - 20 Aircraft Carriers - 38 Cruisers - 134 Destroyers - 119 Submarines

Britain/Commonwealth
4 Battleships - 2 Battle Cruisers - 5 Aircraft Carriers - 5 Auxil Carriers - 33 Cruisers - 169 Destroyers - 90 Submarines - 138 Light warships/AMC's - 1,307 Auxil warships - 1,326 Landing Ships/Craft

American
2 Battleships - 5 Aircraft Carriers - 6 Escort Carriers - 10 Cruisers - 99 Destroyers - 52 submarines


German Submarine bases during WW2 Brest - 1st and 9th Flotillas
La Pallice - 3rd Flotilla - Standard North Atlantic type
St Nazaire - 6th and 7th Flotillas - Type V!!C boats
Lorient - 2nd and 10th Flotillas - Type IXC boats
Bordeaux - 12th Flotilla - Minelayers, supply and re-fueling operations
Bergen and Trodheim. The British tried to blow up the base at Bergen but failed. The one at Trondheim, named Dora 11, was left standing and converted into the stongest warehouse in the world.(tks to Knut Saetervik - Trondhein, Norway).
Novaya Zemla - Used from 1943 onward as a base for attacks on Russia/UK convoys. Located on northern tip.


Types of U-Boats


TypePurpose
IAHigh Seas U-Boat
IIACoastal U-Boat
IIBCoastal U-Boat
IICCoastal U-Boat
IIDCoastal U-Boat
IIIHigh Seas - Planned but not built
IVPlanned but not built
VPlanned but not built
VIPlanned but not built
VIIAHigh Seas U-Boat
VIIBHigh Seas U-Boat
VIICHigh Seas - 769 tons - 9,000 miles range - 885ft/deep
VIIDHigh Seas U-Boat
VIIEPlanned but not built
VIIFPlanned but not built
VIIIProjection only
IXAOcean going U-Boat
IXBOcean going U-Boat
IXCOcean going, 1,120 tons - 16,000 miles range - 1,020 ft/deep
IXD1Ocean going U-Boat
IXD2Ocean going U-Boat
XAHigh Seas Minelayer - Not built
XBHigh Seas Minelayer/Supply vessel
XIU-Cruiser not built
XIIFleet U-Boat - Planned - not built
XIIISmall combat - projected only
XIVFuel transport
XVTorpedo transport - not built
XVITorpedo transport - not built
XVIIWalter research boat
XVIIIWalter High Seas boat
XIXFuel freighter - not built
XXOil Transport
XXIOcean going Electro boat
XXIISmall battle boat - not built
XXIIISmall Electro boat
XXIVLarge battle boat - projected only
XXVCoastal boat - projected only
XXVIWalter High Seas turbine
XXVIIASmall U-Boat - Hecht
XXVIIBSmall U-Boat - Seehund
XXVIIICoastal U-Boat - Steam turbine



British Submarines



TypeInformation
Holland1 built. 75 tons. 1 T/T
Holland4 built between 1901 and 1913. 105 tons. 1 T/T
A-Class13 built between 1902 and 1920. 2 T/T. Petrol driven. 1st 4 were 165 tons
rest were 180 tons.
B-Class11 built between 1905 and 1919. 280 tons. 2 T/T. 1 x 12 pdr gun. 1917
converted to surface patrol vessels
C-Class38 built between 1906 and 1921. 280 tons. 2 T/T.
D-Class10 built between 1908 and 1921. 550 tons. 3 T/T. 1 x 12 pdr gun.
Diesel driven
E-Class58 built between 1912 and 1921. 660 tons. 4 T/T. 1 x 12 pdr gun.
F-Class4 built between 1913 and 1920. 353 tons. 3 T/T.
G-Class15 built between 1915 and 1923. 700 tons. 5 T/T. 1 x 3 inch gun.
H-Class53 built between 1915 and 1924. 364 tons. (1 to 20) rest 440 tons. 4 T/T.
J-Class7 built between 1915 and 1930. 1,210 tons. 6 T/T. 1 x 4 inch gun
K-Class28 built between 1916 and 1923. 14 at 1,880 tons and 14 at 2,600 tons.
Steam driven. 10 T/T. 2 x 4 inch guns. Surface speed 23 kts.
L-Class 73 built between 1917 and 1938. 890 tons. 50 to 73 were 960 tons.
Varied from T/T's to guns to mines.
M-Class4 built- ex K-Class. 1,600 tons. 4 T/T 1 x 12 inch gun. 1 x 3 inch gun.
N-Class1 built between 1914 and 1922. 1,270 tons. 6 T/T
O-Class Built 1926 onward. 1,311 tons. 8 T/T. 1 x 4 inch gun
P-ClassCalled U-Class during WW2
R-Class12 built between 1918 and 1923. 420 tons. 6 T/T. U-boat hunters.
Submerged speed of 13 kts.
S-Class3 built between 1914 and 1915. 265 tons. 2 T/T. All sold to Italian navy.
S-ClassLater version WW2 vessels
T-Class1938 onward. Used during WW2
U-ClassSmaller version if T-Class. Used WW2
V-ClassUsed during WW2
W-Class4 built between 1914 and 1918. 340 tons. 2 T/T. All sold to Italy
X-ClassMidget submarines
X-1Laid down in 1921, took 4 years to build. 3,600 tons. 6x 21inch T/T. 4 x 5.2
inch guns, twin turret. Ordered scrapped in 1931.
X-2Similar to X-1
XEExperimental



Modern Times

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Last Official SOS " The OAK (Bahamian registry 13,000 tons gt, 21,951dwt, 155.22meter/509.25ft motor bulk carrier, built in 1981, operated by Diana Shipping Agencies S.A.) broadcast a Morse Code (CW) SOS message late 31st December 1997, 1,260 kilometers/790 miles West of Ireland. Official use of Morse Code formally ended January 1st 1998. The OAK was sailing from Canada to Liverpool, England, with a crew of 26 Greek and Philippine citizens when its cargo of wood shifted in a storm and the ship lost power. Winds of Beaufort Force 10, 48 to 55 knots, were reported. The crew jettisoned between 300 cubic meters/390 cubic yards od 400 cubic meters/520 cubic yards of its lumber cargo overboard after the ship developed a 40 degree list and the vessel lost power. The OAK's 500 kilohertz message was heard by Bob Baker at Stonehaven Radio/GND in the United Kingdom and relayed the British Coast Guard at Falmouth, England. The signal was received at Lands End Radio/GLD. "We haven't had a Morse distress message for years," said Gerry Woode, a Coast Guard spokesman. "It was almost too perfect." OAK's message stated "SOS. SOS. SOS. This is OAK. Position 53.16.N 24.59.W. Stop engine. We need assistance" The broadcast of an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) was also picked up. The ANGLICAN PRINCE (St Vincent and Grenadine registry 1,455 dwt tug, built in 1980, operated by Klyne Tugs (Lowestoft) brought the ship to the Gladstone Dock in Liverpool on January 4th 1998."
I am a little confused here, in February 1999, US media stated "now the end has officially come to the SOS system". Were Europe and the US working on different time frames ???

LOSSES 1996 and 1997 The Institute of London Underwriers state that 89 vessels of over 500 tons were lost in 1997 and 113 in 1996. These numbers may rise a little as other vessels are declared a constructive total loss.