There’s only been ONE underwater sub battle in history


America has 50 attack
submarines in active service, designed to tail and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships. China and Russia have dozens more. Strangely enough, only
one submarine battle has been fought underwater
in over 100 years of modern submarine warfare. It was a World War II action that saw a British sub with limited firepower attack a much larger German adversary. The fight took place in 1945
near the end of the war. The Germans had loaded prototypes and advanced weapon designs, as well as German and Japanese
scientists, onto U-864, with massive amounts of liquid mercury for transport to Japan. Note the details here,
’cause it’s foreshadowing. Some of the most exciting
pieces of technology on board were jet engines from
German manufacturers. Operation Caesar was
launched on December 5, 1944 under the command of Corvette
Captain Ralf-Reimar Wolfram. His rank is the equivalent
of a US lieutenant commander, or major; an O-4, so fairly junior for such an important mission. Unfortunately for him, he grounded his sub while going through the Kiel Canal, and had to head to dry dock for repairs. While the boat was being
repaired in Norway, an attack by British planes
dropping earthquake bombs damaged the pen and the sub,
further delaying the mission, which would prove fatal. That’s some heavy foreshadowing! (laughs) That basically spoils the story. But don’t go away, we’re
going to keep going. Britain had intercepted
early communications about the mission, and the
delay gave them a chance to send a British submarine
to intercept the German one. The HMS Venturer was sent to Norway. The British sub, under command
of Lt. James S. Launders, moved into position on February 6, 1945. Now, Launders was a
distinguished sub commander, with 13 kills to his name,
including the destruction of a surface German submarine. The technological challenges
he was facing, however, would still be very daunting. The Venturer had only two
methods of finding an enemy sub: hydrophones or active sonar. The active sonar would
give away its position, but the hydrophones had limited range. And the boat’s torpedoes were designed to attack ships on the surface. On February 9th, the British crew was monitoring their hydrophones when the misfiring diesel
engine on the German sub gave away its position. Launders had his sub stealthily move to the source of the noise, where he first saw an open ocean, a sign that the engine noise
was coming from underwater. Then he saw what he suspected
was an enemy periscope, likely the German sub’s snorkel mast that allowed it to run its diesel engines while shallowly submerged. Launders knew he had his
target in front of him. The British, running low on battery power, decided to put all their
eggs in one basket, and they attacked with two
salvos of four torpedoes. The British sub dove and began
reloading its four tubes. Again, the British fired
all four, the last four. Of the eight torpedoes,
seven were complete misses but one was a direct hit. The British hydrophone operators
heard the torpedo impact. They heard the explosion,
and then they heard the wrenching of iron as the pressure crumpled it like paper. And finally, the dull thud as the wreckage crashed on the sea floor. The site went undisturbed
for almost 60 years, until the Norwegian navy
discovered it in 2003. And mercury was leaking
from damaged vials, so the Norwegian authorities decided to bury the wreck under
tons of sand and rocks to prevent further
damage to the ecosystem. If you like naval warfare,
check out our video about why World War II
battleships are now obsolete. The link is in the comments below. And while you’re there, drop me a line and tell me about the
craziest battle story you’ve ever heard. I read all the comments, and
I want to know your stories. I want to know your truths.

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