Another wreck of an alleged Kriegsmarine U-boat discovered

Not unexpectedly, the discovery of another wreck of an alleged Kriegsmarine U-boat found by Indonesian fishermen in the Java Sea caused many headlines in domestic and foreign media. Around 20 Nov 2013 mostly factual reports came out, as the U-boat was thought to be the Type IX C/40 U-boat U 168, whose sinking is well documented by and large. Many articles added some background about the presence of Kriegsmarine U-boats in World War II in the sea areas of the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.

At some time, another U-boat was named to be the possible wreck, i.e. the Type IXC/40 U-boat U 183, which was sunk by the USN submarine USS Besugo on 23 April 1945 southeast of the island of Bawean (position = 04°50´S and 112°52`E), just one sailor from the 55 men strong crew survived. However, the position of the sinking of U 183 is quite distant to the one from U 168. Noteworthy that U 183 is one of three German U-boats (U 183, U 510 and U 532) which transited further over a distance of 3,000 nmi to Kobe, Japan and return for battery maintenance and repair.

U 168 was built at the Seebeck shipyard at today´s Bremerhaven, and was commissioned on 10 September 1942. On 11 November 1943 it arrived at the Naval Base of Penang in Japanese occupied Malaysia, to join the group of German “Monsoon” U-boats operating in the Indian Ocean from Bases on South East Asia. The most famous of the “Monsoon” U-boats was U 862 which, at the end of 1994/ early 1945, patrolled as far as New Zealand in the Pacific Ocean. U 168 carried out two extended combat patrols from Penang, but just 3 days after leaving the newly assigned base at Batavia (today´s Djakarta) it was sunk on 06 October 1944 in the Java Sea (position = 06°20`S and 111°28 E) by the free-Netherlands submarine Zwaardvisch while transiting to another base at Surabaya. 26 sailors survived, among those the Commanding Officer, but 23 died.

Meanwhile, bones from the corpses of 17 sailors have been recovered, also some equipment was lifted to the surface, this in turn allowing to identify the wreck as a Kriegsmarine U-boat. Even the Indonesian Institute for Underwater Archaeology now talks of U 168. Nevertheless, the current reports in the media have not mentioned yet any exact position of the wreckage, which leaves still some doubts as to the true identity of the wreckage.


News from the Russian Submarine Force

In mid November 2013 the stream of inconsistent reports about the progress at the new “Boreij”-Class SSBN continued in the Russian media, as we have pointed out repeatedly before in our “Flotsam” issues.

After the First of Class of the SSBNs of this class, the Yuri Dolgoruki, had been commissioned actually on 10 January 2013, further news were permanently irritating about further progress at the construction, the sea and weapon trials as well as the scheduled commis-sioning of further submarines of this class. This finds another example with the second SSBN of this new class, the Alexander Nevsky (K-550), which was laid on keel on 19 Mar 2013 and launched on 06 December 2010, followed by sea and weapon trials starting on 22 October 2011. For a long time, the official date of commissioning for this SSBN stated was 15 July 2013. However, new problems arising during the weapon trials with the SLBM “Bulova” as the new standard armament have led to new statements by the Russian shipbuilding industry in early November 2013 that the second SSBN would be delivered at the “end of November/ early December 2013”, appa-rently independently of the further tests with the SLBM “Bulova”, ordered after the failed test launch in Sep 2013. There was even some news that the Alexander Nevsky would be commissioned possibly without “Bulovas” on board initially. Again, at the end of Nov 2013 new statements were given by the Russian Navy: According to that, the Alexander Nevsky and well as SSBN No. 3 of the “Boreij”-Class, the Vladimir Monomarkh, are scheduled both for commissioning “in 2014”

Also, there are some new reports about the special building program of 6 conventional powered submarines of the improved “Kilo II”-Class (Project 636.3) for the submarine force of Russia´s Black Sea Fleet, which apparently was launched due to the problems around the construction and delivery of the new diesel-electric submarines of the “Lada”-Class (Project 677). Since 2010, the Admiralty Shipyard at St. Petersburg is busy in building these submarines implementing that special program. The Novorossiysk (B-261) was laid on keel on 20 October 2010 and launched on 28 November 2013 in the presence of the CINC Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov. SSK No. 2, the Rostov-on-Don (B-237), was laid on keel on 21 November 2011 and SSK No.3, the Stary Oskol (B-262), on 17 Aug 2012. The Novorossiysk is said to be commissioned in 2014.

In the context of the building program for Russia´s Black Sea Fleet it became known that Russia is about to establish a new main Naval Base at the port of Novorossiysk at Russia´s Black Sea coast under considerable financial efforts, to end the decades long dependence from the current Naval Base at Sevastopol in the Ukraine.

Sources for “Borej”-Class:

Sources for “Kilo II”-Class:

Stormy voyage to England for the German Navy´s U 31

At the end of October 2013 the “212A”-Class U-boat U 31 of the German Navy left its homebase Eckernförde, operated by crew “Delta” of the 1st German U-boat Flotilla under the command of Korvettenkapitän (= Lieutenant-Commander) Lars Gössing, to support the combat readiness training by the RN´s Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) at Plymouth at England´s southwestern coast. A TV Team from the NDR (North German Broadcast) was embarked during the transit to England.

On 02 December 2012 a recommendable report about this voyage was transmitted during the evening news, showing the passage through the English Channel under gale force condition on 28 October 2013 by impressive pictures. The film can be watched at any time using the below link or via the “Mediathek” of the NDR/ Schleswig-Holstein.

On 03 December 2013 U 31 has returned to its homeport.



TKMS/ HDW and Singapore sign contract for tow large AIP submarines

Good news for the submarines builders of TKMS/ HDW a Kiel came out on 02 December 2013. The contract, estimated to be worth 1.7 Bill Euros, will see the construction of two submarines of the German export type “218 SG”. That is an improved version of the HDW export type “214”, and will also include an air independent propulsion system (AIP). With that, unconfirmed news from Summer 2013 about a contract pending have now become reality, also the necessary export guarantee by the German government has been granted. The package comprises also training and practice operation for the crew as well as the provision of a comprehensive maintenance and spare parts.

The delivery of the submarines is intended to be around 2020. Together with the two submarines of the “Archer”-Class (the 2 Type A-17 submarines Hälsingland and Västergötland were bought from Sweden in 2005 and modernized, and eventually commissioned as RSS Archer and RSS Swordsman in 2011/2012) the new submarines are to replace gradually the 5 submarines of the “Challenger”-Class (5 Type A-12 submarines were bought from Sweden in 1995, with 4 subs in service and 1 as reserve for spare parts). We have reported about it in “Flotsam” of February 2012.

The designation “218SG” indicates a special design tailored to the requirements of the Navy of Singapore. No data of the measurements of the new submarines for Singapore have been published yet, but it widely expected that the subs will be bigger in size than the AIPs currently constructed by HDW. As we remember, on 22 October 2012 at EURONAVAL at Paris HDW designers have presented a new AIP export version displacing some 4,000 t under the type designation “216”, clearly intended to improve the prospects of export. The HDW design of submarines double in size compared to the current versions would open new markets for conventional export submarines, which require budget efforts only half of those for nuclear powered submarines. The design of the larger AIPs would allow integrating new mission capabilities, ranging from spacing for the embarkation and clandestine delivery of commandos, to large scale towed array sonar systems, up to vertical launcher systems (VLS) for the launch of missiles.

Not only HDW keeps such designs in its drawers. Also, the shipyard of Daewoo in South Korea is busy advertising its AIP products, after it has built already a considerable number of submarines, such as the German export types “209” (South Korean designation: “KSS-I”) and “214” (South Korean designation: “KSS-II”), further type “214” AIP submarines are currently under construction. Now, South Korea is offering a type “KSS-III” AIP submarine, which has significantly larger dimensions than the “214”.