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A History of Submarines

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posted on Nov, 6 2004 @ 12:15 AM

I understand the ban on automatic weapons. But who the hell can carry a 20mm Oerlikon under his jacket?!?

As nice as the dive sites are, medically I can't scuba dive, so I appreciate floating museum peices.

Naval history's not really my thing, and certainly not construction. Just the actions and outcomes.

posted on Nov, 6 2004 @ 05:07 AM
AE1 was lost off the Island of Rabaual. The title of the book is Stokers Submarine by Fred & Elizabeth Brenchley. Dacre Stoker became an actor after the war. He lived a remarkable life one can say that without exaggerating.
Thanks to craigandrew for this cool thread.

[edit on 6-11-2004 by xpert11]

posted on Nov, 6 2004 @ 06:03 AM
Hear hear! Xpert11

Submarines have always fascinated me. This thread is riveting..

Thanks craigandrew.


posted on Nov, 6 2004 @ 07:40 AM
Hi folks. I just want to say thanks to all the folks who have been following this thread and those giving me encouragement.

I'll try and develop the thread some more to keep you interested. Thanks to for putting me onto some other threads of interest. I hope I get a chance to contribute to a few.

Would you beleive my interests in these areas began at five? The first two books I asked for after I started reading comics was a paperback rub down tranfer book about the Battle of Britain, and a kids book story of the Spitfire. That and living in a street with several generations of living history. No surprises I guess.

I have a ton (literally) of books on a range of subjects like this, and Ive read everyone cover to back over the years at least once but not recently. I'm really enjoying going back over them and refreshing my mind after 20 years of crapee office work and policy clogging the brain cells.

This has been a welcome encouragement for me to go back to the facts.

My wife is going to help me develop this thread by helping me develop a new website, teaching me to update it and scan pictures. She did one for a wargames page that I have but havent had the content to use for some months.

In the meantime, I am compiling a series of links to start posting next week. Thanks all.

posted on Nov, 6 2004 @ 07:48 AM
This is a bit of a cheat because I posted it elsewhere, but for those who missed it.......and because the guy deserves to be here.......


US Submarine, built 1897-98. Following the disasterous failure of Plunger, which failed her acceptance trials in 1896, the inventor John P holland (an Irish immigrant) decided to build another submarine at his own expense, without navy interference. The new private venture was to be Electric Boat Company design EB-6, and had a 45hp gasoline engine for surface propulsion, with a 50hp electric motor for running submerged. In addition to 18in (46cm) torpedo tubes she was fitted with 8in (203mm) Zahlinski dynamite guns, angled upwards so that they could fire bombs at ships while the submarine was partially submerged (hey sounds like SLCM).

Holland was launched at the Crescent shipyard on May 17, 1897 and completed the following year. After several trials and inspections by the US Navy she was finally bought in April 1900, and after minor modifications she commissioned formally as USS Holland on October 12, 1900 the first submarine to be commissioned into the US Navy. The final armament was only one torpedo tube and a dynamite gun in the bow. She was of no operational use, but provided valuable data for the Adder Class. She was stricken in November 1910 and sold for scrap, but was kept as a memorial until 1930 when the hull was finally sold in the Bronx, New York. She was given the number SS.1 in the listing of USN submarines.

Displacement: 64/74 tons (surfaced/submerged) Length:16.43m (53'11") oa Beam: 3.12m (10' 3") Draught: 2.59m (8'6") Machinery: 1 shaft gasoline/electric, 45bhp/50shp=8/5 knots (surfaced/submerged) Armament:1x18in TT(bow), 1x8in Dynamite Gun (later removed), crew:7

HOLLAND (Britain)

British submarine class, built 1900-1902. The Royal Navy had officially set it's face against submarines, and they had even been described as underhand, unfair and damned un-english, but by 1900 the admiralty had already decided to build them in secret. The news of the purchase of the USS Holland merely confirmed the need for speedy progress, and instead of building to the design already drawn up by the Director of Naval Construction it was decided to buy the Electric Boat Company's EB-7 design (used for the US Adder Class, which had followed Holland)

In 1900 an order for five boats was placed in strict secrecy with Vickers, Son and Maxim of Barrow-in-Furness, and news did not leak out untilthe spring of 1901 when the First Lord of the Admiralty stated in a memorandum on the 1901-02 Estimates that the Royal Navy's first submarine would be delivered that autumn. HM Submarine Holland No.1 was launched on October 2, 1901, but Holland No.5 did not take to the water until May 21, 1902. Like the early American boats they sufferred from explosions of gasoline vapour and had a tendancy to "porpoise" badly, but they did provide a basis for further development.

Holland No.5 sank in tow in August 1912 while on her way to be scrapped, and No.4 was lost by accident in September 1912. The other three were sold for scrap in October 1913.

Displacement: 110/123 tons Length: 19.46m (63'10") oa Beam: 3.58m (11'9") Draught: 3.02m (9'11") Machinery: 1 shaft gasoline/electric, 160bhp/70shp = 7.5/5 knots, Armament: 1x18in TT (3 torpedo load), Crew:7.


posted on Nov, 6 2004 @ 07:49 AM
When your done we'll have to put it together in one post and do something with it. Maybe make it a resource. If we do your get a points award for it.

Keep it up.

posted on Nov, 6 2004 @ 08:20 AM
Hope you dont mind the bite sizes.

Back to the history.

Intense interest in submarine development continued between the wars within the world's navies. A particular attraction was the development of large heavily gunned submarines for commerce raiding. The British "X-1", completed in 1925 was a long ranged submarine with four 5.2 inch guns in twin armoured turrets, in addition to six torpedo tubes. The French "Surcouf", completed in 1934, mounted two 8 inch guns in a single forward turret, in addition to ten torpedo tubes and had a small hangar to accommodate a seaplane at the stern. It was intended to scout for commerce targets for the sub. The RN also trialed this concept with the "M-2" (see previous post) refitting her to carry a float plane. The US Navy also fitted a boat, the "S-1" with a hangar and seaplane for trials, while the Japanese operated a number of boats to use seaplanes operationally.

During this period the USN built its first long range submarine, the "Argonaut". Completed in 1928 she was 318 feet (116m) long, displaced 2,710 tons on the surface, was armed with two single six inch guns and four forward torpedo tubes, and could carry 60 sea mines. The "Argonaut" the largest non nuclear submarine ever built by the USN, led to the highly successful "Gato" and "Balao" Classes of WW2.

During the 1930s the rejuvinated Soviet shipyards began building large numbers ( I recall hundreds) of subs, primarily coastal types, in an attempt to make the USSR a seapower without the enormous costs of major surface ships. But although the Soviets achieved quantity, thier boats were unsuitable for operations against the Kreigsmarine, thier crews were poorly trained and thier bases were blocked by ice much of the year.

As I recall this did not stop them late in the war, on the eve of Germany's defeat, to inflict some losses on German shipping, including a tragic chapter where Soviet Submarines torpedoed two large liners evacuating civilians and troops trapped in East Prussia (now part of modern Poland). Thousands of people, mainly civilians, perished in the cold waters of the Baltic Sea.

Picked this up at a Australian Submariners website recently. Did you know that the USN was responsible for the Diesel Electricification of the US rail network? Between WW1 and WW2 the US Navy, at the behest of its submarine design agency in the Navy Office of the War Department, diverted funds to subsidize the replacement of steam engines with diesel engines, and lobbied for it within the transportation industry and in Washington.

It meant for a relatively small outlay they ensured R&D and production capacity of diesel engines that would ensure available units for mass production for mass produced US submarines in the event of war. Thats what I call forethought and planning of logistics. I hope someone got a medal for pushing that.

until next time.

[edit on 6-11-2004 by craigandrew]

posted on Nov, 6 2004 @ 08:42 AM
Found these links on John Holland. Hope you find them interesting as i did.

One is from the County Clare Library, Ireland.


Now this ones not working....second edit.

This is from a USN history site.

Cant get this link to work but this is the link to the general page.
God knows where I find the info on Holland!

Ahhh...found the way. Click the above. Go to NHC search enter John P Holland. 125 references but go to first. Links to Plunger and Holland info and images.

Amazing different sites interpretations of a mans lifes.

Cheers and goodnite.

Oh BTW......Thanks John Bull.......I'll gently hassle my wife about it.

[edit on 6-11-2004 by craigandrew]

[edit on 6-11-2004 by craigandrew]

posted on Nov, 7 2004 @ 05:58 PM
A reminder. I am taking from a mid 1970s edition of EB and a number of 1970s and 80s reference works. Some of this info, especially coming up to the 70s and 80s when data on the then newer ships was still relatively difficult to come by, becomes subject to interpretation, opinion and necessary admendment.

Thats okay. I welcome it.

WW2 (Sept 1 1939 to Sept 2 1945) saw extensive submarine campaigns on all the worlds oceans (and most of it's seas). The the Atlantic the principal German U-Boat was the VII (Seven) type, a small but relatively effective craft when properly employed. The Type VIIC (Seven-C) variant was 220 1/4 feet (67m) long, displaced 769 tons on the surface, and was powered by diesel electrics at a speed of 17 knots surfaced and 7 1/2 knots submerged. Armament consisted of one 3.5 inch deck gun, various AA guns and five torpedo tubes, four forward one aft. Either 14 torpedos or 14 tube launched mines could be carried. Manned by a crew of 44, these subs had a surface endurance of 6,500 miles at 12 knots but, when submerged thier batteries would remain active a little less than a day at four knots.

Three German designs warrant special attention ( according to EB): The VIIF (Seven-F) design was an elongated boat 254 3/4 feet (78m) long intended to replensih other U-Boats at sea with torpedoes (25 spares were carried over its normal complement of 14 rounds) and fuel oil (199 tons carried, compared with 114 tons in the standard Type VII sub. The ultimate diesel electric sibmarine evolved in the war was the German Type XXI (21), a 250 foot (75m) 1600 ton craft that could attain 17 1/2 knots submerged for more than one hour, six knots submerged for two days, or could "creep" at lower speeds submerged for four days. These submarines were fitted with a device known as a schnorchel that made it unnecessary for them to break the surface to recharge thier batteries after operating submerged. The Type XXI had an operating depth of 850 feet (260m), more than twice that of other submarines of the day, and was armed with four 33mm cannon ( twin mounts fore and aft mounted in streamlined barbette housings on the lip of the conning tower) and six forward torpedo tubes with 23 rounds). Existing ASW forces would have had trouble coping with these craft if they had been developed earlier of if the war had continued for at least another year.

A final German design of interest was the Walther turbine propulsion plant. The need for oxygen for combustion had previously prevented the use of steam turbines or diesels while a submarine was submerged, and air was at a premium. Hellmuth Walter, a German scientist, developed a turbine propulsion system using oxygen generated by hydrogen peroxide to operate the turbine while submerged. A simplified submarine, the "V-80" was built in 1940 and powered by a Walther system, attained speeds of more than 26 knots submerged for short spans of time. After many delays the first Walther propelled Type XVII (17) combat submarines were completed, which could achieve 25 knots underwater for brief periods, and a submerged run at 20 knots for five and a half hours was achieved on trials. But these, like the Type XXIs were not ready in numbers for operations before the end of the war in Europe.

A notable German submarine development was the schnorchel device (nowdays known by its USN anglicised name as the "snorkel". Its invention is creditted to a dutch officer, Lt. Jan J.Wichers, who in 1933 advanced the idea of a breathing tube to supply fresh air to a submerged submarine (Robert Fulton had a similar device fitted to his 1801 "Nautilus". The Netherlands Navy began using the snorkels in 1936, and some fell into German hands after the capitulation of 1940. With the advent of radar to detect surfaced U-Boats, the germans fitted hundreds of thier craft with this device to permit the operations of boats at periscope depth to recharge the batteries for underwater propulsion, with a lessened risk of detection by radar equiped allied ships and aircraft.

Next: before we go on with Submarines in the Pacific, a history of Asdic and Sonar in the "Stone Age" ie. Until the late 1970s.....

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 03:47 AM
The RN also trialed this concept with the "M-2" (see previous post) refitting her to carry a float plane. The US Navy also fitted a boat, the "S-1" with a hangar and seaplane for trials, while the Japanese operated a number of boats to use seaplanes operationally.

Didnt the Japs have some wild plans to launch seaplanes from subs to bomb the west coast of America? If I recall rightly the Battle of Midway put an end to those crazy plans.
Later on in the War the Japs sent ballons in a vain attempt to start massive bush fires in the USA.

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 04:08 AM
The Japanes boats were massive. The only operation they attempted failed, but it definitely gets plus points for inspiration.

Incendiary bomb the Pacific northwest to create massive bushfires that would give the Yanks an emergency at home they would have to divert manpower to.
Apparently the trees just didn't want to burn.

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 05:23 AM

Originally posted by HowlrunnerIV
The Japanes boats were massive. The only operation they attempted failed, but it definitely gets plus points for inspiration.

Incendiary bomb the Pacific northwest to create massive bushfires that would give the Yanks an emergency at home they would have to divert manpower to.
Apparently the trees just didn't want to burn.

What would happen if the Sub was attacked when recovering a seaplane and the aircrew?
The yanks blacked out weather reports so the Japs tried to start bush fires in wet weather.
If the Japs had used there Subs to attack allied merchant ships instead of supplying traped garrisons the allies would have been fighting enemy Subs on two fronts.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but when it came to Subs the Japs seem to to lack any vision and sometimes they didnt devoute enough resouces an example of this is there half baked mini subs.

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 07:19 AM
The operational concepts of the Japanese were pretty poor using their submarines. Technically they had some very good boats, just poor tactics.

I beleive they still believed in the concept of using them as scouting screens and trip wires for big gun actions of the fleet.

Whereas the German, American and British opertational concept was to focus on the Merchant Marines of thier enemies and disrupting the lines of supplies (with the secondary task of hitting the warships) the Japanese appear to have stuck with the idea that the subs role was to pick off and cripple enemy fleet units and report thier movements so that the guns of the main fleet could then finish them off. Although they had scattered singleton successes, they did not wage a proper campaign to disrupt the allied lines of supply between the US West Coast Bases, Australia and thier forward bases in throughout the Pacific.

They also failed to adopt the pack tactics of the Germans and to a lesser extent the Americans. If there submarine Fleet, especially thier larger longer ranged boats had operated pack tactics off the West Coast of the USA they could have at the very least diverted resources and disrupted forward combat operations. (I seem to recall that for the most part the US didnt operate the convoy system in it's pacific rear areas between US mainland ports and forward supply was a potential weakness the IJN failed to exploit).

Instead they continued to focus efforts on fanciful plans to use thier sub launched light bombers to wreck the gates on the Panama canal (which did not come to fruition in any case) or to launch manned Kaiten suicide torpedos at the approaching allied task forces, and to try and supply thier bypassed island garrisons.

Like everything else (its belated efforts to develop surface ASW forces for instance), the Japanese left it too late, and achieved too little in this area to redress the balance. They had developed an excellent class of coastal defence submarines with a hunter killer role, a suitable fleet sub for pack work but were already defeated when they started.

Another problem was that the IJN from the top down, saw its self as a big gun navy. The road to success in the IJN was to be a gunnery officer, a role that fit in well with thier mythic warrior code as well.

The submarine arm, like the technical branches such as engineering, sonar and radar personnel, were seen as lowly also rans (36 years and I only just figured it out right now...."also rans"...."also Ran A Near Second"....doh!). Its a fate that almost befell the carrier arm, but for visionaries like Adm. Yamamoto. In the years before he became the IJN CNF he was part of a Triumvirate of Admirals (as the Director of Air I beleive) who elevated the Air Arm to equal status with the Battlefleet.

So reasonable ships, poor tactics, variable crews and tactics.

As to the fate of a sub caught in the midst of seaplane ops....glug!glug!glug!.....

More tomorrow.

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 10:27 AM
Just as a little side note here you know this anyway

The closed hydrogen peroxide system of the Walter engined boats (Type XXIII U-boats) was tested by the UK and rejected as far too dangerous with the available technology. The UK's ex-U-boats Explorer and Excalliber being known as ‘Exploader’ and ‘Excruciater’ due to the numerous troubles!

It is believed the recent Russian Kursk accident is related to the Russian use of such engines in their torpedos.

The type XXI is a much more interesting boat.....and apparantly not so advanced in overall concept either. According to some it is a rather conservative extension of WW1 technology and the wonder is they did not arrive at the idea sooner....although obviously things like the acoustic and magnetic torpedos were not possible then really.

Excellent work here by the way. I've a little interest in U-boats myself. The move from the older to more modern and recognisable tech I find their crews tenacity to the very end in the face of the incredibly severe and terrible lethal battering they took is pretty amazing. 3 out of 4 dead. Bloody hell, that they didn't mutiny is incredible.

Nice work mate.

[edit on 9-11-2004 by sminkeypinkey]

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 05:05 PM
The operational concepts of the Japanese were pretty poor using their submarines. Technically they had some very good boats, just poor tactics.

Couldnt have said it better myself after all the Japs had the best torpedo’s of the War the Long Lance torpedo was superior to its Germen and allied counter parts as the allies found out at the Battle of Java sea. (although no subs were to take part in the action.)

80% of American torpedo’s failed up until 1943-44 . Japanese merchant ships would come into port with torpedo’s lodged under there hulls that had failed to explode!
A part the reason American torpedo’s failed is that there were no Pre war testing (none of the torpedo’s were tested against targets.) it was considered to expensive and much importantce was placed on the secrecy surrounding the weapon.

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 09:25 PM
The USN set up two massive Submarine Bases in Fremantle Western Australia and Brisbane Queensland. I grew up near the former and live in the later.

USN commanders in Fremantle were frustrated to the point of insubordination. There was a constant exchange of signals between the torpedo ordnance team in the US and the Base and Submarine Commanders in Fremantle over the next to useless torpedos being shipped out to them.

The Fremantle based Submariners even carried out thier own test and evalution of the in short supply torpedos proving thier arguments about the firing mechanisms fitted, only to be dismissed by experts in Washington. It was more than a year later that the design agency carried out the same tests in the US and confirmed the same results, that something was done to change the torpedoes.

The Germans had had similar problems with a similar type of torpedo in 1939-40 from memory. They were quicker off the mark fixing it.

Apart from all the subs at Freo (including RN and Dutch boats) my mum could remember (she worked as a teenage hairdresser across the tracks from the south Wharves) the massive corrogated wall about 30 feet high they put around the Port facilities and the walls along the train and road bridges up stream of the Port, and the ban on private boats.

In 1943 or 44 a Norweigan timber carrier caught fire in Fremantle. It was mored behind one of the Submarine depot ships, RN or USN I'm not sure as they both had one. The Depot Ship herself had just arrived with a fresh supply of three hundred torpedoes, and the fire spread to her, as she was being towed away. Torpedoes were being rolled over the side as they fought the fire just in case. My mum remembered although the wartime press said nothing of it, it was the talk of Fremantle and Perth. It was the first time the air raid sirens had gone off in the Port since the 1942 Jap carrier alerts (They hit Trimcollee in Ceylon instead). Fortunately they put the fire out and recovered the torpedos........There was as I said another loaded depot ship and 30 odd subs in port at the time.

A similar ship fire and explosion in India had destroyed the port and a couple of dozen vessels around the same time, and I remember a documentary about a WW1 disaster in the US. The photos looked like a small nuke had gone off.

When I moved from Perth late 99 you could still see some of the concrete foundations for the wall in places and the odd section of corregated fencing. South Mole at the harbour enterance still had a dilapidated heritage listed pillbox on it from the war...a squat now. On a coastal hill justv north of the port is a restored battery and part of the tunnel complex,in the middle of the housing estate that was built on the rest. Out at sea on Rottnest Island they have restored the barracks, light rail, hill topradar and 9.2" Battery (one of originally two) positions built there in 1938-41 as part of the Coastal Defences for the approaches to Fremantle and the anchorage in Gage Roads.

Its like where I stayed in Chadwell Heath near Romford in London in 91, in the overgrowth by the train tracks to London there were still "dragons teeth" anti tank barriers left over from the 1940 anti invasion precaution days.

History's all around if you look for it.

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 10:21 PM
Actually the Germans had similar length of problems with thier torps.

Found the entry in Tarrant's "The U Boat Offensive 1914-45"

During the course of the campaign (the March-April 1940 Norway Campaign) the difficulties the U-Boats were experiencing with torpedo failures became critical and robbed them of major successes. Unique opportunities of attacking important targets had been offerred and fully exploited. An idea of the results can be gained from the U-47s Kapitanleutnant Gunther Prien's (Scarpa Flow fame)report on his attack in Vaggsfiord and later on the battleship Warspite:

"15 April 1940 In the afternoon, the area patrolled and searched by the enemy destroyers. Fromthe odd courses of the destroyers,presume mines to be laid in several places. In the evening three very large transports (each 30,000 tons) and three smaller transports with two cruisers at anchor in the southern part of Bygden. Disembarkation of troops in fishing smacks in the direction of Lavengen - Gratangen. Transports and cruisers in the narrows of Bygden, some moored so close that they are only just clear of one another and present a continuous target.

2200- Boat prepares for first submerged attack. Intended to fire one torpedo at each of two cruisers and two large transports (one is a Suffren class cruiser), then to reload and attack again.
2242- Fired four torpedoes. Minimum range 750 metres, maximum 1,500 metres. Depth setting of torpedoes four or five metres. A wall of ships ahead. No hits. Enemy not even startled. Reloaded. After midnight ran in again on the surface. Very precise control data. Thorough check of all settings by Chief Officer and First Lieutenant. Fired four torpedoes, depth setting as in first attack. No hits. One gyro failure, torpedo exploded on a rock. Boat ran aground while disengaging. Got clear only to find ourselves near a patrol vessel. Detected. Depth charge attack. Commenced return passage because of damage to engines.
19th April - Sighted Warspite and two destroyers. Fired two torpedoes at the battleship from 900metres.No hits. A torpedo exploding at the end of its run resulted in attacks on me by destroyers from all directions"

The Author (Tarrant), by analysing each successful attack with the aid of the commander's reports and firing records it was estimated that during the Norweigan campaign, if it had not been for the faulty torpedoes, hits would have been certain:

in one of four attacks on a battleship;
in seven of twelve attacks on cruisers;
in seven of ten attacks on destroyers; and
in five out of five attacks on transports.

I'll finish this on a follow up ...Sorry for the delay with Asdic and Sonar details. I'll follow them up soon.

[edit on 8-11-2004 by craigandrew]

posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 11:02 PM
The situation was so critical that in 20 April, Raeder appointed a special committee of investigation which led to the court-martialling of several officers of the Torpedo Experimental Command who had been in charge of torpedo development from 1936 to 1939. "The investigations have revealed insufficent preparation before issue of the torpedos", Raeder summed up the investigation's findings. "The depth keeping qualities of the G7a and G7e are inadequate for an operational weapon. The magnetic firing mechanism of the pistol is technically inefficent, and the imapct firing mechanism does not function satisfactorily"

The results of the investigation shocked U-Boat Command. Donitz wrote on 15 May:

"The findings are more serious than I expected. An official of the Torpedo Inspectorate informs me that the mechanism had been accepted in peacetime, after only two test runs, the results of which were not entirely satisfactory. Such a procedure can only be described as criminal.......It had been expected that twenty years of experiment would produce a torpedo superior to that of the First World War. A trackless torpedo with splashless discharge has been devised, but everything else is wrong. In all the history of war I doubt whether men have ever had to rely on such a useless weapon"

(Gee this sounds like a familiar theme:lol

Despite Technical improvements to the impact system, and to compensate for the uncertain depth keeping qualities the torpedoes were set to run fairly shallow (which reduced the effect of detonation), premature detonations and detonation failures continued to dog the U-boats potential. It was not until the beginning of November 1942, when a new magnetic proximity fuse and the TIII electrically propelled torpedo became operational, that these problems were largely overcome.


posted on Nov, 8 2004 @ 11:08 PM
Hi sminkeypinkey,

I heard about those two. Nicknames rate right up there with calling a submarine Plunger.

I finding lots of interesting stuff in my books. Some interesting details to keep people busy surfing the net for hours to expand upon.

I'll get around to them soon.

So much stuff, so little time.

[edit on 8-11-2004 by craigandrew]

posted on Nov, 9 2004 @ 04:13 AM
The Ubouts didnt do to badly against the RN early on in the war a Ubout sank an aircraft carrier the Ark Royal?
U47 under the command of Gunther Prien penerated Scapa Flow and sank the Battleship Royal Oak. U47 was sunk on the 8 March 1941 I am unsure if Prien was still in command.

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