a German WWII submarine destoryed because of an encounter
with a sea monster?
Submarine and the Sea Monster
are enough tales of giant sea creatures from sailors over the
centuries to fill many books, rarely do we get an account of
a sea monster from the crew of a submarine. According legend,
however, we get just a story from the Captain of the German
submersible UB-85 after it was supposedly attacked by a sea
monster in 1918 .
story starts in the middle of WWI. The German U-boat, UB-85
was launched on October 26th of 1917 and put under the command
of Kapitänleutnant Günther Krech. The UB-85 was a Type UB III
submarine and carried 10 torpedoes and, at the time of its sinking,
a 105-mm deck gun. The submarine had an unremarkable history
until its second patrol in April of 1918. According to records
on April 30th the British patrol boat Coreopsis II found it
floating off the coast of Belfast, Ireland and was able to capture
the crew with ease, though the boat itself was scuttled by the
German officers as they left it.
to the Legend:
crew abandoned the sub and was picked up by the British. The
U-boat commander, Captain Krech was questioned about why he
had been cruising on the surface and he told this tale:
sub had been recharging batteries at night on the surface when
without any kind of warning a "strange beast" began to climb
aboard from the sea. "This beast had large eyes, set in a horny
sort of skull. It had a small head, but with teeth that could
be seen glistening in the moonlight." The animal was so large
that it forced the U-boat to list greatly to starboard. The
captain feared an open hatch would drop below the waterline,
flooding the sub and sinking it.
UB-184 in this photo, was similar to the UB-85.
man on watch began firing a sidearm at the beast," Krech continued.
The animal had hold of the forward gun mount and would not let
battle continued until the animal dropped back into the sea.
In the struggle, though, the forward deck plating had been damaged
and the sub could no longer submerge. "That is why you were
able to catch us on the surface," the Captain concluded.
story remained just an odd tale until the year 2016. In October
the energy firm Scottish Power announced that while using a
sophisticated sonar to chart the bottom of the sea off the coast
of Scotland in preparation for laying cables, they had come
across the profile of a submarine that appeared to be a Type
UB III. A close examination of the sonar image led marine archeologist
and historian Innes McCartney, from Bournemouth University,
to believe that it is either that the wreck of UB-85 or UB-82.
Both were sunk during a period where the Type UB III's carried
a heavier 105mm deck gun which is what McCartney thinks that
the sonar image shows.
the sonar image can't confirm that the submarine was attacked
by a sea monster, it did lead to a reexamination of the records
that had been sitting in storage in vaults of the National Archives
and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C.. At the
end of WWII the U.S. Military captured the records of the German
Navy dating back to 1850, an along with it the official documents
concerning the loss of the UB-85.
HMS Coreopsis which captured the crew of the UB-85.
in the record says anything about a sea monster. In an interview
Krech relates that the sub spotted the approaching British patrol
boat and attempted to dive. For some reason the hatch to the
conning tower did not secure properly and water started pouring
into the ship. To make matters worse, related one of the crew,
the Captain had ordered a set of cables strung between the conning
tower and the control room below it to accommodate a heater
in the officers' compartment. These kept the water tight door
between those room froms being sealed, turning what would have
been a minor problem (the flooding of the conning tower) in
the a disaster where the whole boat was nearly sunk.
poured into the vessel, the crew had no choice but to blow the
boat's ballast tanks and surface again, causing them to be captured.
The UB-28 Sea
On July 31, 1915,
the UB-28 torpedoed the British merchant steamer SS Iberian.
As the ship sank a huge explosion occurred and reportedly
a "gigantic aquatic animal," resembling a 60 foot-long
crocodile, was thrown 80 feet into the air. After it hit
the water it remained on the surface for 15 to 20 seconds
before sinking, according to accounts reportedly from
the UB-28's crew.
As with the UB-85
incredible story, this tale is suspect also. The official
log of the UB-28 does not mention the creature nor do
the accounts of the members of the Iberian's crew or its
passengers that survived the sinking.
possible the Captain made up the odd story of sea serpent attack
just to avoid telling his British captors that he lost his command
just so he could have a heater in his quarters? Without a written
record of the story, it hard to say.
to McCartney in an interview given to the Live Science, the
story "falls into a longer trend going back at least to the
1930s of these outlandish sea tales being appended to First
World War German submarines," McCartney said. "I don't know
why it is, but the first U-boat war just attracts these stories
- you get haunted submarines, like UB-65 which [supposedly]
had a dead crewmember who haunted the boat, and then UB-28 -
another sea monster is supposed to have attacked that one."
some future diving expedition on the U-85 finds claw marks on
the forward gun mount that can't be explained, it likely this
legend is just another wild sea monster tale.
Lee Krystek 2019. All Rights Reserved.