She was sent to the bottom of the sea by an American destroyer on April 14, 1942

The wreck of the U-85, a German submarine sunk near the USA with spies on board

On April 10, 1941, the launching of the U-85, a Type VIIB submarine of the German Navy, took place in the German city of Lübeck.

The U-505, a German submarine exhibited in the US and that starred in a secret story
The destroyer USS Samuel B. Roberts, the deepest sunken ship ever found

The new ship entered service on June 7, 1941 and was attached to the 3rd Kriegsmarine Submarine Flotilla, initially based at the Kiel naval base in Germany, and from October 1941 at the La Rochelle submarine base in France. The U-85 was 66.50 meters long and 6.2 meters wide, was powered by two diesel engines (for surface navigation) and two electric motors (for submerged navigation) and was capable of diving to a depth of 220 meters.

The 88 mm gun of the U-85 (Photo: National Park Service).

The U-85 was armed with five 533 mm torpedo tubes, four located forward and one located aft, with a total of 14 torpedoes on board. In addition, she had an 88 mm deck gun, to fire when she was sailing on the surface, and a 20 mm FlaK 30 anti-aircraft gun. She could reach a speed of almost 18 knots (33 km/h) on the surface and 8 knots (15 km/h) submerged.

A shark hanging around the wreck of the U-85 (Photo: NOAA).

Between the summer of 1941 and February 1942, U-85 made three patrol missions and participated in four "wolf packs", as groups of German submarines hunting Allied ships were known. On March 21, 1942, U-85 sailed from France on her fourth and final patrol, which took her to the shores of the United States, where a few weeks later she sank a Norwegian freighter, the Christen Knudsen, near New Jersey.

The four torpedo tubes that the U-85 had in the bow (Photo: NOAA).

At midnight on April 13-14, 1942, the American destroyer USS Roper (DD-147) detected U-85 with its radar as the German ship was sailing on the surface 2.5 kilometers west of the Bodie Island lighthouse in North Carolina. The German submarine approached the American ship and fired a torpedo at it, but the USS Roper managed to dodge it, ensuing a furious chase. The American destroyer managed to damage the surface gun of the German submarine with machine gun fire. U-85 submerged and USS Roper began sweeping the area, dropping a total of 11 depth charges.

The sail and periscope of U-85 (Photo: NOAA).

The rain of depth charges managed to sink the submarine. Several bodies of her crewmen surfaced in the middle of the night. At sunrise, the US Navy conducted a search operation in which the bodies of 29 occupants of the submarine were recovered, some of them in civilian clothes, false identifications and US currency, indicating that at the time of discovery, U-85 was preparing to land spies on the US coast.

The wreck of the U-85. Click on the image to see the complete wreck (Photo: NOAA).

The bodies of the submarine crew who surfaced were buried with military honors at Hampton National Cemetery in Virginia, where they remain today along with 55 German and 5 Italian prisoners of war who died in captivity in the US. All the rescued corpses of the U-85 crew were identified, you can read their names and dates of birth here.

The 88 mm gun of the U-85, which is still pointed towards the bow, as it was when the submarine was sunk (Photo: Brett Seymour, NPS/NOAA).

The U-85 was the first submarine lost by Germany during the so-called Operation Paukenschlag , the submarine offensive launched by the Third Reich against the US coast in 1942. Germany lost a total of 22 submarines in that operation . German submarines sank a total of 609 ships, mostly merchant ships. It was the golden hour of the German submarines in World War II, which caused heavy losses to the allies.

A sonar image of the wreck of the U-85 (Photo: National Park Service).

The wreck of the U-85 is located at a depth of 30 meters at a distance of 22 kilometers west of Oregon Inlet, in North Carolina. It has become a place frequented by scuba divers, and also by sharks. You can find more data and a 3D recreation of the wreck on NOAA website. Here you can see a video of a diving expedition to the wreck of the U-85 published by Scubabrit in 2011:


Main photo: NOAA.

Don't miss the news and content that interest you. Receive the free daily newsletter in your email:

Opina sobre esta entrada:

Debes iniciar sesión para comentar. Pulsa aquí para iniciar sesión. Si aún no te has registrado, pulsa aquí para registrarte.