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The Sinking of U-593

Source: U-593 interrogation of Survivors Feb. 1944

U-593 was on her fifteenth patrol when she was sunk, having been in commission over two years. During the course of her long history, she claimed the sinking of 15 merchant vessels and the damaging of three others, in addition to sinking three destroyers. Most of her success was achieved in the Mediterranean which she entered on her fourth patrol in late September or early October 1942.

The submarine sailed from Toulon on her fifteenth and last patrol on 3rd December, 1943 at 17:30. Shortly after her departure, it was discovered that both the Junkers compressors and No. 1 group of air bottles were defective, but the CO decided to continue the patrol. Her operational area was some distance south of Majorca.

At 14:00 on 13th December, USS Wainwright and HMS Calpe were carrying out A/S sweeps. At 14:07, Wainwright obtained an Asdic contact on her port beam and at about 14:12 dropped a five charge pattern. Calpe, gained a contact and at 14:30 dropped a ten charge pattern.

Calpe, then turned and made another run while Wainwright maintained contact. At 14:41 Calpe dropped her second ten charge pattern

At about 11:00 on 13th December, 1943, screw noises were reported by the W/T operator, and that's when the crew first realized that they were being hunted by surface craft. At about 14:00, when the U-boat was proceeding at what was described as normal depth,' a pattern of depth-charges were dropped very close to the U-boat, putting her hydro phones, depth gauges and lighting out of action.

The CO immediately gave the order to dive deeper but a second depth charge attack was made before the order could be executed.

A sea inlet for the diesel cooling system was damaged and U-593 began shipping a considerable amount of water.

After this second attack, a curious noise was heard within the U-boat, sounding, according to the CO, like a handful of pebbles thrown against a wall.

The PO Telegraphist suggested that it might have been due to the cross effect of two ships working together with Asdic.

The Engineer officer reported to the CO that U-593 was shipping about 400 litres of water per minute. He misunderstood the message and thinking that only a quarter of a litre of water per minute was entering, decided to remain submerged.

The U-boat quickly became heavy by the stem, however, and it was only when the EO reported that the bilges were flooding and the main motors were in danger, that the CO realised the full extent of the damage.

In an attempt to maintain trim, as many of the crew as could be spared from the controls were ordered to the bow compartment.

The tanks were then blown, but the supply of HP air failed to give the U-boat the necessary buoyancy and she sank still further.

The EO managed to get the main motors running at half speed and the U-boat was brought to the surface, her HP air being almost exhausted. The CO opened the conning tower hatch and saw two destroyers on either beam.

They both immediately opened fire and the CO gave the order to set and fire scuttling charges and abandon ship. After about half the crew had jumped overboard, fire from the destroyers ceased.

Scuttling charges were set in the Diesel Room, the Control Room and the Bow Torpedo Room.

Most of the crew had abandoned ship when one of the destroyers, which had approached to within 500 yds, lowered a motor boat.

In the meantime. The CO and an ERA went below and opened the after torpedo hatch to ensure a more rapid sinking of the boat. The hatch was wedged open with whatever lay to hand to prevent its being shut again.

The EO and one or two senior ratings took machine pistols on the bridge to hold off any boarding party that might have approached the U-boat.

The fuses of the scuttling charges were burning when the CO reappeared on the bridge, just as the motor boat arrived to take him off.

He managed to persuade his captors that the charges were due to blow at any moment and no attempt to board the U-boat was made.

Events had followed one another with such rapidity, that U-593 was unable to signal Control of her sinking.

The U-boat sank at 14:50 and the entire complement of 51 officers and men of the U-boat was picked up by HMS Calpe and USS Wainwright.


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