Military Review

Operation Caesar. Beginning is the end

The beginning of 1945. In the coastal waters of Norway, a British submarine pursued a German submarine. Both ships sank to a depth, and an unusual situation developed. Until now, no underwater attack of an enemy vessel, also located at depth, has been unsuccessful.

American, British and Canadian troops attacked in western Europe, in the east the Germans pushed the Red Army back, preparing to take East Prussia. To restrain the offensive, Hitler decided to use Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz and his submarines. Nazi Germany wanted to share experimental technologies with Wunderwaffe with Japan.

Germany and Japan are relatively small countries, besides, they were divided by the spheres of influence of the allies, vast territories. It was decided to use submarines. Between July 1944 and January 1945, six submarines delivered strategically important raw materials (tin, rubber or tungsten) from territories occupied by Japan to the Third Reich.

The German U-864 submarine transported one of the Wunderwaffe technologies. Spare parts and schemes for the assembly of Messerschmitt-163 "Comet" and Messerschmitt-262 "Lastochka" were loaded on board. Operations gave the code name "Caesar". Engineers from Messerschmitt also sailed from Germany, including the deputy head of the engineering department Rolf von Hlingensperg and Riklef Schomerus, chief aerodynamics expert for the company's newest jet aircraft department. And two Japanese experts: Toshio Nakai, a specialist in rocket fuel, and Tadao Yamato, an expert in acoustic homing torpedoes. The information needed for mass production ofweapons"They got first hand. Yamato spent four long years in Germany, and Nakai, a graduate of the prestigious Tokyo Imperial University, was one of the best civilian researchers of the Japanese Imperial fleet. The knowledge they gained abroad was vital to Japan’s military objectives and the island state’s reproduction of the technological wonders carried by submarine. Experts hoped that German technology in the hands of Japanese workers would turn the tide of the Pacific War in favor of Japan.

Crew U-864 before sailing.

The U-864 is a highly autonomous submarine of type IX D2, capable of making long-distance trips. Her captain Ralph-Raymar Wolfram was relatively inexperienced and seemed like a curious choice as commander for such an important task. However, by the end of 1944, the losses of the German submarines were such that there were not enough experienced captains. The period that the German submariners called "happy time" when their wolf packs scoured the oceans with impunity ended. Their fleet suffered heavy losses. Now the hunters have become prey.

German missile fighter "Messerschmitt Me 163 Comet"

The crew of the U-864 had to make two stops before heading to distant Asia: a long stay at the naval base Karlyohansvern in the tiny Norwegian village of Horten, near Oslo, and then a one-day stop to receive additional supplies and refuel to the coast in Kristiansand. From there, she had to cross the equator in the South Atlantic, go around the Cape of Good Hope in the Indian Ocean, and then south from Madagascar to Penang in Malaysia - a distance of almost twelve thousand nautical miles.

Underwater tests and certification of diving equipment installed in October 1944 of the year were carried out in Horten. Snorkel would allow her to take in fresh air for the crew and diesel engines, plunging to the depth of the periscope, and thereby overcome long distances unnoticed by the enemy. The Germans first learned about this device in the 1940 year, finding it on a captured Dutch submarine. But only at the end of the war, when advances in the Allied radar technology improved their skills in the long-range detection of submarines, Dönitz ordered to build snorkels into all new boats coming off the assembly line. U-864, commissioned before the order Dönitz, required modification. In Horten, Norway, U-864 spent most of December testing its scuba-diving and diving systems and to some extent the endurance of its crew through a series of repetitively difficult challenges.

Filling up fuel and supplies, U-864 left Kristiansand on December 29 to begin their journey eastward, plying on the surface with two patrol boats as an escort. Soon they parted, the submarine slipped into the periscope depth when it left the Skagerrak.

However, the U-864 did not go far from the coast. Some time later, Wolfram radioed: there was something wrong with the snorkel. The problem was considered serious, the operational command ordered him to go to Farsund, a tiny fishing village about fifty miles to the west of Kristiansand, just past the entrance to the strait.

Operation Caesar. Beginning is the end

German submarines type VII (left) and IX in front of the bunker in Trondheim

For Wolfram, problems suddenly worsened. No sooner had he ordered to turn slowly onto the port side, as the submarine found itself in shallow water and flew at the rocks. The uneven rocks of the Norwegian fjords could easily damage the hull of the ship. Wolfram misjudged the depth or shape of the strait. The fate of the operation "Caesar" and the submarine itself hung in the balance. Wolfram immediately ordered the crew to inspect the submarine, he was informed that there was no internal damage to the hull. The captain of the German submarine was lucky, in the keel of the U-864 carried dangerous cargo - 67 tons of mercury. This is an essential element for the production of weapons. Mercury is often used as a detonator. On board were 1857 vessels, each with two liters of mercury. One vessel weighed about 30 kg. The mercury load replaced most of the lead ballast. Engineers and mechanics in Farsund could not solve the problems associated with snorkel. 1 January 1945, the U-864, went from Farsund to a large Norwegian city in the north. Due to a snorkel breakdown, she was forced to move across the surface under a convoy and slowly moved forward.

The submarine attracted too much attention, although it performed a secret mission. British intelligence officials have already deciphered information intercepted from the Germans. They learned that Germany had sent the Wunderwaffe to Japan. The Allied Command ordered the liquidation of U-864 when the submarine was most vulnerable.

Colossus ("Colossus"), a tube computer used to break ciphers in Bletchley Park

8 February 1945 German U-864 submarine under the command of Wolfram left Bergen after repair. Wolfram headed for the Shetland Islands: 160 km north of Scotland. But soon a problem arose: one of the engines of the submarine worked intermittently. Loud intermittent vibrations, a gradual decrease in engine performance and, over time, perhaps even complete breakdown. The disappointment aboard the submarine should have been palpable. Not only could the noise of the engine attract the attention of the enemy, but a breakdown in remote waters, far from any hope of help, would be catastrophic. Wolfram immediately contacted the command to report his position. He was ordered to dive in and expect an escort escort.

Bunker submarines "Bruno" in Bergen

2 February 1945 The Venturer submarine under the command of 25-year-old Lieutenant James H. Londers left the submarine base Lerwick. The Venturer is a Class V submarine from a series of maneuverable, small-sized submarines developed by the Royal Navy for use in coastal waters; in size they did not reach even half the size of the U-864. Londers and his 36 team had combat experience - in November 1944 of the year they sank U-771 during their surface voyage in Andfjorde in Northern Norway.

HMS Venturer under the command of Lieutenant James Stuart Londers

It was planned to carry out the operation near the southern port of Bergen. Patrolling these waters, it was possible to intercept the German ships when they returned to the base. When the Venturer reached the site, the crew received an encrypted message from headquarters. An order was issued to patrol the coastal waters off Fedier Island. Londers was ordered to step back to Fedier and was directly on the way to U-864.

On the morning of February 9 1945, the acoustics on the Venturer heard a faint noise. Around 10: 00 his first lieutenant in the periscope discovered a submarine at the moment when the commander of the U-864 was looking for his ships in the periscope to escort to the base. U-864 was moving under one diesel engine using snorkel. But there was not enough data to attack. In addition to bearing on the target, a distance was required, and preferably a course and speed. An unusually long period for the submarine followed the period of determining the elements of the movement of the target. Venturer went parallel and to the right. Both boats were in a situation for which the crews were not prepared. Londers expected U-864 to pop up and thus provide him with an easy target. But it became clear that the enemy is not going to emerge and is going, using a zigzag. According to indirect data (change of bearing depending on his own maneuvers) Londers gradually gained distance from the target and was able to estimate the speed and length of the zigzag's knees. For calculations, he used his own invention tool, essentially a specialized logarithmic scale of a circular type. After the war, both the tool and the method of launching the attack on bearings became the standard. The method later formed the basis of the algorithm for solving the 3-dimensional torpedo firing problem. From time to time both boats risked raising the periscope. Londers used this to refine the bearings. After a three-hour pursuit of the German submarine, Captain Venturer James Lauders decided to take a risk based on the movements of U-864. The risk was justified. Upon hearing the launch of the torpedoes, the U-864 team undertook evasive maneuvers, avoiding the first three torpedoes, but the fourth hit the target. The explosion broke the hull of the boat in half. All crew member 73 died; no one escaped. It was the first time that one submarine sank the other, while both were submerged.

Lerwick. On the Shetland Islands.

In April, 1945, Admiral Karl Dönitz sent a second transport submarine to the Far East in roughly the same direction as the U-864. Type XB U-234 carried a lot of “Wunderwaffe” among 240 tons of cargo, as well as a dozen long-term passengers, including two Japanese naval engineers.

10 May U-234 surfaced, and the captain received the final order of Dönitz for surrender. Captain-Lieutenant Feler will obey the order and capitulate 17 May in front of a pair of American destroyers south of the Grand Banks. Shortly before the arrival of the American boarding group, Japanese engineers retired to their cabins and committed suicide.

When the Americans searched the submarine, half a ton of uranium oxide was found on board along with the rest of the cargo. The further fate and nature of the cargo is unknown to the present.

The Norwegian fleet discovered the shipwreck of a German U-864 submarine from World War II in March 2003. Since then, there have been debates, polls and political discussions about how best to deal with pollution from mercury cargo in a sunken submarine and the surrounding seabed. In 2014, the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) conducted a survey of the sunken boat and presented a thorough study of measures to prevent mercury contamination. The survey showed that containers with mercury gradually corroded in seawater. Removal of debris and contaminated masses from the seabed near the wreck will spread pollution beyond the already affected area. The burial of the boat under the 12-meter layer of sand is the best and most environmentally friendly solution.

U-864 wreckage on the seabed

The Norwegian government decided on the basis of numerous reports and studies conducted by the NCA with the support of a wide range of experts who concluded that disposal is the best and most environmentally friendly solution for U-864. At 2019, the year 30 million NOK has been allocated for engineering, tender and general preparatory work. The capping is likely to be completed by the summer of 2020.

Mercury container

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  1. Conductor
    Conductor 16 December 2018 07: 33
    Thanks for the info. Why didn’t they take the boat of the 21st series, or they still have not passed the tests at that time *?
    1. Phil77
      Phil77 16 December 2018 08: 06
      The only boat of this series that conditionally took part in hostilities was U-2511, why did it conditionally?
      1. Conductor
        Conductor 16 December 2018 08: 19
        And whether the first boat was already 21 at the beginning of May, crept to the cruiser Norfolk, which was part of the convoy, and conditionally carried out a torpedo attack. Then she gave up.
        1. Phil77
          Phil77 16 December 2018 08: 26
          Well, yes, she. There the captain did not dare to launch a torpedo attack, but it can be understood. The war is already lost!
          1. Conductor
            Conductor 16 December 2018 09: 13
            So not only that, he then, the German captain, broke up and the attack led the British and the F.A.L.L. to form.
    2. bubalik
      16 December 2018 08: 30
      ,, for 1944— 1945 collected 118 submarines XXI series. However, only U-2511 and U-3008 were ready for combat missions. This is due to the fact that after the submarine left the factory, 3-month tests were envisaged, and then another 6-month combat training course.
      1. Phil77
        Phil77 16 December 2018 08: 35
        Exactly! I forgot about 3008! Thank you! Well, the Germans knew how to do submarines, you can’t take this from them. Experience, however.
        1. Phil77
          Phil77 16 December 2018 08: 57
          But such a question. After all, there are a lot of vessels in the Baltic that have been flooded with our German allies * by our * allies * in the 45th. They have already been buried, or they prefer not to bashfully remember them?
          1. Sergei75
            Sergei75 16 December 2018 09: 36
            And how much chemical weapons were disposed of in this way?
            1. bubalik
              16 December 2018 09: 42
              And how much chemical weapons were disposed of in this way?

              ,, then did not "bother" with solving the problem sad

              According to published information found in the territory of West Germany chemical weapons, the British and American occupying forces flooded the coastal waters of Western Europe in 4-x regions: in Skagerrak near the Swedish port Lyusekil, in the Norwegian deep-water near Arendal, between the mainland and the Danish island of Fyn and not far from Skagen, the northernmost point of Denmark. In total, around 6 302 tons of various toxic agents were buried in 875 areas on the seabed, or approximately 1 / 5 part of the total supply of toxic substances. In addition, at least 120 thousand tons of various chemical weapons were flooded in unidentified places on the territory of the Atlantic and in the western part of the English Channel, and at least 25 thousand tons of chemical weapons were exported to the USSR.
  2. K-50
    K-50 16 December 2018 09: 13
    in the east of the Germans pushed the Red Army

    Not pushed aside, and drove in the tail and mane !!! am
    1. Phil77
      Phil77 16 December 2018 09: 14
      Excellent clarification !!! hi
  3. Sergei75
    Sergei75 16 December 2018 09: 36
    Yes, it seems that the mercury container is not weak, it could have been raised, and still you have to solve the problem, well, after another 100-150 years, only it will be much more complicated.
    1. bubalik
      1 January 2019 14: 07
      Sergei75 (Sergey) 16 December 2018 10: 36
      Yes, like a container with mercury is not weak, it was possible to raise,

      ,,, there is a suspicion that the mercury on board U-864 was treated in a special way and remains very dangerous. Norwegians have put forward all possible excuses not to raise mercury. The fact that the submarine should be buried in 12 meters below the seabed, possibly in a concrete sarcophagus, speaks of radioactivity. belay
      1. bubalik
        1 January 2019 14: 38
        “It’s also interesting with the U-859 boat of the sunk 23 September 1944 of the year near Penang in the Strait of Malacca.
        In 1972, six divers (three Britons, one Australian and two Malaysians), on the Bluff Creek, lifted 12 tons of mercury and transferred them to Singapore.

        The West German Embassy claimed ownership of mercury. Receiver of Wreck seized mercury, and the High Court of Singapore ruled that "the German state never ceased to exist, despite the unconditional surrender of Germany in 1945, and what was the property of the German state, unless it was seized and seized by one of the Allied the powers still remain the property of the German state ... "
        Greenwood, CJ (1980). Reports on international law: t.56. Cambridge University Press.

        Divers subsequently kicked out the Malaysian military, but wink West German authorities have granted disposal rights to a so-called recycling company based in Ulm but registered in Luxembourg. Later, a trawler registered in Yugoslavia, with a German diving team on board, proceeded to completely destroy the sunken ship with explosives. I wonder why? winked
  4. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 16 December 2018 09: 51
    Thank you ... Very informative and interesting.
  5. Trilobite Master
    Trilobite Master 16 December 2018 12: 25
    Good article.
    It is strange that it was published here and not in "History". I do not understand the logic according to which articles are divided into sections. request
    1. bubalik
      16 December 2018 12: 50
      I do not understand the logic according to which articles are divided into sections.

      here I thought the same that in the section there will be history, for the second time already in the "opinions" they send ,, laughing
      1. 3x3zsave
        3x3zsave 16 December 2018 20: 08
        Comrades, I will diagnose the resource. "Acute obstruction of the creativity of individual authors, against the background of aallergic reaction to criticism of the main ones." Epicrisis, I think, the compiler themselves.
  6. Brylevsky
    Brylevsky 16 December 2018 13: 32
    there was not enough data to attack. In addition to bearing on the target, a distance was required, and preferably, a course and speed.

    The bearing and distance is sufficient to determine the elements of the target's movement (its course and speed, heading angle) and, ultimately, to calculate the "torpedo triangle".
    According to indirect data (bearing change depending on their own maneuvers), Londers gradually got the distance to the target and was able to estimate the speed and knee length of the zigzag.

    Without knowing the speed of the target, it is impossible to determine the distance along the fan of the bearings to it. I think the commander of the British boat successfully guessed the speed of the German, which gave him the opportunity to determine the missing element of the triangle - the distance. I also think that he had no confidence in the accuracy of determining the distance until the torpedo hit the target. This is indirectly confirmed by the fact that he fired four torpedoes - each distance requires its own lead angle ...
    1. Reserve buildbat
      Reserve buildbat 17 December 2018 20: 48
      British and mattress submariners fired a full salvo ALWAYS. If he had 20 TA in his nose, he would have fired 20 torpedoes. They received awards from the manufacturer of torpedoes for each launch.
  7. dgonni
    dgonni 16 December 2018 13: 45
    The author missed the most important thing! The attitude of the state towards the environmental aspect!
  8. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 16 December 2018 14: 40
    Very interesting article. But what a Japanese engineers’s samurai spirit is, everyone killed on U-234!
    1. Gray brother
      Gray brother 16 December 2018 18: 44
      Quote: Aviator_
      all killed on the U-234!

      Or they killed themselves, as prescribed.
  9. wax
    wax 16 December 2018 16: 27
    As a result, all this mercury will be in fish and other marine life.
  10. Catfish
    Catfish 16 December 2018 23: 31
    All this fuss with sending some "wunderwaffe" on a submarine resembles the convulsions of an agonizing one. For the Japanese, these new aircraft are like a dead poultice - only to plant kamikaze on them. A worthless and useless operation. Even the submarine itself "figured out" that well, this is Japan, that's why there were constant failures. smile But the British commander did well, famously shot himself in a difficult situation.
    The information is interesting and many thanks to the author. hi
  11. Brylevsky
    Brylevsky 18 December 2018 11: 07
    Quote: Stroibat stock
    They received bonuses from the manufacturer of torpedoes for each launch.

    I also read about something similar. "Requiem for a caravan ..." V. Pikul ... I don't know how true this is, in the economic plane of the issue I am not strong. I just wanted to say that without knowing the speed of the target, it is impossible to determine the distance to it by the fan of bearings. And this is where the most interesting thing begins ... The fact is that to determine the distance (I'm talking about the sea now) either the active location or the "thousandth" formula is used. The article says that the German was walking under the snorkel. The British, as I understand it, did not have a sonar and radar ... Two options come to my mind: 1) The commander of the British boat could be aware of the maximum speed at which the boat can go in the RDP mode. Knowing the target's speed, a series of bearings can be used to determine the distance and use it in the future to calculate the attack; 2) The commander of a British boat could be do not know, with what maximum speed the boat can go in the RDP mode. The article states that he observed the target through a periscope. And this means that he could have only one landmark - a snorkel pipe sticking out above the water. I think that the Briton knew the height of the snorkel ... you never know, the reconnaissance worked, or the British themselves did it, based on the diameter of the boat's hull and the height of its deckhouse ... The submarine's periscope has a rangefinder scale, but to use it, you need to know the geometric the dimensions of the target, as a rule, its height from the waterline to the top of the mast. I think that the Briton "caught" a part of the snorkel protruding from the water: let's say, he assumed that he saw half the length of this "pipe". And this is a very specific figure in meters ... That's it. To calculate the distance according to the "thousandth" formula, nothing else is needed. Only the size of the target and the angle that the target covers in the rangefinder scale grid ... Of course, all of the above is just my guess. Only I don’t know any other way to determine the distance in those conditions ... If anyone has infa on the details of that battle, please give. I will be grateful...
  12. Arthur 85
    Arthur 85 18 September 2019 12: 03
    Even if these boats had reached Japan, it would have helped nothing. Although it’s strange what can break in a snorkel, it’s essentially two pipes. Well, okay, with a check valve, so as not to "sip" water.