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Author Topic: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!  (Read 9733 times)

Colin Bishop

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German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« on: April 15, 2016, 10:07:33 pm »

The wrecks of two WW1 German destroyers brought to Britain after the war have been discovered in Portsmouth Dockyard.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/36058154

It seems that no one realised what they were.

Colin
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furball

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2016, 10:46:18 pm »

One of them is quite visible on Google Earth, just off the southern end of Whale Island, opposite the Condor Ferries freight terminal.


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BFSMP

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2016, 11:30:44 pm »

You can also see the faint outline of one that was beached on the Island of Sanday in the Orkney Isles.

She broke loose from tow in the very early 1920s whilst on her way to breakers and now lies submerged at all but the very lowest of tides.

You can make out her faint outline at 59* 15' 03.15" N   2*30' 05.50" W

I don't know what condition she is in now but 30 years ago her superstructure could still be seen.

Jim.
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TheLongBuild

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2016, 08:32:22 am »

The wrecks of two WW1 German destroyers brought to Britain after the war have been discovered in Portsmouth Dockyard.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/36058154

It seems that no one realised what they were.

Colin


How can the Royal Navy loose 2 vessels in their own back yard !!

NFMike

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2016, 09:04:42 am »


How can the Royal Navy loose 2 vessels in their own back yard !!

Errr, you do realise this is a branch of government you're talking about?

raflaunches

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2016, 09:30:03 am »

Its more likely that they knew exactly what they were once but the current people in charge doesn't, history being forgotten, or not remembered correctly. Or they've been concentrating on their jobs defending the country than worrying about two old wrecks (shocking I know!) but warship wrecks appear everywhere in un-expected places. One I read about was a wreck discovered off the coast of Cyprus, even the well known author DK Brown was called in to investigate it as nobody knew what she was. Turned out to be the insect class gunboat HMS Cricket which was sunk post WW2 by the RAF as a target vessel. Recent history less than 40 years old at the time of the discovery of the wreck proves that it doesn't take long to loose track or forget about vessels that military should know about.
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warspite

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2016, 10:33:30 am »

Are they the wrecks right next to HMS Bristol?
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TheLongBuild

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2016, 10:46:58 am »

This has made me think, Are there any Royal Navy vessels still unaccounted for after WW! & WW2 ?

raflaunches

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2016, 11:00:46 am »

The most recent discovery that I am aware of to account for a missing WW2 allied vessel that disappeared in 'mysterious circumstances' was the HMAS Sydney- modified Leander class Light Cruiser, but after a long search which lasted until about five years ago the truth was found. Sydney engaged a (or possibly two) German Q-ship at close range and and as a result both vessels were sunk. The theory that there was a second q-ship was the discovery that the damage to the Sydney was quite bad to have come from one enemy vessel.
There must be more that are unaccounted for...
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Nick B

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raflaunches

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2016, 11:07:51 am »

Found a couple of RN subs:


HMS Urge
HMS Upholder- Lt-Cmdr Wanklyn


both missing in the Mediterranean presumed sunk by enemy action. Urge may have been possibly been discovered but the location of Upholder is still unknown
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Colin Bishop

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2016, 11:29:24 am »

Yes, the destroyer wrecks are very close to HMS Bristol.

Nick, re HMAS Sydney, I rather doubt if there was another raider involved in the action. There are some very interesting reports online about the circumstances of the ship's loss and her rediscovery.

Very briefly, as you will know, the Australian captain let his guard down so Kormoran had the advantage of surprise and got the first shots in, one of them destroying Sydney's bridge, probably killing most of the senior officers and knocking out her fire control. Further hits disabled the forward turrets and a torpedo pretty much blew off the bow. It was one of Sydney's after turrets, X I think, which actually scored the hits that eventually sunk Kormoran firing in local control at her waterline.

Although it seems an unequal encounter, the odds were actually much more balanced than you might suppose. Kormoran had at lest three 5.9s able to bear on Sydney while the cruiser, with perhaps half her main armament out of action and not under command after the initial surprise was unable to make an effective defence except for X turret. The range was short so it is probable that Kormoran's lighter armament interfered with attempts to use the Sydney's 4 inch guns which were reportedly not manned at the commencement of the action.

Light cruisers had very little armour, just a thin belt and magazine protection while the gunhouses were only splinterproof.

The facts, insofar as they are known, are quite well summed up in the Wiki article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_between_HMAS_Sydney_and_German_auxiliary_cruiser_Kormoran which draws on a number of sources and appears to be consistent with the state of Sydney's wreck.

Colin
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TheLongBuild

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2016, 12:49:03 pm »

Interesting account.. Still puzzled as to why no survivors at all from the Sydney which was by all accounts still under power after the attack. 

Colin Bishop

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2016, 01:46:29 pm »

Yes, odd that there were no survivors or significant wreckage although there are reports that a carley float with a body was recovered which might have come from Sydney but this has not been confirmed.

The assumption appears to be that the bow suddenly fell off and the ship sank quickly afterwards, the wreck does not show signs of a major magazine explosion but the ship was badly on fire when last seen and possibly not under control. Any survivors would have been in the water for up to a week before the search would have found them. In the case of USS Indianapolis where there was also a delay in rescue arriving it only took four days for the survivor count to reduce from around 900 to 300. One of the photos of the wreck shows some of the ship's boats, possibly these were either damaged or on fire and could not be lowered.

Kormoran's survivors were luckier as the ship was not so badly damaged as Sydney and took a while to sink thus enabling an organised evacuation.

I have just found the official final report which makes very interesting reading: http://www.defence.gov.au/sydneyii/finalreport/Report/Chapter%2012.pdf It incluses an analysis of the damage to the wreck.

Colin
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Colin Bishop

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2016, 02:35:34 pm »

Full official report here: http://www.defence.gov.au/sydneyii/FinalReport/

The earlier extract in the link in my last post makes very sobering reading.

Colin
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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2016, 12:57:36 am »

Yes Colin......it is a very sobering issue..........many many years ago...[my supervisor] the senior weapons engineering foreman at Garden Island Naval Dockyard related to me about the ill understood loss of all on-board HMAS Sydney including his elder brother who was a junior Weapons Artificer in the B Turret of Sydney ........ Derek
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Colin Bishop

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2016, 10:42:56 am »

I spent a large part of yesterday afternoon reading the full official report and its sections and was amazed at the effort that has gone into reconstructing the engagement based on all the sources of information. The photos of the wreck showing battle damage and the animated reconstructions were particularly impressive. Short of getting a DNA match for the poor soul recovered from Christmas Island that surely must be the last word on the subject.

It was a fatal mistake for Sydney to get so close to the Kormoran as it enabled the raider to target individual parts of the cruiser such as the bridge and turrets and use her light weapons to suppress efforts by Sydney to use her secondary armament and torpedo tubes. Sydney must have been effectively neutralised as a fighting ship within moments of the action starting and when it ended the report states that probably 70% of her crew would have been casualties. Sydney was hit over 80 times but apparently only inflicted half a dozen hits at most on Kormoran although they were enough to disable and eventually sink her.

Colin
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raflaunches

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2016, 11:01:39 am »

For those who want to know more on the subject there is a good book on the subject called Sydney, Cipher and Search: Solving the Last Great Naval Mystery of the Second World War by Capt Peter Hore.
I'm sure that in an issue of Britain at War magazine covered the discovery of the wreck of the Sydney and the Cormorant not long after the actual discovery.
I'm currently reading a lot about this theatre of war both WW1 and WW2 as it seems to be the forgotten war zone. There was a battle at Penang which is largely forgotten but SMS Emden sunk two warships there in her epic voyage before her demise by the guns of the HMAS Sydney (WW1 version) at the Cocos Islands.
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Nick B

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2016, 05:27:21 am »

This has made me think, Are there any Royal Navy vessels still unaccounted for after WW! & WW2 ?




HMAS AE1. Lost at sea 14th Sept 1914. Wreck has never been located.


http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-ae1
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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2016, 06:04:09 pm »

Its more likely that they knew exactly what they were once but the current people in charge doesn't, history being forgotten, or not remembered correctly. Or they've been concentrating on their jobs defending the country than worrying about two old wrecks (shocking I know!) but warship wrecks appear everywhere in un-expected places. One I read about was a wreck discovered off the coast of Cyprus, even the well known author DK Brown was called in to investigate it as nobody knew what she was. Turned out to be the insect class gunboat HMS Cricket which was sunk post WW2 by the RAF as a target vessel. Recent history less than 40 years old at the time of the discovery of the wreck proves that it doesn't take long to loose track or forget about vessels that military should know about.

Would HMS Cricket be recoverable? I suppose the RAF did hit her and blew the side plates in????
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Colin Bishop

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2016, 06:10:55 pm »

Probably not much of Cricket left by now. Even the big Jutland wrecks are collapsing in on themselves and rusting away. Nobody would put up the money anyway.

Colin
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TheLongBuild

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2016, 06:45:09 pm »




HMAS AE1. Lost at sea 14th Sept 1914. Wreck has never been located.


http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-ae1
Interesting to see that HMAS Sydney went to look for her, another vessel with all lost..

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2016, 10:02:47 pm »

I believe there is a dive club in Cyprus who regularly dive on Cricket, one of the few things that identified her was the typical WW1 style bow and the triple rudders with tunnels as she is upside down. Probably not viable for recovery mainly due to the original thickness of the hull plating in places was only 3mm!
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Nick B

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2016, 10:06:13 pm »

Such a shame especially as she isn't a war grave (I assume) given her statis as target. Hurrah for model making. That's all I can say.
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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2016, 10:06:44 pm »

Wasn't there another British sub of the post war A class that disappeared without trace and is the last Royal Navy vessel not yet found or did they find her- can't remember?
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Nick B

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raflaunches

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Re: German WW1 destroyer wrecks discovered at Portsmouth!
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2016, 10:13:00 pm »

Such a shame especially as she isn't a war grave (I assume) given her statis as target. Hurrah for model making. That's all I can say.

There was no one on board as she was a target but I think some were killed or at least badly injured when she was disabled in WW2 during the targeting of the five Insect class gunboats in 1941. Ladybird was sunk by dive bombers, Gnat was targeted but missed until Nov 1941 when she was torpedoed by a U-boat and towed back to Alexandria, and Cricket just survived sinking but had her stern blown off. There was rumours that Gnat and Cricket were going to be joined together with the better parts of each like the Zubian but it never happened.
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Nick B

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