navy boats

10

AK-223 is a Project 1204 “Shmel” heavily-armoured riverine patrol boat, designed for patrol duties on rivers and lakes, vessels and boats combat sweep, artillery shooting assistance for ground forces; troops with with armament carrying during crossing and acting in river basins; largely unsuitable for open seas operations, but can be used for protecting harbors and acting littoral and shallow-water seas areas.

2

“British pilot rescued after Pacific action. June 1945, on board a carrier of the British Pacific Fleet operating against the Japanese. A British naval pilot who was shot down close inshore was rescued by a Supermarine Walrus amphibian aircraft which landed under the guns of Japanese coastal batteries, picked up the Avenger pilot and returned him to the deck of the carrier.”

(IWM: A 29813, A 29719)

4

The Cuban Navy and the sinking of the U-176, World War II

During World War II the Cuban Navy did not have a large role within the Allied Forces.  Mainly the Cuban Navy performed patrols of the Caribbean for U-Boats, conducted rescue missions, and escorted merchant ships.  However, during the war Cuba would take part in one notable combat action which would result in the sinking of the German U-Boat, the only kill claimed by the Cuban military during the war.

On the 15th of May, 1943 a Cuban and Honduran merchant vessel set sail from the Cuban port of Sagua Grande while escorted by three submarine chasers.  The submarine chasers were large speedboats donated to the Cuban Navy by the United States.  While small and lightly armed, the boats were perfect for anti-submarine actions as they were very fast, so fast that they could easily chase down a submerged submarine and drop it’s cargo of depth charges on a U-Boat

Unbeknownst to the small convoy, the German submarine U-176 shadowed the fleet.  Commanded by Korvettencapitan Reiner Dierksen, the U-176 claimed 10 ships sunk throughout it’s career.  Among the victims were the Cuban merchant ships Mambi and Nickeliner, resulting in the deaths of 23 Cuban sailors.  Capt. Dierksen intended to add two more notches on his periscope and continued stalking the Allied merchant ships.

As the U-176 stalked its prey in the Caribbean, the Cuban Navy brought into play the ace up its sleeve, an American Kingfisher floatplane, a special amphibious patrol plane that could takeoff and land in water.  From water level a German U-boat could easily hide below the waves, but when viewed from a thousand feet in the air the submarine was a sitting duck.

The kingfisher patrol plane spotted the U-176 and dropped a smoke buoy on its position.  The submarine chaser CS-13, under the command of Ensign Mario Ramirez Delgado peeled off from the convoy to investigate the area.  After making hydro acoustic contact with the U-boat, which was diving to escape attack, Delgado ordered depth charges to be released.  The first two charges detonated normally, throwing up columns of white foam and spray.  The third charge struck near U-176 with an audible clang at 250 feet.  Delgado ordered a fourth depth charge fired immediately.  The fourth charge struck directly on U-176’s torpedo room, causing a massive explosion that lifted the submarine chaser’s stern into the air.  After the fatal blow the remains of the U-176 sank to the bottom of the Caribbean at a depth of 500 feet, taking all crew with her.  A large oil slick confirmed the destruction of U-176, which was conclusively verified after German naval records were captured at the end of the war.

For his part in the command of sub chaser CS-13 Ensign Delgado  received the Medal of Naval Merit with Distinctive Red (Cuba), the Medal of Congress (United States), and a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant.  During the war he charted over 15,000 miles while escorting Allied convoys through the Caribbean.

The sinking of the U-176 would be the only combat action Cuba would participate in during World War II.

vimeo

As you cross the landscape of central North America, the City of Chicago seems to rise up out of nowhere - you’re surrounded by flat, recently glaciated plains and all of a sudden at the boundary between a river and a lake these enormous steel structures rise up into the sky. This video clip explores that urban landscape from the sky.

“A Supermarine Walrus amphibious aircraft taxiing up to HMS Warspite after returning from a sweep in the Indian Ocean. A crew member is sitting on the top wing to the winch cable to the aircraft when it arrives alongside the battleship. An Illustrious-class aircraft carrier can be seen moored in the background. Alongside her is another vessel, possibly a hospital ship, and HMS Ludlow. A cruiser is moored aft of these vessels and a motor cutter is making its way from this group of ships towards the camera.”

(IWM: A 10650)