U-869

U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL. October 2005. © Jeremy Atherton, 2005.

U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL. October 2005.
© Jeremy Atherton, 2005.

In both Shadow Divers and The Last Dive the main dive objective was to discover the identity of an unknown U-Boat located 60 miles off of the coast of New Jersey. It’s approximate location is given as 39°32′56″N 73°19′56″W. Before the identity of the U-Boat was uncovered it was given the nickname U-Who. Although the wreck was discovered in 1991, its identity was not revealed to John Chatterton and Richie Kohler until 6 years later when the discovered a tag with the subs name on it: the U-Who was actually the U-869.

A sketch of the destroyed U-869

A sketch of the destroyed U-869

U-869 rests at a depth of 73m/240ft, almost twice the recreational recommended depth. It was a German Type IXC/40 submarine, which puts it was in the same class as U-505 (see above photo) which is located at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Perhaps the U-505 is worth a visit one day?

There has been some controversy over how the U-869 sank. Chatterton and Kohler concluded that the most logical reason for its sinking was due to it being hit by one of its own torpedoes that circled around and locked on to the sounds of its engines. Gary Gentile, another well noted and respected wreck diver, disagrees with Chatterton and Kohler. He believes that it had been sunk by two United States destroyers. This is also now the official stance of the USCG, as the two holes in the wreck support two explosions rather than just one from an errant torpedo.

You can watch a PBS/NOVA Documentary here  about the U-869 (though the audio is out of sync). Or if you prefer you can read a very interesting article about it here.

Would I dive it? I am not sure. I have a friend who regularly dives the HMS Stubborn and has recently ventured inside. Having read the accounts of the divers in both Shadow Divers and The Last Dive, it takes a very special type of diver to risk going into a confined space like that. If you look at this video you can see the size of the restriction that he is entering into. I wouldn’t want to get stuck in there…it would be deadly.

Just recently another IXC/40 was discovered off of the coast of Indonesia and you can read more about it here. It is believed to be U-168.

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