UJ-2208 (ex-Alfred) - German Navy (Kriegsmarine) submarine chaser (ex-patrol boat) (ex-trawler).
Built in 1926 by the Ateliers et Chantiers de Bretagne shipyard, it was originally a fishing boat about 65m long and 10m wide. From 01/03/43 it passed to the German Kriegsmarine who converted it into a UJ and assigned it to the 22nd Mediterranean flotilla with the initials U-J2208. During missions, it seems that the UJ-2208 was commanded by Lieutenant Oscar Schmidt.
On the 3rd October 1943, the submarine HMS Sickle surfaced to torpedo the UJ-2208. It launched one torpedo but missed the target, immediately beginning manouvers to re-submerge. The UJ-2208 shot back but did not hit the British submarine as the ship operator failed to locate it precisely underwater.
The next day, the UJ-2208 was back under British fire, but this time as the target of the HMS P-32 Usurper submarine. No one knows what happened to this sub with its crew of 35 men. It never came back and has not yet been found underwater. The registers of the British Navy report the submarine HMS P-32 Usurper as having 'disappeared' in October 1943. Some sources report that the UJ-2208 had been successful in its depth bomb dropping.
On the 20th February 1944 at 19h23, the UJ-2208 accidentally hit a mine from its own minefield! The 61 soldiers of the German crew died and the collision broke the German ship in two parts which sank about 160m from each other, sinking to the muddy sea bed at a depth of -105m. The explosion also involved the Italian steamer Nina, now located a short distance away, sitting at a depth of -116m on the edge of the sea embankment.
This is a difficult and technical dive. Visibility is quite poor (2m - 5m). The wreck (the stern part) is quite small (only half as the bow lies further away) and in navigation position but covered by fishing lines, fishing nets and sharp oysters. The mine hit the ship badly, completely destroying the hull which today looks like a maze of metal sheets and there are some very sharp pieces of metal rising from the seabed like teeth of steel. Navigation and orientation are not so easy.
The line is fixed on the stern which is the nicest part of the wreck. As you arrive, there is a very nice twin artillery piece pointing towards the surface. The body of the gun can be found a few meters lower down, planted on its rotating circular base. The circular shape of the stern that supports the Flack 38 is still easy to identify, although the ship starts to collapse in on itself. Full of crabs and lobsters, the structure now lies on the transom. I would not recommend penetration. As you go lower, behind the stern you can see what is left of the propellers. A single blade remains attached, the others were broken during the impact with the seabed. One lies planted as a totem a few meters away to the left, sheltered by the hull. The smokestack lies parallel to the hull. You can see parts of a hoist also lying in the silt and pipes running alongside the hull.
On the side of the deck you can also find a container which is the exact size of an underwater bomb, ready to be launched and explode... how many are left inside?
Lots of sealife during decompression makes the time pass by faster...
All underwater photos have kindly been provided by Aldo Ferrucci .
A word of warning (again):
The dive reported here is deep mixed hypoxic gas rebreather technical diving and you should not attempt this type of diving unless properly trained and – even more importantly – not unless you have sufficient, real and truly significant experience.
For training, we recommend Aquatiks.
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