Target: U2511 - Type XXI
Depth: 69 metres
Weather and sea conditions: Sunny, wind 3 NW
Underwater visibility: 20-30m
The wreck of U2511 was located and dived by our skipper Al Wright (see Meet the Team) in 1999. Since then, it had not been re-visited until this month. Today the Operation Deadlight Expedition dived the wreck and photographed and videoed it extensively.
Diving at midday in bright sunshine, the wreck was visible from 45 metres on descent!! It was possible to see the entire submarine lying on a white sand bottom, clearly recognisable as Adalbert Schnee's U2511.
A tour of this wreck reveals that it lies on its port side and is essentially completely intact. The point section of the bows has gone and the divers could see all six of the torpedo tubes pointing forward. Continuing along the hull, the torpedo-loading hatch was open. Passing that, the massive conning tower, which dominates the wreck, came into view. The forward flak turret is still in place, looking absolutely spectacular, as did the slightly raised sky periscope. The conning tower hatch was open, as was the hatch that led to the stern flak turret. This has fallen off the tower and lies upside down on the seabed. Aft of the tower, the wreck is complete, all the way to the stern, where the hydroplanes and single rudder are still in position.
U2511 was sunk by gunfire, after her towing cable broke. There is a sizable blast hole in her starboard side, alongside the tower. Swimming into this hole reveals a mass of cabling and many batteries all along the keel section of the wreck. Looking forward, the divers could see the open bulkhead door leading to the forward compartment.
This was one of the most spectacular U-boat dives I have ever done (I have dived more than 40). It is a rare sight indeed to have the visibility to see an entire submarine in view at 69 metres. This was made all the more significant by the fact that the wreck was U2511, the only Type XXI to approach an allied navy convoy.
U2511 is perhaps the most historically important U-boat wreck of the Deadlight fleet. She has now been photographed and filmed for posterity. A spectacular, if salutary reminder of the massive jump in submarine design and technology made during World War Two.
Tomorrow we hope to be able to locate U2506, the other diveable Type XXI in these waters . We'll keep you all posted.
When one looks at photos of U2511 in Norway, or at Deadlight, she appears to be a light grey, even white, when the other Type XXIs around her seem to be painted in the standard navy-issue grey. My friend, Jak Mallman-Showell explained that, Adi Schnee had taken a ride in an aircraft over his base in Norway and seen the way that the XXIs stood out from above. He then decided to re-paint U2511 with a brighter colour to afford it a higher degree of camouflage.
As with any of the U-boats that I have dived, I welcome correspondence with crewmembers and their families.