After we surface, I see a sizable plume of smoke in the distance, more than can be justified by even a large ship. Seems like I hit something sensitive that may be worth investigating further — but after dark. If it ever gets dark in this blasted land of sun, anyway. I’ll just keep plodding along here submerged, since I can also see that escort a bit too starboard as well. A quick check on batteries and CO2 level tells me we’ll be fine for a while; the action against the convoy and subsequent evasion were surprisingly swift. Shifting those external torpedoes will just have to wait.
After the jump: “oops”, or what happens when you forget your XO
I secure from silent running, which means reloading and repairs, should any be necessary, can resume. I have one aft and 3 forward torpedoes to reload, which will take 30 minutes total. I let that time elapse to see if anything changes with the mystery plume, and sure enough — it vanishes over the horizon. Chasing an escorted convoy that isn’t ailing too much, and in the day, is just not going to happen. I resume course for that blasted — what was it? DJ18? — at a leisurely 8 knots on the surface. The fuel gauge bob is getting alarmingly close to half full, and we’re not even there yet. As we surface we vent the boat with fresh air and send half power to batteries for recharge. After they fully recharge we gain another 3 knots from the second engine, now powering the props. While we’re up here, I order the two external torpedoes moved inside for future use. Might as well–
Of course, in the hubbub of tallying targets and prepping for new combat I utterly forgot to post my XO as the lookout and now I pay for it. In this bright and sunny (what else?) day, a warship of some type sneaks up on us and we only spot it when it’s a mere 10k away. I don’t stick around to find out what it is until we’re 60 meters down via crash dive, on silent running, and course altered west, somewhat toward it. If he has ASDIC we shall be hearing from The Other Firm soon. If he doesn’t, silent running and the course change should be enough to let us get away clean.
I sit on the hydrophone and listen for any change; the screws up there are strong and fast, but seem to be moving steadily across. Bearing 51 … 53 … 57 … 63 … these numbers mean that his position relative to us is changing constantly, which is good news. If he was coming straight at us the numbers would be steady and the screws would simply be getting louder. I start to breathe a little easier as they keep moving and…PING!
Crap! That sounds off of our hull means that the ship has just sent out a sonar pulse towards us and got a response. That is, he found us. PING! There aren’t really that many ways to avoid this, but presenting a smaller silhouette will help and since we’re almost side by side when
the ASDIC ping comes in. I order a course change more towards him and depth change to keep him guessing. PING! A minute later we hear the dreaded sound of fast screws pulsating directly overhead — and it’s time to act. Now his own screw sounds will drown out anything we do since we’re now directly behind him. I make a sharp 90-degree turn and dive to 80 meters. Fortunately it appears their range finder is strictly amateur-hour, as a mere two half-hearted depth charges are faintly audible through the hull. Not even close.
I head back to the hydrophone feeling a little more confident and listen. I hear him moving away and then he appears to vanish from existence. I quickly doublecheck that we’re on silent running and all noisy efforts are indeed stopped. I lower the speed manually to 2 knots to get an even smaller sound signature. The lack of noise up there means he’s lost us entirely, and is now sitting still hoping to hear us make a mistake or maybe even fool us into popping up to the surface. I’m on to him though, and wait out a couple of hours while creeping away ever so slowly in the direction he came from. At 6km out I do in fact rise ever-so-slowly to the surface and peer back, still sitting, still waiting.
We have a quiet (silent running, see) laugh about his lack of sonar skillz and slink further away at 1/3 speed. DJ18 is just around the corner.
Up next: you won’t believe what we find at DJ18
Click here for the previous Silent Hunter III entry.
Marcin Manek has been playing games since Pong and BASIC programs from the back of magazines on the ZX Spectrum. He now codes, reads, plays games and explores Oregon with his wife and 1 year old.