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Friday, October 7, 2011

THE SINKING OF THE BLOCK ISLAND


Kapitanleutnant Detlev Krankenhagen could barely believe his good fortune. Thanks to the drifting patches of fog he had easily maneuvered U-549 through Task Group 21.11's outer ring of destroyer-escorts. Finding himself virtually in the middle of one of the most feared American antisubmarine hunter-killer teams prowling the Atlantic, Krankenhagen blinked his eyes in disbelief. Squarely in front of submerged U-549, a near-new type IX-C boat, was the flat-decked silhouette of an aircraft carrier in his periscope’s cross-hairs. 

After days of being relentlessly stalked by the American hunter-killer teams of aircraft and surface warships, the tables had suddenly reversed. Now it was U-549's turn to become the hunter, rather than the prey.

“Range 2,200 meters....closing fast on bearing 249 degrees,” Krankenhagen growled in a voice pitched with excitement. The bows of alignment with his target - the approach angle of both vessels - hunter and hunted, accidental as it was, could not have been better for a sure-shot kill. But U-549's skipper was not taking any chances.
  
“Prepare to fire tubes one, three and four,” he ordered. Sweeping the attack periscope’s optical snout across the horizon in the fading twilight he searched for signs of the carrier’s escorting screen of destroyers. No, the fast darkening sky revealed no other ships bearing down on them; no pesky carrier planes in sight. For once, Krankenhagen’s luck was holding.  The squat, low-lying escort carrier USS Block Island (CVE-21) was his for the taking.  From the corner of his eye he watched the torpedo’s final setting crank into the S-3 computer.

Raising his hand in readiness, the captain noted that the time was 2013 hours, the date May 29, 1944. He squinted into the periscope. “Torpedoes, fire!” He calmly ordered, confident that at so close a range the deadly trio of “tin fish” would run straight and true toward their objective.

If your wanting to know what actually took place after all of the above...well just click: HERE
and it'll all be laid out for you...  Not a pretty picture of events....but unfortunately it is what happens in a war.

Hope you enjoy the article.