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Unterseeboot 190

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Career
Laid down:7 October 1941
Launched:3 June 1942
Commissioned:24 September 1942
Fate:surrendered to and scuttled by Canada
General Characteristics
Unterseeboot 190 (U-190) was a Type IXC/40 U-boat of the Kriegsmarine. Her keel was laid down on 7 October 1941 by AG Weser of Bremen. She was was launched on 3 June 1942 and commissioned on 24 September 1942 with Kapitänleutnant Max Wintermeyer in command. On 6 July 1944 Wintermeyer was relieved by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Erwin Reith who commanded the boat for the rest of her career in the Kriegsmarine.

U-190 conducted six war patrols, sinking two ships for a total of 7605 tons. The first was the 7015-ton cargo ship Empire Lakeland, sunk on 8 March 1943, one week into U-190's first war patrol. The next four war patrols were unsuccessful.

U-190's final war patrol began on 22 February 1945. She left Norway equipped with six contact torpedoes and eight T-5 "Gnat" acoustic torpedoes. Her mission was to interdict Allied shipping off Sable Island and in the approaches to Halifax harbor. On 16 April she was keeping station off the Sambro light ship[?] when her crew heard ASDIC pinging.

The minesweeper HMCS Esquimault[?] was conducting a routine patrol of the harbor. She was employing none of the mandatory anti-submarine precautions: she was not zig-zagging; she had not streamed her towed decoy, designed as a countermeasure against Gnat torpedoes; she had turned off her radar. The U-boat crew was sure that they had been detected, and when Esquimault turned toward them, U-190 turned to run and fired one Gnat torpedo from a stern tube.

The torpedo struck Esquimault's starboard side. She sank within four minutes, the last Canadian vessel to be lost due to enemy action in World War II. While eight of her crew went down with her, the remainder survived the immediate disaster. Esquimault sank so rapidly, however, that no distress signals were sent, and no one knew of the sinking until some eight hours later when

HMCS Sarnia[?] first discovered the survivors. During the delay 44 crewmen had died of exposure, leaving only 26 still alive.

U-190 escaped the area and remained on patrol off the Canadian coast until she received Führer Karl Dönitz's 8 May order to surrender. The boat met Canadian corvettes some 500 miles off Cape Race[?], Newfoundland on 11 May. Oblt. Reith signed a document of unconditional surrender, and was taken prisoner with his crew. With the white ensign flying from her masthead, U-190 sailed under the command of Lieutenant Peter Woods into Bay Bulls, Newfoundland[?], on 14 May. The prisoners of war were taken to Halifax.

U-190 was formally commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy[?]. Her first assignment, in summer 1945, was a ceremonial tour of communities along the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, with stops in Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, Gaspé[?], Pictou[?], and Sydney. Back in Halifax she assumed her duties as an anti-submarine training vessel, which she continued to fulfill for a year and a half.

U-190 was paid off on 24 July 1947, but had one last mission to complete.

The official purpose of "Operation Scuttled" was to provide training for inexperienced post-war recruits in the art of combined operations. U-190, painted in lurid red and yellow stripes, was towed to the spot where it had sunk Esquimault, and at precisely 1100 hours on Trafalgar Day 1947, the fireworks began. The "exercise" called for an deliberately escalating firepower demonstration, begining with airborne rockets and culminating in a destroyer bombardment with 4.7-inch guns and a hedgehog depth charge providing the coup de grace.

While numerous reporters and photographers watched, and HMCS New Liskeard[?], Nootka[?], and Haida[?] stood by awaiting their turn, the Naval Air Arm began the attack with eight Seafires, eight Fairey Fireflies[?], two Avro Ansons[?], and two Fairey Swordfish.

The first rocket attack struck home, and almost before the destroyers had a chance to train their guns, U-190's bow rose into the air, and the U-boat was on the bottom of the ocean less than twenty minutes after the commencement of "Operation Scuttled."

Before U-190 was sunk, her periscope was salvaged. In 1963 it was installed at the Crow's Nest Officers Club in St. John's, Newfoundland. Many years of exposure to the weather damaged it to the point of uselessness, but it was overhauled and repaired; in a ceremony on 22 October 1998 it was "recommissioned" and is once again looking out at Water Street from the club.

U-190 suffered no casualties to her crews during her career.



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