SC-13, one of the submarine chasers acquired by the Cuban government in the United Stated during the Second World War under the Lend Lease treaty, was the naval vessel responsible for the sinking of the German submarine U176.
During the Second World War the primary military activity of
The work, offering itself for continuation was realized by the historian Maximino Gomez Alvarez of Cuban descent; this researcher is the author of the documental script: „El incidente 3208: hundimiento
(*) Death lurks on the Horizon
Lining up at the mouth of the bay, three submarine hunting boats had joined the ones forming the convoy to sail to their next destination. Some sailors remained on deck or close to the bridge, silent and their eyes fixed onto the vastness of the sea, some remembered the anecdotes of the survivors, who had grimly suffered that infernal and inexpressible experience of corpses floating amidst wood in an ocean thick and sticky, a mixture of saltwater, oil, fuel and blood, which causes nausea or even suffocating asphyxia, like the evaporations of ammonia from the Nikeliner, also torpedoed, which began to penetrate the air enclosing that apocalyptic scene.
The freighters Wanks and Camagüey continued to proceed at a speed of eight knots, the regulation for convoys and flanking submarine hunters; one of them, CS12 manoeuvered constantly changing from one side of the merchantmen to the other in free operation of providing cover; at the head of the convoy CS11, chief of the escort sailed and closing the protection at the rear found CS13.
At 17:15 hours, position 23degrees 21minutes Northern latitude and 080degrees 18minutes Western longitude an hydroplane of the North American navy appeared in the deep blue sky, a Vrought-Sikorsky Kingfisher, belonging to VS62 squadron based at Cay Frances, a naval station formed by a moored vessel named San Pascual, armed with six heavy machine guns and two artillery pieces. The San Pascual held a communication squadron, was firmly moored onto land and served as a fuel supply station supporting six hydroplanes and eight submarine hunters. Arriving on the spot, the Kingfisher dropped a smoke bomb and started to fly circles around the zone marked by the dropping of the bomb, about one and a half mile starboard astern of the boat leading the escort. The commander of CS11 ordered state of alert for his forces due to the imminent presence of a submarine; ordered by radio CS13 headed for the zone signalled by the airplane. CS13 was commanded by Ensign Mario Ramirez Delgado, whom the Cuban naval command had placed at the helm of one of the twelve submarine hunters acquired by the government of Cuba in the Unites States under the Lend Lease programme, which resulted from a military and naval agreement signed between the two nations a year ago on September 7th, 1942 with the declared objective to reinforce the defensive capacities of the Cuban fleet and to strengthen her role in the Caribbean.
The convoy had veered 45 degrees to port while CS13 now at full power at a speed of 15 knots headed towards the zone of confrontation; at about 400 yards from the target sonar operator Norberto Collado established contact with the submerged enemy, whose echo returns sounded very clear with marked Doppler effect and propeller noise: the target now rushed headlong and initiated a rapid dive knowing to be discovered and threatened; it was then that the commander of CS13 Ensign Ramirez ordered to veer 25 degrees onto the target and to attack by throwing an immediate first depth charge fixed on 100feet, followed by two more with 150 and 200feet respectively, changing course between the second and third charge to correct for any additional speed the submarine may make in her attempt to escape. The first two charges detonated normally, throwing up two enormous columns of water foamy and white, while after the third detonation a fourth one was heard, maybe provoked by the explosion of the submarine’s torpedo room; on this occasion the detonation had so much force, it caused the stern of the submarine hunter to immerge, with water even beginning to penetrate into the engine room; this last detonation was accompanied by a column of water of muddy turbid colour which rose to an height much above the previous ones. The submarine hunter veered to port and stopped her engines; on the sonar system the contact with the target was re-established at about 500 yards, but on this occasion did not show any movement, neither engine noise nor Doppler effect; the contact now was very clear and metallic and sailor Norberto Collado confirmed to the captain of the ship that what was heard could not be caused by the water eddies and vortices produced by the depth bomb, therefore Ensign Ramirez thought that the submarine remained silent and proceeded ordering to keep the engines throttled, maintaining the vessel that way for a period of three minutes, after which he ordered to start them again and attack anew; this time the depth of the submarine was found to be 400 yards and in the wake of a new attack two more charges were launched, one at 200 the other at 400 yards. Shortly after the second attack, CS13 was placed over the area of the last detonation and her engines again silenced. A careful acoustic sounding was initiated; it produced no contact but during about two minutes something was heard, which seemed like sounds produced by air bubbles in the water escaping from an half closed container, which in judgement of captain and sonar operator could in no case be provoked by the launching of the last depth charge, as this had taken place eight minutes ago.
The third charge launched in the first attack had produced the appearance of a small stain of fuel on the surface of the sea, which grew steadily until it reached a diameter of approximately 300 yards. Then the captain of the submarine hunters ordered one of the sailors of his crew to collect samples of that stain with the help of a pail to have them later analysed in the marine laboratories. Unfortunately said sample was later lost due to rough sea off Matanzas and the little of it which could be saved in the container in addition to its contamination, proved to be insufficient to realize a precise chemical analysis..
After the attack CS13 remained in the area of the encounter for a period of two hours at the end of which she ran full speed to again join the convoy, which she reached around 19:35 hours.
During the course of return the Kingfisher plane overflew the convoy at low altitude and the radio operator in the rear cockpit moved his hands clasped at his head’s level as a sign of congratulation for CS13. The submarine sunk was U176 the same one, which some hours ago had brought death to the merchantmen Mambi and Nikeliner, only on this occasion she could not complete the mission she had prepared for, being destroyed before she was able to escape.
(*) Taken from the work „La Muerte Surca el Caribe“(Death roams the
Chapter 1: „ La Muerte acecha en el horizonte“(Death lurks on the Horizon)
Copyright (All rights reserved) Maximino Gomez Alvarez
Total or partial reproduction prohibited without explicit authorization of the author.
Translation into English: Dankward Medert,