It is no exaggeration to say that submariners are among the toughest sailors in the world if not physically then certainly mentally. Their job requires them to live in very cramped quarters with no natural light and with hundreds of thousands of pounds pressure compressing the hull... while out of contact with the world above them. As a result, the submariner’s world is a breeding ground for mysteries, so from the unsolved disappearances to unsual sightings at sea, here five mysteries involving submarines that are still unexplained to this day...
5The Disappearance Of The Minerve
1968 was a bad year for submarines for despite there not being a major maritime war being underway, four submarines disappeared under mysterious circumstances – one each from Israel, the United States, the Soviet Union and France. All have since been found except for one; the French submarine Minerve.
One of nine Daphné-class submarines, the Minerve was launched in 1961 and was a modern conventional submarine design. On January 27th, 1968 the submarine was travelling just below the surface using a snorkel to provide air for its diesel engine which was charging the electric batteries that powered it when it submerged deeper into the sea.
Just 25 miles from its base at Toulon the submarine signalled a passing French Navy aircraft that they expected to be at the base within a few hours, but nothing was ever heard from the submarine again. An extensive search involving French and US Navy vessels failed to locate the submarine and to this day no trace of the Minerve has ever been found.
A number of theories have been put forward about what may have happened to the submarine, but the most likely cause of the sinking was a fault with the snorkel. Another Daphné-class submarine would be lost as a result of a snorkel malfunction, and as the Minerve was using its own snorkel at the time of its disappearance it is likely this was a factor although it doesn’t explain why it has yet to be found!
4The Antarctic U-Boat
This next story is difficult to confirm but is worth mentioning because it can’t be easily dismissed either. It originates solely from the French newspaper "France Soir" which ran an article claiming that two years after the end of World War II, a German U-Boat surfaced near an Icelandic whaling ship, the Juliana, operating in the Antarctic.
The commander of the U-Boat signalled a request to purchase supplies from the Icelandic ship and the captain, afraid of armed reprisals if he refused, agreed. The Germans purchased the supplies using American dollars and even guided the whaling crew to a group of whales they had spotted earlier that day before disappearing.
It has long been suspected that a number of high-ranking German officials escaped the fall of Germany by being smuggled into South America by U-Boat. It has also been claimed that a handful of German U-Boat crews were incorporated into the Argentinian Navy or operated out of secret bases in Argentina to wage a clandestine war against the victorious and unsuspecting allies. It is possible this U-Boat was attempting to reach one such base having made slow progress to the South Atlantic.
3The Trepang UFO
A submarine seems an unlikely setting for a UFO sighting but in 2015 a series of extraordinary photographs were released apparently showing a number of spectacular UFOs viewed through a periscope. The French magazine “Top Secret” published the photographs which they claim were leaked to them from an anonymous source that claimed they were taken by the crew of the US Navy submarine USS Trepang in 1971 while it was travelling between Iceland and Norway.
The extraordinary photographs show not just one but several different types of object hovering low over the ocean leading some UFOlogists to believe that it may be a so-called “shape-changer” which is a UFO that can transform its shape similar to how some aircraft can change the sweep of their wings to suit their flight requirements. Others, however, claim that the photographs actually show a small fleet of different UFOs some of which were capable of submerging.
It is, of course, possible that the images were faked although for what reason it is unclear but some UFOlogists maintain they are genuine and are among the best evidence of UFO activity out there.
2The U-28 Creature
On July 30th, 1915, the German U-Boat U-28 torpedoed a British steamer, the Iberian, which sank shortly afterwards. The crew of the surfaced submarine looked out at the carnage from the conning tower and to their amazement saw that the detonation of their torpedoes had actually injured a giant sea creature. Six crewmembers witnessed the creature including the captain who described it in his log;
"[It] was writhing and struggling among the debris. We were unable to identify the creature, but all of us agreed that it resembled an aquatic crocodile, which was about 60-feet long, with four limbs resembling large webbed feet, a long, pointed tail and a head which also tapered to a point. Unfortunately, we were not able to take a photograph, for the animal sank out of sight after ten or fifteen seconds."
1The Curse of UB-65
Death seemed to follow the crew of the German U-Boat UB-65 as they carried out their duty during World War One leading many to believe that a curse had been placed upon it. While submarine operations were inherently dangerous anyway, UB-65 suffered far more than its fair share of fatalities but if that wasn’t enough it seemed that some of the dead crew members refused to leave.
The story begins during the U-Boat’s construction in 1916. A worker was killed by a falling metal beam and then shortly before it was completed three men were overcome by fumes in the engine room and suffocated. During the shakedown cruise, one crewmember died when he fell overboard and then shortly afterwards an explosion killed two more sailors. These deaths exclude a large number of non-fatal but serious accidents surrounding the U-Boat’s construction. The curse was not finished taking lives after construction was completed, though. While the sub was being loaded with torpedoes for its first war patrol, one of the warheads detonated killing an officer and severely injuring several crewmembers.
The U-Boat eventually went to sea to fight the allies in 1917, but it was here when the hauntings began. One night, two lookouts sighted the fallen officer standing up on deck who proceeded to shout a warning to them. When the captain went to investigate, he found one of the lookouts cowering on the deck in terror. The spectral officer began to be sighted all over the U-Boat, and tension amongst the crew ran extremely high despite the best efforts of the captain.
With morale at an all-time low and sailors refusing to serve on the submarine, the German Navy took drastic action and got a Lutheran Pastor to exorcise the vessel, but the ghostly sightings continued. In one dramatic incident in 1918 a crewman became convinced the dead officer was tormenting him, and so he took his own life by leaping into the sea.
On July 10th 1918 an American submarine spotted the U-Boat on the surface apparently disabled. The Americans went to attack, but as they did so, the U-Boat exploded without warning killing all aboard. One can only speculate what was going on inside the cursed U-Boat in those final hours, but one thing was for sure; the curse had ended in spectacular fashion.