On 20 April 1944, U-1105, a modified Type VII-C German submarine, built at
the Nordseewerke Shipyard at Emden, Germany, was launched to begin its brief and dramatic wartime
career. U-1105 was one of fewer than ten submarines produced during the war
outfitted with an experimental synthetic rubber skin designed to counter Allied sonar
devices; the black rubber coating had earned it the nickname “Black
Panther.” On its first mission in April of 1945 off Black Rock, Ireland,
U-1105 disabled HMS Redmill, a 1300 ton TE Captain Class frigate,
with two acoustic torpedoes killing 32 men. The Allied squadron searched for the
elusive U-boat, but without success. The Black Panther’s short career
ended with Germany’s surrender, and the vessel was eventually turned over
to the United States Navy for study and experimentation in the U.S.
U-1105, now officially a war prize of the U.S. Navy, arrived at
Portsmouth, New Hampshire in early 1946. In February, research on the unique
rubber-tiled skin was initiated at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington
and at the MIT Acoustic Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The ship was then
ordered to be retained in a state of readiness for explosives testing. In the fall
of 1949, U-1105 was towed into the Potomac River to an anchorage off
Piney Point, Maryland. The ship was sunk using a new type of depth charge, and
went down in 20 seconds in over 91 feet of water, with 65 feet of water over
the conning tower. Although upright on the bottom, the pressure hull was cracked
open by the explosion all the way around to the keel; but otherwise intact.
MHT is delighted to offer the history of the
"U-1105 in the U.S. Navy - 1945 to 1949" courtesy of Air Commodore
Derek Waller, RAF (Retd). Air Commodore Waller is available to respond to questions
About the U-1105 Preserve
In 1992-93, the U-1105 wreck site became the subject of an archaeological
survey expedition. An error in the transcription of longitude and latitude figures
masked its location for decades until the transposition of the figures was discovered
and sport divers relocated the vessel. The vessel is in relatively good condition but
is buried up to its conning tower in the river bottom and is full of sediment. Supported
by financial assistance from the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management
Program, and a cooperative agreement between the Navy and the State of Maryland, the
wreck was designated as Maryland’s first historic shipwreck preserve in 1995.
The U-1105 is part of the
National System of Marine Protected Areas (MPA), a program of the National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The program was launched in April 2009 and the U-1105
Preserve is one of the Charter members of the system. MPAs are defined areas where natural
or cultural resources are given greater protection than in the surrounding waters. In
the U.S., these areas may span a range of habitats including the open ocean, coastal
areas, inter-tidal zones, estuaries, and the Great Lakes.
Visiting the U-1105 Preserve
There are no commercial charters to the site and with the top of the conning tower
at 65 feet below the surface, near-zero visibility and a swift current running
constantly, it is an advanced dive.
» Safety Guidelines
For more information about the
preserve, contact the Office of Preservation Services at 410-697-9535, or
St. Clement's Island Potomac River Museum at 301-769-2222.
In order to maintain and monitor the condition of the U-1105
shipwreck preserve, the Maryland Historical Trust requires data about the number of
divers visiting the site and the frequency of these visits. These forms can be
filled out by individuals or groups, and can be submitted periodically or after
each visit. If you have already visited the U-1105 shipwreck preserve
please report any damage or vandalism observed during your visit and/or any
suggestions you might have.
» U-1105 Visitor Log
In the event of a diving emergency, first call 911 and contact Coast Guard on VHF radio channel 16,
then call DAN (Divers Alert Network) at 919-684-9111. Call DAN collect if necessary in an emergency and
ask for a diving physician.