The U-151 was the first German U-boat to operate in U.S. territory in World War I. The U-151 is not actually sunk in these waters ( it was sunk deep off Virginia after the war, ) but it did "contribute" the following six shipwrecks, all on the same day, Sunday June 2, 1918:
The following day, the tanker Herbert L. Pratt ( 7125 tons) struck a mine laid in the area by the U-151, but was salvaged. The total casualties for all seven vessels was only 13, amazing considering that 448 persons were imperiled and over 21500 tons of shipping was damaged or destroyed. The 13 casualties that did occur were the result of a capsized lifeboat, not hostile action by the U-boat.
The captain of the U-151 could afford to act in such a chivalrous manner for several reasons. U-151 was the first U-boat ever to operate in US waters during WW I. Wireless radio technology was still at a primitive state, and anti-submarine patrol aircraft were unheard-of. This gave the submarine the advantage of surprise, and the luxury of being able to operate on the surface, and allow time for each victim's crew to escape before finishing the attack.
The U-151 sank a number of other vessels off the coast of Virginia before returning safely to Germany. After WWI it was brought to America and finally sunk in bomb tests. In WW II, submarine warfare was considerably deadlier, both for the U-boats and their victims. While the U-151 is not a dive site itself, there are at least three WW II U-boats and several American submarines in the area.
by Tracey Baker Wagner
The mission of Korvettenkapitan von Nostitz and the U-151's crew was to disrupt shipping along the northeastern US coast. Their record was impressive, with a total of 23 vessels successfully attacked in a month's time. The U-boat arrived near the end of May, 1918, and immediately mounted several unsuccessful attacks with their deck gun. Mines were planted off the Delaware capes, and the crew even cut telegraph cables connecting New York with Nova Scotia. These acts marked the first time that the battlefield had been brought to American shores in a hundred years.
On May 25, the U-151 stopped three American schooners off Virginia, took their crews captive in order to keep the sub's presence a secret, and bombed all three ships. Only one, the Hattie Dunn sank; the Hauppauge and the Edna remained afloat and were eventually salvaged. After these attacks, von Nostitz lurked along the mid-Atlantic coast for a week, not launching any further attacks.
On June 2, "Black Sunday", just before 8:00 in the morning, the U-151 began the most productive day of its mission. Before the day was out, the Germans would send six American ships to the ocean floor, and would continue on to do even more damage before eventually returning home at the end of June.
At 7:50 AM on June 2, sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey, von Nostitz spotted the American schooner Isabel B. Wiley as she sailed southward towards Newport News, Virginia. A single shell was fired by the U-151, and Captain Thomason brought his ship to. The captain and crew escaped in a motorboat, just as the Winneconne steamed into view.
At 8:10 AM, the German sub began firing at the new target until she also hove to, then boarded and allowed Captain Waldemar Knudson and his crew a half hour to gather their belongings. Just over an hour after first firing on the Winneconne, German bombs ripped open the steamship's steel hull and sent her to the bottom. The three lifeboats from the Winneconne plus the motor launch from the Wiley took on the prisoners from the U-151's conquests of the previous week while the German boarding officer went after the drifting Wiley, setting off bombs to sink that vessel as well.
The Germans made sure the American sailors had adequate provisions before sending them off. The men in the Wiley's boat were picked up later in the afternoon by the Ward Line steamer Mexico. The ship sent a warning over the wireless; unfortunately it was not understood. The men were transferred to another ship, and landed at Hoboken, New Jersey, on the night of June 4. The men in the Winneconne's boats rowed an estimated 65 miles until they were picked up by the San Saba about 25 miles off of Barnegat Light. this group landed at New York a full day earlier than the men from the Wiley.
Around noon, the U-151 fired two shots across the bow of the Jacob M. Haskell. When the schooner was brought to a stop, the sub ordered the crew to abandon ship, and the Haskell's captain told his men to lower the boats. Once all were clear, the ship was sunk by setting off charges hung over the sides. The Haskell's crew were later rescued by the American steamship Grecian.
Later in the afternoon, the Germans came upon another American schooner, the Edward H. Cole, which was en route from Norfolk, Virginia to Portland, Maine. Without firing a shot, the U-151 stopped the Cole after circling her several times and then approaching with an order to abandon ship. Just after 4:00, bombs were set off, then a shell was fired into the schooner's wooden when she did not immediately sink. The Cole's captain, H. G. Newcombe, and 11 crew members escaped in one boat and were picked up at about 8:00 in the evening, but only after witnessing the destruction of yet another ship, the Texel.
The freighter Texel, carrying sugar from Puerto Rico to New York, was the U-151's next target. Captain Lowry initially attempted to evade the shots being fired at his ship, but was forced to give up after one shell hit the ship and exploded in the engine room. German explosives sent the Texel to the bottom in less than three minutes, at about 5:20 PM. The 36 men (and one cat, the ship's mascot) rowed all the way to shore, landing on Atlantic City's beach at midnight.
The U-151's final victim that day was the 5000+ ton passenger liner Carolina. The steamship was carrying 217 passengers from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to New York when the wireless operator intercepted a message about the sinking of the Isabel B. Wiley less than fifteen miles away. The captain was notified, and immediately ordered increased speed and an evasive, zig-zag course, but it was too late. The German submarine fired a shell through the Carolina's wake, then two more shots which came even closer to the ship. An SOS was transmitted, after which the Germans ordered the ship to cease transmitting.
Captain Barbour finally hove to, fearing for the safety of the women and children on board. Lifeboats were lowered as the captain destroyed all confidential papers, then he escaped in the last boat. Eight of the boats, all roped together, headed for shore. The U-151 fired shells into the Carolina's hull until she rolled onto her side and disappeared beneath the surface.
While the U-151 had caused great material and monetary loss, up until the sinking of the Carolina no lives had been lost. This was to change overnight as the 217 passengers and 113 crew from the passenger ship made their way towards shore. The eight boats under the command of Captain Barbour fared well, transferring about 250 people onto the Eva B. Douglas mid-morning the next day. The crowded sailing ship anchored off Barnegat Inlet, then was towed back to New York by the Submarine Patrol Number 507, arriving early on the morning of June 4th.
Not so lucky were Boat Number 5 and the Carolina's motor launch. Most of the passengers in Number 5 were dumped in the water when one end of the boat slipped as it was being launched. The two boats lost sight of each other, but then got back together and tied a rope between the boats so the motor boat could tow the life raft. The connecting rope broke twice during a nighttime storm, and the motor boat overturned during its search for Number 5, drowning thirteen passengers.
Those who made it back into the motor launch were eventually picked up by a British ship and taken to Lewes, Delaware. Boat Number 5 finally landed at Atlantic City after another full day and night. The final survivors of the Carolina, eight women and 25 men, were helped ashore by vacationing beachgoers.
|6:20AM||Course 246. Sail sighted. Course set for the sailing vessel. It is the American 3 masted schooner Isabel B. Wiley, registered in Philadelphia ( 776 tons )|
|6:50AM||Sailing vessel is stopped with a warning shot. At the same time, a steamer is sighted. Course set for steamer. Steamer is stopped with a warning shot. Boarding party is sent over; it is the American steamer Winneconne ( formerly the steamer Stinne ) registered in New York, on its way from Newport News, VA to Providence, Rhode Island ( 1869 tons ) cargo: coal|
|8:40AM||Winneconne is sunk by demolition charges. Crew in the boats called alongside. Meanwhile the crew of the schooner Isabel B. Wiley have already left their ship and are also alongside. Our prisoners are distributed among the four boats, the boats are outfitted with fresh water and provisions and are released.|
|9:30AM||Three masted schooner Isabel B. Wiley is sunk with demolition charges. Cruise southward continued.|
|11:25AM||Sail sighted, it is the 4 masted schooner Jacob M. Haskell ( 1778 tons ) registered in New York, from Norfolk to Boston, cargo: coal.|
|11:50AM||Schooner is sunk with demolition charges.|
|12:00 Noon||Day's Reckoning 101 nautical miles.|
|2:50PM||American 4 masted schooner Edward H. Cole stopped. Registered in Boston ( 1792 tons ) from Norfolk to New York, cargo: coal. Sunk with demolition charges.|
|4:20PM||Steamer in sight. Not until after three warning shots was the steamer stopped. The third shot struck close to the starboard side and showered the bridge with shrapnel. It is the American, formerly Dutch ( from Rotterdam, ) steamer Texel, registered in New York ( 3,210 tons ) from Porto Rico to New York, cargo: sugar.|
|4:40PM||Texel sunk by demolition charges, crew released in boats.|
|5:45PM||An unknown steamer sends the radio message that the schooner Isabel B. Wiley has been sunk by an armed German U-boat.|
|5:50PM||Submerged. Steamer observed through periscope.|
|6:07PM||Surfaced. Course set for steamer. Steamer ordered to stop by warning shot. Steamer alters course, and sends radio messages, which are successfully jammed by our radio operator. After several more shots that fall in her immediate vicinity, the steamer stops and lowers all boats. It is the American passenger steamer Carolina, registered in New York ( 5,093 tons) with about 250-300 passengers, which take to 10 heavily laden lifeboats. Ship is carrying little cargo, apparently enroute from Cuba to New York.|
|7:20PM||As the visibility is decreasing, and radio traffic from warships can be heard in the vicinity, it is decided to sink the steamer with a torpedo. Port torpedo tube fired while on the surface. Immediately after leaving the tube, the torpedo turns 4 points to starboard, then to port, once more to starboard, surfaced, then sank..|
|7:40PM||The steamer is sunk with artillery fire. Sailed away from steamer at 90?. A steamer in the vicinity sends an unknown radio message, is jammed by us. A little while later Carolina is called by radio from New York.|
|End of entries for June 2, 1918.|
You can read a great deal more about "Black Sunday", as it is sometimes called, in Gary Gentile's book Shipwrecks of New Jersey - South.
by John Yurga
The ship known as the SS Carolina had an interesting history prior to its sinking on June 2, 1918 by the U-151. Between her birthing pains, ownership by three different companies, and a total refit, she made the press time and time again. This history covers the highlights of her career.
In April, 1895, The Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company received a $500,000 contract for a passenger/cargo vessel from the Plant Investment Co. Hull No.15 was the first passenger vessel to be built at what was to become one of the pre-eminent shipyards on the East coast. Because competition for shipbuilding work was so fierce at the time, it was said that there would be no profit in building her. The 404' ship was to be powered by twin quadruple-expansion engines with 4 water-tube boilers. She was christened on January 30, 1896 as La Grande Duchesse. Following her completion, she made three local sea trials and then sailed for New York in late November. She was refused by the Plant Co., due to boiler and propeller problems. She came back to the shipyard, adjustments were made, and was finished in September of 1897. Again, she was refused. This time, Newport News decided to get rid of the water-tube boilers in favor of more conventional fire-tube boilers.
La Grande Duchesse successfully completed her sea trials in June of 1898, at which point the US government chartered her as a transport during the Spanish-American War. She was finally accepted by the Plant Co. on April 9, 1899 - over 3 years late and $536,000 over contract price. To this day she represents the largest percentage of loss on a contract the yard has ever suffered.
Incredibly, after all the trouble in getting her, La Grande Duchesse was passed to the Ocean Steamship Co. in November 1901 and renamed City of Savannah. Under this name, she ran a coastal service between New York and Charleston, SC. In January 1906, she was sold to the New York and Porto Rico Steamship Co., and renamed Carolina. The NYPR Co. had a regular service to Puerto Rico (called Porto Rico in those days ) and Cuba involving several vessels. The ship had found a home at last.
Unfortunately, Carolina seemed not to be able to shake off her unlucky past. She had continual problems with her machinery; it seemed that something broke down almost every voyage. She also suffered from excess vibration, and had poor steering and handling qualities due to the twin-screw design of the stern. While in drydock at Shooter's Island, NY on November 21, 1907, she was badly damaged by fire.
By 1913, Carolina needed new boilers. It was decided to completely rebuild the stern of the vessel, changing her from twin-screw to single-screw. This represented the most complete and complex rebuilding of a vessel her size in the US. The entire stern was taken apart, as was her upper and main decks, to access her boilers and engines. Carolina was refitted with one triple-expansion engine and four single-ended boilers. Even with one engine and 3000 horsepower less than before, she now was faster, steered better, and did not suffer from any vibration problems. This was all due to the shape of the stern, allowing her to slip through the water much more gracefully. The work was done by her original building yard, Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., which was happy to finally turn a profit on the ship. She was delivered to New York on March 2, 1914. Just to show she was still the same ship, less than two months later she collided with the Hamburg American liner Cleveland in New York harbor. From then on Carolina seemed content to quietly sail back and forth along her given route until she met up with the U-151 four years later.
The same teapot, with some other pieces
C for Carolina
Some more letters
Anchor chain and anchor
images: John Chatterton
Courtesy of Dan Crowell / Seeker Digital Productions
WHEREAS, on the 2 day of November, 1995, the Plaintiff, JOHN B. CHATTERTON, a private citizen and New Jersey domicile, filed a Complaint in rem against the Defendant the WRECKED AND ABANDONED VESSEL, known as the S.S. CAROLINA, which sank in 1918, her engines, tackle, appurtenances, and cargo located within one nautical mile of a point at coordinates 39d 00' 00" North Latitude and 73d 28' 00" West Longitude, now therefore, you are commanded to take into your possession the portions of said vessel which have now been brought up by the Plaintiff and brought within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court.
YOU ARE HEREBY further commanded forthwith to cite and admonish the salvage from the Defendant vessel to be and appear before the District Court at the Clerk's office thereof, in said District within ten (10) days after service, and then and there, to interpose in writing a claim, and therewith or thereafter a responsive pleading to the Complaint filed herein within twenty (20) days following such claim or thirty (30) days after the service whichever is less, a copy of which Complaint you shall serve upon the salvage from the Defendant vessel with this Writ directing the in rem Defendant to serve a copy of its claim and of its responsive pleading upon the Plaintiffs attorney. And how you shall have executed this Writ, make known to the Court with your Certificate of Execution thereof written.
WITNESS THIS HONORABLE:
JUDGE OF SAID COURT CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
Dated: November 5, , 1995
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT,
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Dated: Nov. 5 ,1995
The WRECKED AND ABANDONED VESSEL, known as the S.S. CAROLINA, which sank in 1918, her engines, tackle, appurtenances, and cargo located within one nautical mile of a point at coordinates 39d 0' 00" North Latitude and 73d 18' 00" West Longitude Defendant.
APPOINTMENT OF CUSTODIAN
By virtue of a Warrant of Arrest in rem, issued out of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Camden Division, in the above-captioned action, I have levied upon items salvaged from the Defendant vessel in Camden, New Jersey and now have the same in my possession, and I hereby appoint JOHN B. CHATTERTON, a private citizen and domicile of New Jersey, as Custodian of same to safely keep, and to allow no one to remove, molest, or in any manner interfere with the same, save upon the Order of the United States Marshal of this District. However, in lieu of written authority, the custodian can confirm this release by contacting the United States Marshal's Civil Desk at Camden, New Jersey.
DATE APPOINTED: 11-2-95
UNITED STATES MARSHALL
December 18, 1995
As you are probably already aware, I have recently gone to Federal Court in Camden, NJ, to secure salvage rights to the wreck of the SS Carolina. I have been appointed Substitute Custodian of the wreck and have been authorized by the court to place it under arrest.
I went through all this trouble for two reasons:
It is not my intention to restrict your access to the wreck, so long as my salvage projects and my access to the wreck are not interfered with. I have no interest in taking anything from your goodie bag, and I expect the same courtesy from you. Most of us have dived by this code all along, anyway.
At present, I am working on two, and only two, projects. First, the brass letters on the fantail spelling out "CAROLINA, NEW YORK". I have already removed the letters C,A,R, & N. Second, and more importantly, I have located what I believe is the Pursers Office and the safe. As time goes on, I will probably get involved in other extended projects, and I am certain that I will be bringing up other artifacts. In the mean time, I am not asking you to steer clear of anything that I have not already located and laid claim to, namely the stern letters and the Purser's Office.
If you are first to find the bell (or whatever), and you are able to bring it to the surface, then it belongs to you, and you will receive my congratulations. If I am first to find it and bring it up, then it is mine. It is just that simple.
Chatterton has long ago recovered all the letters and purser's safe.
Sistership of the Jacob M. Haskell.
Coming under attack by the U-151
Sistership of the Edward H. Cole.
Today, the Texel lies in 230 ft of water. She sits on a sandy bottom with almost no relief. She appears to have landed upright, but has collapsed into the sand. Hull plates have fallen off around her like an eroding jig-saw puzzle. Her mid-section and superstructure are gone, and her bow unrecognizable. The stern is marked by the propeller shaft, which hangs above the surrounding hull plates. She is a deep dive and should be dived by only the most experienced.