Category Archives: WW1 War at Sea

German UBoat Surrendering to American Warship in World War 1

German Submarine Surrendering on SurfaceThis is a a photograph of the first German UBoat to be captured by a United States warship during World War 1.


On November 17, 1917 the USS Fanning was on convoy escort duty off the coast of Ireland when the German UBoat U-58 attempted to attack a merchant vessel in the convoy that the Fanning was protecting.

The UBoat had come close to the surface to line up its periscope before beginning its attack run, and at this moment the submarine was at its most vulnerable. The American warship spotted it and attacked. The submarine immediately submerged but was damaged by depth charges dropped by the American ship. Its diving diving planes were damaged and as a result the submarine could not remain submerged.

The Uboat was forced to surface a short distance away where it was again spotted by the Fanning. The Fanning fired on the German submarine with its guns and the Germans attempted to return fire with their lone surface gun. They were outmatched and outgunned, and so after a brief fight the submarine surrendered. Two German sailors were killed and the rest were taken on board the Fanning.

USS Fanning

The Fanning


Below are some closeups of the German submariners standing on the deck of their damaged Uboat. The submarine later was sunk.


UBoat Surrenders

Closeup of the Conning tower. The captain and first officer would likely have been standing here.


German Sailors on Deck - World War 1

German sailors on the low deck of the sinking Uboat. Note how close the waves are coming to their feet.

Sister Ship of the Titanic

RMS Olympic During WW1

RMS Olympic During WW1

The Titanic has become famous for its spectacular and tragic end, and has overshadowed its sister ships, the Britannic and the Olympic.

All three ships were classified as Olympic Class ships, and were intended as luxury transatlantic ocean liners. Of the three ships, both Titanic and the Britannic met tragic ends, though the Britannic is now largely forgotten. The Olympic had a long and illustrious career as an ocean liner and as a troop ship during the war.

Pictured above is the RMS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, painted with a camouflage design. The pattern was designed to make it harder for any u-boat or enemy ship to accurately gauge the size, speed and direction of travel of the ship.

The Olympic made its maiden voyage in 1911 and was serving as a transatlantic ocean liner at the beginning of the war, linking Britain to the United States. It was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and pressed into service as a troop ship. In this role, it the Olympic earned the nickname of “Old Reliable,” due to its unblemished record of ferrying over 200,000 allied troops without any incident or loss.

The other sister ship to the Titanic, the Britannic was not so lucky. The Britannic had not yet been completed when the war began and at first it was laid up in dry dock by its owners, who were unsure what to do with her, since the outbreak of the war had killed the transatlantic passenger trade. She was finally launched in December 1915 and converted into a hospital ship with the Royal Navy.

The Britannic’s career was almost as short as the Titanic. She sank on November 21, 1916 while on duty in the Aegean sea, there was an explosion. It may have been caused by a floating mine or a torpedo fired by a submarine. Despite brave attempts to save the ship, it soon sank, with the loss of only 30 deaths out of 1066 on board. The Britannic was the largest ship sunk during World War 1.

Violet Jessup Survived the Sinking of the Titanic and the Britannic, and Was On Board the Olympic, When it Very Nearly Sank

Violet Jessup Survived the Sinking of the Titanic and the Britannic, and Was On Board the Olympic, When it Very Nearly Sank

The sinking of the Britannic provides one of those interesting historical footnotes that sound like fiction. One of the survivors of the sinking of the Britannic was a British nurse named Violete Jessup. Before volunteering to serve as a nurse on board the Olympic, Jessup had served as a stewardess aboard the Titanic and had survived her sinking. Ten she had transferred to Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic and was on board that ship when the Olympic collided with a cruiser in 1911 and almost sank. And then she was on board the ill fated Britannic when she sank. Personally I would not have wanted to be on any ship that Jessup was on.

After the war, Jessup went back to being a stewardess working for the White Star shipping line and she lived to the ripe old age of 83. Presumably none of the other ships that she served on met a watery grave,



The Strange Story of Britain’s Phantom Battleship

The HMS Audacious sank in 1914 but kept on sailing throughout most of the War as a phantom ship.

The Phantom Ship

The HMS Audacious was a British battleship. It was launched in 1913 and had seen only about a year of active service, when world war 1 began. As part of a plan to get the fleet ready for combat, the Audacious and several other ships sailed to a position off of the coast of Ireland to conduct gunnery practice. Unfortunately the ship struck a German sea mine and began taking on water.



The Audacious attempted to steam towards land in order to beach itself so that it could later be refloated and repaired, but water flooded the engine rooms and stopped the ship. Other warships were dispatched to tow the battleship to shore but they did not arrive in time.

The ship sank October 27, 1914. It never saw action. But that did not stop the HMS Audacious from continuing to sail the seas for most of the War.



The loss of this newly built battleship was considered such a blow to the navy, that the Admiralty decided to keep it secret in order to deceive the Germans about the navy’s strength. For most of the rest of the war, the Audacious was listed on official reports and charts as participating in fictitious maneuvers and missions. The truth about the sinking of the Audacious was not officially revealed until three years later, in 1917.




HMS Audacious Sinking



This photograph shows the battleship sinking. It was taken from the deck of the Olympic, Titanic’s sister ship. The Olympic was one of the ships dispatched to rescue survivors.