“Any idea who did it” asked Admiral Kantz looking rather worried. He did not expect to have traitors in his base. He had personally vetted through the files of the men on the base.
“Admiral, the bag was found along with the bags of the scientists. Could of them be the culprit?” asked the head of the security.
“No, I don’t think so. It looks too obvious but then again, we should not discount that possibility. Anyway, keep this incident to yourself and tell the two sentries to keep their mouth shut. It’s a good thing that you found the bomb in time; let’s just hope that the traitor will make a big mistake soon. When he does that, we will be waiting for him” dismissed the Admiral as he took a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. He then put the paper in his jacket.
“Checked our men too especially those who been acting suspiciously recently” sighed the Admiral to his head of security as he left his office.
The U X has been fully loaded and is about to leave the German U Boat base. The captain and his second in command were still at the dock finalising some of the last minute preparations. The Admiral did not say much but he shook hand with the captain, wishing him all the best on his mission. As he departed, the captain felt something in his hands. A piece of paper! He looked at the Admiral and the Admiral whispered – he should read it once he has left the base and is safely in deep waters.
The U X slowly moved and headed to the open sea. With the crew, the scientists and the extraction team on board, the captain ordered the U Boat to dive and go below the sea mines depth levels. The U Boat proceeded at a very low speed and soon they were in deep waters, heading towards Africa. He asked Ernst to watch things at the bridge and went back to his quarters. He locked the door and opened the piece of paper that the Admiral handed over to him at the docks.
“Traitor(s) are at base. Beware. They almost sneaked in a large bomb into U X. Investigating at the base now. But traitor(s) may be board U X. Take all precautions” was the only message on the paper that the Admiral gave.
The captain had dreaded the possibility of having saboteurs on board for a long time. In waters that are not controlled by the German’s Kriegsmarine vessels, having a crippled U Boat is as good as being dead. The captain contemplated on what to be done next. He needs to instruct the tightening of security and check on everyone’s movement to minimise any incidents of sabotage. But more importantly he needs to eliminate the possibility of the saboteurs on board and if they are on board, he needs to find them.
Who to start with first?
There is a long way to go to their destination and although it seems like there is plenty of time for the captain to start investigation but the thought that the saboteur or saboteurs may act earlier always crosses the captain’s mind. The way he looks at it, there are three groups of people that he needs to check through – his own men, the scientists and the special extraction team. Out of these three, the scientists are perceived to be the weakest. They may be blackmailed or threatened to carry out the sabotage action. The next is the special extraction team who is consists of professional soldiers. They have the right skills and expertise to carry out the sabotage action. The last in the captain’s mind is his own men who he trusts with his own life. But being the closest may just provide the cover for the saboteurs to hide until it is time to carry out the sabotage.
The captain leaves his quarters and heads to the bridge. He needs the time to investigate and clear his vessel of anyone who will be detrimental to the mission. He will not have time if he is going to spend most of his time on the bridge. U X is still in coastal waters near the Europe continent and heading towards the waters near North Africa. With deep waters all around and the U Boat’s low sonar signature, it should give enough cover for the U Boat to continue with its journey silently. Ernst was a very able commander who have helmed U Boat in the captain’s absence and he have a done a very good todate.
He checked the situation with Ernst and decides to visit the quarters where the scientists are staying. The scientists’ quarters are placed after the U X crew’s quarters. There are no major equipments or rooms near these quarters so it is pretty safe to assume that anyone in the scientists’ quarters will not be able to do much without having to roam around the U X. The U Boat already has sentries stationed at key area – this is standard practice in the Kriegsmarine when having non-military personals on board on long range mission. Quietly the captain has instructed the sentries to be doubled up. This did not surprise the crew as the mission has been deemed as high priority and concerns of possible security leakages been raised.
When the captain arrived at the scientists’ quarters, he noticed that Professor Z and his fellow scientists were busy doing their reading. A couple more was reading through ancient navigation plans. The scientists have basically made their quarters as the home for the journey and have settled in.
“How are we doing, captain?” asked Professor Z, startled the captain’s observations
“We are doing just fine, Professor. We are on our way to the African waters and head south thereafter. I just came over to check on you all. How you all are fitting in the U Boat. I believe this is the first time for all of you” asked the captain.
“That’s right captain, this is the time for us but frankly we do not know what to say. The quarters here are rather small compared to our rooms in the University but it is understandable. We just hope that we will get used to these small quarters as we go along in the mission”
“Anything you need?”
“Oh, there is something we need for now – a hot pot of coffee”
The captain promised to get the U Boat’s chef to prepare the coffee and some meals for the working scientists. He observed that all the scientists have passed the age of fifty except for three of them who are still young and still in their thirties. Never underestimate an old man, reminded the captain to himself. All looked busy, so the captain did not wait for long at the quarters but before he left, he stationed two sentries at the entrance. It is for safe and assistance he told the scientists before he left.
The captain walked back passes the crew’s quarters and walked down towards the torpedo room. Several rooms before the torpedo room, was the quarters of the special extraction team. They were placed there as the special storage area was nearer and it will be easier for them to do their work. However, having them so close to the torpedo room is worrying the captain. Given the incident at the dock where someone tries to sneak a bomb into U X, placing similar bombs at the torpedo room makes more sense. The torpedoes in U X is placed in special compartments that seals them from accidental detonation in the event of battle damage but it does not stop anyone from damaging the special compartments and placing explosives on the torpedo warheads.
Looking at the rooms in front of him, the captain decided to go to the torpedo room first. The room was unlocked and there were three crew men in the torpedo room. The weapons officer was in the room chatting with them when the captain entered. All the crew men and the officer stood in attention.
“Stand down men”
The captain talked about the new torpedoes that U X was carrying as he looked around for any shortcomings in security. Torpedo room will be one of the main targets for a bomb and he did not want to take any chances. He was confident the crew in the room will be able to handle any saboteurs provided that the saboteurs are not more than two persons. Four strong able men should able to take two determined saboteurs and raise alarm. The captain wanted to order the door to be locked at times but that will hamper the men’s movement. Besides the torpedo room with its compartments for the torpedoes and four main torpedo tubes hardly had enough space for the men. Most of the time, the room will be empty but this is where the danger is, the captain thought.
Sentries were placed near the torpedo room and to be rotated among the men from the weapon system unit. This way, it will be less taxing on the captain’s crew and the weapon system crew can work without much problem.
The captain walked back and now headed to the quarters where the special extraction team was staying. The team comprised of six men, four of which the captain had met at his mansion was from a special commando unit in the German Army. They were hand-picked for this mission. Before this mission, the six men were in active duty with three commando units in Poland and France. There are not many details that the captain was able to trace from their service records as much of the details has been deemed as classified and has not been released. Even the Kriegsmarine Admiral had a hard time to get the information from the German High Command.
The door to the quarters was closed. The captain knocked on the door and there was some moment before the door was opened slightly. It was the captain’s main body guard at the mansion. The captain knows him by his call name – Sergeant R.
“I just wanted to drop by to see how you all are doing” said the captain, still standing at the entrance. The body guard opened the door wider and asked the captain to come. Two of the men were on the floor doing weight lifting exercise whilst the rest were on their bed reading magazines and letters.
“We are doing fine, Captain. Being on U Boats is not a new experience for us or being confined to smaller areas. You don’t worry about us. Just call us if you need any help” said Sergeant R who was also the team leader for the specialised extraction team. Seeing that there is nothing much he can do in the quarters, the captain took leave and left the quarters. As he stepped out the quarters, Sergeant R had followed him and stood at the entrance.
“As I said, call us if you need any help. It looks like you are looking for something” smiled Sergeant R as he closed the door. The captain was left wondering whether his actions look too obvious and what was the meaning of Sergeant R’s last statement.
There was ten days before they are scheduled to rendezvous with the first supply ship near the coast of South Africa. The U X is moving at cruising speed and the U Boat surfaces during the night occasionally for the recharge of batteries. The men also take the opportunity to stand outside to breathe in fresh air, out of their confinement working quarters. The U Boat operates both on specially designed batteries and also standard diesel turbo shaft engines. The captain runs a very conservative supply management where the engine is left to run mostly on battery power as it is easier to recharge them at night. Diesel engine is used sparingly but at certain main shipping lanes where the U X had to remain underwater, the diesel engine is used to the maximum. They must keep enough fuel to reach the supply rendezvous point.
By the tenth day, life in U X has been very routine and even the scientists have got used to the working environment of a U Boat although they usually kept themselves to the quarters and mess hall. Movement in U Boat is however still restricted. Only authorised personals are allowed to certain key area of the U Boat and the sentries act swiftly against anyone who does not follows the security rules.
Ernst was at the periscope when the captain entered the bridge.
“Have you spotted our supply ship?” asked the captain. Supplies have been low but whilst we can manage with the existing supply of food and drink, fuel has been however low.
“Not yet captain, we are at the rendezvous point but I don’t see any ships for miles” replied Ernst rather sounding disappointed.
The captain was getting worried but asked Ernst to keep watch. The captain wondered whether the supply ship have decided to abort their mission. This could prove disastrous for U X as without enough fuel, the U X will be forced to surface and this could be an easy target for Allied ships.
“Captain, I can see a ship on the horizon. It is moving towards us. It could the supply ship that we suppose to meet up” sounded Ernst excitedly.
The captain hoped that it is true as he took over the periscope from Ernst and checking on the current distance of the ship, it is estimated that it will take the ship another five hours to reach the rendezvous point. In the meantime, the captain ordered the U X to be maintained at periscope level. If the ship that was moving towards them is not their supply ship, the U X is to dive to deeper depths immediately.
The ship’s registration number was visible now – the captain quickly check against his log and he confirmed that it is the same. The ship indeed is their supply ship. The supply ship by now had reached the rendezvous point. The captain ordered the U X to surface next to the supply ship after making sure that the supply ship was not carrying anything that could harm the U Boat. The surfacing of a large U Boat surprised the crew of the supply ship. The captain of the supply ship have been paid a large sum of money to rendezvous with a U Boat and delivered specific items of supplies. No questions were to be asked.
The captain asked the U Boat crew to be on full alert until they finish the resupplying. He did not want any surprises from the supply ship crews. The captain stood on the outside as the crew of both vessels tied down ropes to stabilise the delivery line. The U X was taking fuel by means of a fuel line whilst the supplies of food, water and other provisions were being done.
The captain of the supply ship identified himself to Captain Franz and apologised for the short delay. They were stopped by a Royal Navy’s naval boat on their way to the rendezvous point and were boarded for inspection. Finding nothing other than standard supply items, the supply ship was allowed to proceed. The captain of the supply tried to extract information from Captain Franz on where this U Boat was heading to but the captain remained silent and continued pressing his men to complete the resupply process fast. He did not like having his U Boat on the surface for far too long. He certainly did not like the captain of the supply ship – he did not buy the story of a Royal Navy stopping them. The Royal Navy will not allow any supply ships to be sailing without in protection or the proper papers. Besides most of the Royal Navy’s ships have been reassigned to the Atlantic for supply ship escort job. Clearly the supply ship was a pirate ship.
The U X engineer came up to where the Captain was standing and informed that they have completed the refuelling. The quality of the fuel was bad but it is enough to power the diesel engines until the next rendezvous point. Resupply of other items should be over in another ten minutes and after which, U X can dive back to the safety of deep waters. The captain was happy to hear this news and bid goodbye to the supply ship. Whether he likes it or not, one thing is very clear – they would have been doomed, had the supply ship not arrived on time. The supply lines were closed and the hatch was sealed tight and the U X dived immediately to the deep waters whilst the supply ship turned to head back to its home. The captain ordered the communication officer to send to Admiral Kantz coded message “Meeting with Bird 1 success”. The Admiral was keeping track on the movement of U X for the German High Command.
Till now, everything has been smooth and on time. As per the earlier prediction, they were on course for the second rendezvous with the next supply ship, this time on the deep waters of the Indian Ocean. The captain however have not forgotten about the warning that Admiral Kantz in a piece of paper when they left the dock over two weeks ago. But so far, there has not been any negative incidents happened in U X. The scientists have been deciphering more information from the ancient scrolls and text books. They know more about the nuclear submarine now but more of this information needs to be studied further. The captain was not interested in the information for now as concentrated on his work on the bridge.