Daily Event for October 6

October 6, 1918: While the HMS C-12 was making it's way down the Humber River the electric motors failed, the fast current drove the submarine into several destroyers moored at the eastern Jetty at the Immingham Dock. The C-12's commander, Lt. N. Manley, ordered all hands to abandon the sinking boat.

With the pressure hull breached water was filling the boat when Manley closed the hatch, from the inside. The First Officer G.H.S. Sullivan had stayed behind to close the watertight doors and access the damage to the boat. Manley, while the boat sank beneath him descended back in to the C-12 to join his First Officer. As he was coming down the ladder the C-12 settled on the bottom and the two men calmly went about checking the boat.

Walking through water that was knee deep, they went from stem to stern (less the compartment with the hole in it) and made their assessment. They determined there was no way to bring the C-12 back to the surface but made mental notes as to how this could later be done. With chlorine levels in the boat rising the two men made their way to the conning tower where they closed the lower hatch, flooded the compartment until the pressure equalized and made their escape to the surface.

The information they had obtained in what could have been an underwater coffin, allowed the Royal Navy to raise the C-12 only days later. She was rebuilt and put back in service being scrapped in 1920.

In 1944 another escape from a submarine was made by three German officers. The U-168 was torpedoed and sunk by the HNLMS Zwaardvisch P-322 (ex British submarine Talent, never commissioned in the RN) in the Java Sea near Surabaya, Dutch East Indies. Twenty seven of her crew were killed but, twenty three survived, with three officers trapped inside when she hit bottom, 120 feet down. The three men used the same method to escape the U-168 as Manley and Sullivan used in the C-12 but, from a much greater depth. With no escape apparatus to use they flooded the boat, opened the hatch and made it to the surface. They, along with the remaining survivors were interned for the rest of the war.

© 2006 Michael W. Pocock

HMS C-12 off Torquay.