back to article WW II U-boat attacks prompt new US response

May 1943 is held by many to have been the turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic. “Black May”, as it has come to be known, saw 43 U-boats destroyed by allied forces. That number that reduced the size of the German submarine fleet to levels that meant later convoys stood a far better chance of successful Atlantic crossings …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    Why not NUKE those derelicts to smithereens? There are tons of as-yet-unused Pu lying around!!

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Kaaaarrrlllll!!

      Shouldn't that be:



      Mine is the one with the "Das Boot" director's cut DVD in the pocket

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Kaaaarrrlllll!!

        Great movie & TV series.

    2. PC Paul

      Re: Kaaaarrrlllll!!

      > Why not NUKE those derelicts to smithereens? There are tons of as-yet-unused Pu lying around!!

      ...because that as-yet unused weapons grade Pu is perfect to feed the next generation of long-life maintenance-free Thorium cycle reactors - which over their thirty year life will also turn it into much nicer stuff to handle, and also reduce the need to actually handle it at all!

      On the other hand, really big bangs are awesome!

  2. Ralph B

    How Could This Happen?

    Weren't the organisers of WWII required to submit an Environmental Impact Statement?

  3. gb030104

    Blame BP

    Surely the US can blame BP and sue them for billions in reparations?

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Blame BP

      They might be able to claim "Force majeure"

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    Fun fact

    There is a WW2 shipwreck off the Isle of Sheppey, that contains 1500 tons of high explosives. It's marked as a hazard which is a good thing since if a ship were to hit it, or the wreck were to settle, the entire lot could explode triggering a massive explosion and a tsunami racing to either shore and up the Thames estuary. On the plus side, experts think the risk of explosion is "remote".

    1. Moktu

      Re: Fun fact

      But if the Richard Mongomery were ever to go up, no one will actually miss the Isle of Sheppy.

    2. Desk Jockey

      Re: Fun fact

      Unfortunately the risk of explosion is not as remote as they might wish... It would also be a total nightmare to fix the problem as most of the city of London would have to be evacuated just in case thus the problem has just been ignored. Not the best idea in the world...

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Fun fact

        Surely we just shut the barrier and set it off?

      2. JimC

        Re: Not a Fun fact

        Not a fun fact at all: its a damn nightmare. But I don't think anyone has managed to come up with a better option than leaving it alone and hoping it disintegrates slowly without a big bang. If it starts breaking up in such a way that the risk of not doing something exceeds the risk of doing something then they'll need a rethink, but even though the actual risk is probably lower than that of using a pedestrian crossing I still don't think I'd care to live or work in the blast area.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fun fact

        The Isle of Sheppey is quite a long way from the City. I conclude from your comment that the evacuation of other parts of the Thames Estuary would be of lesser importance than evacuating bankers.

        But as they keep telling us that at the first whiff of taxation they will all be moving abroad, couldn't we kill several birds with one stone? Tax the bankers, City soon lies empty, use the tax to fix the explosives problem, rebuild the economy of the South-East to something a bit less transitory than clipping the currency.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Fun fact

      Could this not be The Register Special Project Bureau's next project?

      While the Iberian department conquer space, Lewis Page can pop down the Thames, defuse the bombs in the wreck, and be home in time for tea and medals. Alternatively a really, really, really huge explosion could be entertaining.

      As a bonus, it should make a nice flat space for the new airport to replace Heathrow. Which is probably much better on reclaiming some land to build an island, building an expensive airport, and then having a plane fall on this wreck and flattening the whole thing again.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fun fact

      >the entire lot could explode triggering a massive explosion and a tsunami racing to either shore and up the >Thames estuary.

      And this is a problem how? Just make sure it happens during a full sitting of Parliament and we'll all be better off!

      Anon because.. well - just because.

    5. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Fun fact

      O_O I'm never going to visit my aunty ever again (Oh wait she mentioned Cake)!!

    6. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fun fact

      "Ahhhh Mi Ladds, tis but a mere candle flickering in the cosmic wind. Think of all the fish we can have with our chips if we set it off. All those in favour, say Eye."


      "Motion carried. Blow it up and bring the nets and rowing boats - tis a great deal we will be needing I tinks."

    7. Mike Richards

      Re: Fun fact

      Isn't it close to where they want to build Boris Island?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fun fact

        If they are worried about that ship as a wreck in the estuary - what were unloading plans if it had arrived safely? Presumably it wasn't going to be unloaded in the Port of London? Either way - in those days didn't they just hoist the cargo out of the hold by crane and bang each load down on the quay?

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Fun fact

          If kept dry and "packed normally" these explosives are quite safe to handle (Ofcourse taking some precautions to prevent stray ESD wherever possible). It's the "lying in salty water, piled in a heap, inside a rusty ships hull, undergoing chemical changes for 70 years" that makes these explosives dangerous and unstable.

    8. Pet Peeve

      Re: Fun fact

      No doubt an explosion of 1500 tons of explosives at the mouth of the thames would be a bad thing, but could it really produce a significant tsunami? Docks in Kent might have a bad day, but it would be really localized, no?

      Pretty country - I drove through the area in the 80s on the way to Wales and had a great time touring Leeds Castle. Interesting that there's a major shipwreck just a half hour from there.

    9. John 62

      Re: Fun fact

      "Isle of Sheppey" means "Isle of Sheep Island".

  5. AMB-York Silver badge

    Just blame BP

    Obama won't waste much time blaming 'British Petroleum'

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. theblackhand

      Re: Just blame BP

      I believe there is a Hollywood film about to be released showing Britain subcontracting patrolling of the Atlantic during WW2 to the Germans so it is likely that BP or at least Britain was responsible.

      Fortunately, there is a surprise twist at the end and America saves the day....

      This film is hailed by US critics as being the most historically accurate film Hollywood has ever produced about WW2.

      1. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Re: Just blame BP

        -- Britain subcontracting patrolling of the Atlantic during WW2 to the Germans --

        Fair's fair. IIRC, a Standard Oil (U.S.) tanker was caught refueling a U boat.

        The company claimed it was a rogue captain what done it, but I have to imagine a bit more security than leaving the keys to ships on a hook at the guard shack.

  6. John Chopper

    I've only just got up.....I thought this was a story about the Wii U

  7. Desk Jockey

    only 36?

    Don't know what the US is complaining about, the UK has about 20,000 wrecks in its waters with the possibility to pollute. No that is not a typo or made up figure! Sorry, not allowed to give you the source either although maybe the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will have it on thier website?

    This is an old problem that many countries have been dealing with for years. It is quite an interesting area of work though.

  8. JimmyPage

    Trivial factoid

    The ships sunk in WW1 - like the ones in the battle of Jutland - actually have a commercial value. Or rather the metal they are made of has. Apparently it's uncontaminated by nuclear fallout which has dusted the planet since the tests in the 30s onwards.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Trivial factoid

      > since the tests in the 30s onwards

      Nuclear tests in the '30s? Tell me more.

      1. JimmyPage

        oops - my bad

        I meant 1940s ...

    2. mmeier

      Re: Trivial factoid

      There are wrecks left from Jutland? I always thought the Jellicoes firecrackers turned into confetti...

      WWII wrecks loosing oil is an old problem. Norway has that problem with the Blücher in Oslo Fjord and IIRC Tirpitz in Alta Fjord. And quite a few subs sunken by the RN post WWII when no longer needed are just waiting to spill their tanks.

      And the british policy post WWII to dispose of poison gas by dropping it into the North Sea hurts fisherman even today. Thankfully they did NOT dispose of nerve gas the same way.

      1. Trygve Henriksen

        Don't forget U 864...

        That was carrying 65 TONS of liquid mercury when the brits were inconsiderate enough to sink it off the coast of Norway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't forget U 864...

          Yes, I'm sure it's the fault of the British and nothing to do with the German military transporting large amounts of dangerous material on an unescourted vessel which would be a military target.

      2. George Nacht

        Re: Trivial factoid

        Off topic a bit - I believe Norwegians bought the wreck of Tirpitz from German government and turned it into scrap metal decades ago, so I also believe they sorted out the fuel problem at some point. Otherwise, I fully agree with your point.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Trivial factoid

          Right on the Tirpitz - she was brocken up in the 1950s. The Blücher seems to be a "mostly done, let's hope the best". They got a lot of the oil out in the mid 1990s but there is still some left. (Both according to Wiki)

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Why 'remediate'? A proper word like 'fix' would have done.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remediate?

      Jim'l remediate it

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Remediate?

        I would totally hire "Jim'l Remediate It" to do my lawn mowing...

  10. Neil B

    Wii-U boat attacks?!

    Has a console finally rebelled against its human overlords?

    Oh. nvm.

  11. Sceptic Tank
    IT Angle


    Where's Wally Eadon.

    Ok, let me have a go: This is what will happen to your Third Reich if you install a Microsoft product.


    (P.S. What's the IT angle? Nazi U-boats sinking faster than Windows 8 sales perhaps?)

    1. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: Fail

      Time to invoke Godwin's law...

      1. Lamont Cranston

        Re: "Time to invoke Godwin's law"

        "As a Register Forum discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Eadon approaches 1."

        He's the BOOGEYMAN of our age.

  12. ecofeco Silver badge

    And this compares to?

    And this compares to past, recent past and future oil spills like Valdez or Deepwater, the Pacific "Plastic continent" and the decades of ships garbage since WWII, how?

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Anonymous Coward

    British-involved efforts to pollute the U.S. of A....

    Couldn't do it with redcoats and Hessians, so One Direction is just the latest move in a long history of trying to subvert the American way of life?

    I knew there was a reason that Brits are always the bad guys in movies!!

    (Actually, it would be interesting to find out how much of "Hollywood studio seeking villain for major motion picture--English accent required" is some kind of American cultural memory)

  15. Mike VandeVelde

    I hesitate to say.....

    but should Canada shoulder some of the "blame" here? We built one of the largest navies in the world during WWII, and we sank dozens of U-boats, and not a lot of people seem to be aware. North Atlantic Run and U-Boat Hunters by Marc Milner are fascinating reading. Cheers, carry on then :-)

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