Type… U Class Submarine
Position… 53 09 941N 001 06 116E
Cause of loss… Accidentally rammed and sunk by the trawler Peter H Kendricks
Date of loss….19th July 1940
Dimensions….Length 59.7 mtrs, Beam 4.9mtrs, Draught 4mtrs
Propulsion….Diesel (surface), Batteries (submerged)
Weight…. (tons) 730 displacement (submerged)
Engines… 2x diesel-electric, 2x diesel generators (dual shaft)
Armament… 10 Torpedoes, 21inch (all forward), 1x3inch deck gun
Speed…11.25 knots (surface), 9 knots (submerged)
Casualties… 22 lives lost
War grave… Yes (Protection of military remains act 1986)
The small, short hulled U-class boats when first conceived were intended for use as unarmed training boats. The first three boats, HMS Undine, HMS Unity and HMS Ursula were ordered in 1936. During their construction they were modified in order to accommodate x4 internal and x2 external torpedo tubes.
In addition to their torpedo capacity, all future boats with the exception of Undine and Unity were fitted with a 3inch deck gun.
With the advent of war looking more likely x12 more boats were ordered. Four of these boats retained the external tube design, however in later construction of the U-class boats this was to be excluded from the armament as it created a large bow wave when running on the surface and made depth keeping when at periscope depth difficult.
During the war years the U-class boats proved themselves to be very capable in both the North Sea and the Mediterranean. A further 34 boats were ordered in 1940 and 1941. These vessels, the third group built were lengthened by 5 feet in order to provide a more streamlined shape. In all 49 U-class boats were built. The Umpire was just 7 months out of her builders hands when she sank.
At the time of her collision with HMT Peter H Hendricks, whilst running on the surface, four crew members were conning the tower. Of these only one survived. The remaining crew, trapped inside the Umpires hull went to the bottom with her. Those trapped inside the Umpire made their escape via the conning tower hatch and engine room hatch with the use of the DSEA (Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus). Of the crew 22 lost their lives
Today the wreck of the Umpire sits in 18mtrs of water on a sandy seabed. In good visibility she makes for a spectacular dive. The wreck lies hard over on her starboard side (port side facing skyward). The Umpire has been quite heavily salvaged, with sections of her hull opened up as with a tin opener. Despite this for the most part she is still very recognisable as a submarine.
Starting at the stern you will find the rudder, here also you will find the port prop shaft and port diving plane. There are no propellors to be seen, as these would have been removed during salvage operations. The extreme stern of the wreck is broken from the main wreckage, from the break the hull then becomes more structured, swimming along the hull you will come to an area of batteries, these being used to power the diesel electric engines when submerged. At this point can also be seen one of her two diesel engines, this still being in situ within the Umpires broken hull. A short distance forward of the engine area the hull becomes very broken and collapsed, this being where the main control room would have been, this being situated beneath the conning tower. The conning tower today is no more than a few broken plates laying slightly off the wreck half buried in the sandy seabed. Just off the wreck at this point you will find the mount for her 12 pounder gun, however there seems to be no sign of the gun itself, this being either salvaged or buried in the sand. Continuing along the hull with the upright deck to your left and heading towards the bows you will come to the torpedo loading hatch, this is a sloped tube angled forward into the deck through which torpedoes would have been slid down into the torpedo room. Forward of the torpedo loading hatch is the forward escape hatch, this being open. From here on in towards what is left of the smashed up bows you will pass various pieces of wreckage including the anchor winch. The bow is unrecognisable apart from the torpedo tubes with much of the bow plating laying on the seabed.