French submarine Surcouf

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by CL1, Jun 16, 2018.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Surcouf vanished on the night of 18/19 February 1942, about 80 mi (70 nmi; 130 km) north of Cristóbal, Colón, while en route for Tahiti, via the Panama Canal. An American report concluded the disappearance was due to an accidental collision with the American freighter Thompson Lykes, steaming alone from Guantanamo Bay, on what was a very dark night; the freighter reported hitting and running down a partially submerged object which scraped along her side and keel. Her lookouts heard people in the water but the freighter did not stop, thinking she had hit a U-boat, though cries for help were heard in English. A signal was sent to Panama describing the incident.[8][9]

    The loss resulted in 130 deaths (including 4 Royal Navy personnel), under the command of Capitaine de Frégate Georges Louis Nicolas Blaison.[citation needed] The loss of Surcoufwas announced by the Free French Headquarters in London on 18 April 1942, and was reported in the New York Times the next day.[10] It was not reported Surcouf was sunk as the result of a collision with the Thompson Lykes until January 1945.[11]

    French submarine Surcouf - Wikipedia
    ozzy16, Tricky Dicky and Seroster like this.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Who Sank the Surcouf?: The Truth About the Disappearance of the Pride of the French Navy: James Rusbridger: 9780712639750: Books
    The pride of France's navy, the giant submarine "Surcouf" was in reality an expensive and inefficient vessel. Following the defeat of France in 1940 she limped to England where her crew only yielded possession of the vessel after a fierce gun battle. With a new crew she was then sent to war against the Germans, but then rumours began to circulate that she was sinking Allied ships. En route to Tahiti, the "Surcouf" mysteriously disappeared without trace. Her unexplained loss provoked a storm of suspicion by the French who believed that she had been deliberately sunk by the Americans and British to stop the submarine fleeing to the sanctuary of the Vichy-held island of Martinique. Fifty years later the "Surcouf" still generates strong emotions amongst Frenchmen. The refusal by Churchill to hold an inquiry also rekindles the anger and suspicions directed against Churchill following his order for the Royal Navy to destroy the French fleet. James Rusbridger has uncovered an exciting tale of intrigue, lies, and incompetence. He located the wreck and reveals what really happened to the "Surcouf".

    French submarine Surcouf - Wikipedia

    Theories on the loss of Surcouf
    As there is no conclusive confirmation that Thompson Lykes collided with Surcouf, and her wreck has yet to be discovered, there are alternative stories of her fate.
    Disregarding the predictable story about her being swallowed by the Bermuda Triangle (a fantastical zone that would not be conceptualised until two decades after the submarine's disappearance), one of the most popular is that she was caught in Long Island Sound refuelling a German U-boat, and both submarines were sunk, either by the American submarines USS Mackerel and Marlin,[14] or a United States Coast Guard blimp. (On 14 April 1942, Mackerel had torpedoes fired at her by a German U-boat while en route from New London to Norfolk. The torpedoes missed Mackerel which returned fire without result. It is possible some assumed this attack was made by Surcouf, fuelling rumors she was really serving the Germans.)
    In response to the above theory, Captain Julius Grigore, Jr., USNR (Retired), who has extensively researched and written about Surcouf, offered a one million dollar prize to anyone who can prove Surcouf engaged in activities detrimental to the Allied cause. The prize has yet[when?] to be claimed.[15]
    James Rusbridger examined some of the theories in his book Who Sank Surcouf?, finding them all easily dismissed except one: the records of the 6th Heavy Bomber Group operating out of Panama show them sinking a large submarine the morning of 19 February. Since no German submarine was lost in the area on that date, it could have been Surcouf. He suggested the collision had damaged Surcouf's radio and the stricken boat limped towards Panama hoping for the best.[16]

    The plot thickens - or to some the thick plottens

    There is an interesting forum discussion on this Submarine on the link is - - Photo of SURCOUF in Bermuda before 2/12/42

    I see our sister site has a thread on this subject -
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  4. Seroster

    Seroster Canadian researcher

    I was listening to Paul Cheall's podcast yesterday. The most recent episode was about the naval treaties between the wars.

    The French accepted a low number of battleships. I'm not sure if there were limitations on cruisers. I'm just wondering if the Surcouf was an experiment in getting around building limits on cruisers since as I understand it, they were not limited in how many submarines they could build?

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