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Destroyer Escort Sailors Association DESA

U.S.S. CHATELAIN (DE-149)

NARRATIVE - SINKING OF U-515

The U.S.S. CHATELAIN in company with the U.S.S. PILLSBURY and the U.S.S. FLAHERTY on the forenoon of 9 April 1944, had been making a retiring search curve from a point of possible contact of a submarine by aircraft observation.  S.O.P Commander F. S. Hall, USN., Commander Destroyer Escort Division FOUR, in the U.S.S. PILLSBURY. The U.S.S. POPE was in formation ahead of the U.S.S. GUADALCANAL about 1100 yards, when they reported a sound contact and immediately started their anti-submarine search and attacks.

At 1255, CCD4 , by means of T.B.S., inquired of the U.S.S. POPE, whether it could use help. The POPE answered “AFFIRMATIVE”. CCD4 immediately ordered the CHATELAIN to assist the POPE with the attack.

The CHATELAIN proceeded at full speed to the area and at 1302 picked up a sound contact bearing 1700 T, range 2300 yards with definite down doppler. 1306 General Quarters was sounded. The POPE was making its run at this time and we were preparing to make a coordinated attack as the assisting ship in accordance with F.T.P. 219. However, the POPE at 1306 requested us to head away from the contact, “Head westward, and don’t do anything until we finish”. At 1308, the POPE dropped a depth charge pattern bearing 1720 T.

We still maintained contact and turned westward. At 1310, the bearing was 1600 T, range 100 yards with the target drifting left. At 1313, range was opened to 1300 yards, target bearing 1350 T. At 1315, the range was still 1300 yards, bearing 1200 T, with target drifting left. At 1317, POPE sent the following T.B.S. message: “Our plot shows 270, turn to North, request you to North”.

Contact was maintained until 1320, range remained steady at 1200 yards, bearing drifting to 0850 T at which time we echo ranged thru wake. We turned North, and at 1321, POPE dropped another depth charge pattern bearing 1000 T. At 1320, we stopped all engines. At 1323, the depth charge disturbance was picked up, bearing 1150 T, range 1400 yards and maintained contact with down doppler. At 1326, we received a double echo bearing 1120 T, 1150 yards. At 1328, we lost
contact, last bearing 1150 T, range 1000 yards.

We kept pinging thru the disturbance and at 1337, turned to listening with the JK head until 1340, then resumed echo ranging on course 3350 T. At 1341, resumed speed.

At 1343, POPE fired another pattern of depth charges, bearing 0900 T, range 1900 yards. At 1347, started pinging beam to beam on course 2550 T and at 1350 noticed definite streaks of oil slicks. At 1353, dropped green dye marker on course 2300 T, at a spot where oil was noticed bubbling bearing 1100 T, range 1600 yards.

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NARRATIVE - SINKING OF U-515 U.S.S. CHATELAIN (DE-149)

At 1402, contact was regained thru the disturbance, bearing 1150 T, range 2000 yards. At 1405, all engines were stopped. At 1406, bearing 1450 T, range 1500 yards. At 1408, bearing 1500 T, range 1500 yards, target width 70.

At 1410, POPE fired another depth charge pattern, bearing 1340 T, range 1400 yards. Contact was lost. At 1416 we came to course 0650 T, and resumed speed.

The recorder was stopped, and echo ranging was switched to stack, exact time unknown. At 1418, contact was regained through the disturbance, bearing 0850 T, range 1500 yards, and we switched to recorder. At 1420, bearing was 0690 T, range 1000 yards and then we obtained all wake traces.

At 1427, echo ranging was switched to stack and searching was beam to beam.

At 1458, contact was made of target bearing 0250 T, switched to recorder and obtained a 1300 yard range. Ranged closed consistently with a moderate down Doppler and a 13 knot range rate. At 700 yards, bearing was 0250 T, and a lead angle was taken, coming to an attack course of 0100 T. At 1503, bearing was 0190 T, range 500 yards and at 1504, contact was lost with order by A.S.W. Officer of “Standby to fire depth charges”. Order “Fire one” was given, and after they were
fired (two rolled and #7 and #8 K guns fired), the submarine’s bow broke water abaft the starboard beam at a radical angle, distance 75 yards. Order was given to fire the remaining K guns, however, eleven charges in all were fired. It was noted that two of the K gun charges fell on the submarine’s deck and rolled off. Time did not permit change of settings from deep to shallow.

All charges exploded. A deep setting was maintained on the depth charges with #2 impulse charges since it was assumed the submarine would seek the maximum depth because of previous attacks and maintaining almost constant contact.

Orders were given to “Commence firing” from all guns bearing on the submarine, range 150 yards, scale 500. The guns opened fire almost immediately in the following order: 20MM #1, 3, 5, and 7, 40MM and #2 and #3 3”/50’s, hits being instantly noticed about the conning tower of the submarine.

The forward motion of this ship required a radical change of course so that all guns could bear. She was therefore brought around on a reciprocal course with right full rudder, port engine ahead full, starboard ahead one third, crossing the submarines bow and running down her starboard side where all engines stopped, target angle 0900, range 500 yards.


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NARRATIVE - SINKING OF U-515 U.S.S. CHATELAIN (DE-149)

At about 1505 enemy personnel were observed attempting to get on deck through the conning tower, however, concentration of fire was such that few made it and the majority came through hatches fore and aft of the conning tower.

Very effective fire by the 20MM’s and 40MM neutralized all enemy attempts to man their guns. The 3”/50’s concentrated on the hull and the conning tower, hitting consistently at point blank range.

At 1508 the order to cease fire was given. During the ensuing lull six to ten members of the submarine’s crew emerged from the conning tower, one ran aft and dove over the side, the others ran towards the gun forward. The order to commence fire was immediately passed and the decks forward were cleared by 20MM and 40MM fire; the 3”/50’s concentrating again on the conning tower. A direct hit by the #2 3”/50 covered the conning tower with smoke and flame, the fire broke out near a hatch forward, presumably containing ready ammunition. An explosion followed.

The order to cease fire was passed at 1509. A fighter plane came down and strafed the sub fore and aft. The submarine began to settle by the stern.

1512 sub sank, her bow disappearing at approximately a 100 angle.

The number of rounds expended by all guns are as follows:

3”/50 Guns - 36 rounds.

40MM Guns - 272 rounds.

20MM Guns - 1488 rounds.

Depth Charges - 11.

Forty-three men including the Commanding Officer were captured and later that day transferred to U.S.S. GUADALCANAL - Total crew of 53 men and 6 officers.

(a) Captain Lieutenant HENKE, Commanding U-515 of 1000 tons.

(b) Port of departure - Bay of Biscay.

(c) Operational area - Unknown.

(d) Outbound.

Distribution:

J. L. FOLEY,
Lieut. Comdr., USN,
Commanding

Advance copy to CominCh
Advance copy to LantASWUnit
Orig. to CominCh via

ComEscortDiv4
CTG 21.12
ComDesLant

CHATELAIN

3.

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