Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Gossamer
U-boat Attack





Source: ADM 199 1782 Proceedings of U-boat assessment committee. U boat attack by GOSSAMER and HUSSAR

Précis of Attack by GOSSAMER and HUSSAR 

Date:                29.3.42
Time:               1148
Position:           71° 40’ N, 37° 00’ E.
Depth of Water:150 fathoms
Weather:          Wind – light. Sea – slight. Weather –cloudy. Visibility – 4 miles. 


GOSSAMER and HUSSAR were on patrol and steaming north at 10 knots when at 1046 HUSSAR sighted a U-boat on the surface bearing 028° and at a range of 10,000 yards. HUSSAR altered course towards the U-boat but did not open fire as the gun’s crew could not distinguish the U-boat from small growlers in the vicinity. The sighting was reported to GOSSAMER by V/S at 1110. When HUSSAR had closed the range to about 8,000 yards, the U-boat altered course way and dived. It is stated that the U-boat’s track in the pancake ice was plainly seen, and at 1110 HUSSAR passed through the position where the U-boat had dived without having obtained asdic contact. 

GOSSAMER obtained an asdic contact at 1148 on a bearing of 330° and at a range of 500 yards. The contact appeared to be moving to the left and was counter attacked with four depth charges set to 150 and 250 feet. The fifth depth charge was not released as it was frozen to the chute. GOSSAMER opened the range to 800 yards and turned to carry out a second attack. She passed over the target however without dropping depth charges as the pattern was not ready. GOSSAMER carried out a deliberate attack at 1204 when the contact was moving with slightly opening inclination. Four depth charges were dropped set to 350 feet. Contact was regained astern and whilst GOSSAMER was opening the range, HUSSAR gained contact and carried out an attack at 1209. Inclination was slightly opening and contact was held down to 200 yards range, but only the two depth charges from the throwers were dropped as the traps were frozen. GOSSAMER acted as directing ship for this attack from a range of 1.800 yards. At 1215, when the inclination was slightly closing and the target still appeared to move, GOSSAMER attacked again with five depth charges set to 350 feet, and states that contact was regained astern on the bearing on which the depth charges exploded. HUSSAR acted as directing ship in this attack and in GOSSAMER’s subsequent attack, and in each case both ships agreed as to the time of firing depth charges. After this attack GOSSAMER states that she passed close to the U-boat to gain any information possible, HUSSAR signalled that she considered the contact was the U-boat which she had seen to dive. HUSSAR carried out her second attack ay 1221 with five depth charges set to 250 and 350 feet. The target was still appearing to move and contact was lost at a range of 200 yards. Contact was regained astern and the U-boat now appeared to be stopped. GOSSAMER, having opened the range to 1,400 yards, carried out her third deliberate attack at 1234 with HUSSAR directing. Five depth charges were dropped set to 350 feet. GOSSAMER regained contact and acted as directing ship for HUSSAR, who carried out the final attack of the hunt at 1239 with five depth charges set to 250, 350 and 500 feet. Contact was lost at a range of 200 yards. HUSSAR states that after this attack a woolly contact was obtained but that this disappeared at 1244. GOSSAMER states that six minutes after HUSSAR’s attack two underwater explosions were heard on the bearing of the contact subsequently faded and was never regained. Two more underwater explosions were heard by HUSSAR at 1355 but it is stated that nothing was observed on the surface owing to pancake ice. 

Investigation of the last position of the U-boat was now made by both ships and GOSSAMER sighted a continuous stream of air bubbles rising to the surface. Oil was also seen. At 1440 HUSSAR set course to join TRINIDAD and GOSSAMER remained in the vicinity of the contact until dark. It is stated that she obtained no further asdic contact but heard a third underwater explosion at 1523 in the same position as that in which the bubbles had been seen.  


U-boat was sighted on the surface and seen to dive. After depth charge attacks oil and bubbles were seen. 


Both ships agreed that the asdic conditions were good. Co-operation between directing and attacking ship appears to have been very satisfactory. The contact appeared to be stopped after HUSSAR’s attack at 1221 and was lost by both ships after underwater explosions had been heard. GOSSAMER has forwarded a track chart. 


GOSSAMER: It is considered that this U-boat was destroyed although the thickly packed brash ice prevented any debris from coming to the surface. The reasons which lead to this conclusion are:

  1. That contact was clear and definitely U-boat and faded out after two underwater explosions.
  2. The U-boat became topped after one counter and four deliberate attacks.
  3. The analyses of GOSSAMER’s third and fourth attacks from the recorder shows that the depth charges could barely have failed to straddle the U-boat.
  4. In spite of the ice a patch of unmistakable oil was sighted besides a continual stream of bubbles about 6” in diameter.

HUSSAR: HUSSAR considered that the woolly echoes after her second attack were presumably due to the disintegration of the target. 


From all evidence it would appear highly probable that this U-boat was destroyed. 


It is considered that there is little doubt that this U-boat was destroyed. The attacks by GOSSAMER seem to have been very accurate and the movement of the U-boat well appreciated. HUSSAR’s second attack however seems to have been rather wide of the mark.

No explanation can be given to account for the underwater explosions which were heard after the attacks. 


There is no tracking evidence of a U-boat in this position. 


The Committee is prepared to accept that a U-boat was attacked from HUSSAR’s positive evidence of sighting.

From the evidence of movement of the target and Doppler throughout the first series of attacks it appears that the U-boat was under full control until the end of this series.

The only evidence that damage was inflicted by the later attack rests on:

(a) The report of unexplained explosions.

(b) Air and oil bubbles appearing on the surface in the vicinity of the attack one hour later.

(c)  GOSSAMER’s opinion that his attacks were accurate.

In this connection GOSSAMER’s remark can hardly be founded on anything but wishful thinking.

The unexplained explosions have been so often reported in the past that they cannot be accepted as evidence of damage. Moreover it is known that FURY was attacking a U-boat about 55 miles to the westward at about this time.

The claim of inflicting damage therefore rests on the reported oil and air bubbles. This cannot be accepted as evidence of destruction and the result is, therefore assessed as ‘Probably slightly damaged’.

1st June 1942




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