Last Voyage of the U-853

German U-Boat Wreck off Coast of Rhode Island

RI Filmmaker Explores German U-Boat Wreck off Coast of Rhode Island in Last Voyage of the U-853
Documentary Premieres on Rhode Island PBS on December 28 at 6 p.m.

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND (December 16, 2014) – On May 5, 1945, the last day of World War II, the U.S. merchant ship S.S. Black Point was steaming from Newport News Virginia to Weymouth, Massachusetts. Suddenly, German U-boat U-853, attacked and torpedoed the Black Point just a few miles off the coast of Rhode Island. The Black Point sank in minutes, taking 12 men to their deaths; 34 men were rescued.

The incident left many unanswered questions. One man, Captain Bill Palmer, a former Army paratrooper, Coast Guard licensed captain, and deep sea explorer, has been searching for answers for more than 30 years. His passion for the history of the U-853 became the subject of the book he authored entitled, The Last Battle of the Atlantic. Palmer partnered with award-winning editor and videographer Gregory Pettys of Westerly, Rhode Island, to produce the documentary, Last Voyage of the U-853, which premieres on Rhode Island PBS Sunday, December 28 at 6 p.m. as part of Rhode Island Stories.

Why did the U-853 attack the Black Point four days after U-boats were ordered to cease all hostilities? Why did the U-853 attack in less than 200 feet of water? Why did young Captain Helmut Frömsdorf attack instead of surrendering as ordered? And instead of escaping at flank speed, why did the captain linger in the area after his attack?

For U-853, it was a fateful decision. It would be more than an hour and a half before the U.S. warships could get there, but even then the sub was still hugging the bottom only eight miles from where the Black Point went down. A total of 11 Navy and Coast Guard ships arrived and immediately set up a barrier force, while initiating a sweep search with echo ranging that started at the northern tip of Block Island. The U-853 was eventually located and destroyed, killing the 54 men aboard.
Credit to : Gregory Pettys