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U-1105 Black Panther Historic Shipwreck Preserve

U-1105 Black Panther Historic Shipwreck Preserve

The U-1105 Black Panther

The U-1105 submarine began its wartime career when it was launched by Germany on April 20, 1944.  It was an experimental design – less than ten were commissioned during the war -- that was outfitted with a synthetic rubber skin to counter Allied sonar devices, earning it the nickname "Black Panther."  On its first mission, U-1105 disabled the HMS Redmill with two torpedoes, killing 32 men.  The Allies searched for the "Black Panther" without success.  Germay surrendered shortly thereafter and the submarine was turned over to the United States Navy for study and experimentation. 

It took the U-boat 16 days to sail from England to the United States.  While in transfer, the U-1105 encountered very heavy seas. On the fourth day, it was in the middle of a hurricane while on the surface, not an ideal situation for a U-boat.  Part of the boat was torn loose when the U-boat almost rolled over.  The radio failed and left the U-boat out of contact for 10 days of the trip, which caused the Navy to fear the worst.  One engine caught fire, and another failed completely.  When the vessel reached Newfoundland, a tug boat was dispatched to help bring it to shore.  By the time it reached its destination at the Navy Yard near Portsmouth, VA, much of the U-1105's rubber coating had been torn loose and lost – the primary reason the Navy wished to acquire the vessel.

Research on the remainder of the rubber skin of the "Black Panther" began in early 1946. In the fall of 1949, U-1105 was towed into the Potomac River to an anchorage off Piney Point, Maryland.  The ship was sunk at a rate of 91 feet in 20 seconds, where it remains today.

Did you know?

  • In 1995, the U-1105 wreck was designated as Maryland's first historic shipwreck preserve.

  • The lowest point of the wreck is at a depth of 91 feet, the shortest point is at a depth of 65 feet in near-zero visibility with a swift, constant current. Visiting the wreck is discouraged, as it is considered an advanced dive.  Divers must register the dive with the Maryland Historical Trust first, and follow specific safety guidelines.

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