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S-Boats in the People's Navy (Volksmarine) 1956 - 1990

Sinking of Torpedo-S-Boat 844 "Willi Bänsch"

On 31.08. 1968 in the middle of the hot phase of the Cold War the kommanding officer of the Torpedo-S-Boat 844 "Willi Bänsch" in the harbour built for times of tension and krisis Darßer Ort order together with boat 843 to execute a reconnaisseance sortie against the reported frigate "Karlsruhe" (F 223). At 01:53 the boats left harbour and proceeded at visibility of less than 30 meters at maximum speed towards the Cadet Channel. Short time thereafter boat 843 lost visual contact to its leader and sailed on own responsibility to the ordered position at bouy 12.

In the clutter of the radar on boat 844 the radarman identified 15 surface targets one of which as a bigger one. "Drottningen" identified as "big unknow surface target" disappeared in the dead zone of the radar on "Willi Bänsch" in a steady bearing. The commanding officer changed course about 70 degrees to port and changed speed from 28 knots to "Stopp" and again to "Half Speed Ahead" while the ferry changed course to starboard. At this point in time the distance between the two vessels was 2,2 nm. At 0227 hours the ferry rammed the S-Boat. "Drottningen" proceeded at the time of the accident 17,2 knots, the "Willi Bänsch" 24 knots. "Wili Bänsch" capsized and sank immediately. "Karlsruhe" had at this point in time because of the bad visibility at length unobserved by the forepostvessel in Fehmarn Belt (Krake) changed course and anchored off Staberhuk.

Complement of Boat 844 "Willi Bänsch" a few days before the Accident - Archives: MHMD

"Drottningen" reported the accident "with an unknow vessel" at  0351 hours and searched for its counterpart but moved away from the position of the accident slowly but steadily . In the search for survivors the Swedish ferry "Gustav Wasa", ten S-Boats, four minelayers, the helos and an auxiliary of the Volksmarine participated, a Westgerman and a Polish merchant ship joined them. At daybreak nine men could be rescued out of a liferaft by boat 843. Seven men were considered missed for the time being.

No survivors could be rescued by the searching vessels. One dead could only be recovered on 05.09. when frogmen of the Volksmarine discovered the wreck. Two other deads were recovered on 08.09. when the wreck liftet iln the meantime was sat on the slip at Warnemünde. After the lost antiaircraft gun was found and lifted later a man was found jammed in it. Three more missed of the boat's complement were wahed ashore in Denmark weeks later.

Article from Armee-Rundschau - Archives Förderverein

Orbituary for the Killed and the Missing - Archives Förderverein

Accident-Commission:

"Drottningen was in the deadzone"

Berlin (TT-DPA)   The commission of the Eastgerman Defencedepartment, which has investigated the reasons for the collission of 31. August between the Swedish ferry Drottningen and the Eastgerman Navy boat Willi Bänsch, has now presented its report. 

According to the Eastgerman newsoffice ADN had Drottningen entered the "deadzone" of the boat's radardisplay. In the prevailing fog and darkness the sight was no more than about 50 meters. The Navy boat sank immediately. Seven men followed into the depth, nine could be rescued. 

(Translation Kalle Scheuch)

 

Article from an Trelleborg-Newspaper - Archives: Dan Drakenholt
Wreck of "Willi Bänsch" in hoist of a krane at Warnemünde - Picture: Archives Dieter Flohr

Wreck of Willi Bänsch - Picture: Archives Förderverein

Propeller of "Willi Bänsch" at MHM Dresden - Picture: Archives Förderverein
"Drottningen" at full speed - Picture: Archives Dan Drakenholt
Light damages at port side of "Drottningen" - Picture: Archives Dan Drakenholt
Paintdamages on starbord side of "Drottningen" - Picture: Archives Dan Drakenholt

Dan Drakenholt from Trelleborg, Sweden, whose father sailed on "Drottningen", is researching on the basis of the report of the Swedish investigating committee classified secret the the details of the accident. He has posted a Video in Youtube

Memory of "Willi Bänsch" - Picture: From an Email of Dan Drankenholt

The sealed report of the Swedish investigating committee - Picture: Dan Drankenholt

Report of the Maritime Court stamped "Secret" - Picture: Dan Drankenholt

Report "behind closed doors" ot he Captain of "Drottningen" - Picture: Dan Drankenholt

The original Memeorial at the Mainbase Dranske in 1969 - Picture: Archives MDHD

The plate on the memorial in 1969 - Picture: Archives MHMD

Memorial for the deads of TS-Boat 844 "Willi Bänsch" in 1988 - Picture from "Schnellbootsverband gefechtsbereit"

The memorial transferred to the graveyard of Dranske in 2011 - Picture: Archives MHMD

 

 Discurses about the loss of TS-Boat 844 "Willi Bänsch" are found in the books:

 Ingo Pfeiffer: "Gegner wider Willen"

Ingo Pfeiffer: " Fahneneflucht zur See"

Dieter Flohr: "Volksmarine"

Chronik Teil 2: "Die Torpedoschnellboote der Volksmarine 1959 - 1971" 

There is also a report of the sinking of "Willi Bänsch" in Köhlers Flottenkalender 2007 on page 112 pp. under the title: "Untergang im Kalten Krieg", the author is: Dr. Ingo Pfeiffer