Silent Hunter III Scapa Flow Scenario

Scapa Flow is the eighth of 10 single player scenarios available in the game. It takes place in October 1939 and is based on the sinking of the battleship HMS Royal Oak by Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien in the U-47. This astounding demonstration of bravery in the opening days of the war was a major propaganda coup that resulted in the award of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for Prien. It demonstrated the weakness of the WWI era defenses that had fallen into disrepair and the vulnerability of the Home Fleet to the Kriegsmarine.

Although efforts were taken to block the channel through the sinking of old merchant ships, navigable approaches remained through Kirk Sound as well as Skerry Sound. On the night of the attack by U-47 the block ship intended for Kirk Sound was still afloat, and Prien would navigate this channel for both his infiltration and escape routes. Scapa Flow was largely empty at this time with the majority of the Home Fleet having left to pursue a sortie by the German navy in an attempt to draw the British out for of an attack by the Luftwaffe that never materialized.

HMS Royal Oak had returned from this search and destroy mission early and had taken up anchorage to serve in an anti-aircraft defense role for the British naval base.

The default submarine selection is a Type VII-B (1939 series) U-Boat, and as with other single player missions I am running the game at a moderately increased realism setting of 49%. The primary objective of the scenario is to sink any British capital warships.

I start the scenario on the surface in calm weather and order ahead slow while I start planning my approach.

Here in the Crew & Damage Management interface I order all presently nonessential personnel to quarters for rest. For this mission the scenario designer designated my sailing the U-54 instead of the U-47 (in real life U-54 made one wartime patrol and never returned).

My primary weapons load consists of the early war T I (G7a) gas/steam torpedo. These fish have several speed settings and ranges; however they also leave a visible wake on the surface which I will have to take into account when staging the attack on the Home Fleet.

For the first time in this single player scenario set I have actual decisions to make that will greatly impact how the mission plays out for me. In real life the U-47 would sail southwest and enter Scapa Flow via Kirks Sound; however I decide to navigate northwest and round the entirety of the Orkney Mainland. 

While running ahead standard on the surface at night, the estimated time of arrival is approximately 4:30 AM (10:50 and 150 kilometers at the last waypoint flag on the Navigation Map interface).

Here just off of Marwick I encounter my first obstacle, a British Hunt I class destroyer.

BdU is quite specific in regards to the orders for the scenario so I decide to quietly pass the threat and avoid engagement.

Here I duck into an inlet near Stenness in order to surface and run about ahead slow in order to recharge the electric batteries and replenish the oxygen supply.

After everything is all set I order a stop so I can evaluate and plot my approach to the anchorage.

At dawn I have to run submerged while hugging the coast in order to avoid detection. While I  could edge my way a bit closer to shore, there are coastal batteries at various places and given a depth under keel of approximately 12 meters I have no place to dive to if I am detected and pounced on by a destroyer.

Using the external camera can be a cheat of sorts; however it is necessary in order to obtain decent screen shots for blog posts: here the base at Scapa Flow is effectively empty, perhaps in the scenario designer’s efforts to model it having been vacated in order to pursue the real life German sortie mentioned above.

The HMS Royal Oak at anchorage serving in its anti-aircraft defense role for the harbor: while this stationary target is tempting, it is broad daylight and the wake from the gas/steam torpedoes would be visible to the watch crew of both the battleship and the vessel behind it.

My plan is to wait until nightfall and then work my way into a satisfactory firing position off of the port side of the battleship.

A range of less than 2,000 meters will do even though the angle on bow is not optimal.

In real life the U-47 would fire on the Royal Oak twice and withdraw, and then approach again to fire a third and lethal salvo. I am having none of that and here I configure a four torpedo spread at a 3 meter depth, fast speed and an impact pistol setting for the warheads with a 2.8 spread angle fan for the salvo which should cover the breadth of the battleship.

After firing the salvo I immediately plot an exit route and order ahead slow.

The wake of the four torpedoes can be seen on the surface just below the horizon and above the mast of the Royal Oak.

The torpedo bulge on the WWI ear battleship was insufficient to deflect the more modern weapons fielded by the Germans. All four warheads strike the port side hull and result in the cataclysmic destruction of the Royal Oak.

The attack approach and destruction of the battleship.

The battleship is sunk at 19:35 on October 11, 1939 and I am credited with 28,000 tons, thus completing the primary (and only) objective of the scenario.

Although not require to successfully complete the mission, I further my route of escape and hug the coast while running submerged.

I would eventually work my way to the mouth of the Atlantic and then surface the boat in order to avoid the dreaded “U-Boat lost” message.

After-action Report

One Allied unit lost for 28,000 tons and no damage to my boat or injury to my crew.

Post Mortem

I really appreciated that the scenario required the player to decide their course instead of slapping the objective in the face of the U-Boat as what has occurred with some of the other single player missions in the game. It presented an enjoyable challenge and made the successful completion all that more satisfying.

This mission was played on 7/31/15 on a Windows 7 machine.

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