This a tale of a dirty secret. A dirty secret that involves the governments of two countries and the government of this province. However, it's a secret that can no longer be kept quiet, because it involves the health and welfare of the region. The secret? The secret is the u-boat wreck near Muskrat Falls is that of U-851, a "tanker" u-boat, a German "black" boat, and it was full of mercury. That mercury cargo remains littered there, in the waters near Muskrat Falls, to this day.
Many people have suggested over the years that a u-boat could not traverse the Churchill River to Muskrat Falls. The truth is that not only did it happen, but the u-boat itself was the largest u-boat the Germans had of the IX series - an IXD2- also fondly known as "milk cow" to the German navy. They served two purposes during the war: to supply other submarines at sea with fuel; and to conduct secret supply missions to Japan. The u-boats that went to Japan were known as the Monsoon Boats. They were also referred to as "Black Boats",because their cargo involved secret plane parts, missile parts, plans, scientists, gold to pay for them, uranium and mercury for Japan.
Captain Hannes Weingartner was a career u-boat officer well before the war started in September, 1939. He had commanded three u-boats before U-851 (U-4, U-10, U-16) over a period of 4 1/2 years. He was Captain of U-16 when the war broke out, and intercepted 7 ships inspecting for contraband goods, and sunk another one during the same combat patrol. Weingartner was then taken from operational duties and placed in command of the u-boat school to train new u-boat commanders. That's were he spent most of the war until getting the call in late 1943 to command the newly built U-851. Unfortunately for Weingartner, the u-boat fleet had suffered 75% casualties during the war and the only crew that could be scraped up for him was those u-boaters who were in naval stockades and the like. The crew became known among other crews as the "convict boat".
U-851 sailed on her maiden voyage with a large cargo of mercury for Japan. Other aspects of her cargo cannot be confirmed as her cargo remains a German war secret to this day (or so says the German Military Attache in Ottawa that I requested information from). A similar situation exists today off the coast of Norway where U-864, another "milk cow" was sunk with a cargo of mercury. It was at first thought the cargo was uranium, as was the case of U-234 which surrendered to US forces enroute to Japan as the war ended, uranium. However, the Norwegian Navy finally found U- 864 after a five year search and discovered the cargo was in fact mercury. (read). The most worrisome prospect of the Norwegian find was the discovery that the mercury was contained in cast-iron bottles that were leaking mercury and poisoning the sea bed. The even more worrisome issue for the Muskrat Falls u-boat is that when the crew scuttled her, which they did, the massive explosions caused far more damage to U-851 than the torpedo hit that took down the Norwegian u-boat - so contamination into the Churchill River may well be far greater as many bottles were likely destroyed in the huge underwater blasts.
I've been studying, researching, for three years to find: Is there a German u-boat sunken near Muskrat Falls; If yes, what type of u-boat it was and what was the identity of the boat; and what were the circumstances surrounding it. It's been a difficult journey. The evidence I've gathered is conclusive - although any u-boat identification must be confirmed by diving. (get to that later on) Conversely, the lack of cooperation has been mystifying. As I write this post, both the federal and provincial governments are stonewalling access to information requests that are over due according to legislation. The original discoverer of the u-boat has gone silent, and refuses to cooperate or impart any information. Peter Sellars, the author of Hard Aground, detailing an account of a German u-boat sunk at Muskrat Falls area, was originally cooperating somewhat, but then just hung up on phone calls suddenly. It should be noted that Mr. Sellars was a Canadian intelligence officer during the war, and would be bound by the Official Secrets Act.
Brian Corbin, the man who takes credit for sonar scanning the wreck, has gone off the map. He refuses to share any of his information on the wreck. Mr. Corbin is a curious factor in all this. An Englishman that emigrated to Canada, Corbin was initially quite public about the u-boat wreck. That is he was public from 2012 when the story first went to the world-wide media. I spoke with him back then, and he wouldn't release the exact position of the wreck until he had secured a deal with History Channel. Fair enough I thought. However, after talking with the Manager of Wrecks, Government of Canada, I discovered that in fact Corbin had been working with them on the u-boat wreck for a decade, and not just since 2012 when he publicly reported finding the wreck after searching for three drowned people that went over the falls, and which resulted in him capturing the sonar images of the wreck. I asked the Manager several times to confirm that, and he did. Needless to say I was surprised by that. In any case, Corbin went silent and no longer speaks about the u-boat wreck. In what can only be called a strange coincidence, Corbin was hired by SNC Lavalin as a site remediation officer for the Goose Bay Air Force site. SNC Lavalin is also the primary contractor at the massive Muskrat Falls dam site not far from the wreck.
Perry Trimper was working with Corbin on the u-boat wreck. He has gone quiet now as well. He wouldn't return any messages requesting information on the u-boat wreck. Not one. Trimper is a former scientist who worked for Stantec - another major Muskrat Falls dam contractor. His resume is here. Trimper is now the Minister for Environment and Conservation in the newly elected provincial government. He still won't comment or share any knowledge he has of the u-boat wreck at Muskrat Falls.
One question has always remained an illusive one: What happened to the crew of U-851. In Sellars mostly fiction story, the Captain dies and is buried just outside the cemetery at Goose Bay. Two men jump fishing boats and escape to Toronto and Montreal. The remaining fifteen steal a motor boat on the river and meet up with a u-boat off the coat of Labrador only to die when the u-boat is subsequently sunk by a Canadian plane - except one who survives to tell the tale. This part is pure fiction. The real truth is far more sinister, and probably not what people might expect. The Moravian Church played a large part in the life of the Inuit from the 1700's. It was essentially a German Church. The tale is told that a Moravian Reverend named Reverend Hettach aided the German u-boat men in their escape. Hettach was based on the northern coast of Labrador, but in the summer of 1944 was spotted in the Mud lake area, near Muskrat Falls, with a large group of German speaking men. This is far more likely what happened to the survivors of U-851. The Moravian Church was very involved in the export of fish from Labrador - especially to the Caribbean.Putting together the tales of Innu elders it would appear the crew was spirited out of Labrador on fishing boats run by the Moravian Church.
At this point this is hard to prove, but Inuit witnesses are a far better indicator of the truth than anything else that exists.
One other tidbit. U-851 was on a mission to Japan. That much history seems to agree with. So how would it end up in a river in Labrador? U.Boat.Net is considered one of the world's leading sites on German u-boat history. It has detailed daily reporting on every u-boats missions. In the case of U-851 it plots the voyage down the centre of the North Atlantic - presumably on its way to Japan. Then, on March 26, 1944 U-851 suddenly changes direction and heads north toward the east coast of Newfoundland. One day later its last radio transmission to headquarters gives its location as just south east of Newfoundland. (See the entire voyage map here ). The question remains whether there was a mutiny by the "convict crew" and they changed the boat's course, or did the Captain have a change of heart and decide the war was almost over and it was woth trying to save his crew? Sellars book suggests it was the Captains change of heart and desire to spare his young crew. That may be one of the kernels of truth in his book. It seems that must have been the case as navigating the sand bars of the Churchill River would require a very experienced captain - which Weingartner was. It has to be remembered, and often isn't by critics, that the Churchill river, or Hamilton River as it was known then, was much deeper than it is today. The damming of the river at the Upper Churchill Falls in the early 1970's changed the water levels in the river, and resulted in even more sandbars than existed back in 1944. The following pictures of the Falls gives you an idea of the disruption in water flow downstream where the u-boat wreck is located:
In Part 2, coming very shortly, I'll publish the evidence. Part 1 is meant to give you a flavour of the story. A story I've been sitting on for months at the request of the internationally acclaimed dive team that has agreed to dive the U-851 site. I have confidentially let certain members of the Inuit community, and the former President of the Nunatsiavut community, know the story so they could take measures to have their people avoid eating fish and animals from that area. Whether they have or not I don't know. In any case, I am very greatful that Ritchie Kohler has agreed to take on the dive. Among other sites, Ritchie has dived numerous u-boats, and was a part of the original Titanic dive. Ritchie gained fame from his role in the book Shadow Divers, and as co-host of History Channels Deep Sea Detectives series. He is as credible a diver as it comes, and I'm truly excited he has taken on this particular mission. You can read up on Ritchie Kohler on his website. Next post - the evidence.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)