National Geographic : 1999 Oct
This intelligence, known as Ultra, had already driven the wolf packs of U-boats into hiding, and now it also included the Japanese diplo matic and naval messages to guide Allied anti submarine forces. U.S. commanders in Washington, D.C., had pinpointed the 1-52 on a wall chart punctuated with nearly every enemy submarine in the Atlantic. They knew exactly who and what the doomed Japanese vessel carried. 1-52 crossed the Equator on June 4, two days before the invasion of France at Normandy, and got to the rendezvous on schedule at dusk on June 23. The German U-530 lay in wait. With both subs surfaced and dangerously exposed, the German commander, Lt. Kurt Lange, launched a rubber dinghy carrying three men-Lieutenant Schafer, the pilot, and the two radiomen, Petty Officers Schulze and Behrendt-and a wooden box containing the new radar-detection gear. In the heavy swell the box tumbled into the sea, a German sea man later recalled, but a Japanese sailor dived in and retrieved it. Two and a quarter hours after the subs met, the U-530 slipped away and set a westerly course. Life and death then hung in the balance as the Japanese submarine stayed surfaced, as if unwilling to give up the luxury of the night air. Meanwhile 55 miles away Lt. Comdr. Jesse Taylor in his Avenger torpedo plane had been launched from the stubby flight deck of the U.S.S. Bogue. The vessel, a bantam-size carrier (CVE) converted from a merchant ship hull, was using information from a special Ultra guided American antisubmarine command known as the Tenth Fleet. Taylor, a 28-year-old from Watson, Mis souri, was the leader of Composite Squadron 69 (VC-69), one of 14 pilots on the Bogue qualified to fly continuous, overlapping night missions. They were (Continued on page 124) Wired to the nerves of Mir 1, Viktor Nischeta (below) pilots the submersible up from an encounter with the 1-52, which lies broken on the bottom at 17,190 feet-more than three miles. Built by the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s for deep-sea exploration, the two Mirs can go even deeper and have a good safety record-though nothing on the subs is routine, not even cast ing off (left). "In a Mir you tend to be very, very alert," says photographer Jonathan Blair.