In Silent Hunter III, you will start each patrol from the dock. You will plot your own course to the patrol zone or where ever you want to go. You then decide how you wish to patrol that area. Even when following orders and only patrolling the ordered grid, there is a great sense of freedom in knowing that if you wanted to you could sail anywhere, and there will be ships there.
Choosing your level of time compression, you sit back and wait.
First patrol of my new career aboard U-358
April 4, 1943: Standing on the bridge of U-358 I give the order “Ahead standard”, the two diesel motors roar into life drowning out the sounds from the band playing on the wharf. After navigating my way clear of the port of Brest, I plot a course across the Bay of Biscay, around the west coast of Ireland staying about 100 miles off the coast and then northward to our patrol zone at AE89. Our patrol zone is about 600 miles SSE of Iceland. A well travelled area and convoy route.
April 6, 1943: On the 2nd day at sea we are about 500 miles out from port. Our passage to date across the Bay of Biscay, a place that is now, undeniably, the domain of the Allied anti U-Boat aircraft, has been thankfully uneventful.
As the day turns into night, I have a feeling, a sense of foreboding. I decide to a depth of 50 metres rather than proceeding on the surface.
Several hours later, the sonar man breaks the silence with “Sound contact, sir! Warship Moving fast! Closing! Bearing 216 Long range!” I order a course away from that of the escorts and head back to my bunk. Occasional updates from the sonar man break the silence of the night. I cannot help but feel smug at my decision to submerge for the night.
April 7, 1943: As we prepare to start a new day the sonar man shouts “Sound contact, sir! Merchant Moving slow! Closing! Bearing 308 Long range!”
I order periscope depth and the men to battle stations. Upon reaching periscope depth, I raise the scope and am surprised to see the merchant ship is not more than 3000 metres away. I quickly order “30° right rudder and ahead slow” to bring the U-Boat around for a better angle. As the U-Boat comes around to its new course I go to the Ship Recognition Manual and see that the merchant ship is a 7000 ton Liberty Cargo. I take the ships range and bearing marking it off on the Plotting Map and quickly lower the scope before I am detected. Waiting for what feels likes hours, yet in reality is only 3 minutes, I raise the attack scope and take another range and bearing, again marking it off on the Plotting Map.
The ship by this time is nearly dead ahead, I must work quickly or I will lose my chance to attack. Measuring the distance travelled I calculate that the ship is travelling at approximately 7 knots. As tubes 2 & 4 are opening, I enter the ships range, AOB (Angle on the Bow) and speed into the TDC (Torpedo Data Computer). Firing tubes 2 and 4 in a fan shot, the first torpedo leaves the tubes followed 10 seconds later by the second torpedo. I quickly prepare tube 3 just in case. With forty-five seconds to impact, I raise the scope to check that the ship is still on course. Thirty-five seconds to impact and the target ship is still on course. Just as I am about to lower the scope I suddenly see the ship veering off course. He must have seen my torpedoes! I quickly enter the new AOB and Bearing data and fire tube 3, all I can do now is wait.
The calculated time for impact of the first two torpedoes comes and goes, and after another 10 seconds I assume that the ships change of course resulted in them missing. Maybe the third torpedo will hit. Another five seconds pass when suddenly there are two explosions in quick succession, yes! Before the cheer has even started to quiet down, we hear the third torpedo explode.
Within minutes, the 7000 ton Liberty Cargo ship has settled up to the deck in the water with a mass of black smoke bellowing up into the sky.
It is time to leave the area, surfacing I resume our trip to the patrol area. Not more than ten minutes later I hear the radioman shout “Radar contact, sir! Bearing 180! Long range”. Looking to the stern I see that two aircraft are fast approaching. I order a crash dive… As we pass 10 metres I am positive that I heard bullets bouncing off the conning tower. I wait for the inevitable depth charges as we pass 20 metres, then 30 metres. We are now deep enough to make a 20° course change without leaving the tell tail wake on the surface, 40 metres, 50 metres and still no depth charges. Levelling out at 65 metres, I wait out the planes for 1/2 an hour before coming to periscope depth. Unable to see any enemy planes through the sky scope I order the U-Boat to surface. As we break the surface, the crew are quick to man the AA guns. However, today luck is with us and the area is clear. I set the watch and resume our journey to the patrol zone before the allies send another response.
April 12, 1943: We reached our patrol area without any further incidents and unfortunately without encountering another merchant. I plot out our search pattern and settle down into the mundane day-to-day tasks as we await our next encounter.