Submarines disappeared at a rapid pace during World War II, but there is only one example when a toilet sank a submarine. This was how the new toilet got U-1206 out of action.
Dangerous on submarines
Servicing on submarines during World War II was very dangerous. Out of 40,000 German seamen stationed on submarines, 30.000 died. The probability of staying alive through the war was thus only 25%.
During a war, technology is developing rapidly and on March 16, 1944, the new submarine U-1206 was launched. It belonged to the relatively new type of 7C submarines. These submarines were equipped with a new type of toilet, which for that time was very advanced. It even required every crewman to be trained in the operation. The drainage system was designed with a high-pressure valve and in the crew would share two toilets on board.
As the space on board was very limited at the start of the mission, they instead used one toilet for food storage.
The first patrol for the U-1206 commenced on April 6, 1945. The leave the port of Kristiansand in Germany-occupied Norway for further travel to the British Isles.
Trouble with the toilet
The water reaches the submarine’s batteries that are placed under the toilet. In contact with water, this huge battery pack developed hazardous fumes of chlorine gas, which was also used as a battle gas during the First World War.
The captain had no choice but to go up with the submarine to the surface. In surface mode, they immediately started pumping fresh air but were discovered quite promptly by allied flights. The submarine would be an easy target to fire on for the enemy, so the captain decides to let the submarine sink.
The crew took place on inflatables and arrived later to the Scottish coast. On the voyage to the mainland, three crewmen died due to severe weather.
Three weeks later, Germany surrendered. The submarine wreck was discovered in the 1970s, but some salvage has not taken place.