HMS Venturer (P68)

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HMS Venturer (P68)
United Kingdom
NameHMS Venturer
BuilderVickers Armstrong, Barrow-in-Furness
Laid down25 August 1942
Launched4 May 1943
Commissioned19 August 1943
IdentificationPennant number P68
FateSold to Norway, 1946
NameHNoMS Utstein
StrickenJanuary 1964
FateBroken up
General characteristics
Class and typeV-class submarine
  • 545 tons surfaced
  • 740 tons submerged
Length206 ft (63 m)
  • 11.25 knots (20.84 km/h; 12.95 mph) surfaced
  • 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) submerged
Test depth300 ft (91 m)
  • 4 × 21 inch (533 mm) bow torpedo tubes and 8 torpedoes
  • 1 × 3 in (76 mm) deck gun
  • 3 × .303 calibre machine guns for anti-aircraft defence

HMS Venturer was a Second World War British submarine of the V class that sank two German U-boats and five merchant ships during the war. Following the war, the boat was sold to Norway and was renamed HNoMS Utstein. She was discarded in 1964.

She is the only submarine in history to have sunk another while both were submerged.


Venturer was the lead boat of the British V-class submarine, a development of the successful U class.[1] She was built at the Vickers Armstrong yard in Barrow-in-Furness. Construction commenced in August 1942 and she was launched eight months later in May 1943. Venturer was commissioned on 19 August 1943.

Service history[edit]

On completing trials and working-up, Venturer commenced operations patrolling the Norwegian coast for coastal traffic and U-boats leaving or entering base.

She was successful on several occasions, sinking three Axis vessels during 1944.

She also sank the German submarine U-771 on 11 November 1944 7 nautical miles (13 km) east of Andenes, Norway, off the Lofoten Islands.

Lt J S Launders DSC RN, on commissioning of Venturer at Holy Loch, 20 August 1943 (IWM A18834)

Her most famous mission, however, was her eleventh patrol out of the British submarine base at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, under the command of 25-year-old Jimmy Launders, which included the first time in the history of naval warfare that one submarine intentionally sank another while both were submerged.

Sent to the Fedje area, Venturer was then ordered on the basis of Enigma decrypts to seek, intercept and destroy U-864 which was in the area. U-864 was carrying a cargo of 65 tonnes of mercury as well as Junkers Jumo 004B jet engine parts (used in the Messerschmitt Me 262) to Japan,[2][3] a mission code-named Operation Caesar.

Action of 9 February 1945[edit]

On 6 February 1945, U-864 passed through the Fedje area without being detected, but on 9 February Venturer heard U-864's engine noise. Launders had decided not to use ASDIC since it would betray his position and spotted the U-boat's periscope as her captain looked for his escort. In an unusually long engagement for a submarine, and in a situation for which neither crew had been trained, Launders waited 45 minutes after first contact before going to action stations. Launders was waiting for U-864 to surface and thus present an easier target. Upon realising they were being followed by the British submarine and that their escort had still not arrived, U-864 zig-zagged underwater in attempted evasive manoeuvres, with each submarine occasionally risking raising her periscope.

Venturer had only eight torpedoes as opposed to the 22 carried by U-864. After three hours Launders decided to make a prediction of U-864's zig-zag and released a spread of his torpedoes into its predicted course. This manual computation of a firing solution against a three-dimensionally manoeuvring target was the first occasion on which techniques were used and became the basis of modern computer-based torpedo targeting systems. Prior to this attack, no target had been sunk by torpedo where the firing ship had to consider the target's position in three-dimensional terms, where the depth of the target was variable and not a fixed value. The computation thus differs fundamentally from those performed by analogue torpedo fire-control computers which regarded the target in strictly 2D terms with a constant depth determined by the target's draught.

The torpedoes were released in 17-second intervals beginning at 12:12, and all taking four minutes to reach their target. Launders then dived Venturer suddenly to evade any retaliation. U-864 heard the torpedoes coming, dived deeper, and turned away to avoid them. The first three torpedoes were avoided, but U-864 unknowingly steered into the path of the fourth. Exploding, U-864 split in two, and sank with all hands coming to rest more than 150 metres (490 ft) below the surface. Launders was awarded a bar to his DSO for this action.

Merchant ships sunk[edit]

During her career, she sank five merchant ships all off the Norwegian coast.

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Location[4][5]
2 Mar 1944 Thor  Germany 5559 Stadlandet
15 Apr 1944 Friedrichshafen  Germany 1923 Egersund
11 Sep 1944 Vang  Norway 678 Lister
22 Jan 1945 Stockholm  Germany 618 Stavanger
19 Mar 1945 Sirius  Germany 1,350 Namsos


With the end of hostilities Venturer was destined for disposal. In 1946 she was sold to the Royal Norwegian Navy, and was renamed Utstein. She served with the Norwegians until January 1964, when she was struck from the Royal Norwegian Navy register. After her removal from naval service, the submarine was sold to a scrapyard and broken up.


  1. ^ Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.


  1. ^ "1941 - 1958: V Class". Retrieved 27 September 2022.
  2. ^ Fletcher, Martin (19 December 2006). "Toxic timebomb surfaces 60 years after U-boat lost duel to the death". The Times. London. Retrieved 9 November 2008.
  3. ^ "Norway tackles toxic war grave". BBC News. 20 December 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2008.
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by HMS Venturer". German U-boats of WWII – Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  5. ^ Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (2001). Der U-Boot-Krieg, 1939-1945: Deutsche U-Boot-Erfolge von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [The U-boat War 1939–1945: German U-boat successes from September 1939 to May 1945] (in German). Hamburg: Mittler & Sohn. pp. 268–270.