Spanish submarine C-3

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C3y canguro.jpg
C-3 alongside Submarine Rescue Vessel Kanguro
Name: C-3
Ordered: 17 February 1915
Builder: SECN, Cartagena, Spain
Launched: 20 February 1929
Commissioned: 4 May 1929
Decommissioned: 31 July 1941
Fate: Sunk 12 December 1936
General characteristics
Class and type: C-class diesel-electric submarine
  • 925 t surfaced
  • 1,144 t submerged
Length: 73 meters
Beam: 6.3 meters
Draft: 5.3 meters
  • 2 Vickers main diesels, 1,000 CV each
  • 2 electric motors, 375 CV each
  • 2 shafts
  • 16.5 knots surfaced
  • 8.5 knots submerged
  • 6,800 nm at 10 knots surfaced
  • 150 nm at 4.5 knots submerged
Complement: 40

C-3 was a C-class submarine of the Spanish Republican Navy. C-3 was built by Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval (SECN) in Cartagena, Spain, launched 20 February 1929, and commissioned on the 4 May 1929. She took part in the Spanish Civil War on the government side before being sunk by the German submarine U-34 on 12 December 1936.


On 14 September 1931, C-3 successfully tested Génova's submarine rescue chamber (similar to the McCann Submarine Rescue Chamber) in Escombreras inlet. Developed by Capitán de Corbeta (Lieutenant Commander) Arturo Génova Torrecuellar, this was subsequently installed in all C-class submarines as a portable unit, as well as the subsequent D-class,[1] which used a fixed unit.

Civil War[edit]

At the start of the Civil War, 18 July 1936, C-3 was in Cartagena harbour, under command of Teniente de Navío (Lieutenant) Rafael Viniegra González. He was ordered to sortie from Cartagena in company with submarines B-6, Isaac Peral (C-1),[2] C-4 and C-6, bound for the Gibraltar Strait. In command of the flotilla was the Capitán de Fragata (Commander) Francisco Guimerá Bosch, the mission was to blockade the strait and interdict transport of rebel troops from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula. They took a patrol line along the Andalusian coast

Only two days into the operation, on 20 July, the flotilla entered Málaga harbour, where Guimerá, Viniegra (along with C-3's executive officer), and the rest of the flotilla's senior officers, with the exception of Isaac Peral (C-1)'s skipper, Capitán de Corbeta Lara, were relieved and transferred to the prison ship Monte Toro because they were considered sympathizers of the rebels.

Next morning, 21 July, C-3, joined by B-6, departed Málaga bound for Tangier to protect the oil tanker Ophir. On 27 July, all destroyers and submarines in Málaga deployed around Cadiz to intercept a Nationalist convoy that proved to be a decoy. Then she, C-2, and C-6 received instructions to form a patrol arc in front of Ceuta harbour to prevent the entrance of the cruiser Almirante Cervera, which had left Ferrol bound for the Gibraltar Strait.

1 August, at Málaga, C-3 took on remaining anti-aircraft ammunition and torpedoes before C-4 departed for Cartagena for minor repairs

Two weeks later, on 15 August, C-3 sailed for the Cantabric Sea with the C-6, returned to Cartagena with average. She repeated the voyage 25 August, in company with C-4 and C-5, where C-3 and C-6 jointly attempted to locate and sink the battleship España and Almirante Cervera, without success. She also aided in the search for transports bringing weapons to Bilbao.

C-3 returned to the Mediterranean Sea on 2 October, arriving in Málaga 8 October.

On 12 December 1936, C-3 was running surfaced 4 nm (7½ km) southeast of Málaga. In the conning tower was her commander, Alférez de Navío (Ensign) Antonio Arbona Pastor, and a merchant navy pilot attached to the Republican Navy. At 14:19, there was a sudden explosion on her starboard bow, and C-3 disappeared. The explosion was observed by the coastguard vessel Xauen, lying two miles (3.7 km) inshore of C-3, and the fishing boats Joven Antonio and Joven Amalia, about the same distance away. Despite their proximity, the only survivors were the pilot, García Viñas, and two of C-3's sailors, Isidoro de la Orden Ibáñez and Asensio Lidón Jiménez, who had been topside dumping trash and garbage.[3]

According to the Germans, C-3 was torpedoed by U-34, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Harald Grosse, as part of Operation Ursula;[4] the Republican version differs, claiming that the Spanish boat sank after an internal explosion. For this action, Grosse received the "Goldenes Spanienkreuz" (Spanish golden cross).[citation needed]

Over the next few days, Republican authorities attempted to locate C-3, but only found a large oil slick. The position was marked by buoy, but no rescue attempted, and it is likely there were none left alive aboard.[citation needed] Subsequently, when Málaga fell to the Nationalists, C-3 was forgotten. The Nationalists, in an attempt to conceal the acquisition of two Italian Archimede-class submarines—General Mola (ex-Archimede) and General Sanjurjo, ex-Torricelli)—renamed them C-3 and C-5, claiming C-3 was raised and recommissioned by the Nationalist Navy. This maneuver was unsuccessful;[citation needed] the Italian boats bore distinct structural differences. C-3 was stricken by ministerial order on 31 July 1941.

Wreck found[edit]

In 1997, Málaga's lawyer Antonio Checa[3] discovered the remains of a shipwreck, He sensed it was C-3. Despite several dives by an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) with video camera, it proved impossible to positively identify the wreck, owing to bad visibility.

In October 1998, The Spanish Navy sent the rescue ship Mar Rojo (A-20 ) with a navy dive team. They identified wreck as C-3, at the position 36°40′N 4°21′W / 36.667°N 4.350°W / 36.667; -4.350Coordinates: 36°40′N 4°21′W / 36.667°N 4.350°W / 36.667; -4.350.[3] They found her hull had broken in two. One section eight meters from bow was separated from the rest. Both parts remain in a sand plain, separated by a few meters, the biggest upright, the smaller inverted.






Capitán de Corbeta Felipe J. Abárzuza Oliva 4 May 1929 27 April 1931
Capitán de Corbeta Rafael Fernández de Bobadilla 27 April 1931 3 June 1933
Capitán de Corbeta Claudio Alvar González Sánchez 3 June 1933 15 July 1935
Capitán de Corbeta Javier de Salas Pinto 15 July 1935 18 July 1936
Teniente de Navío Rafael Viniegra González 18 July 1936 20 July 1936
Alférez de Navío Antonio Arbona Pastor 20 July 1936 12 December 1936


  1. ^ El ascensor submarino Génova y el C-3 (Genova submarine Rescue Chamber and C-3) (in Spanish)
  2. ^ Busquets i Vilanova, Camil; Albert Campanera i Rovira; Juan Luis Coello Lillo (2002). Los Submarinos Españoles. Cultural, S.A. de Ediciones, Mostoles. ISBN 978-84-8055-952-2. 
  3. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "Operation "Ursula" and the sinking of the submarine C-3". German U-boats of WWII - 
  4. ^ 'Operación Úrsula' reflota la historia real del submarino C3 (Operación Ursula, refloaded the real history of C-3 submarine)'


External links[edit]