The Sneland 1 was a cargo steamship launched in 1922 from the shipyard of Nuschke & Co. AG of Stettin in Poland (Yard No.261). She had been launched as the Ingeborg and her steel hull measured 268.0′ x 42.3′ x 18.0’, with a gross tonnage of 1791 tons.
As the Second World War drew to a close a small coastal convoy of five ships and three escort vessels assembled in the Firth of Forth bound for Loch Ewe. Among those ships there were two ships that were to become the last ships sunk in the war in Scottish waters – the Sneland 1 and the Avondale Park. The Sneland 1 had begun her last voyage at Blyth on May 5th where she was loaded with 2800 tons of coal for Belfast. She steamed north to the Forth where she joined convoy EN491 bound for Loch Ewe as the next stage of her journey.
On the evening of 7th May, shortly after 8:00pm they set out. Three days earlier Admiral Donitz, who had succeeded Adolf Hitler as Chancellor after the German Fuhrer had committed suicide, had agreed to an unconditional surrender and issued the order to his remaining U-boats to stop all attacks on allied shipping with effect from midnight on 7th May. It is not clear if Emil Klusmeier, commander of U-2336 and on his first patrol in command, heard the order and ignored it because it was his first and last chance to make a successful attack, or as he later claimed, he never received the order but, at around 11:00pm, he began his attack on the convoy. The approach of U-2336 had been detected by the underwater indicator loops controlled from Cantry Bay but the approach was ignored as the German surrender had been signed and the ceasefire deadline was only hours away, a fatal mistake. U-2336 fired two torpedoes and at 11:03 the Avondale Park was hit and, in a second explosion only three minutes later, the Sneland 1 took a direct hit as she swerved to port to avoid the crippled Avondale Park which was steaming ahead of her in the convoy. The torpedo hit the Sneland 1 on the starboard side near No 2 hatch. As the crew scrambled to launch a lifeboat the ship heeled over to starboard and sank. It was only two minutes after the impact leaving the uninjured crewmen to jump for their lives into the sea. There were 26 crewmen and 3 gunners aboard. Seven of the men, including the captain, were lost as she sank. The survivors were picked up by the trawlers Leicester City and Valse and transferred to the steamship Selvik which had been in the convoy. The three remaining ships in the convoy turned back to port after the attack and returned to Methil. U-2336 made a safe escape from the Forth despite several depth charge attacks and arrived back in Kiel on May 14th. It was never definitively concluded if Klusmeier had ignored the order to stop attacks but it is possible that he had not heard the order as the Type XXIII submarine he commanded was capable of staying beneath the surface for three days.
The Wreck Today
The wreck of the Sneland 1 lies in position 56° 09.701 N, 002° 30.870 W (WGS84) close to the wreck of the Avondale Park. She lies in seabed depths between 51 and 53 metres oriented approximately 085/265 degrees and rises 11 metres from the seabed. The wreck is lying on her side and the superstructure is on the south-side of the hull. The authors were unable to determine on which side she lies, however as she sank starboard side first it maybe reasonable to assume that she is lying on her starboard side. This is a large wreck and in good visibility will provide a very interesting dive, a dive on slack water is recommended.