World War II defense system discovered near Haifa


Remains of the Italian submarine Royal Italian Navy submarine Scire, which was sunk in August 1942. Photo by Ehud Galili courtesy of Haaretz

Hidden cables were part of top-secret British defense equipment used to locate enemy submarines.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz, reports an an interesting find near the Israeli port of Haifa. Like most newspaper articles these days, the writing is breathless and the facts exaggerated. Keeping that in mind, the intro paragraphs are below with the link to the entire article and my comments.

“Cables that lay on the sea bed near Haifa Port for decades were part of a top secret British defense system set up in World War II to locate enemy submarines, according to a study recently published by the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem.

The study, published in the institute’s periodical Cathedra, sheds light on the British defense system’s role in sinking the Italian submarine Scire, which was the terror of British ships during World War II. The study was conducted by marine archaeologist Ehud Galili and Italian researcher Fabio Roberti, Richard Walding, Shahaf Galili and Baruch Rosen.

The cables, which few divers and fishermen knew of, were covered by several layers of rubber, jute, lead and steel. Peeling off the layers, at the request of an Australian marine defense expert, provided proof that the cables had been used by the British to protect the harbor. Under the layers the researchers found a strip of cloth inscribed Siemens London, 1940. Siemens, a German company, had a branch in London from before the war that produced defense equipment for the British army during the war.”



Comments Charles McCain: “the British used underwater electric cable technology to detect submarines as far back as in the First World War (1914-1918), to block German U-Boats from entering the English Channel.

They employed a similar but more advanced system in World War Two. The cables which were sensitive to lots of metal passing over them gave notice of U-Boats. Additionally, a mine barrier was laid and destroyers patrolled constantly.

The Germans were well aware the electric cables so not sure if they were absolutely top secret since their use in the First World War was public record.



GROTON, Conn. (Aug. 27, 2009) The Italian Todaro-class submarine Scire (S527) makes her way up the Thames River to Naval Submarine Base New London. USN photo by John Narewski

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: