U-Boat 352 Diver PADI Distinctive Specialty Mike Muller - Training Director, Olympus Dive Center
When I first dived the U-352 German Submarine in 1978, I never realized that 40 years later I would be teaching a PADI Distinctive Specialty about the U-352, the Coast Guard Cutter Icarus (the ship that sank the U-352), stories of their crews, the equipment they used and the battle action.
Diving the U-352
Many divers travel to Morehead City, NC each year to dive the U-352. Some have studied the history of the sinking, but many just want to dive the U-boat and experience her for the first time. As our dive boats, the MV Olympus or MV Midnight Express tie in, these divers descend to the German submarine and begin exploring the wreck. What they see is the remains of the pressure hull, torpedo tubes and conning tower, in other words, a long tube with a tower amidships. When they ascend and return to the dive boats, there are always a flurry of questions. “How did they get the torpedoes in the boat?”; “How did she sink?”; “What are the fittings and holes in the boat”? With all the questions asked, it was time for an exciting new training course.
PADI Distinctive Specialty – the U-Boat 352 Diver development
The U-Boat 352 course was developed by Kevin King, LCDR, USN (Ret.), Olympus Dive Center Master Instructor. During 2017 & early 2018, Kevin immersed himself in the history of the U-Boat war off the coast of the North Carolina, and particularly in the history of the U-352, her crew and the Coast Guard Cutter Icarus. Kevin studied the details of the action report from that fateful afternoon, May 9, 1942. In his book, U-Boat 352 Student Guide, Kevin also reports the details of the “re-discovery” of the boat in April 1975 by George Purifoy (Olympus Dive Center founder) and his longtime friend Claude Hull (pictured at right), who did the research and provided with the successful location “numbers”.
U-Boat 352 Diver Student Guide
The course, which has been taught a number of times, is divided into 3 parts – Student Guide, Workshop and U-352 dive. First, prior to class, students receive a copy of Kevin’s Student Guide, a 90 page guide about the U-352, the Icarus, the crews, equipment used and the battle itself. The guide covers the history of the German Type-VII U-Boat, layouts and armaments. The book also provides a section on “Wreck Diving at Depth”. This guide is an excellent addition to any wreck diver’s library.
U-Boat 352 Workshop
The afternoon before diving the U-352, an interactive workshop is held at Olympus Dive Center covering the historical context and background of the boats, crews, battle action and re-discovery of the U-352. Included in the workshop, “Wreck Diving at Depth”, gear configurations and diving hazards are discussed. Everyone attending participates in the discussion, which can get quite spirited. After conducting the workshop for the first four courses, Kevin King retired to Florida, and asked me to continue on, covering his material. This is great thrill for me to teach the course as I have been training to teach a U-352 course since that first dive 40 years ago.
U-Boat 352 course dive
After the workshop, diving the U-352 is a special experience for both myself and the participants. The student divers are armed with a detailed knowledge of the boat, and use that knowledge to see details not usually noticed by many divers. To aid the students, I carry slates with large writing pointing out specific details of the boat. After the course is finished, everyone participating goes home with a great experience in wreck diving, a new certification card, new knowledge of the U-352, a book for reference, and new friends bonded by the experience.
My wife Becky, a Divemaster with over 400 dives, once said “it took me a number of U-352 dives before I could actually see the boat details and understand them”. Now, thanks to Kevin King’s U-Boat 352 Distinctive Specialty and my 40 years of diving the U-boat, no one needs go home with questions about this particular wreck. Come join us in 2019 and join this great adventure. By the way, stay tuned as we’re developing another course for another famous wreck in the Graveyard of the Atlantic.