LTjg Albert L. David and the Capture of U-505

LTJG Albert David

On June 4, 1944 the US Navy performed a feat that had not been accomplished in over a century: it captured an enemy vessel at sea. 

The task force that effected the capture was led by Captain Daniel V. Gallery, who commanded aboard the escort carrier USS Guadalcanal.

The task was in the Atlantic, approximately 150 miles off the coast of Rio De Oro in Western Sahara, Africa. The Nazi U-Boat, U-505, was detected by sonar. The US ships rained depth charges on it, causing severe damage to the submarine’s rudder. U-505’s aft compartments flooded, forcing the boat to surface and be subjected to gunfire from the task force. The Germans attempted to scuttle the U-boat but were not successful. 

U-505 was then boarded by sailors led by Lieutenant Junior Grade Albert L. David, who secured sensitive materials and succeeded in closing scuttling valves and disarming scuttling charges. David boldly led a party from the USS Pillsbury, his ship in the task force, in boarding the hostile submarine as it circled erratically at 5 or 6 knots on the surface. David knew the U-boat might sink at any moment, or possibly explode due to its scuttling charges. He led his party in making the U-505 seaworthy for the long tow across the Atlantic to a U.S. port. His effort securing for the U.S. Navy its first capture on the high seas since 1815. Due to David and his crew’s work the U-505 was brought into Bermuda on June 19. The ship contained a wealth of intelligence.

After the war U-505 was eventually housed at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, where the boat has been restored. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. Albert L. David’s actions earned him the Medal of Honor in 1945. Sadly, he died of a heart attack before his Medal could be presented to him. President Truman gave the Medal of Honor to his widow on October 5, 1945.

A boarding party from the American destroyer USS Pillsbury works to secure a tow line to the U-505’s bow on June 4, 1944. (US Navy)

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