Ernst Kals of U-130 sank Grenanger, Esso Boston east of Bahamas in April 1942

Korvettenkapitän Ernst Kals, Photo source:
  Ernst Kals led the next patrol into the area, starting with a brief sortie by U-130 through the Anegada Passage inbound from 14th to the 15th of April 1942. On his way inbound he achieved the boat’s only successes of the patrol, sinking the Norwegian Grenanger and US-flagged Esso Boston for a combined tonnage of 13,092. Actually the Esso Boston beached on Barbuda while still on fire and was declared a total loss (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.106).

 Once in the Caribbean Kals acted with daring when “he attacked the oil depot at Bullenbay (Curacao) with gunfire.” However only twelve rounds were fired from over two miles away before counter-measures took effect. After returning to the region from the Caribbean the boat headed from the Mona Passage to a point midway between Bermuda and Savannah Georgia between the 4th and 18th of May.

 The track of this patrol looks more like an imperfect > as he proceeded north-northwest to a point off the Turks & Caicos Islands before veering northeast to a point between Bermuda and Puerto Rico, and then back west for three days before resuming a northward track to Cape Hatteras. Having set off from Lorient on its second patrol to the Americas on 24 March 1942, U-130 returned there on the 6th of June.

 It appears from looking at the track and at least one inquisitive double-back track, that Kals, a veteran skipper of 34 years at the time, was “hunting” and looking for prey. It must have been a frustrating two weeks, to have sunk two large ships on back-to-back days on the way into the region yet come up empty handed on the way out.

 Without radar, unless allies broke radio silence it was just pure luck to sight a steamer on the horizon and be able to go in for the kill. Kals’ patrol is one of the first to reverse the trend of the Operation Drumbeat boats by proceeding from the Caribbean up to the US east coast versus Hardegen, Heyse, Poske and others who dipped south on their returns from Hatteras.

 Born in 1905 and a member of the Crew of 1924, Kals obtained the rank of Kapitän Zur See in 1944 and was already a Korvettenkapitän at the time of the patrol, following which he was awarded the Knights Cross. He began his career as a Sea Cadet and ending it with a tally of seventeen ships sunk for 11,249 GRT, three auxiliary warship sunk for roughly 35,000 tons, and another ship sunk for just shy of 7,000 GRT. Kals went on to command the Second Flotilla in Lorient from January 1943 to the end of the war – in retribution the French detained him for three years. He lived until age 74, dying in Emden Germany in 1979.

 SOURCES: Gudmundur Helgason, Rainer Kolbicz,, 2011, Kenneth Wynn, U-boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 1997