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Spanish submarine C-3

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Title: Spanish submarine C-3  
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Spanish submarine C-3

C-3 alongside Submarine Rescue Vessel Kanguro
Career (Spain)
Name: C-3
Ordered: 17 February 1915
Builder: SECN, Cartagena, Spain
Launched: 20 February 1929
Commissioned: 4 May 1929
Decommissioned: 31 July 1941
Fate: Sunk 12 December 1936
General characteristics
Class & type: C-class diesel-electric submarine
Displacement: 925 t surfaced
1,144 t submerged
Length: 73 meters
Beam: 6.3 meters
Draft: 5.3 meters
Propulsion: 2 Vickers main diesels, 1,000 CV each
2 electric motors, 375 CV each
2 shafts
Speed: 16.5 knots surfaced
8.5 knots submerged
Range: 6,800 nm at 10 knots surfaced
150 nm at 4.5 knots submerged
Complement: 40
Armament: 6 x 533 mm (21 inch) torpedo tubes (four bow, two stern, 10 torpedoes
1x75 mm Bonifaz deck gun

C-3 was a C-class submarine of the Spanish Republican Navy. C-3 was built by Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval (SECN) in Cartagena, Spain, launched 20 February 1929, and commissioned on the 4 May 1929. She took part in the Spanish Civil War on the government side before being sunk by the German submarine U-34 on 12 December 1936.


On 14 September 1931, C-3 successfully tested Génova's submarine rescue chamber (similar to the McCann Submarine Rescue Chamber) in Escombreras inlet. Developed by Capitán de Corbeta (Lieutenant Commander) Arturo Génova Torrecuellar, this was subsequently installed in all C-class submarines as a portable unit, as well as the subsequent D-class,[1] which used a fixed unit.

Civil War

At the start of the Civil War, 18 July 1936, C-3 was in Cartagena harbour, under command of Teniente de Navío (Lieutenant) Rafael Viniegra González. He was ordered to sortie from Cartagena in company with submarines B-6, Isaac Peral (C-1),[2] C-4 and C-6, bound for the Gibraltar Strait. In command of the flotilla was the Capitán de Fragata (Commander) Francisco Guimerá Bosch, the mission was to blockade the strait and interdict transport of rebel troops from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula. They took a patrol line along the Andalusian coast

Only two days into the operation, on 20 July, the flotilla entered Málaga harbour, where Guimerá, Viniegra (along with C-3's executive officer), and the rest of the flotilla's senior officers, with the exception of Isaac Peral (C-1)'s skipper, Capitán de Corbeta Lara, were relieved and transferred to the prison ship Monte Toro because they were considered sympathizers of the rebels.

Next morning, 21 July, C-3, joined by B-6, departed Málaga bound for Tangier to protect the oil tanker Ophir. On 27 July, all destroyers and submarines in Málaga deployed around Cadiz to intercept a Nationalist convoy that proved to be a decoy. Then she, C-2, and C-6 received instructions to form a patrol arc in front of Ceuta harbour to prevent the entrance of the cruiser Almirante Cervera, which had left Ferrol bound for the Gibraltar Strait.

1 August, at Málaga, C-3 took on remaining anti-aircraft ammunition and torpedoes before C-4 departed for Cartagena for minor repairs

Two weeks later, on 15 August, C-3 sailed for the Cantabric Sea with the C-6, returned to Cartagena with average. She repeated the voyage 25 August, in company with C-4 and C-5, where C-3 and C-6 jointly attempted to locate and sink the battleship España and Almirante Cervera, without success. She also aided in the search for transports bringing weapons to Bilbao.

C-3 returned to the Mediterranean Sea on 2 October, arriving in Málaga 8 October.

On 12 December 1936, C-3 was running surfaced 4 nm (7½ km) southeast of Málaga. In the conning tower was her commander, Alférez de Navío (Ensign) Antonio Arbona Pastor, and a merchant navy pilot attached to the Republican Navy. At 14:19, there was a sudden explosion on her starboard bow, and C-3 disappeared. The explosion was observed by the coastguard vessel Xauen, lying two miles (3.7 km) inshore of C-3, and the fishing boats Joven Antonio and Joven Amalia, about the same distance away. Despite their proximity, the only survivors were the pilot, García Viñas, and two of C-3's sailors, Isidoro de la Orden Ibáñez and Asensio Lidón Jiménez, who had been topside dumping trash and garbage.[3]

According to the Germans, C-3 was torpedoed by U-34, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Harald Grosse, as part of Operation Ursula;[4] the Republican version differs. For this action, Grosse received the "Goldenes Spanienkreuz" (Spanish golden cross).

Over the next few days, Republican authorities attempted to locate C-3, but only found a large oil slick. The position was marked by buoy, but no rescue attempted, and it is likely there were none left alive aboard. Subsequently, when Málaga fell to the Nationalists, C-3 was forgotten. The Nationalists, in an attempt to conceal the acquisition of two Italian Archimede-class submarines—General Mola (ex-Archimede) and General Sanjurjo, ex-Torricelli)—renamed them C-3 and C-5, claiming C-3 was raised and recommissioned by the Nationalist Navy. This maneuver was unsuccessful; the Italian boats bore distinct structural differences. C-3 was stricken by ministerial order on 31 July 1941.

Wreck found

In 1997, Malaga's lawyer Antonio Checa[3] discovered the remains of a shipwreck, He sensed it was C-3. Despite several dives by an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) with video camera, it proved impossible to positively identify the wreck, owing to bad visibility.

In October 1998, The Spanish Navy sent the rescue ship Mar Rojo (A-20 ) with a navy dive team. They identified wreck as C-3, at the position 36°40′N 4°21′W / 36.667°N 4.350°W / 36.667; -4.350Coordinates: 36°40′N 4°21′W / 36.667°N 4.350°W / 36.667; -4.350.[3] They found her hull had broken in two. One section 8 meters from bow was separated from the rest. Both parts remain in a sand plain, separated by a few meters, the biggest upright, the smaller inverted.






Capitán de Corbeta Felipe J. Abárzuza Oliva 4 May 1929 27 April 1931
Capitán de Corbeta Rafael Fernández de Bobadilla 27 April 1931 3 June 1933
Capitán de Corbeta Claudio Alvar González Sánchez 3 June 1933 15 July 1935
Capitán de Corbeta Javier de Salas Pinto 15 July 1935 18 July 1936
Teniente de Navío Rafael Viniegra González 18 July 1936 20 July 1936
Alférez de Navío Antonio Arbona Pastor 20 July 1936 12 December 1936



External links

  • C3 in memoriam (Spanish)
  • Video en Youtube
  • Operación Úrsula: El Misterio del submarino C-3 (Spanish)

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