FEASIBLE and the Destruction of U-BOAT 48
The drifter FEASIBLE and the destruction of U-boat 48
FEASIBLE was a steam drifter built in 1912. At the start of the First World War she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as a patrol boat in the North Sea.
On 24 November 1917 the German submarine U-48 was patrolling in the North Sea near the Goodwin Sands when she was spotted by a flotilla led by H.M.S. GIPSY, a C-class destroyer launched in 1897 and sold in 1921. She was assisted by a number of armed H.M. Drifters which were fishing in the area. These were the PRESENT HELP, PARAMOUNT, MAJESTY, ACCEPTABLE and FEASIBLE.
The submarine was first attacked whilst afloat, and she was subsequently forced aground by the shell-fire of HMS GYPSY and the drifters, along with the effect of the tide. She was then blown up by shellfire from the attacking vessels. However, her destruction may have been assisted by her own officers and crew. When H.M.S. GYPSY came up close the Germans started jumping overboard.
The Admiralty considered that the greatest credit for the destruction of the U-boat was due to the drifters PRESENT HELP, PARAMOUNT and MAJESTY, which first attacked it with their light guns. However, they also stated that H.M.S. GYPSY and the steam drifters ACCEPTABLE and FEASIBLE also deserved praise for the part they subsequently played in the action.
The Admiralty concluded that it was the accurate shooting of H.M.S. GYPSY’s 12-pounder gun which was mainly responsible for the destruction of the submarine. The drifters PRESENT HELP, PARAMOUNT and MAJESTY shared a reward of £1,000. During the action Feasible took one prisoner on board who was subsequently transferred to H.M.S. GYPSY.
Where is she now?
FEASIBLE is currently undergoing restoration in Penzance.
TNA: ADM 137/3327A. Note from Vice Admiral Dover Patrol reporting enquiry inot capture of German submarine U-48.
TNA: ADM 137/3327B. Text of evidence given by Lt W B Gilbertson of HMS GYPSY.
TNA: ADM 137/3327C. Text of evidence given by Skipper Edward Hemp of HM Armed Drifter PARAMOUNT.
Ships of the Royal Navy 1914. Confirming FEASIBLE hired as Armed Patrol Drifter between 1914 and 1919, armed with a single 1-pounder gun.
National Museum of the Royal Navy Library: NMRNL-SMC. Note dated 21 January 1919 confirming ‘will shortly leave Ramsgate for demobilisation at Lowestoft.’
National Register of Historic Vessels entry http://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/711/feasible