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In World War Two, a German navy submarine named the U-1206 departed from the port city of Kristiansand, in Nazi-occupied Norway, and began its first combat patrol. Its job was to sink and destroy American and British trade ships.
This U-1206, unlike former submarines, had a new and “improved” toilet which allowed the U-1206 to stay deep underwater while people could go to the toilet and flush it without going to the surface, which was not possible before, as in other submarines, you had to go up to the surface whenever you wanted to flush the toilet which was a big problem because Allied ships could see you.
Advanced and new as it was, the toilet was extremely complicated. First, it directed human waste through a series of chambers to a pressurized airlock. The contraption then blasted it into the sea with compressed air, sort of like a poop torpedo. The toilets also needed a specialist on each submarine who received training on proper toilet operating procedures. There was an exact order of opening and closing valves to ensure the system flowed in the correct direction.
One day the specialist on the U-1206 decided it was a bit boring waiting to flush a toilet every couple of hours, so he took a walk around the submarine. But unfortunately he went for too long, and the captain, Karl-Adolf Schlitt, went to the toilet and decided to flush the toilet himself.
But Schlitt was not properly trained as a toilet specialist. After calling a random engineer to help, the engineer turned a wrong valve and accidentally unleashed a torrent of sewage and seawater back into the sub.
From there on, everything escalated quickly. The unpleasant liquid filled the toilet compartment and began to stream down onto the submarine’s giant internal batteries, located directly beneath the bathroom, which reacted chemically and began producing a toxic chlorine gas.
As the poisonous gas filled the submarine, Captain Schlitt — choking literally on a weird sewage chlorine gas — ordered the boat to the surface. The crew blew the ballast tanks and fired their torpedoes in an effort to improve the flooded vessel’s buoyancy.
Unfortunately for Schlitt and its crew, it got even worse. British planes on patrol saw the ship surfacing and attacked it, killing three men, and, because of that, it started to sink.
Somehow, the rest of the crew survived and floated all the way to the Scottish coast in rubber dinghies, where they were captured and taken to a POW camp for the rest of the war.
Schlitt survived the war and died in 2009. His submarine, on the other hand, rests on the bottom of the North Sea to this day.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was one of the most unfortunate events in military history ever.
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