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Youngest German U-boat captain

The German Navy has recruited the youngest U-Boat captain since WWII.

Stephan Busch, 27, is now officially a "U-Boot-Kommandant" and has taken over control of the 160 feet U-Boat U24 with a 22-strong crew.

He said: "It is what I always wanted to do. And it's what I always hoped to continue doing. No ship bigger than this will ever have the sense of comradeship that you get on board a U boat."

Before qualifying he had to learn about the operation of submarines as well as navigation and communication skills and then served as an officer on a submarine.

U-boats are military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II.

The primary targets of the U-boat campaigns in both wars were merchant convoys bringing supplies from the British Empire and the United States to Great Britain.

Germany had the largest submarine fleet in World War II, since the Treaty of Versailles had limited the surface navy of Germany to six battleships (of less than 10,000 tons each), six cruisers and 12 destroyers.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote at the time: "The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-Boat peril."

During the war the German fleet lost 743 U-boats and about 28,000 submariners (a 75 percent casualty rate).

The average age of a U-boat commander during WWII was 25 years and the youngest three took command of their own boats at the age of 20 years.

Otto Ites was the youngest to receive the Knight's Cross in 1942 when he was 24 years of age.

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