22 April 1916: The German Blockade runner ‘Aud’ (a.k.a. SMS Libau) [above], under Captain Karl Spindler was scuttled in the approaches to Cobh Harbour to ensure her cargo of arms did not fall into enemy hands. He and his crew spent the rest of the War in captivity in England.
Masquerading as the Aud —an existing Norwegian vessel of similar appearance— the Libau set sail from the Baltic port of Lübeck on April 9, 1916, under the Command of Karl Spindler, bound for the south-west coast of Ireland. Under Spindler was a crew of 22 men, all of whom were volunteers. The Aud, laden with an estimated 20,000 rifles, 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition, 10 machine guns, and explosives (under a camouflage of a timber cargo), evaded patrols of both the British 10th Cruiser Squadron, and local Auxiliary patrols.
After surviving violent storms off Rockall, the Aud arrived in Tralee Bay on April 20. There they were due to meet with Roger Casement and others, with Casement having been landed nearby by U-19. Due to a combination of factors (primarily as the ship carried no radio and was unaware that the date for its arrival off Fenit had been altered from Thursday, April 20 to Sunday, April 23, the transfer of arms did not take place. The Aud, attempting to escape the area, was trapped by a blockade of British ships. Captain Spindler allowed himself to be escorted towards Cork Harbour, in the company of Acacia class sloop HMS Bluebell. The German crew then scuttled the ship.
Though his attempt ended in failure the endeavours of Captain Spindler and his crew deserve a place in the annals of military seafaring as the voyage of the Aud through the British Naval Blockade on Germany was no easy task and one that few ships accomplished during the course of the War.