1918 | June 18

Attacking a Submarine on the Otranto Barrage

On 18 June, 1918, the U.S. submarine chasers assigned to the Otranto Barrage engaged in a submarine attack. From the War Diary of Base 25:

Units "F," "G," and "H" on barrage. Unit "G" (SC 97-179-338) Hunt Commander on S.C. 179, made sound contact with enemy submarine which was followed to the northward and eastward and at 1729, Latitute 40-19 North, Longitude 18-49 East, attacked with 17 depth charges of the 300 pound type set at 150 feet. A full report of this attack was made in report of Hunt No. 2. During the night of the 18th, Unit "F" working to the northward following a sound, having first challenged, which was not answered, opened fire. The second shot hit a British destroyer "6-A." No personnel was injured, but the destroyer was entirely disabled due to the fact that the shell had pierced the main steam line.

While there was no confirmed kill, a joint British-American inquiry was held, and it was concluded that it was probable that an enemy submarine was damaged or destroyed.

Hunters of the Steel Sharks: The Submarine Chasers of WWI

Hunters of the Steel Sharks: The Submarine Chasers of WWI
Woofenden, 2006. Softcover, 224 pages. $23.95. Available on Amazon.com

In 1918, a war time fleet of 303 U.S. submarine chasers formed a new offensive against the enemy, armed with depth charges, deck guns and an array of new, top secret submarine detection and pursuit devices.

These miniature wooden war ships, the smallest commissioned vessels in the American navy, were the first major deployment mechanism for early antisubmarine warfare equipment, and were remarkable in their capabilities and service: Chasers crossed the Atlantic Ocean on their own power; performed submarine hunts and attacks from bases in Plymouth, Queenstown (Cobh) and Corfu; assisted with post-war diplomacy along the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea; helped facilitate troop evacuation in northern Russia; and participated in the clearing of the North Sea mine barrage.

This is the history of the submarine chasers of the Great War, extensively illustrated with period photographs and diagrams, and rich with personal anecdotes, an up-close account of the early days of ASW based on rare, unpublished documents.