1918 | June 21

On the first day of summer, 1918, the crewmen on the chasers at Corfu were experiencing the other extreme of weather: At the start of their tour of duty they trained during the coldest wiinter on record in New London, CT. Now in Corfu, Greece, it was almost unbearably hot. 

Ens. George S. Dole writes home:

“Today is the first day of summer ... but nothing like the Maine summer. Have to wear tropical helmet for protection. It sure is hot here. When there is no breeze it is a considerable strain to stay on deck, as when we are on the line no awnings can be up. ... It sure is fascinating to see the planes go racing by overhead. You sort of envy the cool breeze they must be enjoying, while we stand dripping with perspiration most of the day. At night the decks are often so hot that you can hardly bear your hand on the under side.” 

Hunters of the Steel Sharks: The Submarine Chasers of WWI, page 88.

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photographs and diagrams, and rich with personal anecdotes, an up-close account of the early days of ASW based on rare, unpublished documents.