1918 | May 19

Leaving Gibraltar

On 19 May, 1918, the convoy of chasers left Gibraltar for Malta, the next stop along their way to Base 25, Corfu. Ens. George S. Dole, CO of submarine chaser SC 93, writes in a letter home, "Am over there now. ... I would not swap my job for any on earth. Will be into it long before you get this letter, and WE ARE GOING TO GET THEM."

Photo: Leaving Gibraltar with the tanker British Light en route to Malta and Corfu, May 1918. From Hunters of the Steel Sharks: The Submarine Chasers of WWI.

Author's note: This is one of my favorite WWI chaser photos, showing the scale of the submarine chaser moving along with the tanker, against the stunning background of Gibraltar.

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and diagrams, and rich with personal anecdotes, an up-close account of the early days of ASW based on rare, unpublished documents.