1917 | March 4

Act authorizing construction of submarine chasers

101 years ago today, the act authorizing construction of submarine chasers was passed. Construction projects were spread out among small and large shipbuilders, nationwide. Of the 441 submarine chasers built, 403 were completed and launched during the war. Of these, 100 were built for France. Of the 303 boats in the U.S. Navy, 133 were sent overseas to engage in antisubmarine warfare, and were stationed primarily at three bases: Plymouth, Corfu, and Queenstown (Cobh).

See the Appendices of Hunters of the Steel Sharks for a complete listing of the chasers that served from these bases.

Photo caption: "Launching of Sub-Chaser 288. Navy Yard, Puget Sound, Wash. July 31, 1917"

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and diagrams, and rich with personal anecdotes, an up-close account of the early days of ASW based on rare, unpublished documents.