"The submarine situation in April 1917 was briefly this. Germany had constructed 213 submarines; she had lost 55, leaving her a total of 158 underwater craft, with which in April she sank 875,000 tons of shipping. She was building an average of six or seven per month, while her losses averaged but three or four."
– Ens. John Langdon Leighton, Intelligence Section staffer under Admiral Sims.
One year after the entry of the United States into the war, the submarine chaser fleet was heading overseas to engage the enemy. 133 chasers were sent to three main bases, in Plymouth, England; Corfu, Greece; and Queenstown, Ireland.
A massive construction project took place, involving many different boat builders, to build hundreds of wooden submarine chasers – and a simultaneous project to recruit and train officers and crewmen. By April of 1918, many of the chasers were built, armed, and ready to enter active ASW operations.
Lt. George S. Dole, CO of submarine chaser SC 93, was in one of the first groups to cross the Atlantic. In a letter home in April of 1918, he wrote:
"I have often thought as we were on the peaceful voyage just completed, and watched the stars keeping time absolute, infallible, and guiding us on our journey in safety, that the steel sharks will not long be allowed to interfere with the beauty and safety of His seas."
(From the frontispiece of my book, Hunters of the Steel Sharks: The Submarine Chasers of WWI.)
Of the 133 chasers assigned to overseas duty, 102 served at one or more of these bases during the war, The others were on the way as the Armistice was signed.
Additionally, submarine chasers served along the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts, along the Alaskan coast, and along the Mexican and Central American coasts.
My thanks, once again, to everyone who has submitted material to The Subchaser Archives, for helping to preserve this piece of our history.
– Todd Woofenden, editor.