United States. Office of Naval Records and Library.

German submarine activities on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada online

. (page 1 of 23)
Online LibraryUnited States. Office of Naval Records and LibraryGerman submarine activities on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada → online text (page 1 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

•Ou.f>C^i^y\Jci*J.0i^ nJ y. OCi<,V\&yJi^


O r=^

6 aJ




Publication Number 1


Published under the direction of

The Hon. JOSEPHUS DANIELS, Secretary of the Navy




H ^'^

'-f ^^




Page 23, line 10, strike out " Kapitan Van Nostitiz und Jancken-
dorf" and insert Korvetfohkapitdn {Lieutenant Commander)
von Nostitz und J aenckendorf .

Page 24, after line 15, insert Note: The BntlsJi steanishij) ^'Crenella''''
was formerly the Canadian stea'mship '■'■Montcahn.'''' The two ,
nmnes loere confused in the dispatches and consequently the

Page 30, after line 14, insert N.ote: ^yhile it loould have 'been possible
for '"^U-loV to have been in the vicinity of the battleships on
June 7, it is imiprobable that the attack of the battleships was on
that submarine. The 2>i'isoners f-'om the ^''Ilattie Dunn^'"''-Haup-
pauge^'' and '■'■Edna''' were not released fronn ''''TJ -ISV^ until
June ^, and they do not make any mention of the encounter and
irould most likely h-ave known of it.

Page 34, line 37, strike out " United Shipping States Board " and
insert United States Shipping Board.

Page 36, after line 5 insert a new paragraph, viz :

The loss of the '"''TexeV liad a direct bearing upon the plan of
operations for the ^'■United States Naval Railway Batteries in
France.'''' That ship ivas one of those chosen to traimport a ca.rgo
of mateHal for that remarkable enterprise^ and her loss neces-
sitated the selection of another vessel.

Page 38, strike out lines 11 to 26 (both inclusive) and insert in lieu
thereof after line 10 The official list, made later, shoios that 272
survivors loere landed at Neio York, viz:
Crew — 1 stewardess and 91 men; total 92.
Passengers— S8 femcdes, 118 males, and 4- infants; total 180.
Other survivors from the " S. S. Carolina " were accounted
for on June J^. At l.JfS p. m. lifeboat No. S, containing 8 women
and 21 men landed tlirough the surf at the foot of South Carolina
Avenue, Atlantic City, N.J. The same day the British steam-
ship '"''Applehy " picked up from lifeboat No. 1, 9 members of the
crexD and 10 passenger's and carried them to Lewes, Del. The
first loss of life charged to enemy submarine activity off the
American Atlantic coast was recorded xohen the survivors from
lifeboat No. 1 uiere picked up by the steamship '"'' Appleby,'''' and
reported that v:hile trying to weather the rough' sea that arose
during the night their boat had capsized about 12.15 a. m., June
3, and it was later found that 7 passengers, the purser, and 5
members of the crew were missing and were lost.

On June 3. at 4 p. ni., the Danish steamship '■'' Bryssel " picked
up the abandoned lifeboat No. 1.



Page 41, line 30, after the words " found nothing" insert Note: The
encounter of the V . S. S. " Prehfe " was too far north, to have been
with " U-Ui:'

Page 44, line 20, after the word "schooner" strike out " Ella Swift"
and insert ^^ Ellen A. Sivift.^''

Page 44, line 22, after the Avord " whaler " strike out " Xicholson "
and insert ".4. J/.. Xicholson.''^

Page 4G, strike out footnote 14 and insert ^^ 71ie joint attack hy the
battleship '''■ South Carolina'''' and U. S. " S. C. 23Jf. " occurred in
Lat. 38° 26' iV., Long. 7^° 1^0' TF. and ivas too far north and west
to have been on " 1J-151P Besides Capt. Ballestad says, in his
testimony^ that from 6.20 p. ■m., on June 8, to 6.20 a. ?/i., June 9,
his ship foUoived the submarine at a slorv speed, without stop-
ping, on a course east, southeast, easterly, and they did. 'not
encounter the battleship.

Page 50, after line 29 insert .Vc)?^<'.' 12 lives were lost on the '"''Tor-

Page 56, line 24, strike out " Orand Island " and insert Grand Manan

Page 5G, line 29, strike out '' Grand Island " and insert Grand Manan

Page 59, in footnote 29, strike out " Elizabeth Von Bilgie " and in-
sert Elizaheth Van Belgie.

Page 88, after line 6 insert Note: There was no loss of life on the tioo
fishing vessels, ''^Cruiser'''' and ''''Old Time.'''' All reached shore
in safety.

Page 91, line 23, strike out " tampion " and insert tompion.

Page 94, line 13, strike out " Brazilian " and insert American.

Page 95, line 4, strike out words "The day after" and insert Two
' days after.

Page 96, line 44, after the word "longitude" (line 43) strike out
" 58° " and insert 68°.

Page 105, line 38, strike out "October 19" and insert October 18.

Page 106, line 11, after the word "Constanza" insert Note: The
British Adnniralty give the name as " Constance,'^ 199 gross tons.
The vessel was salvaged.

Page 118, line 33, strike out "August " and insert October.

Page 124, line 34, strike out "August " and insert jSeptember.

Page 133, line 14, after the words Norwegian S. S. strike out " Brei-
ford " and insert Breifond ; also in line 16, same correction.

Page 133, after paragraph 6 insert new paragraph, viz :

Besides tJie three rescued by the " Breifond " five other men,
including one dead, were picked up ISy the American steamship
" Lal^e Felicity " and taken to Newport, 'R. I. The fi^ve men
clung to pieces of the pnlot house, on which they remained for 12
hours. One died after 9 hours of exposure. A total of 30 lives
was lost, including this man.

Page 184, line 9, strike out the words " The crew of 11 men came in
the Inlet with the captain in one of their own boats: the balance
of the crew landed on North Beach, Coast Guard Station 112,"
and insert in lieu thereof: Of the crew, consisting of 29 men, the
captain and 11 men came in the Inlet in one of their own boats
and landed at Coa^t Guard Station 112. Another boat with 11
m£n landed on North Beach and, 6 inen ivere found missing
and lost.

Page 140, table No. 1, strike out "Notre Dame de Lagarde, F. V.

l-io. B. Aug. 22 " and insert " Notre Dame de la Garde^ F. V.

U5. B. Augjl.
Page 157, line 27, second column, strike out " Brieford " and insert

Page IGO, line 51, strike out " Brazilian " and insert American.


May 19 (S. S. Nyanza). Insert sign showing vessel attacked but not

sunk in lat. 38° 21' N., long. 70° 05' W.
May 21 (S. S. Crenella). Change sign to indicate vessel attacked

but not sunk.
June 13 {Llanstephen Castle). Lat. 38° 02' N., long. 72° 47' W.

Change sign to indicate vessel attacked but not sunk,
June 18 (S. S. Dioinsk). Lat. 38° 30' N., long. 61° 15' W. Should

have sign indicating vessel sunk.


July 23 (schooner Robert and Richard). 60 miles SE. of Cape

Porpoise. kShould be July 22.
August 8 (S. S. Sydland). Insert sign showing vessels sunk in lat.

41° 30' N., long. 65° 22' AV.

Note : Sign indicating vessel sunk on August 8, on chart track

of U-H7 should be on track of U-166.
August 20 {TrmmpK and fishing fleet). 52 miles SW. of Cape

Canso, N. S., approximately lat. 44° 31' N., long. 60° 30' W.

Change sign to indicate vessels sunk.
August 22 {Notre Dame de la Garde). Lat. 45° 32' N., long. 58°

57' W. Should be August 21.
August 27 (near Cape Canso, N. S.). Strike out sign indicating

vessel sunk.

chart TRACK OF U-14 0.

July 19 (U. S. S. Ilarrishurg). Lat. 45° 33' N., long. 41° W.

Should be July 14.
July 19 (S. S. Joseph CudaJiy). Lat. 41° 15' N., long. 52° 18' W.

Should be Julv 18.
July 26 (S. S. British Major). Approximately lat. 38° 42' N.,

long._ 60° 58' W. Change sign to indicate vessel attacked but

not sunk.
July 30 (S. S. Kerma.nshah). Lat. 38° 24' N., long. 68° 41' W.

Change sign to indicate vessel attacked but not sunk.
August 10 (U. S. S. Stringham). Lat. 35° 51' N., long. 73° 21' W.

Change sign to indicate vessel attacked but not sunk.
August 13 (U. S. S. Pastores). Lat. 35° 30' N., long. 69° 43' W.

Change sign to indicate vessel attacked but not sunk.
September 7 (S. S. IFrtr Ranee). Lat. 51° 27' N., long. 33° 24' W.

Should be September 5, and sign changed to indicate vessel

attacked but not sunk.


August 8 (S. S. Sydland). Lat. 41° 30' N., long. 65° 22' W. Strike

out sign indicating vessel sunk. Should be on chart track of

August 1-1 (schooner Dorothy B. Barrett). Lat. 38° 54' N., long.

74° 24' W. Change sign to indicate vessel sunk.
Aug. 15 (motor vessel Madruc/ada). Lat. 37° 50' N., long. 74°

55' W. Change sign to indicate vessel sunk.
August 22 (S. S. Algeria). Lat. 40° 30' N., long. 68° 35' W. Should

be August 21.
August 25 (schooner Bianca). Lat. 43.° 13' N., long. 61° 05' W.

Should be August 24.


August 28 (S. S. Montoso). Lat. 40° 19' N., long. 32° 18' W.
Should be x\ugust 27.

September 11 (S. S. Leixoes) . Lat. 42° 45' N., long. 57° 37' W.
Should be September 12, and sign indicating vessel sunk should
be moved east to lat. 42° 45' N., long. 51° 37' W.

October 17 (S. S. Lucia). Insert sign indicating vessel sunk in lat.
38° 05' N., long. 50° 50' W.


October 16. Strike out sign indicating vessel sunk, approximately

lat. 38° 05' N., long. 50° 50' W.
October 18 (S. S. Brlarleaf). Lat. 36° 05' N., long. 49° 12' W.

Should be October 17.




List of illustrations 4

Preface 5

Foreword 7

Table showing arrivals and departures of German submarines 7

Steps taken by the Navy Department to protect shipping along the Atlantic

coast 8

Dispatches from Force commander in Europe giving necessary information to

prepare to meet attacks 9

The Deutschland 15

Visit of German U-53 to Newport, R. T 18

The cruise of the German U-151 23

The cruise of the German U-156 50

The cruise of the German U-140 70

The cruise of the German U-117 82

The cruise of the German U-155 100

The cruise of the German U-152 106

Cable cutting by U-151 119

United States and Allied radio service adequate for transaction of important

official business in case the cables had all been cut 121

Mine-laying operations 122

Submarine mines on the Atlantic coast of the United States 125

Mine-sweeping ships by naval districts 135

Mine-sweeping operations on the Atlantic coast 136

Table No. 1: Vessels destroyed by submarines acting on the surface using gun-
fire and bombs in western Atlantic 139

Table No. 2: Vessels destroyed by submarines submerged and tiring torpedoes. 140

Table No. 3: Vessels damaged or destroyed by mines 141

Appendix 143

Folded charts:

1. German submarine activities in the western Atlantic waters In pocket.

2. Enemy mining activities on the Atlantic coast In pocket.



The United States Navy's first U-boat capture, German U-58 captured by the

United States destroyers U. S. S. Planning and U. S. S. Nicholson. . . Frontispiece.

Facing page—

The Deutschland "Mercantile Submarine" 16

The Deutschland at Baltimore, Md. (Two prints) 16

The Deutschland at Baltimore, Md 16

The Deutschland at New London, Conn 16

The Deutschland lea\dng for Germany 16

German U-53 at Newport R.I. U. S. S. Birmingham in the background 16

German U-151 at sea. Taken from the deck of the American S. S. Pinar del Rio . 16

German U-151 at sea, from the Spanish passenger steamer Isabel de Bourbon. . 16
The interior of a German submarine showing its instruments and high-powered

engines 32

Photographic copy of the receipt given to the master of the American schooner

Hauppauge by Korvettenkapitan v. Nostitz 32

Time fuse used on the American schooner Edna by U-151 32

Depth charge exploding 32

German submarine at sea 48

A German submarine lying near a ship which has just been boarded by the

submarine's men 48

Smoke-screen defense 48

War on hospital ships 48

Receipt given to the master of the Norwegian S. S. San Jose by J. Knoeckel,

Oberieutnant U-156 60

Receipt given to the master of the Swedish S. S. Sydland, by J. Knoeckel,

Oberieutnant U-156 61

American steamship O. B. Jennings after her fire 80

German U-117 anchored at Washington, D. C, after the war. Used in the

Victory loan campaign 80

German U-boat showing saw-teeth on the bow used for cutting nets 80

Sinking of American S. S. Frederick R. Kellogg 80

German U-155 (ex-Deutschland) as a war ship 96

Large gun moimted on U-155 (ex-Deutschland) 96

German U-155 (ex-Deutschland) after surrender anchored within the shadow

of the famous Tower Bridge, London 96

U-155 (ex-Deutschland) after the war in the Thames near London 96

Sm-vivors of the U. S. A. C. T. Lucia leaving the ship 112

Motor boat arriving alongside the U. S. S. Fairfax wdth a load of sur\dvors from

theU. S. A. C. T. Lucia 112

U. S. S. Ticonderoga 112

Type of U-boat which operated in American waters 112

Explosion of 450 pounds of T. N . T 128

German and American submarines at Harwich, England 128

American tanker Herbert L. Pratt after being mined 128

Damage to the American tanker Herbert L. Pratt by mine explosion 128

U. S. S. San Diego 128

U. S. S. Minnesota 128

Damage to the U. S. S. Minnesota by mine explosion 128

Piece of the mine removed from the U. S. S. Minnesota after mine explosion.. 128



The preparation of the data for this article has occupied the time
of a large part of the personnel of the Historical Section of the Navy
Department for several months.

It has been attended with great difficulties. The reports of the
sightings of submarines have been without number, and great care
has been exercised to try to corroborate or validate the reports, and
all have been rejected which do not answer such conditions as to
accm-acy. It is believed to be strictly accurate with the information
available at the present time.

The two charts accompanying the report, which were prepared
through the kindness of the United States Hydrographic Office, are
intended to show as clearly as possible the operations of the sub-
marines. On Chart No. 1 are printed the tracks of all the operating
vessels. On Chart No. 2 is shown the location of all the mine fields
with the number of mines in the area covered and when and how they
were removed or destroyed.

The information received as to the number of mines in each area
and the reports of their destruction leave little or no doubt that the
Atlantic coast is free from any danger as to mines.

C. C. Marsh,
Captain, TJ. S. Navy (retired),
Officer in Charge, Historical Section, Navy Department.

December 12, 1919.



In defining in this article what should be considered as the Ameri-
can Atlantic coast, the meridian 40° west longitude is adopted
arbitrarily to separate the submarine activities on the European
coast from those on the American coast.

It is not believed necessary to go into the discussion based on
opinions or surmises during the early years of the war in Europe as
to whether or not an attack by the Germans would be made on the
American coast. Therefore, the operations herein described are those
which actually took place in the year 1918, with a description of the
preliminary cruises made by the DeutscJiland and the U-53 in the
year 1916.

Of course, it must remain a matter, more or less, of conjecture as
to what was actually the object of the cruises made by the DeutscJi-
land in 19 1 6. Apparently they were both purely commercial voyages.
The voyage of the U-53 assumes more a character of a path-finding
expedition. This vessel was a strictly combative vessel. It is
interesting to note that on the arrival of this vessel at Newport, the
commanding officer stated to the American submarine that he did
not need or want a pilot to enter Newport, and that he wanted no
supplies or provisions or materials of any kind. ^

In order to keep clear in the mind of the reader the dates and
tracks of the several vessels, there is given here a condensed table
of arrivals and departures.

Table showing arrivals and departures of German submarines off United States Atlantic
coast or west of longitude 40°.

Name or number.

Left Germany.

Arrived off Atlantic

coast or longitude

W. 40°.

Left Atlantic coast.

Arrived Germany.

Deutschland (1st) . .


Deutschland (2d) . .





U-155 (formerly the



Jime 14, 1916

About Sept. 20, 1916

Oct. 10, 1916

Apr. 14, 1918.;

About June 15, 1918.

About June 22, 1918.
July, 1918, first part

August, 1918, first

August, 1918, latter

September, 1918,

first part.

July 9, 1916..
Oct. 7, 1916...
Nov. 1, 1916.
May 15, 1918.
July 5, 1918..

July 14, 1918..
Aug. 8, 1918..

Sept. 7, 1918..

Sept. 29, 1918.

Did not get west of
43-40 N., 30-50 W.

Aug. 1, 1916..
Oct. 7, 1916...
Nov. 21, 1916.
Julv 1, 1918...
Sept. 1, 1918..


Oct. 20, 1918


Not on Atlantic

Aug. 23, 1916.
Nov. 1, 1916.
Dec, 10, 1916.
Aug. 1, 1918.
Struck mine in

North Sea about

Nov. 15, 1918;

Oct. 25 1918.
In Ocrober,

was towed i
Nov. 15, 1918.





The appended Chart No. 1 gives in detail the cruises of all these
vessels. These tracks and all the data accompanying them are in
accordance with all the data available at this time. It is possible
that further data in the future will possibly require some corrections,
but the main facts are correct.

There is, therefore, given in the following pages a brief account
of the commercial cruises of the DeutscMand and the preHminary
cruise of the U-53, and somewhat at length, the cruises of all the sub-
marines that operated off the American coast. The cruise of JJ-139
is shown on the chart, but not referred to in the text, as she never
got west of longitude 30-50 and therefore does not properly belong
in the operations of the submarines off the United States Atlantic


Anticipating such attacks from German submarines , the Navy De-
partment on February 1, 1918, appointed a special board to make rec-
ommendations as to the methods to be taken to provide for " defense
against submarines in home waters." The report of the board, with
certain alterations, was approved by the Chief of Naval Operations
on March 6, 1918. (Note: Report in full of the special board, with
alterations, will be found in the Appendix, page 143.) In accord-
ance with the recommendations of this board, the following steps
were taken:

1. Submarines placed and ready to operate as soon as information received of enemy:

Colon. New York.

• St. Thomas. Long Island area.

Key West. Boston.

Galveston.^ Halifax.'

2. Shipping:

(a) Shipping should be kept going with the least possible delay, at the same
time taking all possible offensive meastires to remove the danger.

(6) Approach routes adopted for Atlantic seaboard for westbound ships.

Now in force for New York, Delaware, Chesapeake, and being extended to
whole seaboard, including Caribbean and Gulf.

(c) Convoy lanes adopted and in force for all eastbound shipping. Aircraft

escort convoys to 50-fathom curve and as far as possible beyond until
dark. This escort is in addition to submarine chasers and destroyers.

(d) Coasting trade to hug the coast, keeping within 5-fathom curve. Only

smaller and less valuable ships placed in coastal service. Coastal pro-
tections to be handled by districts through which shipping passes.

(e) Diversion of ships for entire Caribbean and Gulf coast. Shipping out of

Gulf of Mexico to be routed north or south of Cuba as most expedient,
depending on circumstances at time. Ships sail by day close in shore
under protection patrol craft or at night by offshore diverted routes.
Independent sailings to be adhered to unless situation becomes so acute
as to warrant convoys.

' Not yet effective.


S. War warnings:

Vested in Navy Department except such as require immediate action and are
authentic. War warnings not to be given unless presumed to be authentic.

4. District defense:

(a) Nets and defensive mine fields; no offensive mines.
(6) Air patrol.

(c) Listening stations on lightships and elsewhere. Submarine bells stopped.

(d) Sweeping service at shipping points.

(e) Limited escort offshore by chasers and nine destroyers retained for purpose.
(/) Patrol craft at focal points to answer rescue calls.

5. Intelligence Section:

Coast patrols have been organized and system of communications perfected to

obtain information of enemy.
Secret service has been expanded, particularly in Gulf and Caribbean areas,

and Secret Service is in touch with British serAdce.

6. Wireless:

All route-giving officers in Europe have been instructed to warn all shipping ap-
proaching Atlantic seaboard not to use wireless for communicating instructions .


The following dispatches from the force commander in Europe,
arranged chronologically, gave the Navy Department necessary
information to prepare for and meet the attacks which followed:

April 28, 1917. — With regard to submarines entering and leaving their bases, and
their approximate whereabouts while operating, the Admiralty is able to maintain
information that is fairly exact.

Of the thirty-four mine U-boats two for some days were not located, and the Ad-
miralty was on the point of informing us of the probability of their being en route to
the United States when their whereabouts were discovered. It is the Admiralty's
belief now that at present none are likely to be sent over and that the present effort
of the submarines which is successful will be kept up off the Channel entrance.

April 11, 1918 (No. 6352) (quoted in part). — The Department will be kept supplied
with all information obtainable here as to the probability of hostile operations on home

May 1, 1918 (7289). — Admiralty informs me that information from reliable agents
states that a submarine of Deutchland type left Germany about nineteenth April to
attack either American troop transports or ships canying material from the States.

So far as known the Germans formed conclusions that: Nantucket Shoals and Sable
Island direct to Europe.

Second: Material transports go from Newport News to a point south of Bermuda
and then to Azores and thence to destination.

It is thought that the submarine is taking a northern route across Atlantic, average
speed five knots.

None of new class of cruising submarines ready for service.

Admiralty experience with Deutchland class establishes following conclusions:

They generally operate a long distance from shore and seldom in leas than one hun-
dred fathoms.

Their single hulls are very vulnerable to depth-charge attack.

They rarely attack submerged.

There is but one known instance of attack against convoy and but two of torpedo
attack against single vessels, one being unsuccessful. They attack by gun fire almost

The most effective type to oppose them is the submarine.

They shift their operating area as soon as presence of submarine is discovered.

Admiralty requests Admiral Grant be given a copy of this cablegram.


May 15, 191S (7289). ^Information contained in this cable is given me by the British
Admiralty and is necessarily somewhat paragraphed for transmission, but I have
every reason to believe it is authentic. There appears to be a reasonable probability
that the submarines in question may arrive off the United States coast at any time
after May twentieth and tliat they will carry mines.

English experience indicates the favorite spot for laying mines to be the position
in which merchant ships stop to pick up pilots. For instance, for Delaware Bay the
pilots for large ships are picked up south of the Five Fathom Bank Light Vessel.
This in our opinion is one of the most likely spots for a submarine to lay mines.

As regards information possessed by Germany on subject of antisubmarine patrol.
They have from various neutral sources information that a patrol is maintained off

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryUnited States. Office of Naval Records and LibraryGerman submarine activities on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada → online text (page 1 of 23)