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

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the two heavy oil engines, and the two electric motors. The storage
batteries were carried in the bottom of the boat, below the living
compartment. For purposes of communication, a gangway 2 feet
6 inches wide by 6 feet high was built through each cargo compart-
ment, thus rendering it possible for the crew to pass entirely from
one end of the boat to the other. The freeboard to the main deck
ran the full length of the boat and was about 5^ to 6 feet wide.

The cockpit at the top of the conning tower was about 15 feet
above the water, there being a shield in front so shaped as to throw
the wind and spray upward and clear of the face of the quartermaster
or other observer. The forward wireless mast carried a crow's nest
for the lookout.

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The DeutscMand made a safe passage through the North Sea,
avoiding the British patrols. The rest of the trip was made prin-
cipally on the surface. The weather was fine throughout. When off
the Virginia Capes she submerged for a couple of hours because of
two ships sighted of doubtful appearance. She passed through the
Capes on July 9, 1916, at 1 o'clock a. m., and as she left Helgoland on
June 23, the time of her trip was 16 days. The DeutscMand arrived
at Baltimore, Md., on Sunday, July 9, 1916. The total distance from
Bremen to Baltimore by the course sailed was about 3,800 miles.
Her cargo consisted of 750 tons of dyestuffs and chemicals, valued
at about $1,000,000, and which was discharged at Baltimore.

The DeutscMand remained at Baltimore 23 days and took on cargo
for her return trip — a lot of crude rubber in bulk, 802,037 pounds,
value $568,854.84; nickel, 6,739 bags, 3 half bags, weight 752,674
pounds, value $376,337; tin in pig, 1,785 pigs, weight 181,049 pounds,
value $108,629.40. Goods were billed to Bremen and no consignee
was stated.

She left Baltimore on August 1, 1916, and arrived at the mouth of
the Weser River at 3 p. m., August 23, 1916. ''The Berliner Tage-
blat," of August 24, 1918, said:

The voyage was at the beginning stormy; later on was less rough. There was much
fog on the English coast, and the North Sea was stormy. The ship proved herself an
exceedingly good seagoing vessel. The engines worked perfectly, without inter-
ruption. Forty-two hundred (4,200) sea miles were covered, one hundred (100) under

She was made ready and reloaded with another cargo of dyestuffs
and chemicals for her second voyage to the United States within a
week. Her health certificate was issued by the American vice
consul at Bremen on September 30, 1916. She was ready to go to
sea again on October 1, 1916, but was held until October 10, 1916, for
possible word concerning the Bremen. The last voyage to the United
States covered 21 days, being somewhat retarded by hard weather.
She arrived at New London, Conn., on Novem.ber 1, 1916; discharged
her cargo of dyestuffs and chemicals and, in addition, securities said
to be to the value of 1,800,000 pounds sterling. Her return cargo
was said to contain nickel and copper; 360 tons of crude nickel which
had come from Sudbury, Canada, and had been purchased in 1914.

She left New London, Conn., on November 17, 1916, but half a
mUe from Race Rock Light in Block Island Sound, R. L, where the
tide runs heavily, she rammed the American Steamship T. A. Scott, Jr.,
gross 36 tons, which sank in about three minutes. On account of the
collision the DeutscMand had to return to New London for repairs.
She again left New London on November 21, 1916. Her voyage occu-
pied 19 days, arriving at the mouthi of the Weser on December
10, 1916.

181062°— 20 2


Some time after her return to Germany she was converted into a
M'arship and furnished with torpedo tubes and two 5.9-inch guns.
Her war activities were continued as TJ-155.

The DeutscTiland as the U-155 left Germany about May 24, 1917,
and operated principally off the west coast of Spain, north of the
Azores, and between the Azores and the Madeira Islands; then under
the command of Lieut. Commander Meusel, on a cruise which lasted
103 days, during which she sank 11 steamers and 8 sailing vessels,
with a total tonnage of 53,267 gross tons.

She attacked by gunfire the American Steamship /. L. Luckenbach,
4,920 gross tons, on June 13, 1917, at 7.15 p. m., in latitude 44° N.,
longitude 18° 05' W., but the ship escaped.

Among the sailing vessels sunk was the American schooner John
Twohy, 1,019 tons gross, which was sunk by bombs placed aboard,
after her capture about 120 miles south of Ponta Delgada and ap-
proximately in latitude 35° 55' N., longitude 23° 20' W., on July 21,
1917. at 6 a. m.

Also the American bark CJiHstiane, 964 tons gross, was sunk by
bombs placed on board after her capture off the Azores and ap-
proximately in latitude 37° 40' N., and longitude 20° 40' W., on
August 7, 1917, at 6 p. m. She returned to Germany about Sep-
tember 4, 1917.

The DeutscJiland again left Germany about January 16, 1918 —
Commander Eckelmann apparently having succeeded Lieut. Com-
mander Meusel — on a cruise which lasted about 108 days, during
which time she sank 10 steamers and 7 sailing vessels, with a total
gross tonnage of 50,926 tons, viz, 2 British steamers (armed), 5
Italian steamers (armed), 2 Norwegian and 1 Spanish steamer
(unarmed), 4 British, 2 Portuguese, and 1 Spanish sailing vessel.
From the Norwegian Steamship Wagadeslc, which was captured and
afterwards sunk, she took 45 tons of brass, which she took back to
Germany. During the cruise she operated between the Azores and
Cape Vincent off the coast of Spain, and the entrance to the Straits
of Gibraltar.

She returned to Germany about May 4, 1918.

In August, 1918, she began her famous cruise on the American

R. I., OCTOBER 7, 1916.

On October 7, 1916, between the two visits of the German commer-
cial submarine DeutscJiland to the United States, the German sub-
marine U-53 entered the port of Newport, R. I., under the command
of Lieut. Hans Rose.


At 2 p. m. October 7 a code message was received from the U. S.
submarine D-2, stating that a German man-of-war submarine was
standing in. A few minutes later a German submarine was sighted
entering the harbor of Newport. The submarine was first sighted
3 miles east of Point Judith, standing toward Newport, and the D-2
approached and paralleled her course to convoy the German submarme
while m sight of land. Upon arrival at Brenton Reef Lightship, the
captain of the German submarine requested permission from D-2
to enter port, \vhich permission was granted by the D-2. The Ger-
man captain stated that he did not need a pilot. The D-2 convoyed
the submarine into Newport Harbor. She was flying the German
man-of-war ensign and the commission pennant and carrying two
guns in a conspicuous position.

Upon approaching the anchorage the TJ-53, through the captain
of the U. S. D-2, signaled the U. S. S. Birmingham, Rear Admiral
Albert Gleaves commanding, requesting to be assigned to a berth.
She was assigned to Berth No. 1, where she anchored at 2.15 p. m.

The commandant of the naval station, Narragansett Bay, R. I.,
sent his aide alongside to make the usual inquiries, but with instruc-
tions not to go on board, as no communication had yet been had with
the health authorities. At 3 p. m. the commanding officer of the
U-53, Lieut. Hans Rose, went ashore in a boat which he requested
and which was furnished by the U. S. S. Birmingham. He called on the
commandant of the Narragansett Bay Naval Station. He was in the
uniform of a lieutenant in the German Navy, wearing the iron cross;
and he stated, with apparent pride, that his vessel was a man-of-war
armed with guns and torpedoes. He stated that he had no object in
entering the port except to pay his respects; that he needed no
supplies or assistance, and that he proposed to go to sea at 6 o'clock.
He stated also that he left Wilhelmsha^en 17 days before, touching
at Heligoland.

The collector of customs located at Providence, R. I., telephoned
and asked for information as to the visit of the German submarine,
and when told that she intended to sail at 6 p. m., he stated that under
the circumstances it not be practicable for either him or a quarantine
officer to visit the ship.

Following the visit of the captain, the commandant sent his aide
to return the call of the captain of the U-o3 and to request that no
use be made of the radio apparatus of the vessel in port.

The submarine was boarded by the aide to the commandant, and
immediately afterwards the commander of destroyer force's staff.
In reply to inquiry the following information was obtained.

The vessel was the German U-53, Kapitan Lieut. Hans Rose
in command. The U-53 sailed from Wilhelmshaven and was 17
days out. No stores or provisions were required and that the U-53


proposed to sail about sundown on the same day; that the trip had
been made without incident, on the surface, and had passed to the
northward of the Shetlaad Islands and along the coast of New-

The following of interest was noted: Length above the water, about
212 feet; two Deisel Niirnberg engines, each of 1,200 horsepower;
each engine had six cylinders; maximum speed, 15 knots; sub-
merged speed, 9 to 11 knots.

The captain stated with pride that the engines were almost noise-
less and made absolutely no smoke except when first starting. She
had four 18-incJi torpedo tubes, two in the bow and two in the stern;
the tubes were charged and four spare torpedoes were visible. Each
pair of tubes was in a horizontal plane. They could carry 10 torpe-
does, but part of the torpedo stowage space was utilized to carry
extra provisions. The torpedoes were short and they said their range
was 2,000 yards. The guns were mounted on the deck, one forward
and one aft. The forward gun looked to be about 4-inch and the
after one about 3-inch — short and light. The muzzles were covered
and water-tight. They had vertical slidmg wedge breechblocks, with
a gasket covermg cartridge chamber water-tight. They carried a
permanent sight with peephole and cross wires, and on it was a
receptacle evidently to take a sighting telescope. The steel deflec-
tion and elevation scales, cap squares, etc., were considerably rusted.
The guns were permanently mounted on the deck and did not fold
down. A gyro compass with repeaters was installed. The control
seemed to be similar to that of the American submarines. There
were three periscopes, which could be raised or lowered, and the
platform on which the control officer stood moved with the periscope ;
one was about 15 feet high above the deck and the others several feet
lower. One of the periscopes led to the compartment forward of the
engine room for the use of the chief engineer and the third was a
periscope for aeroplanes. There was stowage space for three months'
supplies of all kmds. The complement consisted of the captain, the
executive and navigating officer, ordnance officer, engineer, electrical
and radio officer, and crew of 33 men. The officers were in the regu-
lation uniform, ne^\ and natty in appearance. The crew wore heavy
blue -^Aoolen knit sweaters, coats and trousers of soft, thin black
leather lined with thin cloth, top boots and the regular blue flat cap.
They were freshly shaved or with neatly close-trimmed beard or hair,
all presenting a very neat appearance.

All the electrical machinery and appliances were manufactured by
the Siebert Sohuman Co., except the small motor generator, taking
current from storage batteries and supplying electric lights which
gave excellent illumination throughout tlie boat, and there was no
trace of foul air anywhere.


The radio sending and receiving apparatus was in a small separate
room on the starboara side. Tne radio generator was on the port
side in the engine room.

There were two antennae — one consisted of two wires, one on each
side about three-eighths of an inch in diameter, extending from the
deck at the bow to the deck at the stem and up over supporting
stanchions above the conning tower, with heavy porcelain insulators
about 4 or 5 feet from deck at each end and from each side of the
supporting stanchions. The other was an ordinary three-wire span
suspended between the masts and was about 3 feet high on the star-
board side. These masts were about 25 feet high and mounted out-
board over the whaleback; were tapered, of smooth surface, hinged
at the heel, each with a truss built out about 3 feet near the heel for
leverage, to which secured, and from which led through guide sheaves
along the side, a galvanized one-half inch wu-e rope for raising and
lowering. The masts were hinged to lie along the top of the outer
sm"face along starboard close to the vertical side plate of the super-
structure. They claimed to have a receiving range of 2,000 miles.

A flush wood deck, about 10 feet wide amidships, extended the
entire length. This was built of sections about 2 inches thick, each
about 30 inches square and secured to the supporting steel framework
by bolts. Each section had several holes about 2^ inches by 4 inches
cut through to allow passage of the water. The sides of the super-
structm'e framework were inclosed by thin steel plates reaching nearly
to the huU. The inner body of the hull was divided into six water-
tight compartments. They had very little beam and suggested that
a large amount of available space was devoted to oil storage.

There were three main hatchways — one from the conning tower to
the central station, one into the forward living space, and the other
into the after hving space.

Patent anchors were housed in fitted recesses in the hull just above
the torpedo tubes. Electric motor-driven anchor chain winch out-
side the hull under the bow superstructure. There was a galvanized-
wire towing hawser about 1^ inches in diameter, shackled to the nose
leading aft along the port side of the huU, stoppered on with a small
wire, to the port side of the conning tower, so that the heaving line
fastened to its end could be hove from the conning tower. They
had a small electric galley with coppers, etc. Small room for the
commanding officer amidships forward of the central; officers' room
farther forward of same. Two-tier bunks about 18 inches wide for
about half the crew in two other compartments. Hammocks for
about half the crew. Small wash room nicely fitted and a toilet for
the ofiicers and another for the crew. The life buoys had a cork
sphere, about 10 inches in diameter, attached by a long small line.


The vessel appeared verv orderly aaid clean throughout. It was
especially noticeable that no repair work whatever was in progress.
All hands, except officers and men showing visitors through the boat,
were on deck, where the crew were operating a small phonograph.
The engineer officer said that U-53 was built that year, 1916.

The captain stated that he would be pleased to have any officer
visit his ship and would show them around. This privilege was taken
advantage of by a number of officers from the destroyer force, and
the aid to the commandant. All the officers who visited the ship
were much impressed by the youthfulness of the personnel, their
perfect physical condition, and their care-free attitude. One or two
observers thought that the captain seemed serious and rather weary,
but all agreed that the other officers and the crew seemed entirely
happy and gave no indication that they considered themselves en-
gaged in any undertaking involving hazard or responsibility. The
freedom with which the officers and crew conversed with visitors and
their willingness to show all parts of the ship was surprising. They
stated that they were willing to tell all that they knew and to show
all they had, this to officers and civilians alike.

The officers spoke our tongue with careful correctness, though not
fluently, and answered all questions except when asked their names,
which they courteously declined to give. When one officer was asked
by one of the visiting officers whether he spoke English, he rephed,
"No; I speak American." All hands were very military in deport-
ment, and whenever a man moved on duty he went with a run. As
the boat entered and left the harbor, the crew was lined up on deck,
at attention, facing vessels they passed. Upon leaving, they faced
about and after passing and saluting the destroyer tender Melville,
the officers and crew waved their caps to the last destroyer as they
passed. The U~63 got under way at 5.30 p. m. and stood out to sea.
It was learned that a letter to the German Ambassador at Washington
was entrusted to a newspaper representative and by him was posted.

On October 8, 1916, the day after leaving Newport, the U-53
captiu"ed and sunk the following vessels off the coast of the United
States, viz:

The British S. S. Stephano, 3,449 tons gross, 2^ miles E. by NE.
of Nantucket Light Vessel. The Stephano had American passengers

The British S. S. StratJimore, 4,321 tons gross, 2 miles S. by E.
from Nantucket Light Vessel.

The British S. S. West Point, 3,847 tons gross, 46 miles SE. by E.
from Nantucket Light Vessel.

The Dutch S. S. BlommersdijTc, 4,850 tons gross.

The Norwegian S. S. Clir. Kiiudsen, 4,224 tons gross.


It was thought possible tliat the USS was accompanied by one or
two other U-boats, as other U-boats marked U-4S and V-61 were
. reported. It is, however, Hkely that the report of three submarines
was due to Capt. Rose's having his number "U-53" painted out
and substituting other numbei-s. He did this on four separate occa-
sions and finally came into Germany about November 1 under the
number ''U-61."


The U-151 2, a converted mercantile subriiarine of the DeutscMand
type, commanded by Kapitan Van Nostitiz und Janckendorf, sailed
from Kiel on April 14, 1918. Although her route to the American
Atlantic coast is not definitely known, it is probable that she followed
the more or less recognized path later taken by other enemy cruiser
submarines to and from America.^ The U-151 was first located
early in May, when the office of Naval Operations, Washington, D. C,
received the following message from Kingston, Jamaica :

U. S. steamer engaged enemy submarine 2 May, 1918, lat. 46° N., long. 28° W.*

The position indicated by this message was a point about 400 miles
north of the Azores.

On May 15, 1918, the British steamer Huntress, 4,997 gross tons,
bound for Hampton Roads, reported that she had escaped a torpedo
attack made by an enemy submarine in latitude 34° 28' N., longitude
56° 09' W.*

These reports were considered authentic. All section bases were
ordered to be on the alert, and the following message was broadcasted
by the Navy Department on May 16, 1918:

Most secret. — From information gained by contact with enemy submarine, one may
be encountered anywhere west of 40 degrees west. No lights should be carried,
except as may be necessary to avoid collision and paravanes should be used when
practicable and feasible. Acknowledge, Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet, Com-
mander Cruiser Force, Commander Patrol Squadron, Flag San Domingo, Governor
Virgin Islands, Commandants 1st to 8th, inclusive, and 15th Naval Districts.

The first definite information of the activity of the German raider
off the American coast was received by radio on May 19 at 12.14 p. m.
The Atlantic City radio intercepted an S O S from the American
steamship Nyanza, 6,213 gross tons, advising that she was being
gunned and giving her position as latitude 38° 21' N., longitude 70°

2 The Germans classified their submarines in three general groups: The U or ocean-going type, the UB,
or coastal type, and the UC, or mine-laying type. The classification UD was made by the British Ad.
miralty to designate the converted mercantile submarines, the Deutschland type, from others of the U class-

5 This in spite of the fact that the crew of the U-151 stated to prisoners that her route had been via the
Danish West Indies, a Mexican port, and then up the Atlantic coast to her field of operations.

* The identity of this vessel has not been established.

' This position is about 1,000 miles east of Cape Hatteras.


W., or about 300 miles off the Maryland coast. That the submarine
was proceeding westward into the waters of the fourth naval district
was indicated by information received on May 20 from the master of
the J. C. Donnell, who, upon his arrival at Lewes, Del., on that day,
reported that Jtiis ship's radio had intercepted a message from the
American steamship Jonancy, 3,289 gross tons, on May 19, saying
that she was being gimned and giving her position as 150 miles east
of Winter Quarter Shoals. On May 21, at 11.15 a. m., the Canadian
steamer Montcalm relayed a message to Cape May radio station from
the British steamship Crenella, 7,082 gross tons, stating that a sub-
marine had been sighted in latitude 37° 50' N., longitude 73° 50' W.,
a point about 80 miles off the Maryland coast. Six shots were fired
at the Crenella by the submarine, but no hits were registered. At
1 p. m. on the same day the Montcalm reported that the Crenella, had

The information that merchant vessels had reported a German
submarine proceeding tov.'ard the coast was immediately disseminated
to the section bases, to the forces afloat, and to the commanders of the
coast defenses. In addition to the regular patrols, detachments of
sub-chasers were established and ordered, whenever practicable, to
proceed to the positions given in S O S messages.

Subsequent information indicated that as the submarine approached
the American coast she picked as her prey sailing vessels not likely
to have means of communication b}^ radio, and in attempting further
to conceal her presence in the vicinity took as prisoners the crews of
the first three vessels she attacked, the Hattie Dunn, the Ilaup'pauge,
and the EcLtui.

On May 26, 1918, the Edna, an unarmed American schooner of 325
gross tons, owned by C. A. Small, Machias, Me., was found abandoned
near Winter Quarter Shoals Lightship. She w^as taken in tow by
the Clyde Line steamer MoTiawk. The schooner's towing bitts carried
away and she was abandoned by the MoJiawTc; later she w^as picked
up by the tug Arabian and towed to Pliiladelphia, arriving May 29.
All investigation made by the aide for information, fourth naval dis-
trict, cUsclosed the presence of two holes, 20 to 30 inches in diameter,
in the vessel's hold just above the turn of the bilge, evidencing an
external explosion.* A time fuse was found, the extreme end of
which had been shattered by an explosion. Thus, the naval author-
ities received the first visual evidence of the w^ork of an enemy raider
off the coast.

In interviews with the survivors of the Edna, who had been held
as prisoners aboard the submarine until June 2, it w^as learned that the
damage to the Edna had been inflicted by the enemy in an attempt
to sink her, and that the vessels, Hattie Dunn and Hauppauge, had

« See the story of Capt. Gilmore, of the Edna, p. 27.


been sunk earlier on the same day, May 25. At the same time
definite information was gained concerning the identity and military
characteristics of the submersible. Although there were no identify-
ing marks, letters, or numbers on the hull, M. H. Sanders, mate of the
Hauppauge, stated that he saw the letter and figures "U-151 " at the
foot of several bunks and on the blankets aboard the submarine;
T. L. Winsborg saw the letter and figures on the hammocks and on
the machine guns ; other survivors noticed that tools, furniture, and
equipment were similarly marked. These facts, together with a
comparison of the photograph of the submarine known to have sunk
the first ships, with photographs and silhouettes of submarines
obtained from official sources, proved conclusively that the raider

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