United States. Office of Naval Records and Library.

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

. (page 4 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

operating off the American coast was the U-151 of the DeutscMand
type. The description of the submarine as given by Capt. Gilmore
of the Edna and Mate Sanders of the schooner Hauppauge, and by
other survivors, was most complete. This description, together with
the information gained from official sources, furnished the basis for
the dissemination, on June 7, to all naval forces of the following data
concerning the TJ-151 :

Identity, U-151, DeutscMand type of converted mercantile submarine, complement;
8 officers and 65 enlisted men; length, 213 feet 3 inches; breadth, 29 feet 2 inches; sur-
face draft, 14 feet 9 inches; displacement (surface), 1,700 tons; displacement (sub-
merged), 2,100 tons; engine, 1,200 H. P. ; speed (surface), 11^ knots; speed (submerged),
8 knots; fuel storage, 250 tons, including storage of ballast tank; endurance (surface),
17,000 miles at G knots; endurance (submerged), 50 miles at 7 knots; armament, two
6-inch guns, two 22-pounders, one machine gun, six torpedo tubes — foiu- in bow and
two in stem; ammunition capacity, 400 rounds per each gun; maximum nimiber
torpedoes, 12; many time fuse bombs; equipped to carry and lay 40 mines; a two-
kilowatt wii-eless set, and a portable set which could be rigged up in a few hours on a
captured merchant vessel to be used as a decoy or as a mother ship. Submarines
"U-converted mercantile type" are especially fitted with submarine cable-cutting

That the U-151 carried a cable-cutting device is apparently borne
out by the statements of Capt. Sweeney, of the Hauppauge, and of
Capt. Holbrook, of the Hattie Dunn, describing a mysterious device
on the deck of the submarine. Along the center line of the ship's
deck, fore and aft, there were two stanchions about 70 feet apart,
around each of wliich a coil of 48 turns of f -inch wire rope was taken.
On one end of this rope, wliich was covered only with a coat of heavy
grease, there was an eye splice, and at the other end there was a cable
attached to some instruments and appliances hidden and carried in
sets abreast of and on each side of the conning tower. Capt. Hol-
brook stated that on one occasion when the prisoners were below
deck they noticed that the submarine gave a sudden lurch and listed
on beam end. He was unable to state the cause of the lurch. As
far as he could make out, the submarine was at the time, May 28,


off New York Harbor. It is possible that this lurch may have been
caused by the submarine's grappling with or cutting cables leading
from New York. As a matter of fact, one cable to Europe and one
to Central America were cut 60 miles southeast of Sandy Hook, on
May 28, 1918. This device had disappeared when the prisoners came
on deck on the morning of May 30.

The statements of survivors also furnished details concerning the
procedure and the methods employed by the U-151 in her attack
upon vessels. The first sinking by the U-151 oflF the American
coast occurred when the Hattie Dunn, an unarmed American schooner
of 435 gross tons, was attacked off Winter Quarter Shoals at 10.10
a. m. on May 25. Capt. C. E. Holbrook, master of the Hattie Dunn,
tells the following story:

The Hattie Dunn sailed from New York on May 23, 1918, en route for Charleston,
S. C, in ballast. On Saturday, May 25, about 10.10 a. m., when about 15 to 25 miles
off Winter Quarter Lightship, I heard a cannon go off; I looked and saw a boat, but
thought it was an American. That boat fired once; I started my shiiD full speed to
the westward. He fired again, and finally came alongside and said:

"Do you want me to kill you?"

I told him I thought his was an American boat. He told me to give him the papers,
and get some foodstuff. He then wanted me to get into his small boat, but I was
anxious to get ashore, so I immediately got into one of my own boats and shoved off.
He halted me because he did not want me to get ashore. He then put a man into my
boat so that I would come back to the submarine. An officer and other men from the
German submarine then boarded the schooner and after placing bombs about her
ordered the crew of the Hattie Dunn to row to the submarine, which we did. The
schooner was sent to the bottom by the explosion of the bombs in latitude 37° 24^ N.,
longitude 75° 05^ W. The second officer in command aboard the submarine gave me
a receipt for my ship.

There were no casualities. The weather was fine and clear, the sea was calm.

We kept aboard the submarine imtil the morning of June 2. Wliile we were aboard,
the second officer and others of the submarine crew wrote some letters and gave them
to me to mail. I told them I would not mail the letters if there was anything in them
detrimental to my country. I handed them to the first naval officer I came to.

A few minutes later the TJ-151 made another attack in the same
vicinity, which culminated in the sinking of the Hawpjmuge, an un-
armed American schooner of 1,446 gross tons, owned and operated by
K. Lawrence Smith, New Y'ork. Capt. Sweeney, master of the
Hauppauge, gave the following information:

We left Portland, Me., on Friday, May 17, 191S, en route for Norfolk, Va., in
ballast. The voyage was uneventful until the morning of Saturday, May 25, when at
about 10.15 a. m. we .sighted what appeared to be a submarine standing to the west-
ward about 5 miles distant. We immediately heard a shot and the remark was passed
by one of the men that filing was going on somewhere. A few minutes later we heard
another shot and then a third one. We tacked ship and headed in about northwest for
the shore. This brought us broadside to the German submarine, who immediately
fired a shot which landed about 225 feet away. We kept going at a speed of about 4 or 5
knots, and a second shot was fired, which passed through the ship's side about 5 feet
above the water; a third shot passed tkrough the vessel's wake about 75 feet astero.

THE ClUnSK OF THK U-151. 27

The ehotp were fired in t-eqiience of about i'our or five minutes. We stopped the
schooner in latitude 37° 21' N., lotigitude 75° 09^ \V. and shortly after the submarine
came close to us. An officer aboard the submarine called to us:

"Leave your ship immediately."

The submarine then pulled away from the ship, 50 feet or more, and ordered us to
come alonsjjside. We obeyed and went aboard. The commanding officer asked me
for the ship's papers, and when I told him they were on the ship he replied:

"Well, we have to have the papers."

A copy of the receipt for the Hattie Dunn and photostatic copy of
that for the Hauppauge are on file and are practically the same in
effect. The receipt for the Hauppauge reads as follows:


Am 25 ten Mai 1918, 11 Uhr 10 Min. Vormittags ist auf 37° 2T N. und 75° 09^ W.
der amerikanische 4 Mast Schooner Hauppauge L T Q H von S. M. Unterseeboot
vernichtel word en.

Aug See, den 25 ten Mai 1918.
Der Kommandant,



Then they took me back to the schooner for the papers; they also took three bombs
with them which they placed aboard the Hauppauge. We had just returned to the
submarine when the bombs exploded and the Hauppauge sank at 11.30 a. m.^

There were no casualties. The weather was fine and clear; the sea was calm.

Upon boarding the submarine we found the crew of the Hattie Dunn sunk a short
while before. We were retained as prisoners until the morning of June 2, when we
were placed in boats mth the survivors of two sunken vessels -the Isabel Wiley and

The sea had scarcely closed over the sinking hull of the Hauppauge,
before the submarine cast about for new prey, and early in the after-
noon she made the attack upon the schooner Edna, in latitude 37° 30'
N. and longitude 74° 52' W. In describing the attack on his vessel,
Capt. C. W. Gilmore, master of the Edna, said:

We cleared Philadelphia on the 17th of May and sailed from Delaware Breakwater
on May 24 en route to Santiago, Cuba, with a cargo of case oil. About half past 1 on
May 25 we heard a gun tired and a little later a shell struck in the water about a half a
mile from us. We had heard firing inshore about an hour or so before. About a
minute after the first shot there came another shot which fell about 50 feet away. I
then ran up the American ensign; he had run up a German flag. He was standing
about 4 or 5 miles northwest. I hauled down the jibs and hove to. The submarine
then came toward us towing a yawl boat belonging to one of the schooners he had sunk
before; finally he came alongside. Two German officers and foin* men came over the
Edna's railing; they shook hands -with us and greeted us just the same as they would
have done men on one of their own naval vessels. They ordered us to lower our boat
and gave us 10 minutes to abandon ship, saying that tlioy were going to blow her uj^.
They asked me where I was from, where 1 was bound, and what my cargo consisted
of. The officer in charge took me into the cabin and said he wanted me to come below
and that he wanted my papers. When we got below he said to me:

' The Hauppauge was later towed to port and salvaged. The schooner turned over and floated bot-
tom up.


"Now, don't get excited; if you want to change your clothes and get everything of
A^alue to you, we are going to be around here an hour."

He took possession of all my official papers, which I had encased in one envelope.
When I came from below T noticed that they had placed some little black tubes about
10 inches long and one-half inch in diameter, which looked like sticks of dynamite
and which were tied to ropes extended over the side of the vessel abreast of the main

Twenty ndnutes after the German officer and his crew had boarded the schooner,
and after I had had time to have everything of value placed in the lifeboat, he ordered
ue to proceed over to the submarine, and laughingly said:

"You will find some of your friends over there."

Upon being ordered below 1 found Capt. Sweeney of the Hauppnuge and Capt.
Holbrook of the Eattie Dunn, who said they and their crews had just been taken aboard
the submarine.

The explosion of the bombs aboard the Edna occurred at 2 p. m. in latitude 37° 3(K
N., longitude 74° 52' W. The submarine immediately quit the spot, leaving the
Edna in apparently a sinking condition. She did not sink, I understand, but was
towed into Philadelphia.

There were no casualties. The weather was fine and clear; the sea was calm.

Upon the arrival of the crew of the Edna there was a total of 23
prisoners aboard the submarine. The description of what occurred
on the submarine as given by M.H.Saunders, mate of the Hauppauge,
is as follows:

Shortly after the sinking of the Hauppauge we were ordered below. We then heard
two shots fired, but nothing else to indicate that another vessel was being attacked.
The next we knew was when the captain and crew of the schooner Edna appeared
below decks about 2.20 p. m.

'About 2.30 p. m. the submarine started on a course to the eastward, moving at a
speed of about 7 or 8 knots an hour. She remained on the surface until about 4.30
p. m., when a steamer was sighted and the submarine submerged. She remained
submerged for about one hour and a half, moving all the time at about 4 knots an hoiu*.
Coming to the surface about 6 p.m., the submarine maintained a speed about the same
as earlier in the afternoon. At this time all the prisoners were allowed on deck for
about an hour.

During the night the submarine submerged several times but again came to the
surface. On the morning of Sunday, May 26, we were again allowed on deck, and it
appeared that the submarine was heading westward, as indicated by the bearing of the
sun. At 11 a. m. a steamer was sighted and the submarine immediately submerged,
allowing the steamer to pass over her. Upon being questioned, the crew said that tbe
vessel sighted was a Norwegian steamer boimd inshore. After remaining submerged
about two hoius the submarine rose again, but the prisoners were not allowed on deck
until later in the afternoon, when they were given liberty for an hour or more. During
the night the submarine spent part of her time running submerged.

Upon coming to the surface on Monday morning. May 27, some of the crew, in refer-
ring to the sub chasers they had seen, asked:

"What are the little kite boats?"

They also emarked that there was a big traffic along the coast, and wanted to know
where the tugs with "boxes" were bound. They were told that these boxes were
barges u;ed along the coast. The day's occurrences were a repetition of Sunday's —
periods of running submerged and running on the surface. Late in the afternoon,
while we were on deck it was quite chilly. 1 noticed the smell coming from fishing
fields and said:


"This seems like Nantucket here."

Kohler, a sublieutenant, replied:

*'You ain't far from there."

During the night the submarine remained submerged most of the time and appar-
ently was headed back to the westward. On Tuesday, May 28, there was a fog all day
and the U-boat ran on the top of the water at about her usual speed, blowing her
whistle all the time.*

On Tuesday evening at 8 o'clock a light was sighted and the submarine went down
all night. That evening the commanding officer said he thought he would put ua
ashore next morning.

On Wednesday, May 29, the submarine came to the surface and we were allowed
on deck, but were not permitted to approach the apparatus that resembled a cable-
cutting device. At 2.30 p. m. we sighted another steamer and immediately sub-
merged, allowing the vessel — they said it was a Norwegian steamer, inbound — to
pass over us.

When we came on deck the following morning, the coils of wire had disappeared.
During the day they had torpedoes up, overhauling them and trying the pins, wheels,
and other machinery of the torpedoes. They even had the crew of the Hauppaage
to help get the torpedoes up and to put them back below again. Thursday night was
rough and foggy; the submarine stayed below all night.

The next morning. May 31 , the submarine came up, but the day was foggy. Another
inbound Norwegian steamer was sighted and the submarine submerged as usual. In
the afternoon the submarine rose to the siu"face again; the prisoners were kept below
deck. At this time the commanding officer remarked;

"If I run across a small vessel, I will sacrifice it to put you on board it.'

During the afternoon the submarine was on the surface from time to time, but every
time she sighted anything she would submerge. At one time a steamer came so close
to us that the vibration of the propellers could be heard distinctly.

On Saturday, June 1, the submarine cruised all day, watching for a suitable vessel;
during the evening several ships were sighted but no attacks were made

It was on this day that the United States battleships Ohio, New
Hampshire, and Louisiana reported the sighting of a submarine.
The three vessels had been at target practice off Hampton Roads
and had reassembled previous to returning to their base when the
periscope of a submarine appeared. The war diary of the New
Hampshire gives the following in regard to the encounter:

All ships being stopped, this ship forced ahead and around bow of the leading ship
(Louisiana). At this moment, 11.10 a. m., Ohio signaled submarine alarm, and all
ships went ahead at full speed, separated, and acted in accordance with doctrine.
The commanding officer and a number of others sighted a periscope showing twice,
bearing to the northward and westward and apparently standing toward this ship
and between Louisiana and Ohio. A few moments later numerous observers, includ-
ing the commanding officer, sighted a torpedo wake coming down from the northward
and eastward across the bow of the Louisiana and toward the port quarter of this ship.
A few moments later a number of observers saw a periscope to the southward and
eastward of this ship and a torpedo wake crossing the stern of this ship. AU ships
proceeded independently to westward at full speed. Ohio having dropped target,
making rapid and radical changes of course as prescribed, the New Hampshire and
OMo firing upon all suspicious objects.

'On this date the Cape May radio station received a message from tho .American steamer Adelhei.
reporting that she had sighted a submarine in latitude .36° 45' N. and longitude 73° 38^ \V.


This report is supported by the war diary of the OTiio:

A. disturbance in the water, bearing from this ship 270°, distant about 1,200 yards,
was observed, and on careful examination it appeared to be a wake of a submarine.
Three observers, two of them officers, reported positively that they observed a peri-
scope in this wake. The signals indicating submarine were made to ships present,
the target was cut adrift, fire was opened with torpedo battery, and maximum speed
was obtained as soon as possible. The ship was gradually brought around to a head-
ing toward Buoy 2CB, distant about 12 miles, and we returned to port zigzagging.
In all twenty-one 6-inch service projectiles were fired. Firing was heard from the New
Hampshire a.nd possibly from one other vessel. The low visibility prevented an accu-
rate determination of this point. The tug was directed to pick up the target. Two
submarine chasers investigated the locality about where the Ohio^s first 6-inch pro-
jectiles fell, which was near the locality in which the wake appeared. After con-
sidering these facts, the commander in chief was informed by radio of the occurrence.

In speaking of life and conditions aboard the submarine, Saunders

The food was good. In the morning we had rolls and fresh butter. The butter was
fine. The bread was black and came in loaves about 3 feet long. We had cognac
nearly all the time.

They had three graphophones on board. The members of the crew were cheerful
and joked with us, especially after indulging in cognac. They were apparently
young fellows and frequently talked of their mothers. The crew expressed great
siirprise when Capt. Sweeney told them we had shipped 2,000,000 men overseas and
had 10,000,000 more as reserves.

None of the Germans would give us any information as to the number of submarines
over here. We were told that the U-151 left Kiel on April 14, 1918 ; the bread wrappers
bore the stamp of April 9. The commanding officer said he expected to remain out
about eight weeks.

At 5.30 a. m., June 2," word was passed to prisoners by an officer, who said:

"Get ready, there's a sailing vessel alongside we are going to put you aboard of."

All the 21 men were ordered upon deck. A little later the schooner Isabel B. Wiley

and the steamship Winneconne were sighted. Instead of putting us aboard either of

those vessels, they sank them and transferred us to the foiir boats — one from the

Wiley and three from the Winneconne — with the survivors. ^^

In describing the incidents in connection with the sinking of the
Isabel B. Wiley, an unarmed American schooner of 776 gross tons
owned by the Atlas Shipping Corporation, which occurred off the
Jersey coast, Capt, Thom I. Thomassen, master, stated the following
facts :

We sailed from Princess Bay anchorage at 3 o'clock p. m. on June 1, passed out by
Sandy Hook at 4 p. m. en route for Newport News, Va., to load coal for Montevideo.

• The tug Anson M. Bangs .sent an alio Irom 1 mile east of Five Fathom Bank light at 10.30 a. m. on this
date. The presence of the U-lBl in that place at that time is impossible, but it is not unlikely that an
American submarine was sighted.

I'' The U~151 planted a number of mines on tlie American coast . Actual dates and exact iocations must
remain somewhat uncertain, in spite of the fact that the German charts delivered to the American naval
authorities after the signing ol the armistice show the general location of the mine fields. However, since
n Js certain that no enemy submarine other than the V-151 visited the American coast until July, 1918,
the sinking of the Herbert L. Prof; and the numerous sightings ol mmes reported during the month olJune
may be ascribed to the activities ol the 151. Moreover, the date ol the mining ol the Pra«, June 3. 1918,
proves thai at cast a part o. these operation? w ere coniineied Lelore the survivors ol the Hattie X>wm7z,the
Bauppauiji , and the £dna were released Irom capitivity.


At 7.50 a. m., June 2, I came on deck and noticed off the port quarter a suspicious-
lookiniz object about 1,200 yards away. The craft was heading toward my ship, and
as it approached I noticed it had two flags and a small German naval ensign. Wlien
about 1,000 yards off the submarine fired a shot and the shot fell about 100 yards off the
vessel. I then went below and got an American ensign, came on deck, and hoisted it.
Then I hove my vessel to and hauled down the jibs. The weather was hazy and the
sea calm. As the submarine approached us, another ship appeared ahead of us and
the submarine fired a shot at her.

In the meantime I ordered the steward to get some pro\dsions to put in the lifeboat
and directed the engineer to get some oil and gas for the engine. Without waiting
orders from the German commander the entire crew got into the lifeboat and we pulled
off about 100 yards, waiting for the submarine to return from the steamship Winne-
conne. The Winneconne was stopped and the cre-w got into three boats; the submarine
then came toward us and ordered my lifeboat alongside. I asked him what he wanted,
and he said that he desired to put some men in my lifeboat whom he had on the
submarine. He put 11 men from the submarine on my boat; that made 19 men on
board my lifeboat. He ordered the boats from the Winneconne to come alongside
and distributed 12 men from the submarine on the three lifeboats. All four lifeboats-*—
one from my vessel and three from the Wmiieconne — were told to shove off.

The submarine commander launched a boat from the submarine and sent three or
foirr men with bombs to the S. S. Winneconne. Shortly after these men returned to
the submarine, and after they arrived the bombs on the Winneconne exploded.
In the meantime the Wiley had drifted some distance away. The submarine then
headed toward the Wiley. When they got near the Wiley they put a small boat over-
board with some men in her. They went aboard and hauled down the American

We observed in the meantime several trips between the Wiley and the submarine
by the sailors in the small boat from the submarine; apparently they were taking
pro\'isions from the Wiley.

Before shoving off from the submarine I informed the captain that I did not have
sufficient water to take care of the extra men, and he gave me a large keg of water.

I did not see the Wiley blown up, but about one hour afterwards I heard three dis-
tinct explosions. "\Mien bombed the Wiley was in 39° 10^ north latitude and 73°
7' west longitude.

1 consulted with those in the other three lifeboats and concluded that, as 1 had the
only power lifeboat, it would be best for me to make for shore as soon as possible, with
a view of hailing some ship and have them advise the location of the other three life-
boats and to send them help. 1 instructed the other three lifeboats to remain where
they were. At 5.30 my boat sighted the Ward Line steamer Mexico. They picked us
up and sent a wireless to Washington that three lifeboats, holding 50 men, were in the
position 1 indicated. At about 7.30 Monday morning, the S. S. Mexico, which was
heading south, stopped the Santiago bound north, and all who were in my lifeboat
were transferred to the S. S. Santiago and taken to New York, where we arrived Tues-
day, June 4, at 12 o'clock.

Capt. Waldemar Knudsen, master of the Winneconne, described
how his vessel, an unarmed American steamship of 1,869 gross tons,
owned by the American Trans-Atlantic Co., was sunk after appearing
upon the scene while the submarine was overhauling the Isabel B.

We cleared Newport News, Va., on Saturday,. June 1, en route to Providence with a
cargo of 1,819 tons of coal. 1 came on the bridge at 7.30 a. m. Sunday and heard that
the third mate and chief officer had seen a schooner and a dark object which they


thought was an American patrol boat lying alongside the schooner. At 8.10 a shot
was fired and we tried to make ior shore. At S. I2 they fired another shot and a shell
burst about 200 or 300 yards ahead; the Winneconve hoved to in latitude 39° 2f>' N.,

1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23