World War II in the News is a review of WWII articles providing thought-provoking collection of hand-picked WW2 information.

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Naval forces & Battles

Naval forces and Naval Battles during World War II.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: U-Boats, Battleships, Graf Spee, PQ17, Arctic Convoys, Wrecks, War Boats, Sailors, Battle of Midway, Aircraft Carriers.

The Battle of the Atlantic: Why Winning the War at Sea Was Britain’s Greatest Maritime Triumph
Perhaps the Royal Navy’s greatest victory of all was the Battle of the Atlantic (1939 to 1945). This was a colossal contest waged against a powerful adversary across an ocean spanning two hemispheres. In many respects, this gruelling slog might seem an unlikely candidate to be Britain’s foremost maritime contest as it included no major fleet actions. Yet in terms of its size, duration and relevance, the Atlantic campaign was the Second World War’s premier maritime struggle and arguably Britain’s greatest military triumph. At stake was not only the survival of the British nation, but the future of the free world itself.

The Nazi’s Northeast Passage: Inside Germany’s Secret Arctic Sea-Route to the Pacific
The signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in August 1939 offered solutions to the Kriegsmarine’s problems. The alliance gave Raeder the chance to access to Soviet naval bases from which to support warships and commerce raiders.On Sept. 23, 1939, Raeder briefed Hitler on the possibility of German warships and auxiliary cruisers gaining access to Murmansk in the Barents Sea. The Soviets granted Berlin permission to establish a naval base just west of Murmansk at Zapadnaya Bay, an isolated inlet that was closed to foreign shipping. The Germans eagerly accepted the offer and established Basis Nord (Base North) there on Oct. 31 1939.

Battleship Death Match: The Battle in Which the Nazi's Bismarck Sunk the HMS Hood
The fight was tough and it it still unclear exactly what caused the explosion that sunk London's famous warship. But either way it was lost and Berlin had a naval victory.

America Was in an Unofficial Naval Shooting War With the Nazis Before Pearl Harbor
America remained official neutral but effectively supplied and aided the Allies. That eventually included getting into a naval war with Hitler's U-Boats even before war was declared.

Yes America Used Wooden Warships to Fight Nazi Submarines
When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the nation’s Navy was shockingly short of combat ships—particularly the submarine chasers that would be vital to combating the German U-boat menace. A prodigious ship-building program was hastily implemented, but because of heavy demands on the country’s steel industry for destroyers, cruisers, and battleships, the only material left available for submarine chasers was wood. Small, privately owned shipyards soon received contracts to build wooden submarine chasers. The design approved by the Navy Department called for a sturdy vessel with an overall length of 110 feet, a displacement of 85 tons, and a maximum speed of 18 knots.

Dive Bombers at Midway: How the Dauntless SBD Turned the Tide in the Pacific War’s Most Important Naval Battle
Pre-war doctrine supposed that aircraft carriers couldn’t survive a massed air strike. But at Coral Sea, one month earlier, three of the four fleet aircraft carriers that were attacked – two Japanese and two American – did survive. Yorktown was one of the survivors. Pre-war doctrine also held that B-17 bombers could effectively bomb ships from high altitude, but attacks against Japanese ships by Flying Fortresses at Midway scored no hits. It was becoming clear that the real war was going to be different from the conflict that was envisioned.

Hitler's Submarines Almost Launched A Missile Attack On America
In March 1945, the Allies intercepted a message from German Admiral Godt dispatching 7 Type IX long-range submarines to “attack targets in American coastal zone” as part of an attack group Seewolf. Another message diverted to the U.S. coast the U-Boat of Captain Friedrich Steinhoff, who had earlier commanded U-511 in tests of rocket artillery that could be fired underwater. The Navy was convinced that these signs all heralded an attack by missile-launching U-Boats, and sprang into action, initiating Operation Teardrop. What followed was one of the few occasions in WWII that the U.S. military tortured prisoners. Captain Just and specialists from U-546 were interrogated on U.S. soil until May 12, four days after the German surrender.

Why Didn't Nazi Germany Build Aircraft Carriers?
The bone of contention between Grand Admiral Dr. Erich Raeder of the Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Reich Marshal Hermann Göring, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe (Air Force) was the creation of a naval air arm that the admiral wanted and that the air minister was determined to prevent. Göring had always argued that his planes were being misused in guarding the big ships, and now he had gotten his way. Raeder resigned. In 1945, the Graf Zeppelin was scuttled by the Germans, only to be raised by the Soviets, taken home to Russia, and sunk in pieces during target practice—an ignominious end to Nazi Germany’s aircraft-carrier program.

The Right Decision? Heroic End Of French Fleet – Scuttled 77 Ships To Avoid Capture By Nazi Germany
It was exactly 4:00 AM on November 27, 1942. A thick veil of darkness was lingering over the skies of Toulon, but the city’s inhabitants were stripped of sleep as Nazi Germany’s forces swarmed through it. Elements of the 7th Panzer Division and supported by units from other divisions had been deployed by Hitler to capture all military assets belonging to Vichy France. At the core of this invasion was the plan to capture the French fleet which contained some of the most sophisticated warships of the time.

The Kriegsmarine and compound war at sea in WWII
The Kriegsmarine nearly broke Britain through its use of aggressive surface action groups (SAGs) and irregular commerce raiders. The Kriegsmarine entered a war it was ill-suited for, well before it was prepared to fight, but by employing a form of maritime compound warfare it nearly disrupted Allied sea control which would have starved Britain and the Soviet Union of seaborne supply. Germany’s near victory demonstrates the potential of compound war at sea.

After 100 years, the Navy thinks it knows what sank the only major US warship lost during WW1
A hundred years ago, a mysterious explosion hit the only major US warship to sink during World War I. Now the Navy believes it has the answer to what doomed the USS San Diego: An underwater mine set by a German submarine cruising in waters just miles from New York City.

Book Review: World War II at Sea: A Global History
Noted naval historian Craig Symonds has given us a short, comprehensive global history of World War II naval politics, strategies, and campaigns, primarily from the top level decisions and planning regarding these events, but covering operational and tactical matters as well, by all major naval powers, as the war unfolded, and how the events were interrelated throughout the greatest sea war in history.

In 1945, the U.S. Navy Secretly Handed Over 150 Warships to Russia for an Invasion of Japan
On April 10, 1945 a Soviet freighter slipped up to a quay at a frozen military base on a remote tip of Alaska named Cold Bay. Inside her were over 500 sailors of the Soviet Navy. The Soviets had arrived to train on the first of 149 vessels the U.S. Navy was transferring to the Soviet Union. That fleet’s secret mission: to transport the Red Army for an invasion of Japan, even while Moscow and Tokyo remained officially at peace. By early 1945, the U.S. military had ample evidence that an amphibious invasion of the Japanese home islands would prove bloody and destructive. As a result, U.S. President Franklin R. Roosevelt was keen to draw Stalin’s massive Red Army to support an invasion

Huge Japanese Carrier Shinano Was Sunk by Tiny Sub
The Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Shinano was, at the time of its completion, the largest aircraft carrier in history to that point. It was heavily armored for a carrier, a 72,000-ton behemoth. A behemoth that sank not only without sinking an enemy ship or engaging in a major battle, but that never even launched a plane.

The Ghost Raiders: How the Threat of Nazi Auxiliary Cruisers Caused Panic in the Far East
The moment the Second World War broke out in September of 1939, German merchant vessels at sea sought refuge in neutral ports across the globe. Many of them in the Far East made for ports in Japan and the Dutch East Indies. The Allies logically feared that German freighters harbouring in Japan and elsewhere might be converted into armed auxiliary cruisers, ushering in a war against merchant shipping in all oceans. After all, Germany had done as much in 1914. Auxiliary cruisers are civilian cargo vessels that have been converted into warships.

The Naval Battle That Stopped Hitler from Building a Massive Battleship Fleet
At first glance, the Battle of the Barents Sea seems insignificant, a minor World War II naval battle in which a couple of destroyers were sunk. Yet the New Year`s Eve skirmish in frozen Arctic waters convinced Hitler that he should scrap all of his capital ships and had far-reaching consequences on the leadership of Nazi Germany. The reason why points to the dilemmas inherent to being an underdog in naval warfare.

Italy's World War II Battleship Fleet: Super Weapon or Paper Tiger?
Italy`s Regia Marina was one of the busiest navies of the interwar period. Four old battleships were rebuilt so completely that they barely resembled their original configuration. This helped Italy achieve what was really, by the late 1930s, significant ship-to-ship superiority over the French Navy. The reconstruction of these ships helped generate ideas as to what their new battleships should look like. The new ships were to have enough speed to catch Dunkerque and Strasbourg (a new pair of French fast battleships), and enough firepower to destroy them.

The Secret War Off a US Coast: We`d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night
Less than six weeks after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the hostilities of the Second World War had arrived on America`s East Coast and North Carolina`s beaches. `We`d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night and it would shake the houses and sometimes crack the walls,` remembered Blanche Jolliff, of Ocracoke village. Even though ships were being torpedoed by enemy U-boats almost every day, just a few miles away, coastal residents had no choice but to live as normally as possible.

If the Battle of the Philippine Sea had played out differently, Japan`s navy might have been decimated by June 1944
The battle involved 15 American aircraft carriers deploying some 900 aircraft on one side and 9 Japanese flat-tops with 450 planes on the other. When the smoke had cleared, three Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) carriers had been sunk (two by U.S. submarines, the other by carrier aircraft), with barely over 30 aircraft left on the decks on the remaining six flat-tops. In stark contrast, the U.S. Navy did not have a single flat-top sunk or damaged and suffered combat losses of 30-odd planes. The Battle of the Philippine Sea is one of the largest naval encounters of World War II, but has often been overshadowed by other more illustrious fleet-on-fleet clashes, especially the Midway and Guadalcanal campaigns, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf following it.

Hitler's Gateway to the Atlantic: German Naval Bases in France, 1940-1945, by Lars Hellwinkel
The old saw about `amateurs" study tactics, while professionals study logistics` is perhaps even more applicable to naval warfare than to land operations; navies require elaborate basing, repair, and supply installations in order to project power over the seas, but these hardly ever find much attention in most histories. Hitler`s Gateway to the Atlantic, however, is precisely about those boring shore-side facilities that played an essential role in the Battle of the Atlantic.

British Battleships of World War II by Alan Raven and John Roberts
The British considered their ships were the best balanced, with the American ships underprotected and the Japanese overgunned. The Italian battleships were well balanced but not well used and 3 of 5 were sunk. The puzzle was made less tractable by the naval treaties engineered by the antimilitary Republican presidents of the ‘20s, which left the British with old ships except for two. Despite some reconstruction (described in great detail in the book), the Royal Navy entered the war with only 7 battleships that were up-to-date, and none sufficiently armed to cope with dive bombers.

How Hitler terrorized the seas with U-boats during World War II
"The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril,` British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said while reflecting on the second world war. By the end of the war, Hitler`s Kriegsmarine, the navy of Nazi Germany, had built 1,162 U-boats, which is short for the German word `Unterseeboot,` or undersea boat. In the fall 2015 issue of Weapons of WWII magazine, Marc DeSantis explains how the U-boats were used during World War II.

Hitler's Naval Bases - Kriegsmarine Bases During the Second World War
Hitler's Naval Bases is the result of years of fascination and research for the author Jak P. Mallmann Showell, and that shines through in the information presented. This is not about the ships and U-boats at sea, this is about all the support services that enabled the fighting vessels to actually be ale to be trained and then operate. You can get a good idea of the breadth of the whole topic by considering the titles for the 16 chapters. These are German Naval Bases: Different Types of German Naval Base: The Main Naval Bases in Germany: Major Bases that never Were: Clandestine Centres: Lorient - The first and Last Biscay base in France: Joining the Naval Command Centre in Boulogne: Problems with Southern Europe: Far-Away Bases: Naval Artillery and Naval Infantry: Naval Fire Fighters: Sentries and Guards: Air Raid Shelters: Rules for Living in Naval Barracks: German Naval Bases (a listing) and the Major Ship Building Yards of the Third Reich.

Raising the Red Banner: The Pictoral History of Stalin's Fleet 1920-1945
Books on the Red Army from its formation through the end of the Great Patriotic War are numerous, but those on the Red Banner Fleet are quite rare, which makes "Raising the Red Banner" by Richard Worth and Vladimir Yakubov a very welcome work. The authors, respectively a Soviet-born U.S. Navy veteran and a noted naval historian, have put together a outline history of the ships of the Russian Navy from the Revolution through 1945, including their roles in the Great Patriotic War.

Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal by James D. Hornfischer
Seven major naval actions took place in Guadalcanal within a six month period. With well over 500 pages "Neptune's Inferno" explores the naval side of the Guadalcanal campaign of 1942, giving the spotlight - which is often stolen by the U.S. Marines - to the U.S. Navy's surface forces.

Average history buffs - especially Europeans - seem to know surprisingly little about the Guadalcanal Campaign (Operation Watchtower), in spite of the fact that is was the second major offensive by Allied forces in the Pacific theater. One of the "problems" may be that it wasn't a single battle in a single location, but a series of invasions, battles and counter-strikes covering several islands.


Minesweeper Yarmouth Navigator, one of the 7 surviving vessels from the Normandy landings, sinks
One of only seven surviving vessels which took part in the D-Day landings have sunk during its relocation to a new mooring in Noss marina, Plymouth. The Yarmouth Navigator, a former Navy minesweeper and patrol boat, was one of around 5,000 ships that participated in the Normandy landings in June 1944 and it is listed by the National Historic Ships Committee on its register of vital ships.

Major search and rescue operation was launched, but one person is still missing.

What makes the loss of this historic ship even more tragic, is the fact that after decades of neglect, a new owner was in the process of turning things around for the Yarmouth Navigator.


Official History of the South African Naval Forces during the Second World War (1939-1945)
South Africa entered WWII with no navy. From 3 officers in September 1939, the South African Naval Service, then the Seaward Defence Force (SDF) and finally the South African Naval Forces grew rapidly, and by late 1945, when discharging of troops began, 9455 men had served South Africa at sea on some 78 ships -- 3 of them newly-built Loch-class frigates. Remarkably, the HMSAS Natal sank a U-boat (U-714) off Scotland just 6 hours after leaving the builders' yard on March 14, 1945.

The Sinking of the Laconia controversially sets the record straight on heroic U-boat captain
One of the unsung heroes of the allied WWII effort was Nazi U-boat commander Werner Hartenstein. This unlikely case will be explored in a 2-part TV drama - The Sinking of the Laconia - which faced resistance from those whose reputations are damaged by this new account. "No U-boat captain who would sit on the surface all that time and risk his own life is a bad man," stated Commander Geoffrey Greet, an English survivor of the Laconia.

'Away All Boarders!' - Ralph Pike saw the capturing of the German submarine U-505
U.S. Navy veteran Ralph Pike served aboard the escort carrier USS Guadalcanal when the ship - along with destroyer escort USS Pillsbury - captured the German submarine U-505 and its codebooks. The U-505, a type IXC U-boat currently on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, was the first enemy warship captured on the high seas by the U.S. Navy since 1815. The case is also the last time the order "Away All Boarders" (used when a crew is ordered to go aboard a captured enemy ship) was given by a U.S. Navy captain. Pike had a front-row seat: "I was actually on the catwalk on the flight deck."

Shepherds of the Sea: Destroyer Escorts in World War II by Robert F. Cross (WWII book review)
"Shepherds of the Sea" tells the stories of 91 WWII sailors who served aboard 56 different destroyer escorts in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The American Library Association's Booklist magazine called it the "first full-scale history of destroyer escorts" and says it should be part of every naval book collection. Destroyer escorts sank 70 Nazi U-boats and 26 Japanese submarines, and saw combat in every major battle in the Pacific war. Of the 563 WWII destroyer escorts built, the last one still afloat, the USS Slater, has been completely restored and is located on the Hudson River in Albany.

Two World War II Liberty ships cut into scrap in Tacoma   (Article no longer available from the original source)
If Scott Sloan felt any regret as he watched the two Liberty Ships cut into scrap, he hid it well. "These were war veterans, but they were almost 70 years old. They weren't designed to withstand the ocean environment for this long," he explained, as a crane lifted one of the last parts of the SS Woodbridge Ferris toward a waiting barge. Schnitzer Steel Industries inherited Woodbridge Ferris and another rusty WWII relic, the SS Mahlon Pitney, when it bought the Tacoma facility in 1995. WWII veterans viewed the old ships with nostalgia, but state environmental regulators saw them as floating toxic waste dumps.

RMS Lancastria: Forgotten disaster which claimed more lives than the combined losses on Titanic and Lusitania
Britain's worst ever maritime disaster, the sinking of the troopship RMS Lancastria, which claimed 4000-6000 lives, has all but been erased from history. But survivors and campaigners are keeping the memory alive. The sinking of RMS Lancastria in 1940, a disaster which claimed more lives than the Titanic and the Lusitania combined, almost disappeared from history, because the British government banned any announcements of the disaster through the D-Notice system. On 17 June 1940 the RMS Lancastria - rescuing troops from the French port of St Nazaire - received 3 hits from a Junkers 88 bomber and sank in 20 minutes.

Operation Catapult: How British massacred the French Navy during World War II
French sailor Andre Jaffre still trembles as he recalls the moment in July 1940 that the enemy opened fire on his battleship, the Bretagne. "A shell exploded underneath, where there were munitions and a fuel store." Soon the Bretagne capsized. "The water was black with oil that was bubbling... and men... screaming in it. But I had to jump in..." Jaffre had joined the navy to fight the Nazis. But the shells that poured on him were not German but British. What made Churchill launch Operation Catapult? 8 weeks of military disasters and the fact that friendless Britain was facing annihilation?

Q-Ships: Anti-submarine vessels disguised as merchant vessels
In World War Two, the sudden appearance of German U-boats in Atlantic coast led to considerations of all possible means for stopping them. American shipping losses grew rapidly and on Jan 20, 1942, Cominch [Commander-in-Chief] sent for information to Commander Eastern Sea Frontier a coded dispatch: "Immediate consideration is requested as to the manning and fitting-out of Queen repeat Queen ships to be operated as an antisubmarine measure..." The most common method of U-boat attack had been night attacks from close range: and U-boats were focusing on tankers. So a tanker would best answer the purpose of inviting attack after having been fitted out as a Q-ship.

Ramming a German U-boat
Frank Arsenault still recalls Jan. 13, 1943, which defined his WWII military service. He had just finished his shift at the wheel of the Ville de Québec, a Canadian corvette in the Mediterranean Sea, as part of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. Arsenault headed to his hammock to read a book, but soon a warning bell rang: "The ship had picked up the echo of a German submarine, which was attempting to break into our convoy." Arsenault and a few other seamen dropped 10 depth charges, which hit U-224, and forced it to surface. The ship's captain made a quick decision: "Stand by to ram." Only one German, an officer, survived.

Swordfish pilot sank the Bismarck but only found it out 59 years later
Every WWII veteran has a story to tell, but few could rival John Moffat's tale. He had a ringside seat to the sinking of the Bismarck, in one of the most dramatic World War II sea battles. He was piloting one of 3 Swordfish open-cockpit biplanes that set off from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal to stop the Bismarck, which had sank the British warship Hood. He only found out it was his torpedo that sealed the fate of the Bismarck when the Fleet Air Arm (the Navy's air force) wrote to him in 2000. It was the torpedo he fired that damaged the steering mechanism of the German battleship, leaving it in the hands of Royal Navy ships which then sank it on May 27, 1941.

World War II destroyer escort USS Slater features in film Battle Under Orion   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The USS Slater will be featured in a Japanese WWII movie, "Battle Under Orion," and its producers have set up a private screening at the Palace Theatre in Albany to thank locals. "Battle Under Orion," the story of crews on a Japanese submarine and an American destroyer escort in the last days of World War II, will be released in Japan later 2009. "It was a great experience. They ... left the ship cleaner than when they arrived," said Tim Rizzuto, executive director of the Slater. Producers Shohei Kotaki and Kanjiro Sakura even picked up brooms and joined in the cleanup. The filmmakers chose the Slater because of its authentic restoration.

HMT Rohna - World War II veteran saw the largest American troop loss at sea
James Wheeler kept a secret for almost 60 years. He is a WW2 veteran who was part of what many military historians have called "the largest loss of US troops at sea." Over 1000 U.S. troops perished, yet not many Americans know about it. It's not in the WW2 books. Wheeler was an infantryman aboard the British transport ship HMT Rohna when it was attacked Nov. 26, 1943, by Luftwaffe bombers as it traveled through the Mediterranean Sea. What Wheeler saw was something that had seldom been seen, at least by anyone alive. It was the latest technology of the time: a Henschel Hs-293, a remote-controlled, rocket-powered glide bomb with wings.

Navy Web TV Online for history buffs
An online tv network at is luring its part of history buffs with its vast collection of vintage and present-day footage. Co-sponsored by the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., NAVY TV is set up like a traditional broadcast network with channels and episodes. The site also includes a forum. "There's no doubt that our Navy film library is a key draw. Our footage is extensive and increasing daily. For military history enthusiasts, we're a one-stop treasure trove of top quality, classic Navy films," says Jim Franco.

Top-secret mission involved giving American minesweepers to USSR
Frank Davies enlisted in the Navy's V-12 program, a special military curriculum during World War II. His service began in 1941, and he was soon part of a top-secret mission to deliver minesweeping ships to the Russians in the Aleutians (when Russia was not active in the war). Had Americans found out, there would have been protests about giving anything at all to communists. We lived with the Russian Navy for 2 weeks. We trained them. It was part of Franklin Roosevelt's lend-lease program, but in reverse. We gave ships to the Russians for money, and it was a project that the president wanted to be top secret.

Operation Hailstone - 12 times more destructive attack than the Pearl Harbor attack
The underwater graveyard of Japan's dreams of conquest is exposed as TV team of BBC Natural History Unit probes depths of a remote corner of the Pacific Ocean, where the remains of Japan's wartime fleet lie - blitzed by the Americans in retaliation for Pearl Harbor. Now the full scale of that vengeance is revealed: It was 12 times more destructive than the attack on the American Navy base in Pearl Harbour, that pushed the U.S. into World War II. Here, among the Chuuk Islands, the Japanese fleet took shelter, thinking it to be a safe haven. It was - until dawn on Feb. 17, 1944, when the Americans launched Operation Hailstorm, striking the Japanese base at Truk.

German sailor to revisit schooner Horst Wessel, now the USCGC Eagle
On the Fourth of July Johann Bernard will visit his old WW2 ship on which he served in the German navy, der Kriegsmarine. He will step aboard the USCGC Eagle, as the 295-foot bark visits Tacoma during a "Tall Ship" festival. He served on the Eagle, called the Horst Wessel when it belonged to Nazi Germany, before it became a war prize for the USA. During WW2 the Horst Wessel was near a bomb dropping and the ship caught on fire. Bernard got an Iron Cross First Class for putting out the fire. After serving on the schooner, Bernard worked one voyage on the U-603 on a trip from Germany to Japan. The U-603 was sent to the bottom on her next patrol.

The Battle of the River Plate: A Grand Delusion by Richard Woodman
The Battle of the River Plate was the first famous naval battle of World War II. 3 small Royal Navy cruisers were pitted against a German pocket battleship Graf Spee, which was thousands of miles from home, isolated and on its own. The British were too severely damaged to pose a real challenge, but they put up a bold front. They fooled the German captain, and Graf Spee sailed from Montevideo and scuttled itself rather than risk being interned by Uruguay or beaten by the Royal Navy. "Grand Delusion" is one of the few books about the battle written after the Royal Navy’s WW2 archives were completely declassified.

65th anniversary of a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic observed
The 65th anniversary of a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest battle of World War II, will be marked across Canada. It took over 30,000 Allied seamen and over 3,000 Allied ships. Defence Minister Peter MacKay: "During the darkest days of the Second World War, thousands of Canadian men and women in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Merchant Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force faced perilous conditions that many of us can't even imagine." 1939-1945 the Allied Forces relied on the Atlantic shipping lanes to assure safe transit of vital supplies from North America to the frontlines.

The secret past of the Coast Guard's cutter Eagle - The Horst Wessel   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Seeing the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle - which serves as a seagoing classroom for 175 cadets of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy - under full sail is a sight to take the breath away. Built in 1936 by the Blohm & Voss Shipyard in Hamburg and named the Horst Wessel (a Nazi Party martyr), she was one of 3 training ships to train cadets for the Kriegsmarine. In the years before World War II the Horst Wessel visited the Caribbean. In 1941 she was converted to a cargo ship, transporting supplies all over the Baltic Sea. During WWII she was armed with 2 antiaircraft guns, shooting down 3 aircraft in combat.

Film about Wilhelm Gustloff: Women, children torpedoed by a Soviet submarine
A film about the sinking of a Nazi ship carrying thousands of German refugees at the end of World War II has lifted the lid on one of Germany's most painful memories. The film, Die Gustloff, tells the story of the Nazi cruise ship "Wilhelm Gustloff", torpedoed by a Soviet submarine on Jan. 30, 1945. 9300 people died, thought to be biggest loss of life on a single ship. Yet the tale of the Gustloff remains unknown outside the country due to the reluctance of postwar generations to probe Germans' WW2 suffering. Launched in 1937, Gustloff was named after the assassinated head of the Swiss Nazi party.

Auctioned: Model of ship that did not sink after torpedoed by German U-boat 111
A model of one of the shortest-lived ships in Whitby's marine history may get Ł7,000 when it is auctioned. The 4 feet 5 inches long model is of the ill-starred steam ship Barnby, launched in 1940 - only to be torpedoed 18 months later by German U-boat 111 on May 22,1942, in one of the most unusual nautical incidents of the World War 2. This was because the Barnby did NOT sink! She was complately filled with flour, which swelled up and kept her afloat, so no one quite knows where she lies. "Builder's models of this period are particularly sought-after... Early models have fine metal fittings, often silver or silver gilt and gunmetal or brass."

Documentary film about heroic WWII rescue saga of the Lisbon Maru   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A documentary recounts the tragic story of brave Chinese fishermen and British soldiers, who perished on board the Japanese freighter Lisbon Maru. Director Alan Lau Kin-lun's interest was sparked when he heard about the plan by the divers of Hong Kong Underwater Archeological Association to search for the freighter. On Sept. 25, 1942, 1,816 British POWs from the Sham Shui Po POW camp were herded on to the Lisbon Maru on their way to provide labor in Japan. A few days later American submarine USS Grouper torpedoed the freighter. While the Japanese troops were evacuated on to their destroyers, the POWs were left behind in 3 locked holds below deck.

One man's journey to save Napa-made warship USS Bolster
When America mobilized for World War II, so did Napa. With a work force of 3,000 working 3 shifts, Basalt Rock Co. produced 3-dozen salvage-rescue tugs for war duty in the South Pacific. The shipyard is long gone, and the last of the tugs are on death row in Suisun Bay’s reserve fleet. Bruce Martens, a man with a passion for Navy history, is attempting to save one of them, the USS Bolster, to become a floating Bay Area museum. Salvage-rescue tugs were never the Navy’s glamour ships, but "they saved thousands of lives." 214 feet USS Bolster was launched at Basalt Rock on Dec. 23, 1944, after being made in only 4 months.

Rear Admiral Charles A. Curtze salvaged a major ship in Pearl Harbor
Rear Admiral Charles A. Curtze, who died at 96, had a hand in some major events in American history. He played a key role in salvaging a major ship during the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor. That achievement is highlighted in a tribute to Curtze at the Admiral Charles A. Curtze Maritime Hall at Erie History Museum. Curtze was working as a fleet safety officer on the light cruiser USS St. Louis when the attack began. He helped guide the cruiser out of the harbor. It was the only major ship to escape that day, and it became the stalwart as the Pacific Fleet was reconstructed after the bombing.

Captain Denis Jermain - Coastal forces and anti-submarine warfare
It was while commanding a motor torpedo boat in the 1st MTB Flotilla that Captain Denis Jermain devised a technique for sinking surface ships using depth charges. In October 1940 he was in one of several MTBs which torpedoed 2 German trawlers. Two months later his MTB was the only survivor of a flotilla which ran into a convoy. His torpedo-firing mechanism failed but he made a depth-charge attack while his gunners fired upwards at anyone who put his head over the merchant ship's gunwales. This technique required to cross only a few yards from the enemy's bows; but his depth charges exploded amidships, sinking the 6,000-ton vessel.

U-boat hunters - MAC ships: flat-top escort carrier
HMS Audacity was the Royal Navy’s first merchant aircraft carrier whose role was to protect convoys crossing the Atlantic. She started life as a German passenger ship the Hannover, which was captured early in the war and converted into a flat-top escort carrier, also known as a MAC ship. She could operate 4 light Grumman Martlet aircraft from her short flight deck with no hanger. There is a 1:300 scale model of the camouflaged Audacity in Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Battle of the Atlantic gallery. She was sunk by a German U-boat in Dec. 1941 after 4 escort passages. More U-boats were sunk by aircraft than by ships during the last 2 years of World War II.

World War II Liberty ship the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien
His service as a naval captain in the Revolutionary War earned him the honor of having a World War II Liberty ship carry his name. That vessel, the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, is permanently berthed at Pier 45 in San Francisco. Stepping on deck, visitors can get a sense of the teamwork and mechanical engineering that went into its operation. Taking a 90-minute self-guided tour allows visitors to view every area of the ship. As one of only 2 operational Liberty ships left from the 2,751 built (the other is the S.S. John W. Brown, in Baltimore), the Jeremiah O'Brien is the sole survivor of the 6,939-ship armada that stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, 1944.

World War II Liberty Ship coming to Massachusetts Maritime Academy   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The World War II Liberty Ship the SS John W. Brown will be docked at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne Monday-Wednesday and will be open to the public for tours. The John W. Brown - listed on the National Register of Historic Places - is operated by Project Liberty Ship, a nonprofit group that seeks to preserve the ship as a living museum. Originally called "Emergency Ships," more than 2,700 were built. They were designed to be constructed quickly. A ship's hull was finished in just over 4 days. They became known as Liberty Ships after the launching of the first vessel, christened the SS Patrick Henry.

USS Indianapolis torpedoed - "special cargo was the atomic bomb"
Lindsey Zeb Wilcox was on board the USS Indianapolis on July 29, 1945 when it was hit by two Japanese torpedoes. On July 12, 1945, USS Indianapolis received orders to carry a "special cargo." Their destination was the Tinian Island in the Marinas. Whatever time they saved getting to the island would shorten the war. When they arrived at Tinian on July 26, 1945, breaking the record for speed held by USS Omaha in 1932, they learned the special cargo was the atomic bomb. Arrival time shortened the war 26 days. On July 28 the ship left for Guam, and on July 29 Japanese submarine I-58 under the command of Hashimoto fired 6 torpedoes with 2 hitting the USS Indianapolis.

1944 Secret at West Loch: "the second attack on Pearl Harbor"
The "second attack on Pearl Harbor," happened when a series of explosions in West Loch destroyed several Navy ships. J. Arthur Rath experienced the disaster from the hillside campus. He later befriended historian Henry W. Schramm, a seaman on a minesweeper inside the harbor that day, who recorded his account for Rath. On May 21, 1944 The harbor was swollen with combat ships, cargo vessels and even old WWI 4-stackers. The fleet loaded its war supplies in Pearl prior to invading the Marianas. While other sailors were on shore leave, Schramm was on the bridge reading. A sailor on watch rushed over. "There's a base fire alert. Can you two-block the fire flag?"

Excerpt: Miracles on the Water - Survivors of WWII U-Boat Attack
In 1940, the British liner SS City of Benares was attacked by a German submarine in the North Atlantic while heading to Canada to escape the German blitz over England. More than 400 people were onboard, including 90 children, who believed they were fortunate to be heading to Canada. The ship sank in a half hour, and although there was little chance of survival, some made it out alive. Tom Nagorski tells their story, using firsthand accounts from child survivors and other passengers of the Benares. Below is an excerpt from "Miracles on the Water: The Heroic Survivors of a World War II U-Boat Attack."

Pictures of the sunk british WWII battleship in Scapa Flow
Underneath the massive hull of the HMS Royal Oak, the superstructure of the battleship lies crushed, with gun barrels buried in the sand. These are the clearest images yet of one of the most terrible naval tragedies in British history. The Dreadnought class warship, one of the largest in the British WWII fleet, was sunk by torpedoes during the Second World War in a U-boat attack in Scapa Flow on Oct 14, 1939. The ghostly images created by ADUS are published for the first time and show the wreck in great detail. The wreck, an official War Grave in which more than 833 sailors died when it sank in 10 minutes, is still leaking fuel.

Not all the ships that sunk in World War II were hit by enemy fire   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Not all the ships that sunk in Second World War were hit by enemy fire. Mitchell George Siefe, serving about a Landing Ship Tank in Hawaii, recalled three that were sunk by a typhoon. The big wind struck while ships of the 7th fleet were assembling in a huge armada in the South Pacific preparing for the invasion of Japan. "The storm was so severe three destroyers were sunk and most people on my ship were sick afterward." He and two other crewmen were the only ones who were able to go down to breakfast the next morning. Mitchell saw the devastation of war, as well as that of Mother Nature.

British navy before nazi trial: We had similar tactics   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Britain told prosecutors after World War Two not to press charges against Nazis for sinking ships on sight because the British navy had similar tactics. Admiralty voiced the worries in an secret 1945 letter: "We have to bear in mind the fact that ultimately, by way of reprisal, we ourselves adopted a total sink-at-sight policy in prescribed areas. British naval officials were concerned about the trials of German naval commander Erich Raeder and his successor Karl Doenitz: "We have been a little anxious concerning the possibility that the trials of Doenitz and Raeder might involve a controversy concerning legal principles of maritime warfare."

Rear Admiral Desmond Piers at the centre of a wartime naval crisis
The disaster that befell a transatlantic convoy in mid-ocean in November 1942 was unjustly blamed on the senior officer of its Canadian naval escort, the then Lieutenant Commander Desmond Piers, but he was still awarded the DSC for his convoy work just a few months later. The fate of SC (slow convoy) 107 precipitated a crisis for the Royal Canadian Navy and the allied convoy system as the German U-boat campaign reached its destructive peak.