What are submarines

The submarine war

As a rule, German submarines attacked using "pack tactics". Since the German Navy did not have its own reconnaissance aircraft, the submarines had to form a line of attack to locate targets. About twelve boats were concentrated in a certain sea area and carried out their attacks together, with the individual submarine commanders having full freedom of action. After the USA entered the war in December 1941, German submarines operated for the first time off the east coast of America a month later, where a lack of American coastal protection enabled them to torpedo ships even in the port of New York and in the Mississippi estuary.

In this phase of the "Atlantic Battle" between January and July 1942, the submarines of the German Navy achieved the highest success numbers of the war with 229 sunk merchant ships before the turning point in the submarine war began. In the North Atlantic at the beginning of 1943, an allied air umbrella formed with the help of long-range bombers and escort aircraft carriers. Equipping their air and naval forces with newly developed radar and sonar enabled the Allies to locate and destroy German submarines even in bad weather and at night.

After the German navy lost over 70 submarines in the first five months of 1943 and these losses were disproportionate to the successes of the sinking, Dönitz ordered the abortion of the convoy battle in the North Atlantic on May 24, 1943. In the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, the submarine war was to be continued with sudden brutality - an increasingly hopeless undertaking.

Most of the 780 German submarines sunk in World War II, with almost 27,000 crew members killed, were lost after May 1943. Before the capitulation in May 1945, German submarines sank around 2,800 Allied merchant ships with a total of 15 million gross tons.