Skip to main content

Ensign William A. Martin, Commander, U. S. Submarine Chaser 349, to Commander Charles P. Nelson, Commander, Otranto Detachment, Submarine Chasers, Distant Service


August 19th, 1918. 

From:     Commanding Officer.

To:       Commander, Otranto Detachment, U.S. Submarine Chasers.

via:      Commander, First Squadron.1

Subject:  Attack on Enemy submarine, report on.

Enclosure:     (a) Diagram of Hunt.2

     1.   I have to report the following facts concerning the attack on an enemy submarine, by the ‘C’ Unit of Otranto Detachment, U.S. Submarine Chasers.

     2.   August 19th, 4.30 p.m., Lat. 39.50N. Long., 18.45E. ‘C’ Unit consisting of S. C. 349,255 and 256,   on drifting patrol Otranto Barrage, intercepted Radio report from English Drifter 1474 to Senior Officer of Barrage, of “One submarine submerged bearing S.45”,. course unknown, square 244.

4.35 p.m. Under way with Unit, course 292 psc. speed 10 knots, observing silent intervals of barrage.

4.45 p.m. Stopped for listening period, destroyer in sight, bearing 150, distant 6 miles drowning all other sounds on hydrophones.

5.00 p.m. Sent “H V” Radio message with endeavour to stop all movements of vessels within 20 mile radius.

5.05 p/m. Under way, course 292 psc, speed 5 knots to allow #256 to gain position. French hydro-aeroplane sighted headed towards ship’s position from the westward.

5.15 p.m. Stopped. Destroyer, with convoy, bearing 200, distance 8 miles, still interfering with all other sounds coming in on hydroplanes. Aeroplane turning in large circles to North-westward.

5.20 p.m. Under way, course 315, speed 5 knots.

5.30 p.m. Stopped, S.C. 255 in position on starboard beam, S.C. 256 bearing 130°, 800 yards astern of position. Destroyers and convoy still interfering with all hydrophone sounds.

5.31 p.m. Lat.39.51.45N., Long. 18.40.30 E., French Aeroplane dropped lighted marker buoy, bearing 315°, distant 660 yards.

5.31-30   Under way, with 255, on course 315°, speed 15 knots, made signal for bomb attack.

5.32-30   Down attacking signal, dropped first bomb of pattern #4, all depth charges set at 150 feet. This bomb exploded prematurely approximately 6 seconds after striking the water. Dropped second and third bomb at ten second intervals, then turned to left with full rudder, S.C. 255 turning to right at same time. This manoeuvre owing to there being but 2 ships executing pattern #4. Completed turn through 90 and fired depth charge projector. Steadied on course 180 and stopped. Did not drop last bomb of pattern owing to possible danger to #256, who was still endeavouring to get in position. S.C. #255, complteted pattern. S.C. #256 headed N.N.W. across area and dropped 2 stern bombs and fired 2 from Depth Charge projector.

5.36 p.m. French Hydroplane landed on water, about 800 yards ahead, and signalled to this vessel to come towards him. Under way, on course 220, headed for hydroplane, and when within 100 yards of the plane, was compelled to stop and back all engines, to give right of way to English Drifter Y-1, named CAPELLA. This drifter had steamed over approximately the same course followed by this vessel, and had dropped several depth charges in same area. She had changed course to the left and was headed directly towards this ship and the hydroplane, coming from the westward. When this vessel stopped and backed engines to avoid collision, the drifter kept coming ahead full speed. When in a position directly between the bow of this ship, and the hydroplane, the drifter dropped a depth charge. The hydroplane went ahead, and by backing full speed on all engines, this vessel was in a position approximately 50 yards from point where depth charge exploded. Hydroplane had reached a safe distance, and there was no apparent damage down, except heavy jar felt below decks. Stopped all engines and French Hydroplane #n-2081 came within hail. Aviator reported he had sighted submarine submerged, headed on approximate N.W. course, and that his lighted marker buoy had fallen 200 feet ahead of the submarine.

5.50 p.m. Under way, to regain Unit near bombed area. No signs of submarine seen or heard by any vessel of C Unit. Starboard and centre engine misfiring and behaving poorly.

5.55 p.m. Stopped.  Combination of sounds arising from drifters and convoys underway, made use of hydrophones useless towards detecting noise of submarine.

6.20 p.m. A submarine being reported heading N by E., got under way, hunting formation, course 20. Starboard and centre engine failed, completely owing to water in gasoline. An examination found starboard float chamber cracked at point where provision had been made for installing a drain valve. This allowed bilge water to enter float chamber, putting both starboard and centre engines entirely out of commission for the time.

6.30 p.m. Stopped. Convoy to the southward still interfering with all sounds.

6.50 p.m. Under way, course 25°, speed 5 knots.

7.00 p.m. Stopped. Drifters and convoy interfering on hydrophones. The ‘L’ unit of chasers sighted to eastward. Remainder stopped, and at 7.45 p.m. Lat. 39.53.45, Long. 18.40/45 turned hunt over to ‘l’ Unit leader on S.C. 248. ‘C’ unit remained stopped. Repairs to Float Chamber under way.

9.10 p.m. Repairs on Float Chamber completed. Engines tested, all O.K. Remained stopped, as ‘1’ unit was operating to eastward, distance about 4 miles.

10.00 p.m.     ‘L’ Unit in communication by Radio telephone. Reported lost touch after bombing submarine

10.05 p.m.     ‘C’ unit under way, course 90° true, speed 10 knots, to resume station on Main A.P. Line, in accordance with Radio Orders received from Senior Officer in charge, Otranto Barrage.

/s/  W.A. Martin.            

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 415. Document reference: “SC 6/D/H.” For a diagram of the maneuvers, see: Illustrations for August 1918.

Footnote 1: Lt. Paul H. Bastedo, Commander, Submarine Chaser Squadron 4.

Footnote 2: For the Diagram of the Hunt, see: Illustrations for August 1918.