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Enemy subs in US territorial waters and harbors?


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How many know examples do we have of U boats in US terrotorial waters or very close. Did any get into any of the US harbours? The only incident I can think of is a Japanese sub that fired a few rounds at the oil facility just north of Port Hyneme , CA as the captain had been treated badly when he had worked there before the war. Are there others?

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How many know examples do we have of U boats in US terrotorial waters or very close. Did any get into any of the US harbours? The only incident I can think of is a Japanese sub that fired a few rounds at the oil facility just north of Port Hyneme , CA as the captain had been treated badly when he had worked there before the war. Are there others?

An IJN submarine entered the mouth of the Columbia River and was fired on by the local Coast defense fort.

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An IJN submarine entered the mouth of the Columbia River and was fired on by the local Coast defense fort.

 

With those nasty sandbars, currents and surf I would not want to attempt taking a sub through there with old or outdated charts (if any). Plus the sub would have to be on the surface for most of the time as the currents would drain her batteries pretty quick.

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When I saw the subject line 'Enemy subs in US territorial waters and harbors?' I was reminded of the Weekly World News cover that had a pic of the conning tower of a sub and shouted IRAQI SUB IN GREAT LAKES!

 

:lol:

 

 

How many know examples do we have of U boats in US terrotorial waters or very close. Did any get into any of the US harbours? The only incident I can think of is a Japanese sub that fired a few rounds at the oil facility just north of Port Hyneme , CA as the captain had been treated badly when he had worked there before the war. Are there others?

 

I had never heard that angle on the story before, I had just thought that he was firing on a target of opportunity. IIRC the gunnery was poor and they did little or no damage. I'm surprised that this sort of thing didn't happen more often, it would seem that subs with decent sized deck guns could surface at night early in the war near the shore with near impunity and shell vulnerable targets but I guess the fear of losing their boat was more powerful than the lure of the targets.

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I had never heard that angle on the story before, I had just thought that he was firing on a target of opportunity. IIRC the gunnery was poor and they did little or no damage.

About 30 years ago I found a copy of a California National Guard newspaper/periodical while spending a weekend at Camp SLO that had a piece on the incident.

 

All from memory, it was the I-17(?) that fired at the oil storage facilities near Goleta. According to that article, the captain of the Japanese sub had skippered an oil tanker before the war. He had visited and toured the facility, and while walking along one of the wooden gangways in his dress white uniform he slipped and fell into the mud.

 

It was such a loss of face to have soiled his best uniform in front of his hosts, that when he was activated and given command of a sub, he returned to the spot to shell the gangway. While his orders placed him on patrol off of the pacific coast of the US, he had no orders to attack land targets. It was his own initiative that led him to bring his boat in so close to shore, and initiate his shelling. While US officials asserted that the sub hit no targets of value, the Japanese captain was said to have satisified himself that the gangway had been blown to pieces, and so secured from firing and sailed away.

 

I've never seen it described like that in any other publication. But that was the story I saw in the mid-70s, and it suggested that it was post-war research with the captain in question that brought out "the rest of the story". No idea if it is in fact true.

 

I have (at home, not where I sit ATM) a coffee-table book called "West Coast Goes to War",with several pictures of various fire captains and sherrif deputies pointing out the damage done at the facility, including craters near big storage tanks, and some walls perforated by fragments. Also has some newpaper reports of the event.

 

-Mark 1

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About 30 years ago I found a copy of a California National Guard newspaper/periodical while spending a weekend at Camp SLO that had a piece on the incident.

 

All from memory, it was the I-17(?) that fired at the oil storage facilities near Goleta. According to that article, the captain of the Japanese sub had skippered an oil tanker before the war. He had visited and toured the facility, and while walking along one of the wooden gangways in his dress white uniform he slipped and fell into the mud.

 

It was such a loss of face to have soiled his best uniform in front of his hosts, that when he was activated and given command of a sub, he returned to the spot to shell the gangway. While his orders placed him on patrol off of the pacific coast of the US, he had no orders to attack land targets. It was his own initiative that led him to bring his boat in so close to shore, and initiate his shelling. While US officials asserted that the sub hit no targets of value, the Japanese captain was said to have satisified himself that the gangway had been blown to pieces, and so secured from firing and sailed away.

 

I've never seen it described like that in any other publication. But that was the story I saw in the mid-70s, and it suggested that it was post-war research with the captain in question that brought out "the rest of the story". No idea if it is in fact true.

 

I have (at home, not where I sit ATM) a coffee-table book called "West Coast Goes to War",with several pictures of various fire captains and sherrif deputies pointing out the damage done at the facility, including craters near big storage tanks, and some walls perforated by fragments. Also has some newpaper reports of the event.

 

-Mark 1

 

 

Interesting, thanks!

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There was a rumour that a U-Boat got all the way to New Orleans back in 1942, but of course that was wartime hysteria. However, U-166 was sunk off the Louisiana coast that same year, and most folks think she lurked in the Mississippi Delta for a bit before she was sunk.

 

http://uboat.net/boats/u166.htm

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There were a number of shellings by Japanese subs and a large coordinated one originally planned for Xmas eve 1941 which wasn't pulled off; by the time they were ready some of the boats were low on fuel.

 

For German subs territorial waters at 12 miles it's too numerous to list, though didn't fire guns at US land targets in WWII (did in the Caribbean). Besides quite a few torpedoings within sight of land they laid some minefields in harbor entrances including U-166 already mentioned in the passes of the Mississippi though the existence of that field was only discovered from German records (based on the boat's radioed reports before loss, presumably). U-608 laid a field of 10 TMA magnetics in lower New York Bay in November 1942, 2 miles from the Ambrose lightship, about 10 mi east of Atlantic Highlands NJ. It was discovered when YMS-20's magnetic sweep gear set one off during a routine sweep. But U-701's field in June 1942 sank two tankers and some minor vessels at the entrance to Cheasapeake Bay The tanker sinking positions given are 4-5 miles off Virginia Beach, VA. The boats that landed would-be saboteurs in FL and on Long Island, U-584 and U-202, in 1942 also of course had to come quite close to shore.

 

In WWI the armored cruiser San Diego struck a mine laid by U-156 and sank about 10 miles south of Fire Island, NY July 19 1918. Two days later U-156 herself attacked the tug Perth Amboy and her barges with guns about 3mi off Orleans (Cape Cod) MA. Four shells landed ashore.

 

Joe

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An IJN submarine entered the mouth of the Columbia River and was fired on by the local Coast defense fort.

 

Has this been verified from IJN records or was it just a claim made at the time?

 

Do the overflights by Japanese aircraft from submarines of Pearl Harbor count?

Edited by Bearded-Dragon
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Between 1942 and 1944 Kriegsmarine deployed 317 mines against Atlantic U.S. ports. 11 ships were sunk and 8 ports were closed for a total of 40 days. Charleston was closed for 16 days.

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Here is an interesting link:

 

http://www.elfornio.com/ef-jpnland.html

 

It recounts the story of the Goleta shelling (indeed it was by I-17), repeating the same account of the Sub's captain Noshino Kozo, having been a tanker skipper pre-war. In this recounting of the story, he fell into a patch of cactus, not into mud.

 

But more interesting, the link recounts, first hand, an occasion later that night/next morning, when the same submarine sent an armed party ashore! And by coincidence, they were discovered by Japanese-American strawberry farmers, who politely asked the armed IJN team to leave, and then made a pact among themselves not to reveal the event.

 

Now THAT'S a story I've never heard before.

 

-Mark 1

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Regretably, the army CD fort in question at the Columbia River estuary did not manage to get a single shot off; the last chance of the CD Arty to defend US soil and...nothing. To be fair, CD doctrine did not call for revealing gun positions at the first probe. Still, they were caught by surprise and did nothing well.

 

http://www.oldoregon.com/Pages/fortstevens.htm

 

http://www.bookmice.net/darkchilde/japan/stevens.html

 

http://www.visitftstevens.com/history.htm

 

A nice summary for the thread is:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attacks_on_Un...ng_World_War_II

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I remember watching a short propaganda film clip of a German U-Boat's periscope view of New York harbor and the Manhattan skyline at night. So, at least one U-Boat must have made it up the Hudson River once, probably exclusively for this propaganda movie. Just to show that they could.

Edited by Ssnake
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There are a large number of WW2 wrecks very close to the shore in NJ that occurred either due to direct U-boat action or in attempts to avoid U-boats. There are multiple accounts of ships buring within sight of the shore. U-boats operated for years off the east coast of the US (close in) with relative impunity.

 

About twenty years back, while I was getting started in SCUBA, a U-boat was discovered sunk off Fire Island. The story told at that time was that the sub fired torpedoes in or around NY harbor after VE day (he obviously didn't get the message), triggering a response from a large group of destroyer escorts that were in harbor due to the cessation of hostilities....with the obvious outcome. I'm not sure if the story is even based in fact..

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There are a large number of WW2 wrecks very close to the shore in NJ that occurred either due to direct U-boat action or in attempts to avoid U-boats. There are multiple accounts of ships buring within sight of the shore. U-boats operated for years off the east coast of the US (close in) with relative impunity.

 

About twenty years back, while I was getting started in SCUBA, a U-boat was discovered sunk off Fire Island. The story told at that time was that the sub fired torpedoes in or around NY harbor after VE day (he obviously didn't get the message), triggering a response from a large group of destroyer escorts that were in harbor due to the cessation of hostilities....with the obvious outcome. I'm not sure if the story is even based in fact..

 

My uncle has some very vivid stories of watching ships burn off the coast of New Jersey during the early days of the war, including a tanker that burned all night and spilled oil out onto the beach.

 

After he finished his time at the Philly Navy Yard he transfered to destroyers, as he thought hunting subs in tincans would be an adventure (although he eventually went to the Pacific, and didn't tangle with subs IIRC).

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About twenty years back, while I was getting started in SCUBA, a U-boat was discovered sunk off Fire Island. The story told at that time was that the sub fired torpedoes in or around NY harbor after VE day (he obviously didn't get the message), triggering a response from a large group of destroyer escorts that were in harbor due to the cessation of hostilities....with the obvious outcome. I'm not sure if the story is even based in fact..

It is based in fact. Postwar accountings matched the loss of U-869 to ASW attacks by DE USS Fowler and the French L'Indiscret (Lend Lease 173' PC) escorting a convoy off Morocco, Feb 28 1945. This should probably have been seen as too convenient since the boat sortied from Bergen to operate off NY. Anyway U-869 was found in Lower NY Bay (actually closer to the NJ side, ENE of Atlantic City) in 1991. It's now assumed it was an operational loss, perhaps to its own torpedoes, somewhere in the same period, February '45. One reason for the confusion is there wasn't any ASW action in the area at the time. That part of the story might be grafted on from U-853 which was sunk off Block Island (in the state of Rhode Island at the eastern end of Long Island Sound) right before VE Day, May 6, and can also be reached by recreational divers.

 

Re U-boats supposedly filming from the Hudson, a review of the geography of NY Bay would be useful. There's a large Lower Bay outside the Verrazzano Narrows which is bounded by the NJ and Long Island shores. The harbor itself is the Upper Bay inside the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, then the Hudson (aka North River) and East Rivers a few miles further up, and Newark Bay to the west. The main channel depth there is (and was during WWII) 45' but much shallower in places outside the channel, and the Hudson itself along the West Side of Manhattan is only around 1/2 mile wide. A sub the size of a Type VII or IX (most off US coast were latter, U-853 and 869 were Type IX C/40's) couldn't practically operate in the harbor itself, submerged. I vaguely remember seeing that footage on TV but it was either shot from outside the Narrows (you can see Manhattan end on from there, and lots of lights in Brooklyn and NJ, wouldn't have been so many on Staten Island back then) or else I doubt it was really shot from a sub.

 

Joe

Edited by JOE BRENNAN
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So, at least one U-Boat must have made it up the Hudson River once, probably exclusively for this propaganda movie. Just to show that they could.

If you follow the link I provided above on the I-17 in California, the first-person account seems to recount a similar effort.

 

The IJN sailors who came ashore in California in the pre-dawn hours had at least one camera with them. They were evidently intent on taking some pictures of their "invasion" of US soil. Whether for propoganda purposes, or just for souvenirs, is not clear.

 

The Japanese-American farmhands came upon the landing party because farmdogs were barking, and the hands wanted to make sure nothing (or nobody) was in their strawberry fields. When they discovered the small landing party of IJN sailors in uniform, some with rifles, they engaged them in polite discussion. It seems the Japanese sailors were so surprised at being greeted in Japanese with all due politeness, that they did not see the farmhands as Americans or adversaries.

 

The farmhands had already been notified that they would be have to report for evacuation from the coast, and as much as they were insulted at being under suspicion of their loyalties, they did not, at first, associate their conversation with these curious visitors as any form of treason. It eventually dawned on the fellow who recounted the story (from memory in the mid-90s) that their politeness and curiosity would be mis-interpreted by America at large. Once the sailors took out a camera, the farmhands realized what it would all look like, and told the (armed!) sailors that they couldn't take any pictures, and would they please get back in their boat and leave. And they did.

 

Seems like a "truth is stranger than fiction" kind of event to me.

 

-Mark 1

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There are a large number of WW2 wrecks very close to the shore in NJ that occurred either due to direct U-boat action or in attempts to avoid U-boats. There are multiple accounts of ships buring within sight of the shore. U-boats operated for years off the east coast of the US (close in) with relative impunity.

 

 

TORPEDO JUNCTION is worthwhile reading

http://www.amazon.com/Torpedo-Junction-U-B...t/dp/0870217585

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There are a large number of WW2 wrecks very close to the shore in NJ that occurred either due to direct U-boat action or in attempts to avoid U-boats. There are multiple accounts of ships buring within sight of the shore. U-boats operated for years off the east coast of the US (close in) with relative impunity.

Not so. The "Happy Time" for the U-boats off the US coast only lasted a few months until US ASW networks could be established. And those networks would have been established a lot sooner except FDR decreed that convoys from Halifax to the UK had priority for escorts and ASW air cover. The "safe zone" for the U-boats was gradually squeezed down from north to south as more ASW assets became available.

 

Leaving the US coast uncovered was a command decision by FDR, NOT a question of "ADM King resisting convoy" as the Urban Legend goes. King was a great believer in convoy. His problem was that FDR said the Halifax-UK route had absolute priority.

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There is a book out there, the name escapes me at the moment, that details U-Boat journies to the states. Gunther Prien was one of the commanders in the book. My 9th grade science teacher was a kid in New York during WW2. He used to tell us stories of life jackets, bodies, cargo, etc. washing up on shore. I have also read where the Germans were surprised when they reached the shores of the U.S., that blackout's weren't in operation. It made it easy for them to target ships that were outlined by the lights of the cities. New York was one of them as well as some cities in the Gulf of Mexico.

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