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Interestingly enough, that fits with the numbers
recorded by Rohwer in his "The War At Sea" for the Allied Mid-Ocean
Escort Force, as it was in the winter 1941-42, as seen in the following escort
groups assigned to TF 4 (commanded by R. Adm. Arthur Bristol, USN, out of
Argentia) on 1 Jan. 1942:
TU 4.1.1 - 3 USN destroyers and one ocean-going USCGC cutter, of the 2,000-ton
"Secretary" WPG class, equivalent to a RN sloop;
TU 4.1.2 - 5 USN destroyers;
TU 4.1.3 - 3 USN destroyers and a "Secretary";
TU 4.1.4 - 4 USN destroyers and a "Secretary";
TU 4.1.5 - 5 USN destroyers;
TU 4.1.6 - 5 USN destroyers;
TU 4.1.7 - 5 USN destroyers;
TU 4.1.8 - 5 USN destroyers;
Total: 35 destroyers and three ocean-going escorts;
TU 4.1.11 - 1 RCN destroyer and four corvettes (mixed RCN and RN);
TU 4.1.12 - 1 RCN destroyer and 5 corvettes;
TU 4.1.13 - 1 RCN destroyer and 4 corvettes;
TU 4.1.14 - 1 RN destroyer and 6 corvettes;
TU 4.1.15 - 1 RCN destroyer and 5 corvettes;
TU 4.1.16 - 1 RCN destroyer and 5 corvettes;
TU 4.1.17 - 1 RCN destroyer and 5 corvettes;
EG B1 - 2 RN destroyers and 2 corvettes;
EG B2 - 2 RN destroyers and 4 corvettes;
EG B3 - 2 RN destroyers and 4 corvettes;
EG B4 - 1 RN destroyer and 4 corvettes;
EG B5 - 1 RN destroyer and 3 corvettes;
EG B6 - 2 RN destroyers and 7 corvettes
EG B7 - 2 RnoN destroyers and 3 corvettes;
EG B8 - 1 RN destroyer and 3 corvettes;
21 escort groups, including 8 USN, 8 RN, and 7 mixed RCN/RN;
Destroyers: 55 total; 35 USN, 12 RN, 6 RCN, 2 RNoN;
Sloops: 3 total, all USN/USCG;
Corvettes: 64 total; 37 RN, 27 RCN, 5 Free French, 4 RNoN, 1 RNZN;
Total escorts: 122; 59 RN, 38 USN, 33 RCN, 6 Norwegian, 5 French, 1 New
An "average" escort group, then, would have been made up of two
destroyers and three escorts.
Ten weeks later, the overall numbers had not changed much, although the USN
committment had decreased as US ships were withdrawn for troop convoys, fleet
deployments, and convoys in Western Hemisphere coastal waters, as see:
MOEF groups, as of 19 April 42:
TG 24.1.1 - 4 USN DDs, 3 RCN corvettes;
TG 24.1.2 - 1 USN DD, 1 USCG WPG (20-knot, 2,000-ton "Secretary"
class), 5 RCN corvettes, 1 FF corvette;
TG 24.1.3 - 1 USN DD, 1 USCG WPG, 4 RCN corvettes;
TG 24.1.4 - 2 USN DDs, 2 USN PGs, 4 RNoN corvettes, 1 RN corvette,;
TG 24.1.5 - 2 USN DDs, 3 RN corvettes, 1 FF corvette;
TG 24.1.11 - 2 RCN DDs, 2 RCN corvettes, 2 RN corvettes;
TG 24.1.12 - 1 RCN DD, 1 RN DD, 3 RCN corvettes, 1 RN corvette;
TG 24.1.13 - 2 RCN DDs, 3 RCN corvettes;
TG 24.1.14 - 3 RCN DDs, 4 RCN corvettes;
TG 24.1.15 - 3 RN DDs, 3 RN corvettes;
TG 24.1.16 - 3 RN DDs, 4 RN corvettes;
TG 24.1.17 - 3 RN DDs, 2 RN corvettes, 2 FF corvettes;
TG 24.1.18 - 3 RN DDs, 3 RN corvettes;
TG 24.1.19 - 4 RN DDs, 3 RN corvettes;
Units: 5 USN-led groups; 5 RCN-led groups; 5 RN-led groups;
Ships: 93 (39 RN, 32 RCN, 14 USN, 4 Norwegian, 4 French);
Types: 35 destroyers (17 RN, 10 USN, 8 RCN); 2 sloops (2 USCG WPGs); 56
corvettes (24 RCN, 22 RN, 4 Norwegian, 4 French, 2 USN);
The "average" group, then, would have included six ships, two
destroyers and four escorts.
The reduction in the number of USN destroyers assigned to the MOEF in this
period, from 35 to 10, would - on the surface - provide 25 ships for use in the
Western Hemisphere coastal convoys; but remember the USN had lost three
destroyers (Jacob Jones, Truxtun, and Sturtevant) and one of the 2,000-ton USCG
WPGs (Hamilton), all in the Atlantic, in this same period, thus dropping the
number of nominally available destroyers to 22.
In addition, 14 destroyers were transferred west to the Pacific Fleet, to
replace losses and to escort the fleet carriers Yorktown and Hornet and the
battleships Idaho, Mississippi, and New Mexico (thus reducing the nominally
"available" number to eight); and escorted no less than 13 troop
convoys in the Atlantic, including eight to the UK and five to the Pacific
(including one British, by way of South Africa) - these convoys were typically
heavily escorted by an older battleship or large light cruiser and 6-12 USN
destroyers; and deployed no less than two fast battleships, two fleet carriers,
three heavy cruisers and 10-12 destroyers to Argentia, Scapa Flow, Gibraltar,
and West Africa in direct support of the RN.
Whatever destroyers were left were heavily involved in responding to
PAUKENSCHLAG and NEULAND, of course, but the numbers were quite small ... even
counting the eight former MOEF ships "left" after the operational
losses and transfers to the Pacific, the demand would have been overwhelming.
Realize that early in 1942, US-controlled coastal waters were organized into
seven "Sea Frontiers" for the purposes of coastal defense, including
These were the Eastern Sea Frontier (the US Eastern Seaboard, from Maine to the
Georgia-Florida state line); Gulf (Florida coast around to the Texas-Mexico
border); Caribbean (the central and eastern Caribbean, down to Trinidad and
Brazilian territorial waters, which were defended by the Brazilian Navy and the
US 4th Fleet); Panama (which covered both the western Caribbean and the Pacific
approaches to the canal, including the Pacific coast of Central America);
Western (which covered the waters off the California and Oregon coastlines, and
the Mexican Pacific Coast); Northwestern (which covered the coasts of
Washington, Alaska, and, along with the RCN, the waters off British Columbia);
and the Hawaiian (which covered the Hawaiian islands and off-shore waters).
With a German submarine threat to all four of the Sea Frontiers covering
Atlantic waters, and an IJN submarine and surface ship threat to those covering
the Pacific (and the southern approaches to the Panama Canal) none of these
areas could be ignored; so even if all eight of the former MOEF destroyers
POSSIBLY available as outlined above could be assigned to coastal convoys in
late April (with no allowance for refit or training, depsite having spent the
winter of 1941-42 in the North Atlantic) each of the four "Atlantic"
Sea Frontier commands would get two ships, for a total of eight, from Maine to
What about ocean-going escorts, defined as at least 200 feet long?
The USN had exactly seven such purpose-built ships, all classed as PGs, or
gunboats, in commission in 1941, with the oldest dating back to 1904; the USCG
added 12 more, for a total of 19 - of which six of the biggest USCG WPGs were
already on, or soon to be assigned, the Atlantic convoys. One point to remember
in all this is that the USCG was only formally assigned to the control of the
USN in November, 1941; although some ships and personnel had been attached
earlier in the year for special duty, most of the USCG was assigned to its
traditional peacetime roles and stations (and with peacetime levels of
personnel, wepaonry, and ASW equipment) when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
So of the remaining 13 ocean-going escorts, two USN ships were with the Asiatic
Fleet, leaving 11 - the equivalent of two nominal escort groups - available.
The equivalent of one of these, however (four USCG WPGs), was assigned to the
Greenland Patrol, covering the otherwise undefended Danish territory against
German forays, supplying the US-built airfields and bases (vital for the air
ferry route to the UK) there, and providing a presence in the Denmark and Davis
The other seven ships were deployed in coastal waters from Alaska (2) to Hawaii
(2) to Panama (1) to the US Atlantic coast (2), and so could not be
concentrated. In many cases, these Navy PGs and Coast Guard WPGs were among the
"heaviest" Allied warships on these varied stations. The two
available for the Eastern Sea Frontier, not surprisingly, were the two oldest,
the USS Dubuque and Paducah, both of which dated to 1904. Both were assigned to
training Naval Armed Guard gunners for merchant ships, and neither left Chesapeake
Ten more ships, ex-RN Flower class corvettes, were transferred to the US flag
and commissioned into the USN by the end of June, 1942; six were commissioned
in March, two in April, and one each in May and June; all ten vessels were
handed over to US crews in the UK "as is"; they transferred west by
way of the North Atlantic convoys, where they formed part of the escort;
passage and subsequent refit to US standards delayed these vessels'
availability in the western Atlantic for a month or more after their
The USN also had a total of seven large yachts (displacing from 1,300 to 3,000
tons), built in the interwar period, that had been acquired before Pearl Harbor
(two as late as November, 1941) for conversion into auxiliaries; they were
converted into escorts and classed as gunboats, with PG hull numbers. Of these
seven ships, five were in the Atlantic theater (including USS Plymouth, PG 57,
still undergoing conversion), and two (including USS Hilo, PG 58, also being
converted) were in the Pacific. The other Pacific ship, USS Niagara (PG 52) was
in service, as an escort and motor torpedo boat tender; of the four remaining
"Atlantic" ships, one (the 3,000 ton USS Vixen, PG 53) was assigned
as Atlantic Fleet flagship, relieving the heavy cruiser USS Augusta; a second,
USS Williamsburg (PG 56) was assigned as a flagship and escort under US Naval
Forces, Iceland; of the remainder, one, USS Jamestown (PG 55) was assigned as,
or being converted for, use a motor torpedo boat tender. The single remaining
ship, USS St. Augustine (PG 54) was available for use as an escort under ESF.
Four more similar vessels were acquired and converted in the first two quarters
of 1942, two of which served in the Pacific.
What about coastal escorts, defined as between 100 and 200 feet long?
The USN had exactly four such modern ships in commission (one PC protoype and
three SC prototypes; a second PC prototype, designed for steam turbines, was
non-operational) along with eight survivors of the WW I-era PE class steel-hulled
ships and eight very elderly survivors of the WW I SC-1 class wooden-hulled
vessels (Five more WW I-era SC-1 types that had been passed to commercial or
civil use in the interwar period were taken back into service as yardcraft in
1942). None of the WW I-era wooden-hulled vessels were effective escorts; the
steel-hulled PE class were slightly more capable, but not by much.
The modern ships, organized into Subchaser Division 31, provided the training
nucleus for the USN's Subchaser and Atlantic Fleet Sonar Schools (along with a
number of USCG-manned WPCs and WSCs and USN-manned PYs and PYcs), being
expanded at Miami and Key West, Florida, almost simultaneously with
PAUKENSCHLAG and NEULAND. The WW I-era SCs were in use as training vessels,
harbor pickets, and so on on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and were very old; so
the PEs, albeit elderly, slow, and mechanically unreliable, were the closest
thing the USN had to an available coastal ASW force; they were somewhat
dispersed, however, due to pre-war assignments, with six available to ESF, one
to WSF, and one to NWSF.
Thirty-one of the new steel-hulled, 173 foot PC 461 class were commissioned
between March 19 and June 27, 1942, along with an equivalent number of
wooden-hulled, 110-foot SC 497 class; almost all of these vessels needed a
period of shipyard refit and training time at the Subchaser School (the
"Donald Duck Navy") before they could become operational convoy
escorts. On July 1, 1942, for example, ESF had exactly seven PCs operational.
The USCG had built 24 165-foot cutters and 33 125-footers between 1926 and 1935
for coastal patrol, although one 165-footer had been converted for auxiliary
use during the interwar period; six of the 165-footers were strengthened for
ice navigation, and five ended up being used on the "inshore"
sections of the Greenland Patrol; the sixth was assigned to the Northwest Sea
Frontier and operated in Alaskan waters. Of the other 17 165-footers, 10 were
assigned to East Coast and Gulf stations pre-war, seven to Pacific coast
stations; by December, 1941, of the 10 "Atlantic" vessels, one was
operating with the Greenland Patrol, three under ESF, four in the Caribbean Sea
Frontier assigned to the Key West Sound School, and two in the Gulf Sea
Frontier. Of the 33 125-footers, four were with the Greenland Patrol, 12 under
ESF, three with the Caribbean Sea Frontier, and three with the Gulf Sea
Frontier (for a total of 22 in the Atlantic theater); and six with the Western
Sea Frontier, three with the Northwest Sea Frontier, and two with the Hawaiian
Sea Frontier, (for a total of 11 in the Pacific theater).
The USCG also had six older vessels, all built between 1907 and 1922, suitable
for very limited coastal escort and rescue duties; these included one assigned
to the WSF, two in ESF waters, one (ice-capable) on the Greenland Patrol, one
in the CSF, and one (ice-capable) on the Great Lakes.
The USN also had in commission a number of smaller converted yachts, both
medium (500-1,000 ton vessels classed as patrol yachts, or PY) and small (75 to
500 ton vessels classed as patrol yacht, coastal, or PYc).
Eleven of these smaller yachts were actually classed as PCs and numbered as
such in 1940-42 before being re-classifed as PY or PYc, depending on size. Of
these, 11 classed as PY and 14 classed as PYc were acquired before Pearl
Harbor; another seven PY and a dozen more PYc were acquired in the first six
months of 1942, and served in both Atlantic and Pacific waters. Of the 11 PY in
commission before the US entered the war, five were assigned to the ESF; two to
the GSF; one each to the Caribbean, Panama, and Western sea frontiers; and one
to the Asiatic Fleet. Of the 14 PYc, three were with ESF, two with GSF, one
with CSF, three with PSF, three with WSF, one with NWSF, and one (as a training
vessel) was on the Great Lakes. At the same time, at least two of the vessels
under ESF and one under WSF were assigned to training or experimental duties.
The grand total of these types is thus 25.
The USCG also commissioned a number of yachts or auxiliary gunboats after Pearl
Harbor; these vessels, classed as WPG or WYP, numbered at least nine by June,
So in the final reckoning, until the war-built PC-461 and SC-497 types started
coming forward, the actual number of "coastal escorts" that could be
made available to ESF when PAUKENSCHLAG began in February, 1942 (and that had
been in commission since before 12/1/41) would have numbered, as an OPTIMUM,
(and with NO allowances for harbor defense, refits, training, special
assignments, etc.) as follows:
2+ Wickes/Clemson class (possibly);
Ocean-going escorts: 1
Coastal Escorts: 31 (possibly)
6 USN-manned PEs;
3 USCG WPCs (some used for PC and SC training schools);
12 USCG WSCs (some used for PC and SC training schools);
2 USCG coastal gunboats (pre-WW I; used for rescue);
5 USN PY (some used for training)
3 USN PYc (some used for training)
So what it boils down to is that, even in a nominal sense and with no allotment
for training, maintenance, or damage, the escort pool available on any given
day for the Eastern Sea Frontier early in 1942 would have totalled - at most -
a motley collection of fewer than three dozen vessels, including (possibly) two
WW I-era destroyers, and perhaps as many as two dozen gunboats, patrol craft,
subchasers, yachts, etc.
And all those vessels would not have yielded a SINGLE escort group on the North
Atlantic standard; in fact, other than the flush-decker destroyers, the only
one of the vessels outlined above even nominally capable of functioning as an
escort in the North Atlantic would have been St. Augustine.
And the need?
In the spring of 1942, there were 120-130 Allied and neutral merchant ships at
sea EVERY day in waters covered by Eastern Sea Fronter.
Even split into northbound, southbound, eastbound, and westbound sailings,
there is no way that fewer than 36 escorts - of which only a dozen were capable
of acting as warships - could have covered them all.
Mar 6 17 8:25 AM
Mar 6 17 8:30 AM
Mar 6 17 8:58 AM
Mar 6 17 9:54 AM
Mar 6 17 10:18 AM
Mar 6 17 10:41 AM
Mar 6 17 10:51 AM
alecsandros wrote:.... One can take a hint on situation of the pool of escorts when one sees HX large transatlantic convoys sent with 2 corvettes and 4 trawlers as escort (with DD support not available until the 5th or 6th day of the journey, when RN DDs , ironically, leased from the USN, would be meeting with the convoy)
Mar 6 17 10:55 AM
alecsandros wrote:In a random environment, yes.
In reality , the Uboats would be positioned based on sighting reports and Intelligence reports, the US would reroute ships based on Intelligence reports of spotted / known Uboats, etc. A cat and mouse game.
Mar 6 17 11:05 AM
alecsandros wrote:.... Looking on the map, I see approx 50 major ports spread along ~ 10.000km of coastline (from Venezuela to the Gulf of MExico, to Florida, to Newfoundland).
If the initial 6 to 8 convoys are destined for, say , 20 of those major ports, this leaves their escort ships in various ports at the end of the journey..... Thus to escort other convoys, they are required either to: a) wait there the formation of new convoys - which takes unknown time b) return to their starting point - which takes probably 3 or 4 days (half of the transit time of the convoy they escorted, as they would be going faster then the convoy did) c) move to another port where they would be required.
Mar 6 17 2:18 PM
I see you don't understand the debate: OG51 provides the formula that mentions 1:76 hits from 4 torps launched.
Normal readers would understand the impact of a torpedo hit on a ship (damage, speed loss, remaining behind as a straggler, etc).
Normal readers would also apply the sinkings coefficient to the single ships as well.
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