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Action of 8 May 1918
Part of World War I
First Battle of the Mediterranean
USS Lydonia 1917 1919.jpg
USS Lydonia during the war, circa 1918.
Date May 8, 1918
Location off Algiers, French Algeria, Mediterranean Sea
Result Allied victory
Belligerents
US Naval Jack 48 stars.svg United States Navy
United Kingdom Royal Navy
German Empire German Navy
Commanders
United States:
Lieutenant Commander Richard P. McCullough
United Kingdom:
unknown
Kapitänleutnant Johannes
Strength
1 auxiliary cruiser,
1 destroyer,
1 steamer
1 submarine
Casualties and losses
unknown human casualties,
1 steamer sunk
unknown human casualties,
1 submarine sunk

The Action of 8 May 1918 or sometimes called the Battle of Algiers was a small naval engagement which occurred off Algiers, North Africa during the First World War. In early May 1918, a United States Navy armed yacht and a Royal Navy destroyer encountered the German U-boat SM UB-70. Initially the engagement was thought to be inconclusive but later on the allied warships were credited with sinking the German submarine.

Contents

Background

On April 16 the German U-boat UB-70, under a Kapitänleutnant named Johannes, left her home port in Germany for the Mediterranean Sea at the end of World War I. Her mission was to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare operations against allied supply lanes, primarily against Italian merchant men.

Action

Little is known about the disappearance of UB-70 except that she was in operation against an allied supply convoy somewhere near Algiers, Algeria. On May 8, 1918, at about 5:00 pm, the American armed yacht USS Lydonia, under Richard P. McCullough, and the British destroyer HMS Basilisk were steaming and protecting a convoy from Bizerte to Gibraltar when they encountered UB-70, lining up for a shot at the British merchant ship, SS Ingleside, in convoy.

HMS Basilisk off Malta, circa 1915.

The Central Powers submarine fired torpedoes and at least one hit the civil vessel. Ingleside burst into flames and immediately began to sink. The merchant ship was manned by an unknown number of crew, some were killed or wounded, some went down with the ship. The survivors waited for rescue on deck of their sinking ship or in the water. Ingleside went down and by 5:35 the protecting allied warships spotted the submarine.

According to post-war accounts, either USS Lydonia or HMS Basilisk rammed the U-boat when it began to submerge and flee. A running battle ensued for fifteen minutes. The allied warships were coordinated and together dropped several well placed depth charges on the fleeing enemy submarine until a slight oil slick began to emerge.

Aftermath

The port of Algiers along the Mediterranean, circa 1920.

After assuming they had sunk the enemy U-boat, Lydonia and Basilisk proceeded hastily to the wreck of Ingleside. The British and American vessels rescued some survivors and took them to a friendly port, probably Algiers.

At first the incident was listed as an inconclusive contact but later, after the war and after authorities realized that UB-70 had not been heard from for months, the American and British vessels received honors for their victory.

The action off Africa became one of the few confirmed sinkings of a German U-boat by an American vessel during their shorter participation in the naval war . UB-70 was also the only vessel known to have been sunk by an American vessel in Mediterranean waters during the conflict.

See Also

References

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