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USS PC-815, a US subchaser that served in World War II

A submarine chaser is a small and fast naval vessel specially intended for anti-submarine warfare. Although similar vessels were designed and used by many nations, this designation was most famously used by ships built by the United States of America (US). Many of the US World War I sub-chasers found their way to friendly powers by way of Lend-Lease in World War II.

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U.S. Submarine chasers

United States submarine chasers were designed specifically to destroy German submarines in World War I, and Japanese and German submarines in World War II. The small 110-foot (34 m) patrol craft of the design first used in World War I with the hull designator SC. Their main weapon was the depth charge. They also carried machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. Larger 173-foot (53 m) sub chasers used the PC hull classification symbol (for Patrol, Coastal).

In early 1915 the British Admiralty selected the US Elco company for the production of 50 Motor Launches for anti-submarine work, British industry being at maximum capacity. This order was then increased by a further 500. The whole order was completed by November 1916 and entered Royal Navy service. The vessels were 80 feet (24 m) in length and capable of 20 knots (37 km/h). They were armed in use with a 3-pounder gun, towed paravanes and later depth charges.

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War service

The British sub chasers were operated around the coast in defence. However they were uncomfortable, wet, and not suited to British sea conditions. Although used during the First World War they were sold off when the war ended.

Submarine chasers were used mostly by the United States Coast Guard in World War II for destroying German U-boats that were stationed off the coast of the United States, trying to sink merchant convoys as the the convoys departed American ports. By the end of World War II, submarine chasers had sunk around 67 German U-boats. In the Pacific Theatre, submarine chasers were used for amphibious landings, courier and escort duty.[1][2]

A small number of British Fairmile B Motor Launches were transferred from Canada and included as the SC-1466 class of sub-chasers.[3]

Post-war

They were mostly withdrawn after World War II and replaced with corvettes, frigates, and destroyers. A few are still in service with Third World navies.

Survivors

The only remaining submarine chaser with intact World War II armament is the Royal Norwegian Navy's HNoMS Hitra, which is a touring museum today. In the Netherlands there is still afloat PC1610 - a post World War II submarine chaser. The Le Fougueux was built in 1953 to US World War II drawings.[4]

See also

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External links


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