Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

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hammy
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by hammy » Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:55 pm

RF wrote: And such vessels would of course not be used in peacetime as ordinary merchants, indeed I wouldn't let them near any foreign port.....
Well then you have a real problem in concealing them .
Of course some merchant ships in peacetime are frequently laid up in quiet backwaters for a variety of reasons and for extended periods , for example in the U.K. in the River Blackwater in Essex , or Falmouth Estuary in the West , but these are frequented anchorages and both the professional seamen and Fishermen , and the recreational yachtsmen and boaters , have sharp and knowledgeable eyes .
And if you moored them in a Naval roadstead , Jade bay outside Wilhelmshafen or Kiel fijord , the naval connection would inevitably be made .
I think the only thing you could do is what the Japanese did , and " hide them in plain sight " , that is , to employ them on some plausible "harmless" light duty where they would be overlooked .
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by hammy » Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:34 pm

RF wrote:
hammy wrote:
Secondly use of a false " I require assistance -- have you a doctor on board ? " signal may not actually be strictly against the "Cruiser warfare rules" or the Geneva conventions regarding misuse of the Red Cross , but you are getting fairly close to it , and I question whether that is a realistic tactic to be adopted by a German Kapitan-zur-Zee circa late 1941 .
The whole aspect of using disguised raiders is controversial, as the Ruckteschell case demonstrated. My idea here actually was not original. Dougleas Reeman used this ploy in his book ''The Last Raider'' where his character von Steiger used it as a means to lure a gunboat to destruction.
A literary device used by that author to add some drama to his work is not quite the same thing as a real-life precedent .
Is there one , in either war ?
I question whether a professional naval man , who was raised and trained in the HSF era and moral/ethical standards , would be willing , in the epoch of the early years of WW2 , when a degree of "gentlemanly" conduct was still prevalent among the combatants , to do something tending toward the underhand -- I say von Bonensalat , a scion of a family of rank , might be tempted , but would in the end tend to play by the "rules" as understood by him and his social group .

You mention von Ruckteschell , a former WW1 Uboat skipper , who has the reputation , I think largely undeserved , as the one Raider captain who lived up to the "ruthless and inhumane" Nazi caricature , but the brief account I have read of the man to date no-where mentions "trick" messages to lure an opponent into range , and his chief offense (in the harsh judgement of post-war Allied judges ) seems to have arisen out of a confusion , in the heat of an action , on getting a report from one of his communications people ; - " Dampfer Morst " ( "the Steamer is signalling " -- ie visually , by light ) and him misunderstanding instead ; - "Dampfer Funkt" ( meaning "the Steamer is RADIOING" -- ie "Resisting" by sending out an RRRR raider signal ) and re-opening fire on a ship that had just signalled it's own surrender , plainly an act of Nazi beastliness to the unfortunate victims , but equally plainly today an explicable minor cock-up in command .
If we doubt that HE would do such a thing , then I think the action becomes implausible at all .
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by hammy » Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:15 pm

RF wrote: In my scenario the raider approached the convoy from astern, appearing as a straggler. The attack was launched as a complete surprise at almost point blank range, using wolf pack tactics of attacking inside the convoy. In the resulting panic and confusion there is no order to scatter, ships are blinded as to their adversary and so end up shooting at each other, and as they try to avoid enemy fire there are collisions. This collateral damage aids the raider: in one hour say twelve ships go down at your quoted rate of one every five minutes, including losses due from tanker and ammuntion ship explosions, in each of the following two hours four more ships go down, which is how I arrived at my tally of twenty in three hours.

You say dream on. Well, it could have happened......couldn't it?
I dont think so , in the chaos and confusion of a night action , which is happening in roughish weather , remember , I think you are looking at a lower tally .
If you take a convoy interception which does mimic this , several warships getting into a dozing convoy at night , we can look at the Royal Naval Light cruiser squadron attacking the German troop convoy north of Crete in May 1941 during the Battle of Crete .
Mostly the targets were Caiques , a big wooden trawler/cargo coaster type common in the Levant , with some few small passenger ferry steamers , escorted by Italian Torpedo boats ( small destroyers ) .
In good fair clear weather the cruisers achieved complete surprise , lighting up the targets with searchlights as well as by star-shells , and were close enough to engage with pom-poms and the quad 0.50 mg mounts , as well as main/secondary armament , but , far from being the complete destruction one would expect from a sustained attack ,( this wasn't just a quick charge through ) two thirds of the vessels attacked survived , and although this seaborne thrust at Crete was turned back and scattered , and the troop units thoroughly disheartened , they were far from annihilated .
The thing was that the British command and control soon broke down due to all the chaos of flashing lights and guns going off and gunsmoke and smoke from fires ( and I think their Italian escorts also tried to lay some smoke screening ) .
It would be like being in the noisiest of Discos with the fog machines on overdrive , every light in action and a severe riot taking place at the same time .
The Gunnery teams at the directors couldn't see to designate the targets and so it was the guys at the gunmounts who either waited for the word , or couldn't see either , or who let fly at something already dealt with .
I suppose the only Naval lesson to draw would be that close melee action was no longer a thing which the major units of the fleet were efficient at , something which to a degree the earlier battles of Narvik had also shown .
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:17 am

Without wishing to ''split hairs'' is this comparison to an attack on the Caiques really appropriate? They were better escorted and better commanded than the fictional convoy and smaller in overall convoy size. In my scenario the raider is the only attacking surface ship (as opposed to the multiple of British forces you mention) so all the raider has to do is move up between two columns of merchantmen and its fire directors direct artillery and torpedo fire on both flanks, taking out targets in line one by one. The multitude of flashes and smoke, bearing in mind the ranges must be only a few hundred yards, would be far less of an obstacle to a professional naval crew and their equipment, than to the green gunners on the merchant ships trying to return fire, or ship skippers trying to flee within a confined space where they are not sure exactly what the enemy is. In fact the biggest risk might be of an Allied ship so close to the raider that she collides with it - the murderous fire at all calibres would be the raiders only defence against that, or damage to the raider from explosions on tankers and ammunition ships.
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:31 pm

hammy wrote: You mention von Ruckteschell , a former WW1 Uboat skipper , who has the reputation , I think largely undeserved , as the one Raider captain who lived up to the "ruthless and inhumane" Nazi caricature
Don't forget that the charges against this man included abandoning survivors in the middle of the ocean, which does explicitly contravene the Geneva convention, and to me would be a far more serious matter than communication cock-ups over orders to shoot.
It is quite likely that without the allegations of abandonment that Ruckteschell would not have been charged at all.

Then there was also the Peleus case, where a commander did have survivors deliberately shot.

I think that what counts is the overall conduct, so one questionable blemish can be excused - even Atlantis managed to shell a ship that had surrendered, but there was never any suggestion of charging Rogge, indeed he was only held as POW at the end of the war for six weeks, whereas some KM officers were held by the British for years, and they were not implicated in any of the actions of the nazies.
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by hammy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:18 pm

RF wrote:Without wishing to ''split hairs'' is this comparison to an attack on the Caiques really appropriate? They were better escorted and better commanded than the fictional convoy and smaller in overall convoy size. In my scenario the raider is the only attacking surface ship (as opposed to the multiple of British forces you mention) so all the raider has to do is move up between two columns of merchantmen and its fire directors direct artillery and torpedo fire on both flanks, taking out targets in line one by one. The multitude of flashes and smoke, bearing in mind the ranges must be only a few hundred yards, would be far less of an obstacle to a professional naval crew and their equipment, than to the green gunners on the merchant ships trying to return fire, or ship skippers trying to flee within a confined space where they are not sure exactly what the enemy is. In fact the biggest risk might be of an Allied ship so close to the raider that she collides with it - the murderous fire at all calibres would be the raiders only defence against that, or damage to the raider from explosions on tankers and ammunition ships.
Now that's a good suggestion , turn towards him and ram the B****r ! Wasn't there a Dutch ship which tried to do that to Adml Scheer , while she was pounding Jervis Bay , turned and ran right at her ?

And as regards Ruckteschell , I still think he got a raw deal - abandoning survivors is pretty harsh , but he didnt open fire on them , which is an accusation made against a few of the Uboat skippers , and a matter of record on a number of occasions in regard to Japanese naval officers .
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:24 am

There were several instances of Japanese naval officers and men murdering survivors to order, the most appalling was the treatment metered out to survivors of the Behar IN 1944, where survivors including women and children were beheaded on the deck of a cruiser. That action was the subject of war crimes hearings after the war, with an admiral and captain being convicted.

The prosecution of Ruckteschell did feature allegations that Widder deliberately fired on lifeboats with machine guns while survivors were in them; the defence contended that the boats were wreckage and that the Germans were unaware there were people in them, and while British survivors testified it was a deliberate act of attempted murder, Ruckteschell was acquited on that charge because there was some doubt as to the intent in his orders to fire. On another occassion Ruckteschell actually used Widder's propeller to ''mash up'' and sink upturned lifeboats.....
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:30 am

hammy wrote:
Now that's a good suggestion , turn towards him and ram the B****r ! Wasn't there a Dutch ship which tried to do that to Adml Scheer , while she was pounding Jervis Bay , turned and ran right at her ?
Your'e not confusing this with the Danish ship Chilean Reefer, which ''had a go'' at the Gneisenau during Operation Berlin?

The only time Krancke had any trouble with Dutch ships was with his last victim in the Indian Ocean, the Indonesian tramp ship Rantau Pandjang, encountered at close range in dense mist, almost collided with the Scheer on account of the poor visibility, a boarding party had to quickly seize the slow moving but erratic steamer to bring it to a stop....
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:36 am

hammy wrote:
Now that's a good suggestion , turn towards him and ram the B****r
Well, when the wolf packs launched surface night attacks from the inside of a convoy, there seems no record of any merchant trying to ram a sub - which if it did would presumably sink the sub and take all its crew with it......
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by hammy » Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:44 pm

RF wrote:
hammy wrote:
Now that's a good suggestion , turn towards him and ram the B****r
Well, when the wolf packs launched surface night attacks from the inside of a convoy, there seems no record of any merchant trying to ram a sub - which if it did would presumably sink the sub and take all its crew with it......
Probably it would , IF you could see him , but at night in the close convoy formation you would probably tend to carry on behind the next ahead if you couldnt .
You would also be aware that swinging well out of position would be very likely to get you into a collision with one of your convoy mates , and that the regulations for the avoidance of collisions at sea were not suspended in wartime , nor were the insurance companies rules regarding non-war risks , nor the board of trade's sanctions against irresponsible or misbehaving merchant ships officers , nor yet owners blacklists .

However a raider in amongst you might present a visible and irresistable target ( and a potent and immediate threat to you ) , and a plausible reason for your vessel having "lost control" for long enough to fang him good and proper , trusting the Lord that anyone astern of you could take avoiding action and not also join your happy throng .
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by lwd » Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:32 pm

I believe there was an order for US DDs and DEs not to ram subs. Potentially it could do more damage to the escort than the sub and commercial vessels are often not as sturdy as warships. I'm not sure that a sinking could be guaranteed especially if the sub started submergeing.

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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:02 pm

lwd wrote:I believe there was an order for US DDs and DEs not to ram subs. Potentially it could do more damage to the escort than the sub and commercial vessels are often not as sturdy as warships. I'm not sure that a sinking could be guaranteed especially if the sub started submergeing.
Well, I know USS Buckley rammed a submarine and so did USCGC Campbell and as far as I know the COs weren't disciplined. I think it was probably considered a fair trade since it takes more to build a submarine and train her crew. I'd be really interested to know if there was such an order though.

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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by hammy » Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:12 pm

Some British naval officers got told off for doing the same thing with destroyers , mainly because the hull was not constructed to take it , requiring the folded up and shredded bows to be cut off and reconstructed in a dry dock , and because you usually crunched the retractable sonar dome and its housing just aft of there .
I dont think there was ever an order about it , just a circular briefing pointing out that the subs pressure hull was a lot more strongly constructed than a destroyers .
There was also the risk that you could run over the sub , and mash up your screws and rudder , though I never heard of that happening .
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by lwd » Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:25 pm

I may well have been wrong. In fact pretty sure I was. Found this on wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramming#Sea_warfare
The damage that lightly constructed destroyers took from the tactic led to it being officially discouraged by the Royal Navy from early 1943, after the HMS Hesperus was dry-docked for three months following sinking U-357 in December 1942 and HMS Harvester was torpedoed and sunk following damaging her propellers during the ramming of U-444 in March 1943.

During anti-submarine action, ramming was an alternative if the destroyer was too close to the surfaced submarine for her main guns to fire into the water. The tactic was used by the famous British anti-submarine specialist, Captain Frederic John Walker from December 1941 to the end of the war.
There's a table at the bottom of http://www.gwpda.org/naval/sml00001.htm that lists WWI U-boat sinkings by cause. Ramming was right up there. In late WWII especially after the hedge hog and like were developed it was probably regarded as an emergency measure only. Like the RN the USN may have discouraged it but I doubt a capatain who did it would have been censered as long as he could make any case at all for so doing. Especially if the sub were sunk or heavily damaged.

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