World War II (detail from Pearl Harbor photo)

Damn the Torpedoes

Even when traveling in protected convoys, the U.S. merchant fleet of tankers, freighters, transports, tugs, barges, and newly built Liberty ships was vulnerable to attack by “wolf packs” of German U-boats. A torpedoed vessel hit midships in the engine room could sink in less than a minute. Often it caught fire or exploded first, and ships transporting fuel oil or munitions were especially vulnerable. One in twenty-six U.S. mariners died during the war, a rate higher than that of any of the other services. Those who survived the sinkings returned to sea again and again.

German submarine sighting (targeting) an Allied merchant ship
Allied tanker sunk by a German submarine
Aboard a German U-boat
U.S. Navy B-24 hunting German submarines
Sinking of a German U-boat
Rescued at Sea

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