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Incredible Shipbuilding Capacity of the US in WW2

Discussion in 'Atlantic Naval Conflict' started by gusord, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I think there's probably some half-truth there. The Navy was focused on the Pacific, the Japanese were in Attu in 42, had taken Wake Island, etc. They were pretty damned busy and just figured a convoy without adequate protection is just a fatter target for the Wolf Packs, and they may have been right until they got some more vessels online.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Review "10th Fleet" for background.
     
  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I read Michael Walling's Forgotten Sacrifice, which is a good look at the merchant ships and their men. Not only did they have to deal with wolfpacks and the Luftwaffe, but the weather was atrocious. Convoys helped, but they certainly were no sure-fire cure. Much of the success of the Battle of the Atlantic had to do with the German inability to cope with material benefits of the Allies. Once radar and better aircraft coverage took effect, convoys became more successful. 1942-43 were pivotal years for both sides.
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    As to half-truths, yes, they are there. The entire Marshall Memo can be found at: http://marshallfoundation.org

    Pay attention to their footnotes.


    http://marshallfoundation.org/library/digital-archive/draft-memorandum-for-admiral-king/


    So, laying the blame entirely at King's feet is a rather fallacious undertaking.
     
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  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    As an ex-coastie I know that just about every cutter, even the little patrol boats, were shifted to the east coast for anti-submarine patrols. They also expanded the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which included everything from big power yachts to sailboats, to cruise up and down the coast. The Coast Guard falls under the Navy only during time of war because of the Posse Comitatus Act (this is based on a Constitutional principle that the military can't be used to police US citizens). Somebody in the Navy department was thinking out of the box because the Coast Guard was drafted into the Navy on November 1st, 1941, before the war even started. There were isolationists in Congress raising hell about that right up until Pearl Harbor.

    Anyway, that foresight also was a bit of a shot in the foot because they took most of the larger DD and DE sized cutters for their own use and replaced them with vessels less suitable for combat. Starting in 1940 they had fitted all of the larger cutters with sonar, depth charges, extra deck guns, AA, etc. So, even the Coast Guard which was assigned to do most of the ASW work on the east coast when the war opened were caught flat-footed in that first winter and spring. The replacement vessels were mostly ill-suited for ASW work, and this was the situation in early 42 when the U-boats moved into the east coast, Gulf and Caribbean. Chaos. The Navy then gave all those larger cutters back, along with additional out-of-date warships, but now the CG was stuck with manning these vessels with new crews and as you can imagine it takes time to wring out a crew on new vessel. So, at first you had vessels unsuitable for ASW, followed by better vessels with green crews.

    And then, all of that effort was mostly wasted through 1942 on blindly patrolling up and down the east coast and into the Caribbean and Gulf. When the convoy system was introduced, much of the escort duty also fell to the Coast Guard at first, until more Navy vessels began coming off the slipways. The USCG managed to sink 12 U-Boats at the cost of 28 cutters of various types. Just my two cents on the confusion of that first year of the war, from a different perspective.

    It looks awful in hindsight, but one has to remember that the Navy was gearing up for a belligerent Japan. They couldn't know that even if/when Japan struck, that war with Germany would follow so quickly, or follow at all. They knew the first punch would come in the Pacific and it took a while to adapt.
     
  6. albanaich

    albanaich New Member

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    Given the US Navy did not start convoy until May, and had to rely on the Canadian and British Navy to implement it in the Gulf and Carribeannan its just making excuses.

    The USN was fully warned of want about to happen on the East Coast - and they totally ignored it. Not only that, the USN had naval officers attached to the Royal Navy from 1940. They were fully informed of the tactics required.

    As for Marshall 'ordering' King. At that levels direct orders are not generally given - but extreme political pressure was applied to force him to implement convoy.

    It's worth mentioning that the only body in the US that FDR took direct control of the War Shipping Admininistration Board - as it was recognised that Merchan Shipping would be the decisive factor in the war.

    King was an incompetent Anglophobe,.
     
  7. albanaich

    albanaich New Member

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    And if you read Baurer (Swiss historian) you'll see Kings answer's before the Marshall memo - King clearly contradicts himself.
     
  8. albanaich

    albanaich New Member

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    And if you read Berhens 'Merchant Shipping and the Demands of War' you'll discover than FDR, through the War Shipping Administration had to directly order the USN and US Army to release shipping in the Pacific for the Atlantic.

    The pivitol paper on the subject was a paper written by Eisenhower to Marshall detailing that a war in the Pacific would take 4 times the merchant shipping of a war across the Atlantic.

    Although King wanted to pursue a war in the Pacific the logistics would not permit it - hence, 'Germany First'
     
  9. albanaich

    albanaich New Member

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    It's also worth noting that the US was almost entirely dependent on the British troopship lift (note the re-inforcement of Hawaii in early 1942). It's clear that King wanted to pursue strategies and tactics that Army - yeah right - the US Army, knew simply would not work.
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I am noting it and trying to understand what you mean. The December-January reinforcement convoys were 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, carrying the 34th and 161st Infantry, 138th and 145th Field Artillery, 52d, 57th and 95th Coast Artillery, 47th Engineers, and 112 P-40E, and were embarked on three US Navy transports, six US Army transports, and two US-flagged cargo ships, escorted by 12 US Navy warships and with two US Navy tankers.

    In re-reading Glen Williford's Racing the Sunrise, I do not find evidence of the dependency on the "British troopship lift" for Pacific reinforcement that you speak of, other than Queen Mary's single voyage from Boston to Sydney, which is hardly a "re-inforcement [sic] of Hawaii in early 1942". So what do you mean?
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "Germany First" was the realization of reality in March, 1941, that Hitler might just beat the British. The Pacific War was not a serious factor in the decision.
     
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  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    It is difficult to respond to you, given I have no idea which "Swiss historian" or history you mean in your peekaboo reference...and I doubt anyone else does either.
     
  13. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    No, they weren't. The imminent threat was from Japan and even if/when Japan attacked, there was still great doubt that a war with Germany would result, or that if it did it would be such an immediate thing. You'll note that we declared war on Japan, not on the entire Axis. It was a surprise to everyone (including the German general staff) that Hitler declared war on the US so quickly. Roosevelt had refused Churchill's pleas to take the final step, and still did not do so on December 7th. The Navy was geared towards Japan and that's where all the resources went. The thinking was that a convoy without escorts is just a big target, so until those resources could be shifted around, what more could they do?

    All these years later we're thinking of the north Atlantic, but the real "Happy Time" for the U-boats was down south and right along our east coast. It wasn't just a matter of covering convoys for the north Atlantic, they also needed to cover coastal shipping, raw materials coming up from south America, etc. In 1942, the Navy was looking at the entire Pacific, the north Atlantic (which they figured the Brits and Canadians should handle), ships being sunk along our east coast and yet another disaster opening to the south. How many fronts do you think the navy could handle at the opening of the war?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    No. CINCLANT King's OP-PLAN 7-41 went out on 1 September...and even then it was problematic due to lack of escorts and the volume of US coastal traffic. King was focused on a strategy of defeating the U-boat by defending convoys with extremely powerful escort groups rather than the British method of using SIGINT and COMINT to simply route convoys around the problem. King wanted to destroy the U-boats rather than evade them, but recognized until the escorts were available the most desirable tactic couldn't be implemented. (Love, History of the U.S. Navy, p. 651.) Admiral Stark, CNO at the time, fully agreed, writing Kimmel in November, "we are at our wit's end in the Atlantic with the butter spread extremely thin and the job continuously increasing in toughness." (Stark to Kimmel, 25 November 1941, PHA, Vol. 16, p. 2224.)

    Nor did King "refuse" to form convoys, but he did differ to Admirals Andrews and Ingersoll, the responsible commanders on the matter and backed Ingersoll when he refused to transfer destroyers from the Atlantic convoys to the coastal defenses. Given what was crossing the Atlantic in those convoys, he was probably correct. Nevertheless, in January, he proposed Ingersoll transfer 21 destroyers to Andrews, but backed away from ordering it when Ingersoll demurred. King then turned to Andrews for suggestions...and Andrews refused to implement convoys until sufficient escorts were available (BTW, the belief that un-escorted convoys were more dangerous than not convoying or inadequately escorted convoys wasn't dis-proven by OR until 1943).

    In the end, it was not "Marshall" or "extreme political pressure" that forced King to implement convoying, it was King finally ordering Ingersoll to turn over the resources to Andrews and King's orders to Andrews to implement the "bucket brigade" which changed things...except implementing convoying in April did little to reduce losses. And at that point, "blame" might better be directed at the USAAF and Arnold, who refused King's request for support for the coastal convoys.

    None of which had anything to do with Anglophobia, whether Anglophobia is a sign of competence or not.
     
  15. albanaich

    albanaich New Member

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    Capacity?
     
  16. albanaich

    albanaich New Member

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    This is pure fantasy excuse posting. . . . .. . . if you are a loser, you always look for excuses. . . .and you will find them.

    All the serious histories on subject are unanimous.

    Now, the question you have to ask yourself is why you need to prove the USA is 'superior' when clearly on all measures the USA is not. The USA was a very military weak nation at the start of WWII. It was largely dependent on the UK when the US war started in 41 -42.

    Get over it
     
  17. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Could you elucidate a bit please? Oh, and perhaps let the forum know who the "Swiss historian" is and what work of his you are referencing.

    Thanks.
     
  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Who's posting fantasy?

    As has already been pointed out to you, no. The opinion is not held by Love, Blair, or any of many other "serious histories", so you are incorrect to call what is essentially just your opinion, supported by some dubious historians (including some Swiss dude you are holding pretty close to your chest) "unanimous".

    No, the question I think you might benefit from is asking yourself "self, why am I falling back on a strawman argument and unsupported opinion rather than facts in this argument?"

    Where have I tried to "prove the USA is 'superior'" and when did I use scare quotes to indicate that superiority? That is a strawman on your part.
    Where have I stated the USA was not a militarily week nation at the start of WWII? That is a strawman on your part.

    Where is your proof that the "US was almost entirely dependent on the British troopship lift (note the re-inforcement of Hawaii in early 1942)." Please supply some evidence as proof of what is otherwise simply your opinion.

    Who is this "Swiss historian" "Bauerer" and what work of his are you citing as support for your argument?

    You couldn't be giving yourself better advice.
     
  19. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Yes, the United States was in the process of building up when war came, they were not fully mobilized. There was not enough of anything to go around, especially when we found ourselves in a two front war. Then again neither was Britain when they declared war on Germany on September 03, 1939. Even with over 8 months to build up and prepare, they were run off the continent by Germany in less than 30 days. Who did Britain turn to for help? The US. A lot of materials and production that should have gone into building up our forces went to prop up England. The American public didn't want to get involved in another European war, so until that attitude was sufficiently changed the President couldn't just order wartime mobilization. FDR was a masterful politician and managed to aid Britain as much as he could, despite crossing the line into taking actions that were of dubious legality with regard to the Constitutional restraints placed upon him. He manipulated the American public, and Hollywood churned out propaganda to slowly change the US public's attitudes against intervention.
     
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  20. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    It's worth noting that this not borne out by the facts in evidence. On the whole, US ships were carrying US troops & British ships were carrying British & Commonwealth troops. As always, there are a few exceptions, but only a few.

    See: http://ww2troopships.com/crossings.htm
     

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