Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am aware of only one which is the U-864 was sunk by the HMS Venturer but that was when both were being submerged -- according to wikipedia. Is that accurate? Which battles did happen between two (or more) submarines whether they were submerged or not?

While the WW2 tag is there, I am interested in the whole history of submarine warfare from 1775 to now a days.

share|improve this question
    
It's not enough for an answer, but I thought you'd be interested anyway...HMS Conqueror during the Falklands war had orders to hunt the Argentine submarine Santa Fe. However, the Santa Fe was attacked by helicopters from other British warships and put out of action before Conks found her and any sub vs sub battle could happen. I've condensed this heavily here, you can read more in "Sink the Belgrano" by Mike Rossiter. –  Kobunite Dec 19 '13 at 11:34
    
If anyone has anything exciting they should help complete this list: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_submarine_actions –  Nathan Cooper Dec 19 '13 at 13:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted
+100

The Venturer also sank U771 which was not submerged while being hit by torpedoes.

This is wikipedia info, but apparently the British also used submarines for ASW. They seem to have lured in places where retreating/coming out of port, and would not be detected by passing submerged submarines.

Alas, let us consider which other wars might have seen submarine vs submarine action. Post WWII, technological development meant that submarines spent most of their time submerged, thus naval action in which at least one submarine was surfaced is unlikely.

Pre WWI, submarines were not really widespread, so the chances of both sides in a conflict having access to submarines are slim. In what wars could they have been involved?

In the American Secession War, both sides used submarines, but they were generally unfit for service and saw little action.

In the Russo-Japanese War, both sides had submarines, but wikipedia states that Japanese subs never saw action.

Balkan wars? Greece and Ottoman Empire might have had submarines.

During WWI, the Entente powers developed ASW submarines, but they came too late and saw no action.

Thus, I conclude, sub vs sub action is most likely found during WWII and nowhen else.

EDIT: During WW1, Italian submarine F-12 sunk Austrio-Hungarian submarine U-20. I admire the effort people put in some wikipedia articles.

share|improve this answer
    
This answer is straightforwardly incorrect. Dozens of German U-boats were sunk by Allied submarines in World War I, which in turn sunk several Allied subs. –  Evan Harper Mar 15 '13 at 7:47

On 9 January 1942, the Japanese submarine I-73 (or I-173) was sunk by the US submarine USS Gudgeon (SS-211). The action meant that the USS Gudgeon was the first US Navy warship to sink an enemy warship in WWII.

References:

share|improve this answer
2  
A page number would be useful. –  Pieter Geerkens Dec 18 '13 at 4:53

I agree that the above was the only battle between two submerged submarines. More to the point, I'd be surprised if there was ever a battle between two SURFACED submarines.

BY DEFINITION, submarines do not like to fight on the surface. They are small ships with no guns (to speak of), and are therefore not a match for a warship when surfaced. Their primary weapon is torpedoes, and ships armed with torpedoes are basically at a severe disadvantage against ships armed with larger guns than their own. (This is true for destroyers and cruisers as well as subs.)

The reason subs are used at all is because they can attack with torpedoes from underwater, where large ships like battleships cannot effectively retaliate. The best "subchasers" are small, fast surface ships like destroyers and corvettes. Their weapon of choice during World War II were "depth charges," strings of explosives set to explode at varying depths, thereby "chasing" a submarine down. Subs are too small to carry many such charges, and too slow to use them effectively.

The Venturer had only eight torpedoes (basically, one "string") when it attacked the German sub, and was lucky to sink it. That's why such actions are so rare. And knowing this, naval commands would seldom use a sub to chase another sub.

share|improve this answer
5  
This is wrong on several points. Submarines preferred to hide underwater but fight on the surface. Many of them weren't much slower than corvettes when on the surface. The preferred anti-submarine weapons, once available, were forward-firing launchers like Hedgehog and Squid. Destroyers were typically not the best ASW vessels, specialized escorts being better. Submarines wouldn't use depth charges in any case; their weapons (other than guns) being torpedoes and occasionally mines. –  David Thornley Oct 21 '11 at 23:59
    
The destroyer was the "basic" anti-submarine warship, although specialized ships did do better. Likewise, the depth charge was the "basic" anti-submarine weapon, although the hedgehog squid became important factors late in the war. "Subs are too small to carry many such charges and too slow to use them effectively" which is why they DIDN'T. Subs might come to the surface BRIEFLY to launch torpedoes, but they would submerge again ASAP. –  Tom Au Oct 22 '11 at 0:32
2  
In WWII, standard convoy attack tactics, for Germans and later the USN, was to attack on the surface inside the convoy. That worked a lot better than trying submerged shots. Destroyers were not, in WWII, the "basic" ASW ship; they were surface fighting ships that were adaptable for ASW. Countries that had to deal with ASW usually wound up building something other than fleet destroyers for the purpose. –  David Thornley Oct 22 '11 at 4:54
5  
"And knowing this, naval commands would seldom use a sub to chase another sub" - this sounds false as far as latter 20th century. Hunting ballistic missile subs was the main purpose of attack submarines like Los Angeles class or SeaWolf class. However it's true for ww2. –  DVK Nov 23 '11 at 22:57
    
@DVK: The context of the question was World War II, and so was my answer. I'm not nearly as familiar with late 20th century warfare. –  Tom Au Nov 23 '11 at 23:00

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.