Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Surface Raider IV.

This is coolbert:

"Merchant raiders are ships which disguise themselves as non-combatant merchant vessels, whilst actually being armed and intending to attack enemy commerce."

Also referred to as the commerce raider.

"Commerce raiding or guerre de course is a naval strategy of attacking an opponent's commercial shipping rather than contending for command of the sea with its naval forces. The objective is to sink or destroy the logistics (supplies) of an enemy, rather than engage the combatant themselves."

"Commerce raiding was heavily criticised by the naval theorist A.T. Mahan, who regarded it as a distraction from the destruction of the enemy's fighting power."

"Usually, commerce raiding is chosen by a weaker naval power against a stronger, or by a nation with little ocean-going trade against one with a great deal."

As with Germany versus England. A weak naval power [Germany], relatively speaking, against a very strong naval power [England]! ASYMMETRIC, GUERRILLA WARFARE AT SEA!!

The German in particular, in both World Wars, seemed to have flair for guerre de course! Realized that fighting the British at sea could be done, but to be successful, ruse and stratagem had to be employed.

Such was the voyage of the World War One [WW1] surface raider, SMS Wolf.

"SMS Wolf (formerly the Hansa freighter Wachtfels of 5809 GRT) was an armed merchant raider or auxiliary cruiser of the German Imperial Navy in World War I."

"As a commerce raider, the Wolf was equipped with six 15-cm guns, one 10.5 cm gun and several smaller caliber weapons as well as four torpedo tubes. She also carried about 400 mines to be dropped outside enemy ports."

This assortment of weaponry gave the Wolf considerable firepower and versatility. DID NOT have armor as a conventional ship-of-the-line would have had. BUT WAS NOT INTENDED TO FIGHT IT OUT WITH ENEMY WARSHIPS!! A GUERRILLA FIGHTER ON THE HIGH SEAS!!

"a bunker capacity of 8000 tons of coal she had a cruising range of 32,000 miles"

Did NOT have to refuel while at sea! Could circumnavigate the globe without taking on more coal. WAS ALSO ABLE TO REPLISH FUEL BY USING COAL FROM CAPTURED ENEMY VESSELS.

[resupply yourself from captured enemy stocks. Typical of the guerrilla fighter on land - - and on the sea too!!]

The Wolf led pursuers on a merry chase throughout the oceans of the world. Waters to include:

* "North Atlantic"

* "north of Scotland"

* "the Cape of Good Hope"

* "the Indian Ocean"

* "the harbors of Colombo [Ceylon] and Bombay [India]"

* "the waters of South Asia, Australia and New Zealand"

"The Wolf destroyed 35 trading vessels and 2 war ships, altogether approximately 110,000 tons."

"After 451 days she returned to her home port of Kiel on 24 February 1918 with 467 prisoners of war aboard. In addition she carried substantial quantities of rubber, copper, zinc, brass, silk, copra, cocoa, and other essential materials taken from her prizes."

NOT only captured prisoners of war [treated with great courtesy] BUT also valuable prizes taken from enemy vessels. Minerals and "other essential materials" vital to the German war effort. Substances NOT available to the German during a time of war because of English naval blockade!

Download for free and read an account of the SKS Wolf and the epic combat voyage of same:

"Five Months on a German Raider by Frederic George Trayes"

The Captain and crew of the Wolf - - guerrilla fighters at sea - - against the odds - - comported themselves with honor and courage? I would say so!




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

4:45 AM


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