Reply To: Loss of the SS Maloja 27 February 1916

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Frank Scott

Submarines laid mines while submerged.

I am very surprised that you state that floating mines were the norm, as this would have made the minefields impossible to chart, and render the mines laid just as dangerous to your own side. As it was submariners traditionally disliked mine-laying, the grim joke in both war being that the mines you laid were quite likely to sink you rather than the enemy.

A submarine mine-layer carried comparatively few mines compared to a surface ship, and took much longer to get to & from the target area, stealth was its only advantage.

Wllem Hackmann, Seek & Strike: Sonar, anti-submarine warfare and the Royal Navy 1914-54 (HMSO, 1984), pp 1-95 covers the period up to the end of the First World War in considerable detail, including mention of comparable developments by the French & the Americans. In essence visual contact and minefields proved the most effective ASW methods of achieving a kill, only right at the end of the war were any kills made that were directly attributable to hydrophone detection. Not only were scientists and the navy having to develop new methods of detection, and weapons, even the basics of the science of sound in water had been barely touched upon by the pre-war science community, and much research was needed in this area.