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Allied submarine chasers were small wooden ships built in great haste to counter the U-Boat threat in the Atlantic. They had a low silhouette and shallow draft, which made them difficult for a submerged U-boat to detect and attack. Slightly larger than PT boats, they were much slower, barely fast enough to keep up with a surfaced submarine. Being made of wood in boatyards, their construction did not compete with that of larger steel warships for resources.
U.S. sub chasers were envisioned as a successor to the Eagle Boats of the First World War. They would serve with the Naval Reserve in peacetime, and perform local antisubmarine patrol in time of war, releasing older fleet destroyers for convoy duty. In practice, sub chasers were definitely a stopgap. Only one submarine chaser was credited with actually destroying a submarine during the war, although there were numerous depth-charge attacks by these craft. As might be expected, numerous other uses were found for sub chasers once there were sufficient numbers of more powerful escort vessels.
The Japanese also
built or converted several classes of ships rated as submarine chasers.
Like their Allied counterparts, they were stopgaps, made necessary by
the overall weakness of the Japanese economy.
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