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Subject > Strategy and Tactics > Anti-submarine

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Army Participation in Measures taken by the Three Services for the Security of the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Lower River during the Period of German Submarine Activity, 1942-45

Type: Document

This report discusses the measures taken by the Army to safeguard the civil population and vital installations in the Lower St. Lawrence region as a result of the incursion of German submarines into the Gulf and River in 1942. After Japanese forces struck at Pearl Harbour, the whole perspective of the war was changed and the Allied powers had to redistribute their naval resources to cover the new areas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The German enemy's response to this new situation was to mount more agressive U-boat attacks from the Atlantic and heading westward.

Site: National Defence

Battle of the St. Lawrence

Type: Document

In January 1943 the Canadian Mid-Atlantic Escort Force was withdrawn for re-equipping and training following the disastrous German submarine campaign in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The weakness shown by the Canadian Navy forced the closure of the St. Lawrence to Canadian shipping and a re-examination of the Navy’s role.

Site: National Defence

Prince Ships, 1940-1945

Type: Document

The HMC Prince David, Prince Henry and Prince Robert ships were built at Birkenhead in the United Kingdom by Cammell Laird for the Canadian National Steamships Company. By the 1930s they sat idly much of the time because of the decade's decline in trade. When war broke out in September of 1939, the Naval Service lost no time in making arrangements for the conversion of the Princes, adding anti-submarine weaponry for armed merchant cruiser operations.

Site: National Defence

The Corvette Navy

Type: Document

The Canadian solution to the German submarine threat were corvettes – small ships which were very manoeuvrable and equipped with ASDIC (Sonar). The small size of the Canadian navy was not able to meet the need for a vast expansion, and new ships were often ill-equipped with untrained crews and inexperienced officers. The escort force suffered serious losses calling into question the Navy's ability to carry out its job.

Site: National Defence

A Navy Reborn

Type: Document

In early 1943 the Canadian Navy had the opportunity to upgrade its ships, train its crews and introduce long range Liberator aircraft. These changes and the assumption of the North-West Atlantic Command gave the RCN its chance to defeat the German U-boat threat.

Site: National Defence

Lockheed CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft, 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron, Canadian Forces, 1985

Type: Image

The CP-140 Aurora has been used for submarine detection since 1981. (Canadian Department of National Defence, 85-150)

Site: National Defence

Naval Expansion and the Submarine Threat

Type: Document

Canada’s Navy, while being the smallest service, was also its most distinctive, establishing an independent role from the beginning of the war. German submarines were a significant threat to the vital transatlantic supply routes, as the Germans had better equipment, had improved their tactics, and had closer home ports in France and Scandinavia.

Site: National Defence

The German Submarine Threat Subsides

Type: Document

Despite improvements in German submarine technology, such as the snorkel and acoustic torpedo, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was able to eliminate the submarine threat and contribute in many other theatres of the war. Canada’s contribution also included the merchant marine and merchant ship construction.

Site: National Defence

Newfoundland and the Battle of the Atlantic

Type: Document

The convoy system, a measure to defeat the U-boat menace, took time to establish. With the American entry into the war, Canada began assuming greater responsibilities without having the resources to accomplish the task.

Site: National Defence