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A decisive Battle of the Caribbean

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  • #16
    Operation Orchester (Orchestra)

    I will call the entire mess I have been trying to lay out in previous posts Operation Orchester (Orchestra). It will consist of Operations Paukenchlag, Paarbecken and Macht Kesselpauke:

    a. Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat)

    This begins as the historical operation of 5 U-boats off the east coast of the USA. These boats were on station and commenced attacks on 11 Jan 1942.

    Historically these boats went off station 6 Feb 1942 and returned to France. In our revised operation they will sail to the eastern Caribbean and refuel and rearm (partially) from the supply ships of Macht Kesselpauke (see below).

    b. Operation Paarbecken (Clash of cymbals).

    This is the insertion of 9 Type VII U-boats into the Caribbean in late January and early February 1942.

    They sail as they did historically but they will transit directly across the Atlantic to rendezvous with the supply ships of Macht Kesselpauke (see below), meeting them between mid-January and early February. Once refueled these boats enter the Caribbean and remain on patrol for 2 – 3 weeks depending on fuel and armament expended.

    In mid February the Paarbecken boats will replenish from Macht Kesselpauke and conduct a second patrol in the Caribbean. Again this lasts 2 – 3 weeks (likely the lesser).

    On completion they refuel at sea again and continue on to return to France.

    c. Macht Kesselpauke (Force Kettle Drum)

    This an underway replenishment group in the eastern Caribbean and surrounding waters tasked to provide support to operations Drumbeat and Clash of Cymbals. They arrive on station from mid-January to early February 1942.

    They will refuel 5 Type IX U-boats twice and 9 Type VII boats three times, for a total of 37 refueling operations. They will transfer 80 torpedoes and lay up to 280 mines.

    Operation Orchester:

    The overall objective of Operation Orchester is to concentrate as much of the KM’s U-boat force against the vulnerable oil transportation system as possible. It will put 14 U-boats into the Caribbean beginning in late January 1942. Strike hard before local forces gain experience!

    Historically about 21 U-boats took part in the entire Drumbeat operation and the follow on campaign along the US coast and into the Caribbean. No more than about a ˝ dozen boats were in the operational theatre at any one time.

    Operation Orchester puts 14 boats into the Caribbean concurrently and about a month earlier than any U-boat appeared here historically. The month of February 1942 may be the month when oil transport in the Caribbean is crippled for a protracted period, rather than the historical result of being reduced to a trickle in March.

    I think I've laid it all out. Thanks for your attention, let the feeding frenzy on my bones begin
    Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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    • #17
      Overall, this sounds like the best chance the Germans had to win the war.

      The biggest flaw I see is the support ships. While you could sneak a couple into the Carri bean itself, I don't see them making it back out again. The most elementary air patrols flying from the many islands around that sea would make sure of that.

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      • #18
        I see this prolonging the war, but not ending it, nor ending it favorably for the Germans by itself.

        Ex is right, any support vessels you got in would never make it out again. Too easy to find surface ships. But in the short term, it would work. Have the support ships for the initial fueling/arming of the subs, maybe have a second network of support ships or milch cows in the open ocean on the return leg (make the return leg direct to Spain then up the coast perhaps) to give them a full load of fuel (so they could loiter in theater longer). The Surface vessels would last a month, tops, once their methods were discovered. But by combining milch cows and surface ships in semi-random meetings at points arranged on maps previous to departure of the ships (the subs would have a map with points/dates/times, and show up when needed, rather than a lot of radio comm) you could keep the USN confused for perhaps another month or so as to how the subs are operating in the Caribbean. All told, I'd give the whole operation 3 months before the USN shut it down, but in those 3 months you'd have:

        1--slight buildup but by month's end, extremely effective operations

        2--shutdown of sea lanes followed by convoying and heavy air patrols to find support vessels

        3--gradual reopening of sea lanes as support vessels are hunted down and destroyed, spurring exodus of a large part of the U-boat flotilla (the part that needed the surface ships, the part needing the milch cows could probably hold on for another 2 months before they too were forced out of the caribbean.).
        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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        • #19
          I did not make myself clear. By "eastern Caribbean" I meant an area east of longitude 60 (ish). The underway replenishment group (Macht Kesselpauke) would remain well east of Barbados.



          As far as I can determine, there are no more supply ships available to the KM during the time in question that historically proved able to break into the Atlantic. There is some stuff in German ports but they couldn't have been ready or able for such a journey or I assume they would have done so.

          The first Milch Cow could not have been in the operational area until well into April 1942.

          TacCovert4, if U-boats can get 3 months of running rampant in the Caribbean, they'll do a lot of damage. Especially if given "shoot tankers only" orders (which I drafted last night )

          Exorcist, I don't think it's a war winner but I'm certain it'll delay things for the WAllies for quite a bit. North Africa is going to suffer fuel shortages. Is Torch in jeopardy?
          Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
            The last piece of the puzzle:

            The DOGGERBANK was a captured British ship originally named the Speybank. She was converted to an auxiliary minesweeper and U-boat support ship. She was armed with 1 x 102 mm cannon, 2 x 20 mm guns, 155 type EMC mines, 55 type EMF mines, and 70 type TMB mines. She could also carry 50 torpedoes to rearm U-boats.

            Historically she broke into the Atlantic in mid January and headed for the coast of South Africa. The only thing we’ll change is her destination (eastern Caribbean) and her mission. Her primary mission will be to supply U-boats with torpedoes, stores and potable water. She should be on station to provide that after the first week of February, which allows her to make the transit in 3 weeks, although she may be quicker.

            I expect that she’ll expend her torpedo load sending the wave of Type VII boats that arrived on station starting in mid January back into the operations area in early/mid February for their second patrol.

            DOGGERBANK will then be free to pursue her secondary mission, mining the approaches to Curacao and Aruba, home to some of the largest refineries available to the Allies.

            I will try to summarize all of the previous into something a bit more digestable soon. For anyone whose waded through all this for me, I appreciate your forebearance
            Perhaps a slight problem. After the US-UK trade agreement of bases for old, destroyers in 1940, a number of British islands in the Caribbean were leased to the US to be used as naval air bases. While patroling Catalina flying boats wouldn't affect u-boat activities during the day, any German support ships in the vicinity would be easily spotted. Patroling Allied warships would do the rest.
            "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
              Exorcist, I don't think it's a war winner but I'm certain it'll delay things for the WAllies for quite a bit. North Africa is going to suffer fuel shortages. Is Torch in jeopardy?
              Just delayed again. The earlier itterations of Torch, Gymnast I & Gymnast II were postphoned for a variety of reasons including resource problems. There is a chance this might aid the Allies as more French would come around to cooperating with Allied landings were negotiations to last another month or two.

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              • #22
                My point overall is that Doenitz and the KM could have made a bigger contribution to the war effort in 1942 than they did. By not applying the principal of concentration of force and utilizing logistics resources creatively (apparently an overall weakness of Germany's WWII forces) Doenitz let an opportunity to effect a stunning blow become merely a painful one.

                Allied forces in the Caribbean in the first 3 months of 1942 were pretty pathetic and disorganized. http://www.history.army.mil/books/ww...rd-us/ch16.htm

                Keeping the underway replenishment group to the east helps keep them safe from short range reconnaisance. They look like merchant ships, they will run long leg racetrack pattern running north west and south east as if they are shipping from the South Atlantic going to/from the USA. They were able to fool forces when historically challenged to identify themselves. The DOGGERBANK:

                "Things almost went wrong when in the late afternoon, an aircraft was sighted. It hailed the ship, asking for name and destination. Schneidewind ordered to signal "Levernbank from New York via Recife to Capetown", waved a few times with his hat and then left the bridge. His resolute performance worked and the aircraft was apparently satisfied with the answer. Later that evening, a small ship was sighted, which was easily evaded. Sixty mines were laid in the early morning of the 13th."

                And these were Commonwealth aircraft from a country that had been at war for two years. She pulled similar stunts versus warships as well.
                http://www.netherlandsnavy.nl/Speybank.htm

                I need them to survive on station 4 to 6 weeks (maximum). After that they will be released to do what they can. DOGGERBANK to lay mines, THOR for merchant raiding and CHARLOTTE SCHLIEMANN can make a run for France or return to the Canary Islands.
                Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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                • #23
                  What next?

                  After all that work I need some controversy to keep this alive

                  My contention is that the Battle of the Caribbean was merely a tactical success for the KM. They came close to making it a success at the operational level, to influencing national policies, but not quite. A minor ally (Canada) did have to take some direct action on its’ own without the blessing of big brothers (RN and USN) but that’s about it.
                  http://www.familyheritage.ca/Articles/oilarticle.html

                  However, Operation Orchester as I have described it, along with the follow on Battle of the Caribbean which would be fought with more or less the historical order of battle, would have a far greater impact.

                  Historically, the fuel stocks for the North Atlantic escort forces dwindled to 15 days of reserve. Orchester would bring that to essentially zero.

                  Here’s one way that would happen.

                  “…the tankers that carried oil from Venezuela to the Dutch refineries on Aruba and Curacao were also priority targets. Unfortunately for the allies, these tankers were specially designed, shallow draft tankers that allowed them to pass through the shallow Gulf of Venezuela. Normal tankers could not be substituted here; their loss was replaceable only by new construction. …”

                  http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/ETO/Atla...Caribbean.html

                  With more U-boats in the Caribbean and with mines laid off Aruba and Curacao we now have a much better chance of destroying these targets. Of course we are also sinking larger numbers of ‘regular’ tankers as well. There is a very real chance that oil traffic in the Caribbean will dry up for 2 – 3 months.

                  Will the deep ocean escort force be left without fuel? Of course not, reserves will be funneled off from something else, almost certainly in the USA. So for 2 -3 months the USA will be required to fuel the allied navies in the North Atlantic and provide all of Great Britain’s domestic requirements.

                  A factory(s) somewhere in the USA will be unable to produce something during that time. Perhaps the laying of a group of valuable LSTs gets delayed, a couple of months of tank production doesn’t happen, etc.

                  Torch is certainly delayed. The resources for Overlord will be a bit thinner, perhaps there aren’t enough landing craft so one of the beaches doesn’t get invaded.

                  Overall, I think Operation Orchester pushes the end of the war in the west back 6 months. How do the WAllied leaders change their negotiations at Yalta realizing that their invasion will be smaller? Does the stop line for the USSR become the Rhine?

                  All because two hand full’s of U-boats struck hard in 1942.
                  Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    One trend I would predict, is German sub losses would increase in the second half of 1942. Perhaps even a few months sooner as the USN is forced to change its ways sooner. For all his attention to the details of the war at sea and hands on management Donentz seems to have been unable to spot trends in submarine losses until they became intolerable. That is he seems to have been changing his tactics and operational strategy too slowly to adapt to new Allied methods. So, my take is a more intensive or aggressive strategy in Carribean waters would lead to greater sub losses and a weaker capability in late 1942 or early 1943.

                    As for changes in Allied production. There were literally hundreds of ways to adjust industrial production to accomidate shortages. It is unlikely a high priority item, like a LST would be reduced. Particulary as that manufactor revolved around steel and electricity, which depended on coal and hydro energy. Oil fueled manufactoring wa still relatively rare in North America in the 1940s. Delaying cargos to the UK would probablly be the first thing.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                      One trend I would predict, is German sub losses would increase in the second half of 1942.
                      Which they did historically, 21 U-boats lost between Jan and June, 65 between July and Dec for a total in 1942 of 86.
                      http://www.uboat.net/fates/losses/1942.htm


                      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                      Perhaps even a few months sooner as the USN is forced to change its ways sooner. .
                      The problem with a “what if” is predicting the human element. The situation started by Drumbeat was extremely grave, the British practically begged US Adm King to institute a convoy system. A minor ally took action on its’ own. The USN closed ports rather than institute convoys. I’m not convinced that a harder blow at the beginning would change King’s ways, but it’s impossible to say.

                      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                      For all his attention to the details of the war at sea and hands on management Donentz seems to have been unable to spot trends in submarine losses until they became intolerable. That is he seems to have been changing his tactics and operational strategy too slowly to adapt to new Allied methods. .
                      I agree here, Doenitz was fascinated with the tonnage war and his U-boat quotient. Therefore he didn’t react to enemy maneuver, only to the perceived efficiency of his forces. Then he would change the axis of his attack to somewhere he felt would bring the numbers back up. However, IMHO this did not always result in the best ‘bang for the buck’. Tonnage sunk off Brazil is not as important as tonnage in the final stages of approaching the UK.

                      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                      So, my take is a more intensive or aggressive strategy in Carribean waters would lead to greater sub losses and a weaker capability in late 1942 or early 1943..
                      Possible, but with the benefit of hindsight I can say it doesn’t matter. The U-boats were defeated in mid ’43 anyway. Had they been used more forcefully in ’42 it still likely wouldn’t have changed that, but may have had more lasting effects elsewhere.

                      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                      As for changes in Allied production. There were literally hundreds of ways to adjust industrial production to accomidate shortages. It is unlikely a high priority item, like a LST would be reduced. Particulary as that manufactor revolved around steel and electricity, which depended on coal and hydro energy. Oil fueled manufactoring wa still relatively rare in North America in the 1940s. Delaying cargos to the UK would probablly be the first thing.
                      Thanks for the information about coal and hydro, I didn’t realize that. With that said, delaying cargos to the UK is exactly what I’m trying to do. At one point during the Torch operation the entire available fuel reserves were 7000 tons on board the Cardium in Oran.
                      http://www.aandc.org/research/convoy_tm1.html

                      My proposed operation would stretch oil reserves thinner throughout that year. I believe I can confidently say that with Operation Orchester instituted, Torch is delayed a further 3 – 6 months. Knocking Italy out of the war may be delayed about the same amount of time. Not a bad effort for just over a dozen submarines operating half the globe away!
                      Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
                        The problem with a “what if” is predicting the human element. The situation started by Drumbeat was extremely grave, the British practically begged US Adm King to institute a convoy system. A minor ally took action on its’ own. The USN closed ports rather than institute convoys. I’m not convinced that a harder blow at the beginning would change King’s ways, but it’s impossible to say.
                        My thought is it would no longer be Adm Kings choice. He might well be contemplating early retirement, or a lesser position in the USN.

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                        • #27
                          A valid point, the US president was not impressed with the situation:

                          "A disconcerted President Roosevelt wrote to Churchill: "...My Navy has definitely been slack in preparing for this submarine war off our coast."
                          http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/ETO/Atla...Caribbean.html

                          Who would replace him?

                          I don't know the C of C in the USN well at that time. Does Nimitz get promoted out of the Pacific? That would be an interesting scenario!
                          Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post

                            Who would replace him?

                            I don't know the C of C in the USN well at that time. Does Nimitz get promoted out of the Pacific? That would be an interesting scenario!
                            Cant exactly recall. For some reason I think King was dual hatted at that point, but may be wrong on the fact or the time. Guesing who Roosevelt would choose is a open question. In the case of the US Army he had reached deep to choose Marshall, setting aside many senior general officers. My review of the Generals who did serve in WWII shows nearly all the senior men of 1940 were either retired by 1942 or in their twilight tour. Only a half dozen of the 60+ 1939 Maj & Lt Generals were still holding a senior position by 1942. I've not studied the senior leaders of the USN, but from Roosevelts policy for the US Army my guess is he would look for someone with a strong record both at sea and in staff work.

                            As far as senior commanders the cmdr of the Atlantic fleet would have been competitive with Nimitz. Replacing King in 1942 would have saved him from drowning at sea in 1943.

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