Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:
German uboats touched american soil three times during world war two
In reality, the leader of the group, George Dasch, turned all of them into the FBI. laimed all the credit but only when Dasch called the FBI did they have any idea German saboteurs were in the country.
In spite of many tall tales, German U-boats only touched American soil three times and they didn’t stay very long. Approaching an enemy coast to land agents was extremely dangerous since the boat had to go into shallow water and close an enemy coast with no intelligence.
Since the only real protection a U-Boat had was going deep underwater, being in shallow water made this impossible. Officers and crewmen intensely disliked missions such as this because it put them in such danger.
Over the years, dozens of people have told me how they had heard about German U-Boat coming ashore in the US to shop, go to the movies, have a beer, you name it. Absolutely none of these stories are true. A work colleague many years ago told me UBoat men used to come ashore for an evening of dinner, drinks, and dancing in Palm Beach. His grandfather met many of them. This is impossible but stories like this abound.
I have asked the two top U-Boat historians in the world Jak P Mallman-Showell and Dr. Timothy Mulligan if any of these stories are true and they both said, “no.” And gave me permission to quote them.
NEW YORK TIMES 10 December 1945
Aircraft and many other key armaments, relied on aluminum. As rugged as they seem, you could punch a sharpened pencil through the side of a B-17. Aluminum production in the US skyrocketed during the war. Because it is difficult to make and requires huge amounts of electricity, there are many points in the production cycle which a saboteur could disrupt.
The USS Idaho was the USS Mississippi‘s sister ship and was commissioned for the US Navy in 1908. She was subsequently sold to Greece in 1914 and was then renamed Lemnos. Lemnos saw minimal action during WW 1, assisted the White Russian Forces in the 1919 Allied Crimean expedition, and was decommissioned in 1932 when her guns were removed and used as a coastal battery. The rest of the ship was sunk by German Bombers in April 1941 while docked at Salamis Naval Base.
USS Idaho, fitting out at the Cramp shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1906.
USS Idaho, dressed with flags during the Naval Review off New York City, October 1912.
At Constantinople, Turkey, probably in 1919. The Greek torpedo boat Dafni (completed 1913) is alongside. Lemnos was the former USS Idaho (Battleship # 24).
Firing a salute to US Navy Admiral Mark L. Bristol, at Smyrna, Turkey, 15 September 1919. Lemnos is flying the US and Greek flags at the foremast peak and the Italian flag at the mainmast peak. A British D-class light cruiser is in the right distance, also with the Italian flag at the mainmast peak. Lemnos was the former USS Idaho (Battleship # 24).
Sunk in the basin of the Greek naval base at Salamis after they were hit by German air attacks on 23 April 1941. Seen from the harbor pier following the arrival of the German army. Kilkis, the former USS Mississippi (Battleship # 23), is in the foreground. Lemnos, ex-USS Idaho (Battleship # 24), is in the distance, with her guns removed. Photograph and some caption information were provided by Franz Selinger, via the US Naval Institute.