Date of Action: 19 March 1945
USCG Units Involved: USS Lowe, Menges, Pride, and Mosley
Sinking/Capture/Assist? Sinking, with credit shared between the four Coast Guard-manned warships.
Location: 43.18N x 61.08W
Credit by U.S. Navy? Yes; credit shared between USS Lowe, Menges, Pride, and Mosley
Enemy Warship's Commanding Officer: Oberleutenant zur See Peter Rogowsky
Enemy Casualties: 55 killed in action; all hands lost
USCG Casualties: None
Misc: Coast Guard hunter-killer group
In the spring of 1945, the German U-boat Command sent three U-boats to patrol in Canadian and U.S. waters. One of these, U-866, a Type IX C/40 U-boat, had a radio message intercepted by Canadian forces and two Canadian escort groups began the hunt. After the U-866 unsuccessfully attacked two merchant ships off the coast of Cape Cod, the US Navy decided to form a "hunter-killer" group made up of available US escorts to hunt down and kill the U-boat.
This task force would become the first all Coast Guard hunter-killer group established during the war and it was made up of four units of Escort Division 46, under the overall command of CDR R. H. French. These were the Coast Guard-manned destroyer escorts USS Lowe, Menges, Mosley, and Pride. French flew his pennant from the flagship Pride. The Coast Guard hunter-killer group was designated Task Force 22.14. The Menges had been a victim of a German T-5 acoustic torpedo during escort of convoy operations in the Mediterranean in 1944. The torpedo had detonated directly under her stern, causing major damage and casualties, but the destroyer escort remained afloat. She was later towed and the stern of another destroyer escort, one that had been damaged well forward, was welded onto the Menges. She then returned to action.
On 16 March the Lowe acquired the U-866 on sonar in the waters off Sable Island and commenced a hedgehog attack. This attack missed the submarine and the U-boat's commanding officer decided to attempt to hide by setting down on the ocean floor. Unfortunately for him and his crew, the bottom in this area was flat and unobstructed, providing good sonar conditions for the attacking destroyer escort. Lowe's second attack resulted in two large explosions and a large amount of oil and debris rising to the surface. French then ordered Lowe and Menges to continue to attack until they could obtain definitive evidence of the U-boat's destruction. Six hours after the initial contact with the U-866 and 65 depth charges later another large explosion occurred and more evidence, including oil, wood debris, and documents written in German, floated to the surface.
The destroyer escorts returned to the area the following day and again picked up the U-boat on sonar. The Menges made a hedgehog attack that brought up still more debris. French then ordered a cessation to the attacks. The U-866 had been sunk with all hands.