The U.S. Navy Responds:
Unleashing the Hunter-Killers
By 1943, the tide began to turn against the German U-boats due to Allied advances in antisubmarine intelligence, electronic tracking and attack aircraft. The U.S. Navy decided it was time to hunt down U-boats one by one. The U-boats were so elusive, no single ship could do the job, so the U.S. Navy organized special antisubmarine escort ships and dispatched them in units called Hunter-Killer Task Groups.
In May 1944, Hunter-Killer Task Group 22.3 was formed. It consisted of a small aircraft carrier escort named the USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60) and five light destroyer escorts. By pooling their technologies and going on the offensive, Task Groups like 22.3 turned the tables on the U-boats. The hunters became the hunted.
The Task Group in Action
The lead ship of Task Group 22.3 was the antisubmarine escort carrier USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60). Her fighter planes and torpedo bombers were responsible for fanning out and hunting for U-boats beyond the range of Allied land-based planes. Speed and altitude enabled the fighter planes to search many more square miles of ocean than a ship could alone.
Pilots used their eyes to scan the seas for U-boats during the day and relied on radar at night. They also dropped sonobuoys, underwater equipment used to listen for submerged U-boats. When a pilot located a U-boat, he instinctively dove down and fired into the water to mark its position. The Task Group destroyers could then launch explosive underwater depth charges at the submarine.