Reviewed by LCDR Mark R Condeno,
Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary
Submarine versus Submarine encounters are quite unknown to many except to those in the naval community and those who have read the novels and seen Hollywood movies like The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide. The former is between the trailing Alfa Class boat to the defecting Red October while the latter depicts an engagement of an Akula Class against an Ohio Class SSGN.
In this pioneering work on the subject, author Robert C Stem (Battle beneath the Waves) provides an excellent and informative read. The book is divided into 25 chapters with its early segments taking us to the First World War from the encounter between U-27 and His Majesty’s Submarine E.3 to the sinking of U-40 by HMS C.24. The 18 subsequent chapters capture and cover the suspense of clashes between the submarines of both the Allied and Axis navies from the Mediterranean to the Pacific during the Second World War. Notable within are the encounter between U-14 against the Polish Submarine ORP Sep along with HMS SPEARFISH, between that of USS CORVIN A against the IJN 1-176, resulting in the loss of the former. A few chapters focus on incidents where submarines were sunk by their own navy’s submarines such as the tragedy that struck the Italian GEMMA sunk by the TRICHECO, and the collision between U-254 and U-221 during a convoy attack. The final chapter covers the undersea encounters of post World War Two to that of the Cold War tilt the present, although no warshots were fired against each other during this period, some of the boats involved in the collisions were retired early.
The book is destined to be a classic. It is well researched and finely written. Being the only one of its kind providing a comprehensive account of an unknown field in Submarine Warfare History in specific and to Naval History in general. It would be a standard reference for years to come.
The author is to be commended for this outstanding work. An impressive 16 page photo account, charts, an appendix of gun calibers and end notes for each chapter supplements the book. A ten-page bibliography along with on line sources is also provided. The Hunter Hunted is Highly Recommended.