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melindamusil
09-09-2014, 12:10 AM
Specifically I'm wondering about the instances after WWII when the Allies scuttled many seemingly good German ships (Operation Deadlight (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Deadlight)). I understand that during wartime, ships may be scuttled to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. After the war, I know that some of the boats were in poor condition. But why wouldn't they use the still-good ships in their own navy?

Thanks!

King Neptune
09-09-2014, 12:34 AM
Some people suggest that it was to insure that the Soviets wouldn't get anything useful.

robjvargas
09-09-2014, 12:37 AM
When you're at war with an enemy like the Axis Powers, you use every man you can get into battle.

So if the USA (for example) took ownership of all those vessels, who's left to man them? Especially if most of those men are now going home to be civilians?

jclarkdawe
09-09-2014, 12:58 AM
After a major war, there are usually a surplus of vessels in the victor's navy. These are stored in mothball fleets, (United States Navy reserve fleets - Wikipedia, the free ...) (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FUnited_ States_Navy_reserve_fleets&ei=KxYOVKjoFsyGyASnwoDYCg&usg=AFQjCNFQcA6J2ghEgd4F9ViS3UuJuEnCmQ&sig2=L9Nh8CQu5rJFllmta99S5A&bvm=bv.74649129,d.aWw), capable of being reactivated as needed. After World War II, the US and Britain had literally hundreds of mothballed ships.

The enemy's ships are often of different parts then the victor's fleet, meaning replacement parts are not commonly available, nor are shells of the same caliber.

Enemy ships are often used for experiments, such as the effect of depth charging (German subs sunk to a known depth, then depth charged to destruction) and gunnery practice. After World War II there was not a big demand for scrap metal. There was way too much available. Ships also need a lot of maintenance to float, so there's a limit to how long you can tie up valuable harbor resources with ships you can't use.

So you sink the suckers.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

veinglory
09-09-2014, 01:14 AM
If you aren't taking it with you, and you don't want them to have it... there is no other option. You also don't want the unmanned ship to be a navigation hazard.

robjvargas
09-09-2014, 01:23 AM
I'd have tied 'em all together and become Emperor of Sealandia.

:D

blacbird
09-09-2014, 05:35 AM
Some get deemed just plain useless. Nothing more complicated than that.

Ships have also been scuttled for more admirable reasons: To provide substrates for reef-building organisms and ecological communities.

caw

frimble3
09-09-2014, 11:00 AM
And, I would think that there's a certain visual/psychological effect.
"Now, the war is really over: see - we've got rid of the enemies ships!"
That, shown on newsreels, etc. is more impressive as a symbol than just de-mobilizing troops. You can't actually see a tank or airplane being melted down, but a big ship, slowly sinking down, giant air-bubbles rising ...

And, who would have manned all these ex-enemy ships? The men who had recently been attacked by them? Men whose friends had been killed by them? I would think that would only have been a popular move if the navy was desperately short of ships, which, the war being over, it wasn't.

King Neptune
09-09-2014, 03:56 PM
And, I would think that there's a certain visual/psychological effect.
"Now, the war is really over: see - we've got rid of the enemies ships!"
That, shown on newsreels, etc. is more impressive as a symbol than just de-mobilizing troops. You can't actually see a tank or airplane being melted down, but a big ship, slowly sinking down, giant air-bubbles rising ...

And, who would have manned all these ex-enemy ships? The men who had recently been attacked by them? Men whose friends had been killed by them? I would think that would only have been a popular move if the navy was desperately short of ships, which, the war being over, it wasn't.

It also turned out that many of the U-boats scuttled there were in extremely poor condition, probably not worth repairing.

WeaselFire
09-09-2014, 08:49 PM
But why wouldn't they use the still-good ships in their own navy?
Simple answer: They don't need them.

More complex answer: They're outdated and have no useful purpose any more. Take a battleship. It's extremely useful for large fleet combat or combat against enemy vessels. It's pretty useless when there are no enemies with large fleets. Or, in the current world, any fleets.

Jeff

Bufty
09-09-2014, 09:00 PM
Google - Scapa Flow.

Trebor1415
09-09-2014, 10:22 PM
One thing to realize is that WWII was the largest war in human history, both in terms of manpower deployed and resources consumed.

After the war the U.S. cut back its military to a huge degree. All those millions of men who were drafted were sent home. All those war machines we built (ships, planes, tanks, etc) weren't needed for the much smaller peacetime military. We were literally pushing planes off of aircraft carries, bulldozing fighter planes on the runways, and crushing brand new jeeps, because we just plain simply had too much stuff to use and didn't want the expense to maintain or store it.

Our Navy mothballed or scrapped many of our ships because we didn't need them and didn't have the manpower to crew them. The captured enemy ships were even less useful (in most cases) as they were non-standard to the rest of our equipment and weren't worth the effort to maintain them (much less crew them). We didn't have enough manpower (or need) for our own ships, so why would we want the enemy's?

We did examine things like German submarines for any technical secrets they could reveal but, generally, once studied they were destroyed. Also, post war treaties called for the destruction of specific enemy equipment, such as German U Boats. (The reason we didn't destroy the U 505 was we argued it was captured in battle, not surrendered, and didn't fall under the treaty).

Also, with very few exceptions, the U.S. ships were better designed and more functional than Japanese, German, or Italian ships.

melindamusil
09-09-2014, 11:01 PM
Thanks everyone! These answers make sense. I suppose if you add a twist of bureaucracy... well, yea. It makes sense to get rid of the boats.


I'd have tied 'em all together and become Emperor of Sealandia.

:D
Can I be one of your grand duchesses, or an archduke, or a princess? :D

Deb Kinnard
09-14-2014, 06:43 PM
Rob rocks & rules.

I've also seen cases where ships have been scuttled to block narrow sea passages. At the end of the war, this wouldn't have been the case, though.

Also--were the German ships based on metric measurements at that time, and US based on English? If that were the case, no parts would fit, the shells probably wouldn't load into the breech. I remember a mechanic in the 70s refusing to work on my busted Volkswagen because he didn't own metric wrenches.

jclarkdawe
09-14-2014, 07:53 PM
Rob rocks & rules.

I've also seen cases where ships have been scuttled to block narrow sea passages. At the end of the war, this wouldn't have been the case, though.

Also--were the German ships based on metric measurements at that time, and US based on English? If that were the case, no parts would fit, the shells probably wouldn't load into the breech. I remember a mechanic in the 70s refusing to work on my busted Volkswagen because he didn't own metric wrenches.

Although metric versus inches and the wrenches needed are one part of this issue, it extends to everything including the plumbing. The whole idea for military supply is standardization. You only want to stock the absolute minimum number of different anything as possible. This has led to such things as the NATO cartridge, despite the different measurement systems used by the various countries in NATO.

Classic example is the .44-40 Winchester from the 1800s. Very popular not because it was a great weapon, but because it was used for both handguns and rifles. You could fill your cartridge loop with one size bullet and not have to worry about grabbing the right bullet for your pistol and your rifle.

Foreign ships have been used after capture by their enemies and after World War II some of the ships that the Axis owned were used by the Allies, both for testing but also for actual service. For example, U-573 ended up in the Spanish Navy, U-995 ended up in the Norwegian Navy, U-1058 went to the Soviet Navy. This isn't a complete list, but just to give some samples.

Compatibility is one of the issues, but after World War II, the bigger issue was everybody had too much stuff. It wasn't even worth anything as scrap.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Mark G
09-20-2014, 12:32 AM
Maybe not relevant in WWII, but more recently ships are scuttled for reefs and as destinations for wreck divers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wreck_Alley

robjvargas
09-20-2014, 02:09 AM
Thanks everyone! These answers make sense. I suppose if you add a twist of bureaucracy... well, yea. It makes sense to get rid of the boats.


Can I be one of your grand duchesses, or an archduke, or a princess? :D

How 'bout a "Lady of the Realm"? You get to decorate one ship as you see fit.

Squids
09-30-2014, 04:34 AM
Maybe not relevant in WWII, but more recently ships are scuttled for reefs and as destinations for wreck divers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wreck_Alley

Baddies also like to scuttle them when they see us coming and they don't want us to find what they have (or sometimes when we're already on it, and they don't want us to leave--not cool).