In a desperate attempt to counteract the deadly onslaught of U-boats in the Atlantic, President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated a secret project in 1942 that called for the use of decoys disguised as merchant ships. These heavily armed warships were referred to as Q-ships, and very little information about them has been recorded over the past fifty years. Now a U.S. naval officer who served in one of the mystery ships, a decoy configured freighter named the USS Asterion, lifts the shroud of secrecy that has surrounded the mission for so long. His book examines for the first time the origins and operations of Project LQ, as the secret plan was known.
Described as the most self-destructive operation undertaken by the U.S. Navy in World War II, the project had very limited success. The only surviving officer of a Q-ship to chronicle details of the project, Kenneth Beyer draws on his personal experiences as well as information uncovered during years of research in U.S., British, and German records and interviews with participants on both sides. When readers come to his vivid account of the Asterion's first war patrol and its dramatic meeting with U-123 off the Florida coast, they will quickly understand why Samuel Eliot Morison referred to service in these mystery ships as more hazardous than in any other branch of the Navy. And the author's frank analysis of the U.S. Navy's lack of knowledge and skill in anti-submarine tactics early in the war helps explain the U-boats' initial success against merchantmen along America's Atlantic coast.
In addition to his own ship's operations, Beyer has reconstructed events aboard the other decoy freighter, USS Atik, which sank with all hands during the bitter engagement with U-123. The author's analysis of U-boat logs has led him to suspect the involvement of a second German submarine, U-105, in the ultimate destruction of the decoy ship. Though all the facts are not known, this plausible account of the loss pays tribute for the first time to the valor of those who sacrificed all. The book also takes the reader aboard the U-boats as they hunt and attack their prey, paying particular attention to the legendary U-123 and the incredible skill and luck of its commander, Reinhard Hardegen. Several never before-published charts of U-boat maneuvers are provided along with an evaluation of specific U-boat attacks.