German Midget Subs to Blockade Great Lakes’ Ports by William A. Kennedy

Author’s Note: I have always been interested in history and especially in stories that go beyond what we were taught in school. History is even more interesting to me when it involves where I grew up in northern Ohio. The story below is one that I ran across while on a business trip years ago and I’d like to share this excerpt with you…

“…while combing through war records confiscated at the end of War World II, Lawrence Butterfield, British Royal Navy Archivist, discovered that the Kriegsmarine (Nazi Germany’s Navy) planned to deploy midget submarines into the Great Lakes to blockade ports near the end of the war. As audacious as this plan may sound, the Germans planned to attach the midget submarines to the hulls of cargo ships traveling through the St. Lawrence Seaway and once into the Great Lakes the subs would detach and proceed to their designated port assignments. “If this plan had succeeded, it would have had a devastating effect on war morale and the allied supply lines,” according to Rear Admiral (retired), George St. Johns, of the British Royal Navy. This is exactly what the Kriegsmarine had attempted to do throughout the war with its U-boat attacks of Allied supply lines in the Atlantic…”

The article went on to say, “the plan detailed the ports that would be blockaded by the midget submarines throughout the Great Lakes…In Lake Erie, the ports to be blockaded were Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Sandusky, and Lorain.” The Port of Lorain would be blockaded because of its ship building and steel manufacturing capabilities. The plan went as far as naming the midget submarines assigned to each port. The Port of Cleveland would be blockaded with three midget submarines – Delphin (Dolphin), Molch (Newt) and Biber (Beaver). The Port of Toledo would be blockaded by two midget submarines – Hecht (Pike) and Seehund (Seal). While one midget submarine each would be assigned to the Ports of Sandusky and Lorain – Seeteufel (Sea Devil) and Sloof Lirpa (April Fools).


William A. Kennedy is a freelance writer and an experienced business development consultant.  When he isn’t dabbling in writing April Fool’s jokes, William Kennedy is the President and CEO of Kennedy Technical Consulting Services, LLC, which is headquartered in Arlington, VA.  Bill Kennedy is also an aspiring endurance athlete and avid world traveler.


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