Battle of Point Judith
I’d like to compliment author Dave Kindy on his excellent article about U-853 (“Last Shot at Glory”) in the March 2021 issue of Military History. I was especially pleased to see he acknowledged the participation of blimps in the battle that resulted in the destruction of the submarine. The important contributions of Navy blimps to anti-submarine warfare during World War II have been largely minimized or ignored over the years.
It may interest your readers to know there were actually three Goodyear ZNP-K–type blimps involved in the sinking of U-853. In addition to the two blimps from Naval Air Station Lakehurst, N.J., that Kindy mentioned—K-16 and K-58 of Blimp Patrol Squadron 12—Blimp Patrol Squadron 11, based at Naval Air Station South Weymouth, Mass., also sent K-82 to assist in the effort to find and destroy U-853. K-82 was actually the first blimp to arrive in the area, but due to poor visibility it was ordered to stand by until the weather cleared. The weather was better to the south, and so K-16 and K-58, which had approached from that direction, were tasked to use their sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detectors (MAD) to help the Navy and Coast Guard vessels in the attack force localize and track the German submarine.
K-16 and K-58 made separate attack runs on U-853 around 9 a.m. [May 6, 1945], dropping contact-fuzed “rocket bombs” (adapted hedgehog projectiles) on a stationary magnetic contact picked up by K-16’s MAD operator. The blimp attacks brought a variety of debris to the surface, suggesting at least some of the bombs hit the sub. K-82 circled the battle, prepared to attack the submarine if necessary, and the blimp’s crew took numerous photographs.
One more thing—SS Black Point was not headed for Boston, Mass., as stated in the article. The collier was actually bound for the coal-fired Edison electric power generating station in East Weymouth, Mass., a few miles south of Boston.
Marc J. Frattasio
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