Cover image for Q-ships versus U-boats : America's secret project
Q-ships versus U-boats : America's secret project
Beyer, Kenneth M., 1920-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Annapolis, Md. : Naval Institute Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xx, 236 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D783 .B49 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Draws on personal experience and interviews with participants to critique Franklin Roosevelt's Project I.Q., which created heavily armed warships disguised as merchant ships to counteract U-boat operations during World War I.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The American effort in World War II to use Q-ships (disguised merchant vessels, intended to provoke submarine attacks and then fight back) is a little-known sidebar to the navy's antisubmarine effort. It now has a proper chronicler in Beyer, the supply officer of one of the two elderly freighters converted for the purpose, U.S.S. Asterion. He chronicles the secret recruiting of the crews and equipping of the ships and their eventual deployment at sea, along with parallel aspects of the careers of the German submariners who ended up fighting them. Neither Q-ship sank a German submarine, although Asterion put up some good fights, and her sister ship Atik was lost with all hands, an episode that the author reconstructs in a fashion both dramatic and plausible. This is one of those Naval Institute volumes that is not really vital to anyone except serious students of naval history but is likely to be the only coverage of its subject for them. Libraries with naval buffs aboard, take note. --Roland Green

Choice Review

As an officer and crew member of the USS Asterion, one of the US Navy's two "Q ships" in operation in WW II, Beyer is well qualified to write on this topic. These two ships, the Asterion and USS Atik, were heavily armed naval vessels disguised as helpless merchantmen to lure unsuspecting German U-boats within range of the Q ship's guns and depth charges. This was a desperate, experimental, volunteer duty that failed. A few photos and some well-placed diagrams make for easy reading and a clear narrative. The one major fault in this work is found in chapter 7, where Beyer speculates in far too much detail about the unknown last hours of the Atik. His reconstruction amounts to historical fiction because there were no survivors and very little contact with the Atik as it was attacked by a German U-boat. The book is otherwise an interesting, well-told, and useful work on an obscure naval topic. There are 18 pages of footnotes and a limited bibliography. Upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. B. H. Groene; formerly, Southeastern Louisiana University