'Splinter Fleet' cover

Splinter Fleet

The Wooden Subchasers of World War II

by Theodore R. Treadwell

Publication date: November 2000; Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD.

296 pages, 41 photos, 2 illustrations, Appendixes. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Hard cover.

ISBN: 1-55750-817-8
List price: $34.95

“A compelling story of the unsung, gallant fleet of tiny wooden ships that fought for America in World War II ... I always marveled at the stamina and courage of SC sailors like Ted Treadwell”
—Gabe Pressman, host of NBC’s News Forum & former communications officer of PC 470

Hastily built at the onset of World War II to stop German U-boats from taking their toll on Allied shipping, the 110-foot wooden subchasers were the smallest commissioned warships in the U.S.Navy yet they saw as much action as ships ten times their size. In every theater of the war these workhorses of the fleet escorted countless convoys of slow-moving ships through submarine-infested waters, conducted endless mind-numbing antisubmarine patrols, and were used in hundreds of amphibious operations.

This book, written by the commander of one of the subchasers, defines their place in World War II naval history and gives readers a taste of life aboard the wooden warships. Ringing with authenticity, it describes the cramped quarters and unforgiving seas, as well as the tenacious courage and close bonds formed by the men as they sought out the enemy and confronted nature. Long overshadowed by the larger, faster warships and more glamorous PT boats, subchasers, until now, have been mostly forgotten. This work restores the plucky little ships to their hard earned status as significant members of the fleet. Many of the photos included here were taken by the author during the war.

“Theodore Treadwell’s Splinter Fleet provides a detailed and well-written account of the development and operations of the wood-hull SC boats of World War II. These were truly ‘wooden ships and iron men,’ and Treadwell does credit to both the ships and the men.”
—Norman Polmar, author of The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, 17th Ed.
“This book is so well written I found it difficult to put down. Treadwell has captured the esprit de corps of the group as I knew it and has vividly described the rugged experience of life aboard a 110-foot wooden subchaser. In doing so, he has insured that the memory of these gallant little ships and their hardy crews will live forever.”
—Rear Admiral Thomas E. Bass III, USN (Ret.) former commanding officer of SC 676
THEODORE R. TREADWELL, a graduate of Rutgers University, was in his second year at Harvard Business School when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and he accepted a commission in the U.S. Navy. Less than a year later he was on a subchaser in the South Pacific where he spent the next two years, including nine months as commanding officer of SC-648. At war’s end he left the navy, enjoyed a successful career in the packaging industry, and raised five children. Upon retirement he began to think about his life on the subchaser and started research for this book, a process that took more than five years. Treadwell resides in Bellingham, Washington.
“This well-researched, deserved tribute to an almost forgotten operation makes for an excellent read.”
—Bill Robinson, former editor of Yachting magazine & former commanding officer of SC 743
“The men who sailed (subchasers) have wonderful tales to tell and Mr. Treadwell conveys them vividly.”
Wall Street Journal
“True war stories which reflect strong pride in the brotherhood forged aboard the SCs.”
Associated Press

Customer Reviews on amazon.com

5 stars “…tells us about World War II through the eyes of a writer who lived it.” —Dr. G. Lentini

5 stars “does a delightful job of unraveling a series of historic, and almost forgotten, stories” —Matt H.

5 stars “If you want a feel for the pitch, roll, and yaw, the water breaking over the bridge, the fear and the exhilaration of the subchasers, read Splinter Fleet.” —Bill Thomson

Available at:

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