The Tenth Fleet

Title:                      The Tenth Fleet

Author:                 Ladislav Farago

Farago, Ladislav (1962). The Tenth Fleet. New York: Ivan Obolensky

LCCN:    62018782

D783 .F3


Date Updated:                     June 10, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

The late Farago wrote this as an example of how brainpower can be harnessed for victory. It is the account of U.S. antisubmarine warfare in the Atlantic in World War II as conducted by the operational command unit called the Tenth Fleet. Established formally in 1943, the unit succeeded in bringing about the fusion of intelligence and operations to conduct ASW; to Farago this fusion was its outstanding feature. Persons familiar at first hand with the Tenth Fleet’s history praised Farago’s story as accurate and one of the most complete accounts that had been published at the time. Despite his failure to identify his sources, Farago obviously made good use of his wartime contacts and knowledge of U.S. naval intelligence to gain access to a wide range of material. In one area of crucial importance Farago is either equivocal or confusing. Written before Ultra became public knowledge, The Tenth Fleet deals with U.S. sources on German submarines and German suspicions that their codes were compromised or betrayed. At one point Farago categorically rejects the idea of allied cryptanalytic success (“I could find no evidence . . . of reading their mail”); at another he seems unsure (“it appeared he was reading encoded messages passing to U-Boats at sea”); elsewhere, “it is quite possible these uncanny deductions were facilitated by a new ability to read transmissions instead of merely intercepting them.” Yet he also tells us that codebreakers gave a British admiral “Doenitz’s decrypted signal ordering the departure of all U-Boats from convoy routes.” Other intelligence sources, such as HF/DF, signal analysis, and radar, are adequately covered. Had Farago written this in the post-Ultra era, he might have produced a work comparable to Beesly’s Very Special Intelligence[2] dealing with the U.S. end of the Atlantic submarine war. Students of deception will be interested to learn that Admiral King forbade any black propaganda and that his philosophy was “I don’t want any deception in the U.S. Navy.”

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[3]

Story of a little-known phase of the Battle of the Atlantic by an author on intelligence who was close to the action. The Tenth Fleet was a centralized antisubmarine command established during World War II to bring together all elements of intelligence and operations to defeat the German U-boats. The book describes in detail the intelligence efforts using radar, underwater sound, and radio direction finding (High Frequency Direction Finding, HF/DF, or HuffDuffs) for detecting and locating U-boats, and signal analysis of their radio transmissions to Germany for specific U-boat identification.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp.183-184

[2] Beesly, Patrick. (1981, 2006). Very Special Intelligence: The Story of The Admiralty’s Operational Intelligence Centre, 1939-1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press

[3] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 124


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One Response to The Tenth Fleet

  1. Pingback: Communications and Electronic Intelligence, Chapter 11 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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