Semper Paratus Americanus

Take a look at this historical tale of note, readers:


Before the Cajun Navy, A Ragtag Group of Civilian Boaters Fought Nazi Germany Off the Louisiana Coast

The incredible, true story of when the Louisiana Gulf Coast was on the frontlines of World War II.


Troy Gilbert

February 17, 2020


Decades before boaters rose up during a dire moment in American history to rescue their neighbors in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana was under attack from a different foe – Nazi Germany. With the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Seaboard threatened by an enemy hidden under the sea, civilian boaters rose to the challenge and helped change the outcome of the early war.

During a hot and still afternoon on July 30th 1942, the German submarine U-166 raised its periscope off the Louisiana coast about 45 miles due southeast of Port Eads at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Three nights earlier, U-166, under the command of 28-year old U-boat commander Hans-Günther Kuhlmann, had completed its primary mission laying mines at the entrance to South Pass in what’s known as the crow’s foot in the river delta.

Inbound for New Orleans from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, the passenger freighter Robert E. Lee was steaming hard for the safety of the river. Overcrowded with European refugees, American construction workers, and ragged survivors from U-boat attacks on shipping in the Caribbean, the steamship was about to share the fate of 55 other ships sunk by Nazi U-boats in the Gulf of Mexico in 1942.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Nazi Germany set its sights on the coastal shipping lanes along the East Coast of the United States and unleashed the U-boats of the Kriegsmarine. Operation Drumbeat streamed an initial five U-boats towards the Atlantic coastline in January of 1942 and by June, another 30 submarines had conducted war patrols from Florida to Maine and 226 merchant ships lay on the bottom in American coastal waters.

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