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All nations relied on the successful shipment of goods, whether those goods be munitions or simply food and clothing. Such vessels would band together in convoys for mutual protection, often accompanied by escorts. Most freighters were practically defenceless against attacking warships but the presence of an accompanying warship was enough to ward off most would-be attackers of convoys. A great number of the convoy battles of World War 2 took place in the Atlantic Ocean, where wolfpacks of German U-Boats lay in wait beneath the waves.
Upon the US entry into the war, the US Navy opted not to use the convoy system, ignoring British advice. This decision was soon reversed, as this period soon saw a brief resurgence to the success of the German wolfpacks. A lone tanker was easy prey to a U-boat.