The Missiles of October

The Missiles of October

By: Garland Davis

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During a thirteen-day period fifty-eight years ago, the U.S. and the Soviet Union came within hours of going to war. The pilot of an American U-2 spy plane making a high-altitude pass over Cuba on October 14, 1962, photographed a Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballistic missile being assembled for installation.

The critical photographs snapped by U-2 reconnaissance planes over Cuba were shipped for analysis to a top-secret CIA facility in a most unlikely location: a building above the Steuart Ford car dealership in a rundown section of Washington, D.C. While used car salesmen were wheeling and dealing downstairs on October 15, 1962, upstairs CIA analysts in the state-of-the-art National Photographic Interpretation Center were working around the clock to scour hundreds of grainy photographs for evidence of a Soviet ballistic missile site under construction.

Two days after the U-2 flight, on the morning of October 16, 1962, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy informed President John F. Kennedy that U.S. surveillance aircraft had discovered the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles from American soil. It was the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Just before noon, Kennedy convened the first meeting of fourteen administration officials and advisers. The group became as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council.

Time was of the essence. Executive Committee members received estimates that the Soviet missiles could be at full operation within fourteen days. Individual missiles could probably be readied within eighteen hours under a crash program. Most of the missiles were determined to be SS-4’s with a range of approximately 1,100 nautical miles. This placed major American cities, including Dallas and Washington, DC, within strike range. Later photos showed that SS-5’s with a range of 2,200 nautical miles were also included in the arms shipments from the USSR.

For seven days, the Executive Committee debated the merits of three approaches to the developing crisis, while keeping a tight public lid on the Cuban discovery. The first was a surgical air strike targeting as many of the missiles as possible. The second was an air strike followed by a U.S. military invasion of the island. The third was a blockade of Soviet ships thought to be carrying materials in support of the offensive missile systems.

The president opted for the blockade, calling it a termed quarantine so as to avoid warlike connotations. This was to allow diplomatic approaches to work whereas direct military action wouldn’t.

On October 22, in anticipation of a military reaction to the quarantine, the Joint Chiefs of Staff placed military forces worldwide on a DEFCON 3 alert. At five that afternoon Kennedy met with the bipartisan leaders of Congress. At six, the Secretary of state met with the Soviet ambassador and presented him with an advance copy of the President’s upcoming address to the American Public.

In a TV address at seven PM on October 22, 1962, President John Kennedy (1917-63) notified Americans about the presence of the missiles, explained his decision to enact a naval quarantine around Cuba and made it clear the U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary to neutralize this perceived threat to national security.

By the evening of October 23, Kennedy and the Executive Committee had new worries. Earlier in the day, the Central Intelligence Agency began tracking several Soviet submarines unexpectedly moving toward Cuba. The submarines complicated the Navy’s task of conducting the quarantine, as it now had to track the submarines to ensure the safety of the naval units conducting the quarantine. Also, they were tracking nineteen Soviet cargo ships identified as on course for Cuba.

The quarantine, with the unanimous backing of the Organization of American States, went into effect at 10 AM on October 24.

Early intelligence on that day indicated that sixteen of the nineteen Soviet cargo ships bound for Cuba had reversed course. The remaining three were nearing the quarantine line, including the ships Gagarin and Komiles. Naval intelligence reported that a Soviet submarine had taken a position between the two ships. The president though wanting to avoid conflict authorized the USS Essex to take whatever defensive measures against the submarine. This was probably the most dangerous moment of the Cold War, as both nations were within mere moments of turning the war hot.

Khrushchev blinked! Just before armed hostilities, both Soviet ships stopped dead in the water and eventually reversed course.

During the next four days, the diplomats crafted an agreement that would remove Soviet missiles from Cuba in exchange for the United States removal of Jupiter missiles from Turkey and a pledge to not invade Cuba. The situation deteriorated somewhat when a U2 was shot down over Cuba. Sensing that he was losing control of the crisis, Kennedy decided not to retaliate against the anti-aircraft site, much to the consternation of military leaders.

On the morning of October 28, Radio Moscow broadcast a speech by Khrushchev wherein he stated that all Soviet missiles in Cuba would be dismantled and crated. The Cuban Missile crisis was over.

I arrived in North Carolina on October 14 on thirty days leave between NAS Lemoore California and USS Vesuvius. I think I spent a good part of that leave listening to the news waiting for a recall. There was a fear of nuclear war and the idea that it might happen. There was also the thought that I was going to miss the action while on leave. If the Navy had told me to report to Norfolk or Charleston, I would have been on the road immediately.

It was a good time to wear the uniform. The girls were more than willing to comfort a sailor who might have to go to war soon. Of course, I tried to refrain from taking any unfair advantage of the girls, but I just couldn’t bring myself to deny them the opportunity to serve their country in some small way during this time of peril.

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Electrical Technology and Me

Electrical Technology and Me

By Garland Davis

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I was reading an article in an online publication yesterday that contends our dogs use facial expressions to communicate with us. After observing my dogs over the past few weeks, especially since my mishaps with electrical devices and the citronella collars, (You can find that story Here) I believe the authors are onto something. When I walk into a room where a dog is, I get that glance out of the side of its eyes that asks the question, “What is this crazy son-of-a-bitch going to do now?”

I’ll tell you the story. My wife went to her friend’s house for lunch. She came back telling me about the light switches the friend’s husband had installed. Instead of the normal up-down on-off switches, he had installed a rocker type switch. My wife asked me to call the electrician and get him to replace all our switches.

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I told her that I could do it myself, nothing to it. She got that “Oh Shit” look on her face and said, “Okay, if you think so.”

I counted the switches in the house noting that some are two-way. (See I am not a total electrical idiot) and went off to Lowes for the parts. After returning home and getting ready to do the work, I went back to Lowes for faceplates for the new switches. I decided to start in the living room. I secured the breaker and used my voltage thingy to see if the circuit was energized. (Electricians say “Hot.” I now understand why.)

I changed the first two switches with no problem and reenergized the system to test them. Worked great! De-energized the system again. I was thinking, “This electrical shit ain’t that hard.” The third switch was one that was added when we had the electrician install a ceiling fan. Now, I don’t know where he connected for the power, but it wasn’t the same circuit I had secured.

I pulled the switch out and started to unscrew the hot wire when…I landed flat on my ass half way across the room. That splattered the turd I dropped while I was in the air all over my bottom. I lay there trying to piss boiling water while having an orgasm. My wife was laughing her ass off while the dogs were lying on the couch, probably laughing too. One looked at the other with an expression that said, “See, I told you.”

It is now two days later. The electrician just finished installing all the switches and I have finally stopped jumping when someone turns a light on or off. The twitch in my eye is a Godsend and a problem. I don’t have to watch Ducktales any longer. Every time my eye twitches the TV channel changes. Now every time I become interested in a program, my eye twitches and the fucking channel changes. Right now, the TV is stuck on the Housewives of New Jersey and I can’t get the eyes to twitch. I’m still afraid to touch that remote.

I have a 2003 Ford Escape that I was intending to trade or sell. Now I am stuck with it. I farted in the vehicle the other day and it reset the electronic odometer to zero. Now if I try to sell it they will bust me for fraudulently resetting the odometer. My wife won’t let me anywhere near her car. When I walk my dog down the street, the lights on all the Toyotas come on and the emergency blinkers on all the Nissans start.

I can crack my knuckles and set off my neighbor’s car alarm. Let’s see how much sleep that asshole gets tonight. Might as well. I can’t get any sleep. The lights turn on and stay on in whatever room I am in. Convenient except when you want to sleep.

I am having trouble writing this on the computer. Every time I type a word that begins with the letters P-O-R, the damn thing takes me to a site called pornhub.com and I get distracted. While I was distracted earlier this morning, I think I saw Victoria’s Secret.

I’ll write more about my adventures with electricity later.

Right now…Por…

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A Sailors Traits

A Sailors Traits

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• A sailor will lie and cheat to get off the ship early and will have no idea where he wants to go.

• Sailors are territorial. They have their assigned spaces to clean and maintain. Woe betide the shipmate who tracks through a freshly swabbed deck.

• Sailors constantly complain about the food on the mess-decks while concurrently going back for second or third helpings.

• You can spend four years on a ship and never visit every nook and cranny or even every major space aboard. Yet, you can know all your shipmates.

• Starbucks Frappuccino and a sausage egg burrito taken in the morning is an excellent hangover remedy.

• E5 is the almost perfect military pay grade. Too senior to catch the crap details, too junior to be blamed if things go awry.

• Almost every port has a “gut.” An area teeming with cheap bars, easy women and partiers. Kind of like Bourbon St., but with foreign currency.

• Contrary to popular belief, Chief Petty Officers do not walk on water. They walk just above it.

• Sad but true, when visiting even the most exotic ports of call, some sailors only see the inside of the nearest pub.

• Also under the category of sad but true, that lithe, sultry Persian beauty you spent those wonderful three days with and have dreamed about ever since, is almost certainly a grandmother now and buying her clothes from Omar the Tent maker.

• A sailor can, and will, sleep anywhere, anytime.

• Yes, it’s true, it does flow downhill.

• In the traditional “crackerjack” uniform you were recognized as a member of United States Navy, no matter what port you were in. Damn all who want to eliminate or change that uniform.

• The Marine dress blue uniform is, by far, the sharpest of all the armed forces.

• Most sailors won’t disrespect a shipmate’s mother. On the other hand, it’s not entirely wise to tell them you have a good looking sister.

• Sailors and Marines will generally fight one another, and fight together against all comers.

• If you can at all help it, never tell anyone that you are seasick.

• Check the rear pockets of a sailor. Right pocket a wallet. Left pocket a book.

• The guys who seemed to get away with doing the least, always seemed to be first in the chow-line and liberty line.

• General Quarters drills and the need to evacuate one’s bowels often seem to coincide.

• Speaking of which, when the need arises, the nearest head is always the one which is secured for cleaning.

• Three people you never screw with: the doc, the cook and the ship’s barber.

• Do snipes ever get the grease and oil off their hands?

• Never play a drinking game which involves the loser paying for all the drinks.

• There is only one good ship the one you’re going to.

• Whites, coming from the cleaners, clean, pressed and starched, last that way about 30 microseconds after donning them. The Navy dress white uniform is a natural dirt magnet.

• Sweat pumps operate in direct proportion to the seniority of the official visiting.

• “Pride and professionalism” trumps “Fun and zest” any day.

• The shrill call of a bosun’s pipe still puts a chill down my spine.

• Three biggest lies in the Navy: We’re happy to be here; this is not an inspection; we’re here to help.

• Everything goes in the log.

• Rule 1: The Captain is always right. Rule 2: When in doubt refer to Rule 1.

• A wet napkin under your tray keeps the tray from sliding on the mess deck table in rough seas, keeping at least one hand free to hold on to your beverage.

• A guy who doesn’t share a care package from home is no shipmate.

• When transiting the ocean, the ship’s clocks are always advanced at 0200 which makes for a short night. When going in the opposite direction, the clocks are retarded at 1400 which extends the work day.

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Ghosts at the River

Ghosts at the River

By: Garland Davis

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It happened on a clear night shortly before Halloween when I was a little boy. I think I was ten or eleven years old. I remember it well. It was the night the ghosts talked Grand Pap into whipping Uncle Buddy and me.

Seven or eight of my cousins, my brothers and I wanted to camp out overnight down by the river. Our parents said okay as long as Buddy stayed with us. Joe Davis Jr. (AKA Buddy) was four years old when I was born. He was more like an older cousin or brother that an uncle. Since buddy and I were the oldest kids, our folks gave us the responsibility of overseeing the activities along the river.

Our parents provided three or four packs of weenies, buns’ and mustard. We also had a box of graham crackers, marshmallows and a couple of Hershey bars each. We were set for a big night on the river.

It was between a quarter and half a mile to the area we had selected for a campground. Buddy had a large square of canvas that he and I pulled over a rope stretched between two trees and pegged the corners down, creating a tent-like structure to sleep in. We each had a quilt to wrap up in.

We set up the camp, gathered stones for a fire ring, pulled up logs to sit on, laid in enough dry wood to keep the fire going all night and settled in for a memorable night. The fire was started, after a couple of arguments about the best way to do it. My cousin Tony, a Boy Scout, tried to start it by rubbing sticks together and got mad when someone else struck a match and set his sticks on fire. This almost started a fight until Uncle Buddy threatened them with bodily harm.

Once the fire was going and the sun was sinking low, we settled in for supper. Weenies were roasted, hot dogs were consumed and marshmallow and chocolate sandwiches were eaten as the mosquitos began snacking on us. Green leaves and water plants were thrown onto the fire to create smoke. I don’t know whether it bothered the mosquitos more than it did us. It did seem to help a bit with the skeeters.

At sunset, as the dusk settled, my little brother and my cousins began to hear things moving in the woods. There was talk of alligators, ghosts, haints and painters (country for haunts and panthers). Buddy and I added to their unrest by periodically exclaiming, “Did you hear that! What’s that noise?”

Buddy says, “I’ll bet it is the haint of Jim Westmoreland and his four boys that drownded in the river back a few years ago. I’ve heered it said that if’n you call out their names, they will come and set with you.”

We were all quiet. One cousin, began crying, saying, “Don’t call them. I’m scared. I don’t want to set with no haints,” as the wind shook the leaves in the trees. By this time, I think staying close to the fire and the dark was the only thing that kept them from running for home.

We all gathered closer to the fire, one cousin adding more wood. I said, “Don’t use up all the wood, it’ll get dark and they will come for sure.”

Buddy laughing, calls out in a loud voice, “Jim, Jim Westmoreland, Bob Westmoreland!”

I joined in calling, “Franklin, Junior, come sit with us.”

My youngest brother begins crying, screaming “I want to go home.”

Buddy and I are laughing. The others are caught between laughing or running. More wood was thrown on the fire. By this time, we had a veritable bonfire going.

“Ooooo, Jim, Bob, William, Franklin, and Junior Westmoreland come set with us. Oooo.” Buddy says laughing. The younger kids were crying and begging to go home.

I threw a stone into the river and yelled, “They’re coming, I hear them in the river!”

My youngest brother wet his pants. The other brother and he broke for the path toward home, both screaming bloody murder. The others took off behind them leaving Buddy and me. Laughing, we put the fire out and followed the path back up to Pap’s house.

Pap was on his way to tend the mash barrels at his still as my brothers and a stream of cousins came screaming into the yard and house. Half of them had wet or messed their britches. They all had tears and snot running down their faces. Their mothers ran to comfort them while their dads were laughing saying, “They held out longer than I thought.”

It seems that a great flood of the river in the early nineteen hundreds had relocated the river from a point near Pap’s place to its present location. The Westmoreland’s had drowned just down from Pap’s still. He had been covering the mash barrels when Jim and his four boys appeared out of nowhere and told him. “Joe Davis, stop them boys from calling us. I thanks they need a good hidin’””

When Uncle Buddy and I got back to the house, Pap took his razor strop down and whipped our butts for disturbing the ghosts.

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Another Day in Boot Camp – Not quite

Another Day in Boot Camp – Not quite.

By LCDR Mark Parcell

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Dawn had arrived on 20 October, 1976, as I started my fourth week of United States Navy Boot Camp at the Recruit Training Center (RTC), San Diego. This base was directly at the very end of Runway 27 at San Diego’s International airport, Lindbergh Field. I was barely 18 years of age and life was starting!

It was a Wednesday, as I recall, not that this means anything to those in Recruit Training. For thirteen weeks, the day of the week meant literally nothing. We were rousted out of bed in the usual fashion, which was neither harsh nor pleasant. We had about ten minutes to get fully dressed and formed up for the march to the chow hall for the first meal of the day.

Every once in a while you meet or cross paths with someone who is larger than life itself, who can definitely have a very large impact on you, personally. Enter our Boot Camp Company Commander, or CC for short. This guy could, and usually did, make your life most uncomfortable when he wanted or needed to. He was everything and your sole reason for existence for every single day of those thirteen weeks. Enter one Petty Officer First Class Williams. He was a rather short, raspy black man, but those who thought his diminutive size was a sign of weakness were quickly schooled to the contrary. He quickly got our attention….and respect…. on day one. Nothing moved unless it had his specific knowledge and permission. Yet, another interesting aspect is that he had this gravelly voice, as if he had a throat full of rocks when he spoke to you. I have yet to hear anything like it since….. and I retired from a 22-year Navy career some 20 years ago this month….so it has been awhile.

The day unfolded like any other day with drill practice out on the grinder after breakfast. I actually enjoyed our marching and drill immensely. The intricate maneuvers we performed were actually a thing to behold and the sound of 80 boot heels striking the pavement at a single instant is unique and indicative of a well trained marching unit! I can still hear that distinct, gravelly voice barking out commands to this very day……”Your left oblique, MARCH”! The whole purpose of boot camp and drill was to unmold you as an individual and remold you as part of a team. It works quite well! Following drill, we had several classes to attend all over the base and had to march, as a group, to each of those areas.

At long last, the day was winding down and Petty Officer Williams marched us to the chow hall for our final meal of the day. When he had his company securely in line at the chow hall, with all of the other companies (80 young men per), he and the other CC’s would depart and have their dinner with the other CC’s in a different building. They NEVER ate with us or occupied our chow hall……ever. I stood in line for several minutes and finally made it to the Mess line. Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy was on the menu today and, believe it or not, Navy food was actually quite good. I loaded up my tray with the standard portions along with some milk and wound my way through the tables in search of an open seat. I clanked the metal tray onto the table and…………”PARCELL”! My blood literally ran cold. There was no mistaking that voice. Why was my CC in our chow hall and why was he hollering at me from clear across the mess deck?!? I stood, petrified, until he arrived at my side. He asked “Have you eaten?”, which I immediately found to be rather absurd considering that my steaming tray of food was sitting right there on the table, untouched. I replied no, I hadn’t started yet. He quickly motioned for me to sit and eat. Well what the hell was this all about? I sat and took exactly one bite and told him I was done. As I stood he motioned for me to follow so I fell in step beside him as we walked out to a now setting sun. What could this be all about? At last I found my voice and, though a bit shaken, asked in a very quiet voice, “Sir…..am I in trouble, have I done something wrong”? He then put his arm around my shoulder and quietly said “Son, we need to let the Chaplain talk to you”. My knees just about gave out….I knew this could NOT be good. I would rather have been found guilty of some major infraction. We walked across the Grinder and, with each passing step, the fear of what was about to befall me weighed heavier on my shoulders. After what seemed an eternity, we had arrived at the Chaplain’s Office. In writing this out it seems almost dream-like after the passage of 41 years yet, I remember the sound of each of those steps as though this happened five minutes ago. It was to be the longest walk of my life.

I was ushered into a room where three senior men were standing, awaiting my arrival. The Chaplain motioned me to one of four chairs facing the other three. I sat without problem as my knees had turned to water. The Chaplain and two others sat, then leaned into me and asked, “Son, did you know that your Father was a very sick man?” I stated that I had not lived with him for seven years but that I had spent the summer with him and, no, I knew nothing of the sort. He went on to inform me that at about three o’clock that morning, he had driven himself to the hospital and had died on the table after a series of heart attacks. The rest of that meeting is largely unknown to me. I started shaking uncontrollably and had to be comforted. At last I had collected enough of my senses to walk back to the barracks with my CC who then had me call home. Later that evening he allowed a late night vigil of sorts and the gang passed the hat to collect monies for me to be able to travel. It was an act of kindness and a day which will never escape my memory.

And that’s the way it was, 20 October, 1976. But……….…we are not yet done!

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Turn the clock forward more than a decade and it is now April, 1990. In the years that followed, there had been many changes in my Navy life. Most notably, I had put myself through college and Naval Flight Training. I was now a Commissioned Officer and Naval Aviator piloting SH-60B SeaHawk helicopters from the decks of Guided Missile Fast Frigates and Destroyers. I was exactly where I wanted to be! But I sure was a lot busier and a lot less care-free than I had been as an enlisted man. There were so many qualifications to keep current along with the leading / managing of many young Sailors. But, I was having the time of my life nearly 14 years into my career.

One day at the squadron that spring I was on the first deck and needed something topside from one of the spaces on the second deck. As usual, I was dressed in the khaki uniform of a Navy Lieutenant with the brown shoes / gold wings of an aviator and went bustling up the ladder two or three stair-steps at a stride. I opened the door into the building and hustled the short distance to the main passageway where I blasted around the corner, still very much in a hurry and……………”PARCELL”!!

The passage of fourteen years of service crystallized and dissolved in a scant microsecond. I damned near tripped and fell as I screeched to an abrupt stop. I froze, my back to the owner of that voice who had just belted out my name. Now, fully upright, there was absolutely no mistaking the gravel in that voice. It just could… not…. be.

I slowly turned on my heel and, down the passageway in our sister squadron stood a short, raspy black man, now clad in a similar khaki uniform with the salt and pepper hair to go along with his years of service. Master Chief Petty Officer Williams stood before me as the senior enlisted man for HSL-49. Every Command has one Master Chief Petty Officer of the Command who acts as the Executive Officer’s right hand man in direct liaison with all of the enlisted men and women in the command. I slowly walked up to him in pure disbelief. He beamed, shook my hand and just looked at me! Finally, he spoke and said, “Look at you….you have done very well, Son”! It took every last ounce of self-control I could muster to hold it together…….I didn’t have enough! The last time he had seen me I was a fresh-faced 18-year old kid, who knew nothing from nothing, on my way off the base at RTC to a very uncertain future.

And that’s the way it was in the spring of 1990!

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U.S. Navy IV

October 13, 2017, marks the Two Hundred Forty-Second birthday of the United States Navy. I have compiled a history of the Navy from its inception through the present. The entire document comprises over eleven thousand words and twenty pages. This installment is the final of four culminating in the final posting today, the anniversary of the founding of the United States Navy.

U.S. Navy IV

Compiled and Authored by Garland Davis

 

World War II (1941–1945

Command structure

After the disaster at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt turned to the most aggressive sailor available, Admiral Ernest J. King (1878-1956). Experienced in big guns, aviation and submarines, King had a broad knowledge and a total dedication to victory. He was perhaps the most dominating admiral in American naval history; he was hated but obeyed, for he made all the decisions from his command post in the Washington, and avoided telling anyone. The civilian Secretary of the Navy was a cipher whom King kept in the dark; that only changed when the Secretary died in 1944 and Roosevelt brought in his tough-minded aide James Forrestal Despite the decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Admiral William D. Leahy to concentrate first against Germany, King made the defeat of Japan his highest priority. For example, King insisted on fighting for Guadalcanal despite strong Army objections. His main strike force was built around carriers based at Pearl Harbor under the command of Chester Nimitz Nimitz had one main battle fleet, with the same ships and sailors but two command systems that rotated every few months between Admiral “Bull” Halsey and Admiral Raymond A. Spruance The Navy had a major advantage: it had broken the Japanese code. It deduced that Hawaii was the target in June 1942 and that Yamamoto’s fleet would strike at Midway Island. King only had four carriers in operation; he sent them all to Midway wherein a miraculous few minutes they sank the Japanese carriers. This gave the Americans the advantage in firepower that grew rapidly as new American warships came on line much faster than Japan could build them. King paid special attention to submarine use against the overextended Japanese logistics system. They were built for long-range missions in tropical waters and set out to sink the freighters, troop transports and oil tankers that held the Japanese domains together. The Southwest Pacific theater, based in Australia, was under the control of Army General Douglas MacArthur; King assigned him a fleet of his own without any big carriers.

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Carrier warfare

On 7 December 1941, Japan’s carriers launched the Attack on Pearl Harbor, sinking or disabling the entire battleship fleet. The stupendous defeat forced Admiral King to develop a new strategy based on carriers. Although the sunken battleships were raised, and many new ones were built, battleships played a secondary role in the war, limited chiefly to the bombardment of islands scheduled for amphibious landings. The “Big Gun” club that had dominated the Navy since the Civil War lost its clout.

The U.S. was helpless in the next six months as the Japanese swept through the Western Pacific and into the Indian Ocean, rolling up the Philippines as well as the main British base at Singapore. After reeling from these defeats, the Navy stabilized its lines in summer 1942.

At the start of the war, the United States and Japan were well matched in aircraft carriers, in terms of numbers and quality. Both sides had nine, but the Mitsubishi A6M Zero carrier fighter plane was superior in terms of range and maneuverability to its American counterpart, the F4F Wildcat. By reverse engineering a captured Zero, the American engineers identified its weaknesses, such as inadequate protection for the pilot and the fuel tanks, and built the Hellcat as a superior weapon system. In late 1943 the Grumman F6F Hellcats entered combat. Powered by the same 2000 horsepower Pratt and Whitney 18 cylinder radial engine as used by the F4U Corsair already in service with the Marine Corps and the UK’s allied Fleet Air Arm, the

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F6Fs were faster (at 400 mph) than the Zeros, quicker to climb (at 3,000 feet per minute), more nimble at high altitudes, better at diving, had more armor, more firepower (6 machine guns fired 120 bullets per second) than the Zero’s two machine guns and pair of 20 mm autocannon, carried more ammunition, and used a gunsight designed for deflection shooting at an angle. Although the Hellcat was heavier and had a shorter range than the Zero, on the whole, it proved a far superior weapon.[134] Japan’s carrier and pilot losses at Midway crippled its offensive capability, but America’s overwhelming offensive capability came from shipyards that increasingly out produced Japan’s, from the refineries that produced high-octane gasoline, and from the training fields that produced better-trained pilots. In 1942 Japan commissioned 6 new carriers but lost 6; in 1943 it commissioned 3 and lost 1. The turning point came in 1944 when it added 8 and lost 13. At war’s end, Japan had 5 carriers tied up in port; all had been damaged, all lacked fuel and all lacked warplanes. Meanwhile, the US launched 13 small carriers in 1942 and one large one; and in 1943 added 15 large and 50 escort carriers, and more came in 1944 and 1945. The new American carriers were much better designed, with far more antiaircraft guns, and powerful radar.

Both sides were overextended in the exhaustive sea, air and land battles for Guadalcanal. The Japanese were better at night combat (because they American destroyers had only trained for attacks on battleships). However, the Japanese could not feed its soldiers so the Americans eventually won because of superior logistics. The Navy built up its forces in 1942-43 and developed a strategy of “, that is to skip over most of the heavily defended Japanese islands and instead go further on and select islands to seize for forward air bases.

In the Atlantic, the Allies waged a long battle with German submarines which was termed the Battle of the Atlantic. Navy aircraft flew from bases in Greenland and Iceland to hunt submarines, and hundreds of escort carriers and destroyer escorts were built which were specifically designed to protect merchant convoys. In the Pacific, in an ironic twist, the U.S. submarines fought against Japanese shipping in a mirror image of the Atlantic, with U.S. submarines hunting Japanese merchant ships. At the end of the war, the U.S. had 260 submarines in commission. It had lost 52 submarines during the war, 36 in actions in the Pacific. Submarines effectively destroyed the Japanese merchant fleet by January 1945 and choked off Japan’s oil supply.

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In the summer of 1943, the U.S. began the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign to retake the Gilbert and the Marshall Islands. After this success, the Americans went on to the Mariana and Palau Islands in summer 1944. Following their defeat at the Battle of Saipan, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Combined Fleet, with 5 aircraft carriers, sortied to attack the Navy’s Fifth Fleet during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, which became the largest aircraft carrier battle in history. The battle was so one-sided that it became known as the “Marianas turkey shoot”; the U.S. lost 130 aircraft and no ships while the Japanese lost 411 planes and 3 carriers. Following victory in the Marianas, the U.S. began the re-conquest of the Philippines at Leyte in October 1944. The Japanese fleet sortied to attack the invasion fleet, resulting in the four-day Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history. The first kamikaze missions were flown during the battle, sinking USS St Lo. and damaging several other U.S. ships; these attacks were the most effective anti-ship weapon of the war.

The Battle of Okinawa became the last major battle between U.S. and Japanese ground units. Okinawa was to become a staging area for the eventual invasion of Japan since it was just 350 miles (560 km) south of the Japanese main islands. Marines and soldiers landed unopposed on 1 April 1945, to begin an 82-day campaign which became the largest land-sea-air battle in history and was noted for the ferocity of the fighting and the high civilian casualties with over 150,000 Okinawans losing their lives. Japanese kamikaze pilots inflicted the largest loss of ships in U.S. naval history with the sinking of 36 and the damaging of another 243. Total U.S. casualties were over 12,500 dead and 38,000 wounded, while the Japanese lost over 110,000 men, making Okinawa one of the bloodiest battles in history.

The fierce fighting on Okinawa is said to have played a part in President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb and to forsake an invasion of Japan. When the Japanese surrendered, a flotilla of 374 ships entered Tokyo Bay to witness the ceremony conducted on the battleship USS Missouri. By the end of the war, the US Navy had over 1200 warships.

 

Cold War (1945–1991)

The immediate postwar fate of the Navy was the scrapping and mothballing of ships on a large scale; by 1948 only 267 ships were active in the Navy.

Another important postwar development for the Navy was that in 1948 the gave women permanent status in the Regular and Reserve forces of the Navy.

The Navy gradually developed a reputation for having the most highly developed technology of all the U.S. services. The 1950s saw the development of nuclear power for ships, under the leadership of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. The USS Enterprise was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and was followed by the Nimitz-class supercarriers. Ballistic missile submarines grew ever more deadly and quiet, culminating in the Ohio-class submarines.

Tension with the Soviet Union came to a head in the Korean War, and it became clear that the peacetime Navy would have to be much larger than ever imagined. Fleets were assigned to geographic areas around the world, and ships were sent to hot spots as a standard part of the response to the periodic crises. However, because the North Korean navy was not large, the Korean War featured few naval battles; the combatant navies served mostly as naval artillery for their in-country armies. A large amphibious landing at Inchon succeeded in driving the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel. The Batt;e of Chosin Reservoir ended with the evacuation of almost 105,000 UN troops from the port of Hungnam.

The U.S. Navy’s 1956 shipbuilding program was significant because it included authorization for the construction of eight submarines, the largest such order since World War II. This FY-56 program included five nuclear-powered submarines – Triton, the guided missile submarine Halibut, the lead ship of the Skipjack class, and the final two Skate class attack submarines, Sargo and Seadragon. It also included the three diesel-electric Barbel class, the last diesel-electric submarines to be built by the U.S. Navy.

An unlikely combination of Navy ships fought in the Vietnam War; aircraft carriers offshore launched thousands of air strikes, while small gunboats of the “Brown water Navy” patrolled the rivers. Despite the naval activity, new construction was curtailed by Presidents Johnson and Nixon to save money. Many of the carriers on Yankee Station and the destroyers and cruisers providing gunfire support to Marine and Army forces ashore dated from World War II. By 1978 the fleet had dwindled to 217 surface ships and 119 submarines.

Meanwhile, the Soviet fleet had been growing and outnumbered the U.S. fleet in every type except carriers, and the Navy calculated they probably would be defeated by the Soviet Navy in a major conflict. This concern prompted the Reagan administration to set a goal for a six-hundred-ship Navy, and by 1988 the fleet was at five hundred eighty-eight, although it declined again in subsequent years. The Iowa-class battleships Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, and Wisconsin were reactivated after 40 years in storage, modernized, and made showy appearances off the shores of Lebanon and elsewhere. In 1987 and 1988, the United States Navy conducted various combat operations in the Persian Gulf against Iran, most notably Operation Praying Mantis, the largest surface-air naval battle since World War II.

 

Post–Cold War (1991–present)

When a crisis confronts the nation, the first question often asked by policymakers is: ‘What naval forces are available and how fast can they be on station??— Admiral Carlisle A. H. Trost.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Navy fell apart, without sufficient personnel to man many of its ships or the money to maintain them—indeed, many of them were sold to foreign nations. This left the United States as the world’s undisputed naval superpower. U.S. naval forces did undergo a decline in absolute terms but relative to the rest of the world, however, United States dwarfs other nations’ naval power as evinced by its 11 aircraft supercarriers and their supporting battle groups. During the 1990s, the United States naval strategy was based on the overall military strategy of the United States which emphasized the ability of the United States to engage in two simultaneous limited wars along separate fronts.

The ships of the Navy participated in a number of conflicts after the end of the Cold War. After diplomatic efforts failed, the Navy was instrumental in the opening phases of the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq; the ships of the navy launched hundreds of Tomahawk II cruise missiles and naval aircraft flew sorties from six carriers in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The battleships Missouri and Wisconsin fired their 16-inch guns for the first time since the Korean war on several targets in Kuwait in early February. In 1999, hundreds of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft flew thousands of sorties from bases in Italy and carriers in the Adriatic against targets in Serbia and Kosovo to try to stop the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. After a 78-day campaign, Serbia capitulated to NATO’s demands.

As a result of a large number of command officers being fired for failing to do their job properly, in 2012 the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) ordered a new method of selecting command officers across the Navy.

In March 2016, the U.S. Navy reached its smallest fleet size, with two hundred thirty three (233) commissioned ships, since World War I. Since the end of the Cold War, the Navy has shifted its focus from preparations for large-scale war with the Soviet Union to special operations and strike missions in regional conflicts. The Navy participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and is a major participant in the ongoing War on Terror, largely in this capacity. Development continues on new ships and weapons, including the Gerald R Ford class aircraft carrier and the Littoral combat ship. One hundred and three U.S. Navy personnel died in the Iraq War. U.S. Navy warships launched cruise missiles into military targets in Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn to enforce a UN resolution.

Former U.S. Navy admirals who head the U.S. Naval Institute have raised concerns about what they see as the ability to respond to “aggressive moves by Iran and China”. As part of the pivot to the Pacific, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that the Navy would switch from a 50/50 split between the Pacific and the Atlantic to a 60/40 percent split that favored the Pacific, but the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathon Greenert, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, have said that this would not mean “a big influx of troops or ships in the Western Pacific”. This pivot is a continuation of the trend towards the Pacific that first saw the Cold War’s focus against the Soviet Union with 60 percent of the American submarine fleet stationed in the Atlantic shift towards an even split between the coasts and then in 2006, 60 percent of the submarines stationed on the Pacific side to counter China. The pivot is not entirely about numbers as some of the most advanced platforms will now have a Pacific focus, where their capabilities are most needed. However, even a single incident can make a big dent in a fleet of modest size with global missions.

On January 12, 2016, Iranian armed forces captured United States Navy personnel when their boats entered Iranian territorial waters off the coast of Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. They were released the next day following diplomatic discussions between the USA and Iran.

What The Future Portends
Rust on a hull plate will slowly degrade the strength and integrity of the steel to a point where it will eventually fail. I see the social engineering projects, i.e., allowing women to serve at sea, permitting homosexuals and lesbians to openly serve, catering to transgender, transvestite, and religious minorities as being akin to rust. It is weakening the traditions, strength, and integrity of the greatest Navy to ever sail in Harm’s Way.

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U.S. Navy III

Friday, October 13, 2017, marks the Two Hundred Forty-Second birthday of the United States Navy. I have compiled a history of the Navy from its inception through the present. The entire document comprises over eleven thousand words and twenty pages. This is the third of four installments culminating in the final posting on October 13.

U.S. Navy III

Compiled and Authored by: Garland Davis

Spanish–American War (1898)

The United States was interested in purchasing colonies from Spain, specifically Cuba, but Spain refused. Newspapers wrote stories, many which were fabricated, about atrocities committed in Spanish colonies which raised tensions between the two countries. A riot gave the United States an excuse to send USS Maine to Cuba, and the subsequent explosion of Maine in Havana increased popular support for war with Spain. The cause of the explosion was investigated by a board of inquiry, which in March 1898 came to the conclusion the explosion was caused by a sea mine, and there was pressure from the public to blame Spain for sinking the ship. However, later investigations pointed to an internal explosion in one of the magazines caused by heat from a fire in the adjacent coal bunker

Assistant Navy secretary Theodore Roosevelt quietly positioned the Navy for attack before the Spanish–American War was declared in April 1898. The Asiatic Squadron, under the command of George Dewey, immediately left Hong Kong for the Philippines, attacking and decisively defeating the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay. A few weeks later, the North Atlantic Squadron destroyed the majority of heavy Spanish naval units in the Caribbean in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba.

The Navy’s experience in this war was both encouraging, in that it had won, and cautionary, in that the enemy had one of the weakest of the worlds’ modern fleets, and that the Manila Bay attack was extremely risky; if the American ships had been severely damaged or had run out of supplies, they were 7,000 miles from the nearest American harbor. This realization would have a profound effect on Navy strategy, and, indeed, American foreign policy, in the next several decades.

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Rise of the Modern Navy (1898–1914)

Fortunately for the New Navy, its most ardent political supporter, Theodore Roosevelt, became President in 1901. Under his administration, the Navy went from the sixth largest in the world to second only to the Royal Navy. Theodore Roosevelt’s administration became involved in the politics of the Caribbean and Central America, with interventions in 1901, 1902, 1903, and 1906. At a speech in 1901, Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far”, which was a cornerstone of diplomacy during his presidency.

Roosevelt believed that a U.S.-controlled canal across Central America was a vital strategic interest to the U.S. Navy because it would significantly shorten travel times for ships between the two coasts. Roosevelt was able to reverse a decision in favor of a Nicaraguan Canal and instead moved to purchase the failed French effort across the Isthmus of Panama. The isthmus was controlled by Columbia, and in early 1903, the Hay-Herran Treaty was signed by both nations to give control of the canal to the United States. After the Colombian Senate failed to ratify the treaty, Roosevelt implied to Panamanian rebels that if they revolted, the US Navy would assist their cause for independence. Panama proceeded to proclaim its independence on 3 November 1903, and USS Nashville impeded any interference from Colombia. The victorious Panamanians allowed the United States control of the Panama Canal Zone on 23 February 1904, for ten million dollars. The naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was built in 1905 to protect the canal.

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The latest technological innovation of the time, submarines, were developed in the state of New Jersey by an Irish-American inventor, John Philip Holland. His submarine, USS Holland was officially commissioned into U.S. Navy service in the fall of 1900. The Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and the launching of HMS Dreadnaught in the following year lent impetus to the construction program. At the end of 1907, Roosevelt had sixteen new battleships to make up his “Great White Fleet”, which he sent on a cruise around the world. While nominally peaceful, and a valuable training exercise for the rapidly expanding Navy, it was also useful politically as a demonstration of United States power and capabilities; at every port, the politicians and naval officers of both potential allies and enemies were welcomed on board and given tours. The cruise had the desired effect, and American power was subsequently taken more seriously.

The voyage taught the Navy more fueling stations were needed around the world, and the strategic potential of the Panama Canal, which was completed in 1914. The Great White Fleet required almost 50 coaling ships, and during the cruise, most of the fleet’s coal was purchased from the British, who could deny access to fuel during a military crisis as they did with Russia during the Russo-Japanese War.

 

World War I (1914–1918)

Mexico

When United States agents discovered that the German merchant ship Ypiranga was carrying illegal arms to Mexico, President Wilson ordered the Navy to stop the ship from docking at the port of Veracruz. On 21 April 1914, a naval brigade of Marines and Sailors occupied Veracruz. A total of 55 Medals of Honor were awarded for acts of heroism at Veracruz, the largest number ever granted for a single action.

 

Preparing for war 1914-1917]

Despite U.S. declarations of neutrality and German accountability for its unrestricted submarine warfare, in 1915 the British passenger liner Lusitania was sunk, leading to calls for war. President Wilson forced the Germans to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare and after long debate Congress passes the Naval act of 19116 that authorized a $500 million construction program over three years for 10 battleships, 6 battlecruisers, 10 scout cruisers, 50 destroyers and 67 submarines. The idea was a balanced fleet, but in the event, destroyers were much more important, because they had to handle U-boats and convoys. By the end of the war 273 destroyers had been ordered; most were finished after World War I ended but many served in World War II. There were few war plans beyond the defense of the main American harbors.

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Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels, a pacifistic journalist, had built up the educational resources of the Navy and made its Naval War College an essential experience for would-be admirals. However, he alienated the officer corps with his moralistic reforms, (no wine in the officers’ mess, no hazing at Annapolis, more chaplains, and YMCAs). Ignoring the nation’s strategic needs, and disdaining the advice of its experts, Daniels suspended meetings of the Joint Army and Navy Board for two years because it was giving unwelcome advice. He chopped in half the General Board’s recommendations for new ships, reduced the authority of officers in the Navy yards where ships were built and repaired, and ignored the administrative chaos in his department. Bradley Fiske, one of the most innovative admirals in American naval history, in 1914 was Daniels’ top aide; he recommended a reorganization that would prepare for war, but Daniels refused. Instead, he replaced Fiske in 1915 and brought in for the new post of Chief of Naval Operations an unknown captain, William S. Benson. Chosen for his compliance, Benson proved a wily bureaucrat who was more interested in preparing for an eventual showdown with Britain than an immediate one with Germany.

In 1915 Daniels set up the Naval Consulting Board headed by Thomas Edison to obtain the advice and expertise of leading scientists, engineers, and industrialists. It popularized technology, naval expansion, and military preparedness, and was well covered in the media. Daniels and Benson rejected proposals to send observers to Europe, leaving the Navy in the dark about the success of the German submarine campaign. Admiral William Sims charged after the war that in April 1917, only ten percent of the Navy’s warships were fully manned; the rest lacked 43% of their seamen. Only a third of the ships were fully ready. Light antisubmarine ships were few in number as if no one had noticed the U-boat factor that had been the focus of foreign policy for two years. The Navy’s only warfighting plan, the “Black Plan” assumed the Royal Navy did not exist and that German battleships were moving freely about the Atlantic and the Caribbean and threatening the Panama Canal. His most recent biographer concludes that “it is true that Daniels had not prepared the navy for the war it would have to fight.”

 

Fighting a world war, 1917–1918

America entered the war in April 1917 and the Navy’s role was mostly limited to convoy escort and troop transport and the laying of a minefield across the North Sea. The United States Navy sent a battleship group to Scapa Flow to join with the British Grand Fleet, destroyers to Queenstown, Ireland, and submarines to help guard convoys. Several regiments of Marines were also dispatched to France. The first victory for the Navy in the war occurred on 17 November 1917 when USS Fanning and USS Nicholson sank the German U-boat U-58. During World War I, the Navy was the first branch of the United States armed forces to allow enlistment by women in a non-nursing capacity, as Yeoman(F). The first woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy was Loretta P. Walsh on 17 March 1917.

The Navy’s vast wartime expansion was overseen by civilian officials, especially Assistant Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt. In peacetime, the Navy confined all munitions that lacked civilian uses, including warships, naval guns, and shells to Navy yards. The Navy yards expanded enormously and subcontracted the shells and explosives to chemical companies like DuPont and Hercules. Items available on the civilian market, such as food and uniforms were always purchased from civilian contractors. Armor plate and airplanes were purchased on the market.]

 

Inter-war entrenchment and expansion (1918–1941)

At the end of World War I, the United States Navy had almost 500,000 officers and enlisted men and women and in terms of personnel was the largest in the world. Younger officers were enthusiastic about the potential of land-based naval aviation as well as the potential roles of aircraft carriers. Chief of Naval Operations Benson was not among them. He tried to abolish aviation in 1919 because he could not “conceive of any use the fleet will ever have for aviation.” However, Roosevelt listened to the visionaries and reversed Benson’s decision.

After a short period of demobilization, the major naval nations of the globe began programs for increasing the size and number of their capital ships. Wilson’s plan for a world-leading set of capital ships led to a Japanese counter-program, and a plan by the British to build sufficient ships to maintain a navy superior to either. American isolationist feeling and the economic concerns of the others led to the Washington Naval Conference of 1921. The outcome of the conference included the Washington Naval Treaty (also known as the Five-Power treaty), and limitations on the use of submarines The treaty recognized the U.S. Navy as being equal to the Royal Navy with 525,000 tons of capital ships and 135,000 tons of aircraft carriers, and the Japanese as the third power. Many older ships were scrapped by the five nations to meet the treaty limitations, and new building of capital ships was limited.

One consequence was to encourage the development of light cruisers and aircraft carriers. The United States’ first carrier, a converted collier named USS Langley was commissioned in 1922, and soon joined by USS Lexington and USS Saratoga, which had been designed as battlecruisers until the treaty forbade it. Organizationally, the Bureau of Aeronautics was formed in 1921; naval aviators would become referred to as members of the United States Naval Air Corps.

Army airman Billy Mitchell challenged the Navy by trying to demonstrate that warships could be destroyed by land-based bombers. He destroyed his career in 1925 by publicly attacking senior leaders in the Army and Navy for incompetence for their “almost treasonable administration of the national defense.”

The Vinson-Trammell Act of 1934 set up a regular program of shipbuilding and modernization to bring the Navy to the maximum size allowed by treaty. The Navy’s preparation was helped along by another Navy assistant secretary turned president, Franklin D Roosevelt. The naval limitation treaties also applied to bases, but Congress only approved building seaplane bases on Wake Island, Midway Island, and Dutch Harbor and rejected any additional funds for bases on Guam and in the Philippines. Navy ships were designed with greater endurance and range which allowed them to operate further from bases and between refits.

The Navy had a presence in the Far East with a naval base in the US-owned Philippines and river gunboats in China on the Yangtze River. The gunboat USS Panay was bombed and machine-gunned by Japanese airplanes. Washington quickly accepted Japan’s apologies and compensation.

African-Americans were enlisted during World War I, but this was halted in 1919 and they were mustered out of the Navy. Starting in the 1930s a few were recruited to serve as stewards in the officers’ mess. African-Americans were recruited in larger numbers only after Roosevelt insisted in 1942.

The Naval Act of 1936 authorized the first new battleship since 1921, and USS North Carolina was laid down in October 1937. The Second Vinson Act authorized a 20% increase in the size of the Navy, and in June 1940 the Two Ocean Navy Act authorized an 11% expansion in the Navy. Chief of Naval Operations, Harold Rainsford Stark asked for another 70% increase, amounting to about 200 additional ships, which was authorized by Congress in less than a month. In September 1940, the Destroyers for Bases Agreement gave Britain much-needed destroyers—of WWI vintage—in exchange for United States use of British bases.

In 1941, the Atlantic Fleet was reactivated. The Navy’s first shot in anger came on 9 April when the destroyer USS Niblack dropped depth charges on a U-boat detected while Niblack was rescuing survivors from a torpedoed Dutch freighter. In October, the destroyers Kearny and Reuben James were torpedoed, and Reuben James was lost.

 

Submarines

Submarines were the “silent service”—in terms of operating characteristics and the closed-mouth preferences of the submariners. Strategists had, however, been looking into this new type of warship, influenced in large part by Germany’s nearly successful U-boat campaign. As early as 1912, Lieutenant Chester Nimitz had argued for long-range submarines to accompany the fleet to scout the enemy’s location. The new head of the Submarine Section in 1919 was Captain Thomas Hart, who argued that submarines could win the next war: “There is no quicker or more effective method of defeating Japan than the cutting of her sea communications.” However Hart was astonished to discover how backward American submarines were compared to captured German U-boats, and how unready they were for their mission. The public supported submarines for their coastal protection mission; they would presumably intercept enemy fleets approaching San Francisco or New York. The Navy realized it was a mission that isolationists in Congress would fund, but it was not actually serious. Old-line admirals said the mission of the subs ought to be as eyes of the battle fleet, and as assistants in battle. That was unfeasible since even on the surface submarines could not move faster than 20 knots, far slower than the 30 knot main warships. The young commanders were organized into a “Submarine Officers’ Conference” in 1926. They argued they were best suited for the commerce raiding that had been the forte of the U-boats. They, therefore, redesigned their new boats along German lines and added the new requirement that they be capable of sailing alone for 7,500 miles on a 75-day mission. Unrestricted submarine warfare had led to war with Germany in 1917 and was still vigorously condemned both by public opinion and by treaties, including the London Treaty of 1930. Nevertheless, the submariners planned a role in unrestricted warfare against Japanese merchant ships, transports, and oil tankers. The Navy kept its plans secret from civilians. It was an admiral, not President Roosevelt, who within hours of the Pearl Harbor attack, ordered unrestricted warfare against any enemy ship anywhere in the Pacific.

The submariners had won over Navy strategists, but their equipment was not yet capable of handling their secret mission. The challenge of designing appropriate new boats became a high priority by 1934 and was solved in 1936 as the first new long-range, all welded submarines were launched. Even better were the S-class Salmon class (launched in 1937), and its successors the T-class or Tambor submarines of 1939 and the Gato class of 1940. The new models cost about $5–6 million each. At 300 feet in length and 1500 tons, they were twice as big as the German U-boats, but still highly maneuverable. In only 35 seconds they could crash dive to 60 feet. The superb Mark 3 TDC Torpedo Data Computer (an analog computer) took data from periscope or sonar readings on the target’s bearing, range and angle on the bow, and continuously set the course and proper gyroscope angle for a salvo of torpedoes until the moment of firing. Six forward tubes and 4 aft were ready for the 24 Mk-14 “fish” the subs carried. Cruising on the surface at 20 knots (using 4 diesel engines) or maneuvering underwater at 8-10 knots (using battery-powered electric motors) they could circle around slow-moving merchant ships. New steels and welding techniques strengthened the hull, enabling the subs to dive as deep as 400 feet in order to avoid depth charges. Expecting long cruises the 65 crewmen enjoyed good living conditions, complete with frozen steaks and air conditioning to handle the hot waters of the Pacific. The new subs could remain at sea for 75 days, and cover 10,000 miles, without resupply. The submariners thought they were ready—but they had two hidden flaws. The penny-pinching atmosphere of the 1930s produced hyper-cautious commanders and defective torpedoes. Both would have to be replaced in World War II.

 

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