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I agree  with  R. R. F.’s  article  about torpedoes in the Review. He is talking about a quiet electric propelled torpedo with a little less speed. We have been paying far too great a penalty to get those last few knots.

As  a  suggestion:to  perform  the  mission described(with the torpedo sending back information on the target) a system is needed that brings back. much more acoustic information over the communication link. Wire has a too limited bandwidth but a glass fiber link. opens up great possibilities and should be developed. All raw acoustic information could be brought back. and processed on the submarine using the larger submarine computer and giving the submarine a much better picture of the tactical situation.



SOVIET SUBMARINE TRENDS is a provocative piece of work. The idea of searching out the differences between u.s. and Soviet trends and then asking “why is this?”, is an elegant approach. It should provoke an analysis of the dimensions of what the “threat” truly is.

The  two  major differences in the  direction  of trends were those types of propulsion and fineness ratios. The other trends identified seem to be in the same direction for both the U.S. and the Soviets.

The quantitative differences are of interest, but they concern the “bows” and not the “whys”. It is the “why” that determines strategy, not only the strategy of operations, but also the strategy of weapon procurement and design. And it is the U.S. strategy of design that seems to be flawed.

But it could be asked whether it is the Soviet’s strategy of design that is flawed. Or is it ours? Of course it could be that neither is flawed in that each design strategy is best for the intended operational tactics and strategies. And so the critical question is this- “What are the strategies and tactics which the Soviets are designing their submarines to perform”? They are obviously different from those which we assume in the design of our submarines. Are they making a mistake, or do they plan to use their submarines in a way that is different from the operations we are preparing to counter?



I found F.C. Lynch’s article fascinating for its contrasts between how the Navy of 1927 did business and our approach today. He stated first: “In the General Board approach it was determined what the needs of the operational commander were, and then goals were set for technology. ”

Lynch then stated : “Today it is first determined what the technology has to offer, and then scenarios are developed to make best use of this technology.” I have to disagree with Lynch on this point. Perhaps we wouldn’t be as well off relatively as we were in 1927 if we let new technology drive us to new scenarios, but we would be better off than we are now. Because in truth we are not letting new technology influence our choice of scenarios. What we are in fact doing is letting old scenarios narrow our bureaucratic vision of which new technologies we should be trying to exploit, and how best to exploit them. We are limiting ourselves to technologies that do not threaten the old ways of doing business. This leads to an inordinate concentration on marginal improvements, which has been given an appropriate name- “gold plating.”

Whatever faults the old General Board might have had, it would appear that it served us well in designing the Navy that fought WW II. From Lynch’s description of the old General Board it seems that the operational commanders had much more clout with the Bureaus in Washington than their successors do today.

No one likes to think seriously of a major war, certainly not a nuclear war. But we as professional officers are paid to think seriously about nuclear war, whether we want to or not. Perhaps we need a new General Defense Board, charged with thinking seriously about what we would in truth need to have in the way of new

operational concepts, and new hardware to implement those concepts, to be able to prevail at sea, on land, in the air, and in outer space against the Soviet Union in a global nuclear war. Such a Board might be composed of eminent senior professionals, divorced from the modern day Service “Bureaus”, and empowered to advise the Secretary of Defense on the merits of new technology applied to new operational concepts for carrying out realistic war plans in the nuclear age.

Captain Charles C. Pease,USN


My thanks to Victor T. Boatwright for his kind review of my Proceedings article, “Sink the Navy!” I would like to clarify several points and respond to his comments:

  • First– the artist’s sketch in the Proceedings was not my concept. It does not show the type of ship that I would want to see the Navy build as a semi-submersible. My concept would not have a bow typical of current destroyers. It would be more like a submarine, optimized for subsurface operations, but able to operate in heavy seas on the surface. I would favor Boatright’s near-surface semi-submersible, based on   SWATH                          technology.               Such     a      design  seems   worthy of Navy R&D money for a prototype. It would greatly reduce observables above the waterline. Its small “sail” could be hardened and “stealthed.” It would have the added advantage of being propelled by fossil fuel, hence producible in greater quantities.
  • Second–  I      am  more  concerned  with  how we  are failing to exploit our present submarine technology, than I am with the possibilities for semi-submersibles . Submarine tankers and dry stores auxiliaries, using the designs that General Dynamics conceived to move North Slope oil under the polar ice cap, and SAM ships– perhaps using derivatives of Trident– are the first order of business.

Some first steps in adopting new technology have been made. Our traditional way of doing business with submarine torpedo boats was improved when nuclear propulsion was improved. A quantum leap forward was made by producing the SSBN for a mission that the Navy had not had before. But since Admiral Burke had the foresight, the drive, and the bureaucratic clout to push the Polaris program to fruition, nothing has been done to exploit U.S. technology with concomitant operational innovation. Marginal improvements to existing operational concepts have been the order of the day.

One factor contributing to this reluctance to embrace operational innovation has been the existence of the Key West agreements on roles and missions. To attempt a serious assessment of new operational options available because of technical change, would invite a critical review of intraservice and interservice roles and missions, an endeavor which none of the services really feels secure enough to permit. Granted, there has been some movement; the memorandum of agreement between the navy and air force on maritime roles and missions is a step in the right direction. But that agreement is analogous to two channel swimmers dipping their toes in the water.

Captain  Charles c.  Pease,  USN


The interest being generated in Arctic submarine operations made me dig back into my scrapbook for the news accounts of SubPac’s first big Arctic venture. The Honolulu Advertiser of June 25, 1946 says that four submarines of the Pacific fleet, “will invade the polar ice pack next month as part of a program to prepare U.S. Naval forces for possible operations across the frozen top of the world”. The article also notes that “the revolutinary expedition, titled ‘Operation Iceberg’ . . .  will take place mainly in the icejammed Chukchi Sea” . . .  “The Trumpetfish and Blackfin will leave Pearl Harbor in mid-July and join the Cusk and Diodon which leave the same date from San Diego.” (The operation was commanded by Comdr. L.P. Ramage, Com Sub Div 52) . . .  The article also noted that a fifth submarine Becuna was “already in the ice pack gathering advance data for the ‘iceberg flotilla.'” Then another article in The Advertiser of Aug. 23, 1946 tells of the return of this “flotilla” to Pearl Harbor after their 9000-mile cruise. Comdr. Ramage is quoted as saying on his return “the cruise was very routine, with no extremely cold weather, the lowest temperature being 40 degrees.” He noted that “we didn’t contact any icebergs since there are none in that area,” and that “the ice was three or four feet high– about half way up the sub.” Rear Admiral McCann, COMSUBPAC stated: “This exercise was merely to familiarize ourselves with the northern area, and to find out the effects on ships and men in Arctic waters.”

I  would note that the diesel boats involved were not required to operate under the ice for any extended period of time but were used merely to assess the operations of such boats in ice-clogged waters in the summertime.

L.P.  Ramage


Brooks Harral’s review of “Axis Submarine Successes” suggested that Japanese submarines had some notable successes in WWIIt particularly in the Indian Ocean. In Mochitsura Hashimoto’s book “Sunk 1 , the author includes a box score of Allied merchant ship losses to Japanese subs in the Indian Ocean. This shows that 80 Allied vessels were sunk {a great many in the Mozambique Channel) with the loss of only two Japanese submarines– one at Penang by a British sub and one in the Maldives by destroyers. Alsot as many as 25 different Japanese subs seem to have made war patrols in the Indian Ocean during the War.


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