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I feel duty bound to take issue with the review of RUSSIAN SUBMARINES IN ARCTIC WATERS (October, 1985) because it could lead to some very wrong beliefs about the ability of Soviet submariners – at least in the past.

The reviewer says that . . .  “the Russian submarines played what appeared to be quite an important role in World War II.” But thorough research into the records and post-war analysis of all navies involved {admittedly hampered by Soviet falsehoods and concealments) has led me to a very different finding which was summarised in the Soviet section of my UNPERWATER WAR 1939-1945: “the other Allies were forced to conclude with regret that Soviet submarines in all areas contributed very little to winning the Great Patriotic War. The crews were smart, keen and did their best with old-fashioned equipment, poor training facilities and a superabundance of political control; but the sum of their achievements was not impressive.” That was putting it very kindly — kindly because, like any submariner, I sympathised with the dreadful conditions and political constraints under which Soviet crews worked.

The reasons for reaching this conclusion are too numerous to give here but there are plenty ot examples in THE UNDEBWATER WAR if anybody cares to follow them up. Double-checked sources — mainly German and British — will confirm them. Soviet boats boasted much but achieved very, very little.

Kolyshkin’s book was first printed in English by Progress Publishers (Moscow) in 1966 shortly after a translation of Admiral Golovko’s WITH THE BED FLEET appeared. Both publications are straight PH/Propaganda efforts; they are thoroughly unreliable, misleading and stocked with gross exaggerations of successes which can be disproved with certainty. In fact, the Soviets now have a problem: should they tell their present officers under training that these accounts were lies or should they allow them to get a totally false impression?

Much of what the reviewer says is simply taken from Kolyshkin’s book; and without unwarranted effort he could hardly have written anything else. But I believe it is important that SUBMARINE REVIEW readers are not persuaded to think that Soviet submarines had a good, or even a fair, record in World War II: by any standards -and shed of niceties — it was appalling. Indeed, their shortcomings, when brought to light by the real facts, suggest certain weaknesses which may well become apparent in any future shooting war.

Unfortunately, apart from taking Kolyshkin’s account at face value, your reviewer himself has misread at least one incident and been misled by another. Stolbov did not sink U-402, which went down to aircraft from USS CARD off the Azores; nor did he sink any other U-boat. The only 0-boats sunk by Soviet submarines were U-639 and U-144. And no ‘midgets’ attacked the TIRPITZ: the large K-21 (LUNIN) claimed to have scored two hits in the open sea (hence the Order of the Red Banner) but the Germans never even noticed an attack had taken place. Moreover, the ‘midgets’ were not midgets in the accepted sense but small ~class boats which were often called ‘babies’; and none of them approached the TIRPITZ in a Norwegian fjord.

Commander P. R. Compton-Hall


The Submarine Force is interested in getting a new torpedo — an anti-merchant ship weapon. What an opportunity to demonstrate to the public that the Navy can produce a simple, low-cost torpedo that can actually do-the-job; and produce the torpedo in a short period of time — in stockpiled numbers which would represent a significant war-fighting capability.

What a publicity coup this would represent for the Navyl

The ingredients of the design problem don’t require lengthy study. It’s to be a singlepurpose torpedo, used against a well-defined target — the relatively slow, big, noisy, little maneuverable and not easily protected merchant ship of today. Most importantly, this torpedo is to be used by the highly mobile and covert nuclear submarine which can readily gain optimum attack positions against such a target — to launch a “surprise” attack.

The Mk 18 electric torpedo of WW II — a quiet, $9 K, wakeless, “straight runner” — could do the job well for a majority of today’s probable scenarios. But after 40 years, we should be able to rapidly produce a far better torpedo — still within the Mk 18’s envelope, still at relatively low-cost compared to the Mk 48, and one which could do-the-job for virtually all scenarios, even those in shallow waters or where the merchant ship has ASW protection, — which can’t spot the firing sub’s location.

But the hitch in this program — if British torpedo experience is valid — will come from the demands to use Navy Lab technology, bad advice to the contractor from the Navy customer, overcomplicating the weapon, misdirecting the effort and having no clear-cut individual responsibility for the outcome. What seems to make sense is a “fly off” competition between two contractors -like the F-16/F-17 competition — the contractor to develop a “best weapon” within some fixed dollar constraint ($200K.?), and with little interference from “the customer.”

It worked for the F-16 and it will work even better for the “merchant ship” torpedo!

D. E. K.


Recent articles in the SUBMARINE REVIEW refer to the permanent ice cover in the Arctic Ocean as an “ice cap.” This strikes a nerve-end in the intellectual sinews of this writer.

“Ice cap” is a land ice-term, defined in NWP 79-1, the Arctic Reference Manual, as “a dome shaped glacier usually covering a highland.” Submariners should take the lead in calling the ice cover over the Arctic Ocean “the Arctic Ice Pack,” . . . . “the multifarious mantle of floating ice of more than 1/10 (1/8) concentration that covers tbe Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas to varying extents the year round.” Dick Boyle

[Ed note: Tbe Oxford Universal Dictionary defines for “ice-cap,. . . .  “a permanent cap or covering of ice over a tract of country, as e.g. at either pole.” So take your pick?]


Admiral Thunman’s “Submarine Force Today,” published in the July, 1985 issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, and his admitting to “a sharp increase in resignations in the first third of this year” struck a nerve end with regard to officer retention.

This submarine rider has been able to keep his finger on the pulse of officer morale during more than 20 deployments in the past 24 years. He has participated in many wardroom discussions regarding retention.

Quickly distilled, two problems cry out for attention:

  1. The pressure of events during the first two weeks in port after deployment, “Stand Down” notwithstanding.
  2. The lack of telephone lines aboard submarines.

First, when a ship returns from patrol, there is little letup in pressure, even if “Stand Down” is in effect. Many material and administrative actions, some that have been festering for months, need attention.

During World War II, the Relief Crew concept worked well. Why don’t we try to work out some way to get the officers off their boat for the first two weeks after deployment? Relief crews could be part of the parent squadron staff. Official turnover could be carried out within hours of return to port.

Second, telephone problems are terribly frustrating to busy young officers. There simply aren’t enough lines into complex machines worth hundreds of millions of dollars. There are normally three lines on a 637 class SSN — CO/XO, Wardroom and Control Room. A busy pre-deployment upkeep demands much more support than this. The only easy way to get through is to call the submarine in late evening.

Dramatic improvement is required. Four banks of phones are suggested: (Example is 637 class SSN).

( 1 )co — Dedicated line. xo ) Two lines, ringing in Ships Office) rotation.

(2)Wardroom ) Stateroom 1) Three lines, ringing in Stateroom 3) rotation.

( 3)Chief’s Quarters ) Control Room ) Crew’s Activity Space)Three lines, ringing in rotation.

(4) Engineer’s Stateroom– Dedicated line. (Assumed to be Stateroom 2) AMR-2 ) Two lines, ringing in Engine Room) rotation.

The relief crew idea will require billet creation; this will take time. But let’s not hesitate to get started with improvement. Remember the J. o. sentiment: “we need a break in the pressure.”

The telephone problem could be solved within a month. Let’s get on with it and improve communications aboard our submarines.



While  browsing through the October, 1985 edition of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, I came across some inaccuracies in the following two sentences of the report by Hugh Latham on the 23rd Reunion of International Submariners:

“Next day they visited HMS HOLLAND #2, recently raised from the harbor and restored. (It was one of four Holland boats operated by the British before the U.S. began submarining.).”

A brochure issued by the Royal Navy Submarine Memorial Museum at Gosport where this historic submarine is now undergoing restoration identifies it as HM Submarine No 1 (Holland 1). The lead ship in a class of five, it was built by Vickers at Barrow, launched in October, 1901 and completed the following year. Obviously it did not antedate USS HOLLAND (SS 1) which was delivered to the U.S. Navy on 11 Aprile 1900 and placed in commission 12 October of the same year. HM Submarine No 1 (Holland 1) sank in a storm off Land’s End while under tow to the sbipbreakers, and was recovered in 1982.

A possible clue to the cause of  these inaccuracies can be  found in the  preceding sentence, which reads:

“Latham’s first stop to the ‘reunion’ was at the Sub Base in Portsmouth, England, where be and two other American submariners were royally entertained by ‘a number of British submariners’.”

Those of us who have experienced the British Navy’s delightful, devastating hospitality -particularly when the hosts outnumber the guests — can quite appreciate Mr. Latham’s situation, and can feel both sympathy and envy.

Harry Caldwell


Some eight hours before the unconditional surrender of Germany on 7 May, 1945, a friend of mine, Squadron Comdr. K. M. Murray, RAF(Ret.} sank the last U-boat to be sunk in combat action in World War II. Ken once served on the SACLANT staff under our mutual submarine friend, RADM Jim Davis, but is now retired and lives in Dornoch, Scotland, where he is Secretary of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club.

Why this is being dredged up is due to some letters I recently received concerning the sinking of the U-320 and the locating of the Catalina pilot who was responsible for it. A letter from a Herr Karl-Heinz Weber — the navigator of the U320 which was attacked by a flying boat near Bergen, Norway, on 7 Hay — initiated the correspondence. Herr Weber’s letter was written to locate the pilot so that the survivors of the U-320 could include him in their next reunion in 1986 — “our former adversary responsible for the sinking of our submarine.” Herr Weber further explained that there were still about twenty Uboat survivors of the original 49 and that their next biannual reunion would be in 1986 at Schledehausen, Germany.

Historical records show that after the U-320 had taken “a series of aerial depth charges” which badly damaged the submarine, the crew had tried to save their boat for 2 1/2 “terrible days.” The U320 however was finally abandoned and the crew escaped with their lives — late on 9 May, well after the European War was over.

The letters were successful in locating the pilot who did the fatal damage, Ken Hurray, and he is accepting the invitation of his former adversaries.

Admiral Pete Galantin


NAUTILUS will be open for visitors after a gala opening ceremony on Sunday, 20 April, 1986. The new Submarine Force Library and Museum will share the honors with NAUTILUS at the Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut. The opening has been scheduled to coincide with the reunion of NAUTILUS alumni at the Submarine Base that weekend. Look for more news as final plans become firm.

Bill Purdum


I am fond of the section: IN THE NEWS. Keeps us all up to date as to what is happening in the active submarine Navy, change of command, launchings, and other happenings.

I was particularly drawn to the note from Hugh Lathan, a member of Sub Vets of WW II, concerning his attendance at the reunion of the International submariners held in France. I would ask that you publish a note to all readers that our Sub Vets of WW II organization would like to have those who are eligible, join our organization. Ours is an organization or submariners who served in submarines and relief crews during World War II from 7 December, 1941, to 31 December, 1946. We have in excess of 7500 members and hold an annual reunion. Our purpose: “To perpetuate the memory or those shipmates who gave their lives in submarine warfare,” and to this end we have an established scholarship program and we support 55 scholarships at $750.00 each. We are more than a bunch or “old Vets who wear colorful vests and hats and still raise bell.”

Joe McGreievy.,Past President of Sub Vets of WW II.

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