TAKE HER DEEP
by I. J. Galantin, Algonquin Books, 262 pages
This memoir of World War II submarine opera-tions written by a gutsy skipper describes his ship’s company’s experiences in carrying out their mission in the Western Pacific during that stressful time. Their ship, the USS HALIBUT, was a “Fleet Submarine” of which there were too few in our Navy in the early days of the war in the Pacific. The HALIBUT was an early member of that class. Its main armament consisted of ten torpedo tubes, six in the bow, and four in the stern, and fourteen reload torpedoes. It had one 4″ gun on the main deck, and two 20 mm guns along with two 50-caliber machine guns on the “cigarette deck.” This was “the boat” that patrolled the Western Pacific, attacking Japanese men-of-war and merchant shipping, performing “life guard” and other duties “as assigned” until, in HALIBUT’s case, it was subjected to the heaviest attack any of our submarines survived, and returned to port as evidence of the survivability of this type of double-hulled submarine.
No one should plunge into Admiral “Pete” Galantin’s story without first reading his notes on pages XI and XII. They explain who the expect-ed audience was for this account of historical submarine events. Pete’s main objective was to give the officers and men who served under him a documented record of their experiences — during probably the most demanding and exciting period of their lives. Secondly be was writing for two other categories of readers: those conversant with diesel submarine operations and capabilities, and the uninitiated who know little about the old submarines but are still interested in what they did in World War II. Unfortunately, in trying to accommodate the latter category of readers, be had to describe submarine construction, capabilities, equipment and tactics well enough so that the uninitiated could follow the story be Has to tell and do this without boring the Dolphin wearers.
I must admit that though he Has done this admirably, I pretty much skipped over these time- worn basics of the fleet boats.Perhaps a joint assessment by all the types of readers would give a more supportable opinion of how this book satisfies their interests.
Submarine warfare during WW II has been described by some observers as “long periods of utter boredom punctuated by brief intervals of sheer terror.” I don’t remember the “sheer terror” bit, nor do I remember being greatly bored by the war we fought out there in the Pacific against the Japanese — in submarines. But it could be more applicable to HALIBUT’s patrols, where they bad a bit more frightening experiences. Admiral Galantin’s account lends a little more credence to that quote. One of the officer’s — who was transferred to HALIBUT from an s-boat for her final patrol — said that when the greatly destructive attack started, he looked around him to see if the others were soared, because be wasn’t sure that fleet boats didn’t normally react like that to a depth charge attack, or whatever it was slamming them. One look and he was convinced the HALIBUT was in real trouble. He also noted that despite the great concussive effects and severe damage created, none or the crew had broken legs, ankles, wrenched spines or anything compar-able, and that only one man was sedated because of the “terror” be felt.
Admiral Galantin has given us a detailed account of the state of submarine warfare in the Pacific including the faulty performance of the prewar produced torpedoes — which made for dangerous and very frustrating situations. He also gives us an appreciation of the new weapons and equipment that were then brought into usage after the first year of the war — the improved Hk1~s. the electric Mk18s, the IFF reature for the radars which identified friend from foe, etc.
By including accounts or refit and refresher training periods, and by making reference to mail from home and family relationships of his crew, he has tactfully made the point that his ship’s company was a closely knit team of sensitive and very human young men. This puts the grueling experiences of the patrols in a realistic context.
The skipper, Oalantin, carries us through the successes and disappointments of HALIBUT’s patrols with complete candor — questioning his own decisions and pulling no punches. It is an enigma that this skillfUl and seasoned commanding officer and crew should become the victim, and perhaps the only known victim, or a particular advance in Japanese anti-submarine technology for which they had no forewarning. Later, it appeared that intelligence people might have bad some inklings of a magnetic anomaly detection capability in Japanese ASW aircraft, and that this might have been the cause for such a swift and accurate attack on HALIBUT using bombs or depth charges. This severe attack occurred on the last patrol or the HALIBUT — her tenth, and Admiral Galantin’s fifth in a row. The materiel damage sustained appears to have been the greatest for any surviving submarine, and was so assessed by Admiral Lockwood on HALIBUT’s return to Pearl Harbor. Her pressure hull was dished-in in several places, her generators were knocked frr their blocks — and then there was a severe explosion up in the forward battery causing both the battery compartment and the forward torpedo room to be closed off, isolating the men there. HALIBUT was consequently put out of commission, ending her war.
“Take Her Deep” is a thrilling recounting of a submarine’s service to our country. Two centuries earlier John Paul Jones said that he intended to take his ship “into harm’s way.” These guys did just that, and we are thankful that they got back to tell about it.
REMEMBERING THE NAVAL SUBMARINE LEAGUE
As you have your will drafted or revised, we hope that you will remember the Naval Submarine League. It is through your continuing support that the Naval Submarine League will be able to grow and make a difference and contribution to enhance the public’s support for the Submarine Services.
There are many different ways to include the Naval Submarine League in your will. You may want to make an outright bequest of cash, stock or other property to the Foundation. Or, you may prefer a plan that would first provide for the benefit of your family members during their life-times, after which time certain designated assets of yours would be distributed to the League. It is also possible to name the Naval Submarine League as a contingent beneficiary. For example, you may provide for the League to receive cash or other property from your estate only if others named in your will are not living at the time of your death.
We would be pleased to provide you or your attorney with more information on how you can support the Naval Submarine League and its work through your will.
Shepherd of the Sea Pipe Organ
A pipe organ is being purchased for the Naval Submarine Base New London Shepherd of the Sea Chapel.The organ was built in 1956 and installed in the First Presbyterian Church, Greenwich. CT. The church is enlarging its sanctuary and will be purchasing a different organ in the future.A description or the organ is as follows: Manufactured by Austin Organs, Inc., Hartford, CT. Replacement cost, 1987 prices – $252,000.00. Cost to chapel community including purchase, renovation and installation $60,000.00.
Government funds are not available to purchase this organ. Instead, a designated offering account within the Religious Offering Fund has been established to receive money for the organ. A Memorial Plaque will be prepared for the Dedication Service listing all gifts or $500.00 or more. The organ’s installation in the Shepherd of the Sea Chapel will be in the spring of 1988.
The Shepherd of the Sea Chapel serves the entire community. Protestant and Roman Catholic Services are held weekly with a Jewish Service conducted every other month. Additionally, numerous weddings are conducted each year along with special Holy Day and Memorial Services. Special choral concerts and musical performances are per-formed for the enjoyment of the entire S.E. Connecticut area.
Please consider giving a gift to the SHEPHERD OF THE SEA PIPE ORGAN FUND and help to greatly enhance the Shepherd of the Sea Chapel. Gifts may be sent to the following:
Naval Submarine Base New London
Groton, CT 06349-5013